MPAA chief discusses file-sharing suits

Dan Glickman, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, defended the lawsuits his organization launched against file-sharers in a speech at GW Wednesday. Glickman, a GW alumnus, spoke at the Jack Morton Auditorium just weeks after the MPAA launched a series of copyright suits.

In its effort to enforce intellectual property laws, the MPAA plans to utilize what Glickman termed a “multi-pronged” approach to curb piracy. He said the MPAA would seek to educate people about piracy and make them aware of legal ways to get movies online.

The MPAA began a series of suits against people accused of online piracy on Nov. 16. The industry filed suits against 19 individuals in D.C.; their names will not be revealed until their Internet service providers can identify them.

Linda Schutjer, GW’s associate general counsel, said she knew of no lawsuits filed by the MPAA against GW students. In March, the Recording Industry Association of America, a music trade group, filed lawsuits against three GW students for sharing music files.

Among the movies D.C. residents are accused of illegally sharing are “New York Minute,” “White Chicks,” “Without a Paddle,” “Alien vs. Predator,” “Spiderman 2” and “Torque,” according to court documents.

Glickman said he wanted to build relationships with technology companies to help “hassle-free, reasonably priced” movie products for consumers. He described movies as “the face of America,” saying that “movies are part of our life, part of the family.” Because of their role in national culture, movies need protection from piracy, Glickman said.

Glickman, a former congressman from Kansas and Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton administration, said he recognizes a certain degree of analogy between agriculture and movies. He said both are two of the country’s largest exports.

“We must respect the fact we reward creativity and imagination,” Glickman said. If Americans do not, he warned, the creators of movies and music will simply “not do it” any longer.

He said blockbuster movies such as “Spiderman 2” stand as prime examples of the difficulty in combating international movie piracy. By 4 a.m. the morning of its release, “Spiderman 2” was already available on the Internet. Two days later, the film was available in four other countries and had subtitles in three languages, Glickman said.

Glickman said he wants to see “strong action now before piracy erodes the economics of the film business.”

The MPAA will soon begin focusing its efforts on legislative issues such as copyright law, tax issues and protecting free expression under the First Amendment. Glickman said he wanted to engage in debate, not litigation, to solve the problem of piracy.

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