In a rare interview session two of the MPAA’s top executives gave an interesting insight into the movie industry’s view on copyright in the digital age and the anti-piracy hunt that accompanies it. The pair say that their organization will continue to fight against copyright infringements, but admit that piracy will never be completely defeated.
As part of a course on the production of digital media at the University of Texas, the two were invited for an interview to share their views on copyright and the movie industry in the digital age.
The two touched on a wide variety of subjects such as three-strikes policies, the future of DVDs and fair use. They also gave some background information on key decisions they’ve made over the years. Although the MPAA believes that piracy can be decreased by beating pirated films in terms of quality and availability, they don’t think that it will ever go away completely.
“We will do whatever we can to discourage illegal accessing of our motion pictures,” Fritz Attaway said. “We have no illusions that we will be 100 percent successful. Piracy has always been and will always be with us. Our goal is to keep it under a reasonable level of control where we can make enough revenue in a legitimate market to recoup expenses and continue to make new movies.”
“And I am very optimistic that we will be able to do that. I said in the very beginning that a very large part of that is developing new business models that consumers will access legally and find that experience superior to illegal access. And I think the industry is doing an excellent job of that and will continue to do so,” he added.
When the interviewer compared the RIAA’s anti-piracy operations with those of the the MPAA, Attaway seemed to be offended when the RIAA’s tactics were described as more aggressive. He noted that the two outfits have chosen different paths to pursue their goals, but that they are just as ‘bad’ as their music industry counterpart.
“We are extremely aggressive, certainly equally aggressive as RIAA or any other copyright owner group,” Attaway said. “We have used slightly different tactics than RIAA in part because of the nature of our respective works. There are certainly other reasons as well but MPAA has filed end user lawsuits like RIAA has.”
“However, they are very expensive and we have determined that there are other routes that provide a better return; among them education, working with intermediaries like ISPs to discourage infringing activity, and one, that is probably the most important, is encouraging the development of new business models that provide legitimate alternatives. All of these avenues we are pursuing very aggressively,” he added.
When the subject turned to the role ISPs have in countering copyright infringement, three-strikes policies for repeated infringers were brought up. The MPAA is encouraging these kinds of policies, but stressed that in the United States the decision to terminate the account of an alleged copyright infirnger is made by the Internet provider.
“We encourage ISPs to at least notify subscribers who are engaging in infringing material and advise them that it is illegal and could have consequences. And for repeat infringers we encourage ISPs to terminate service but that is strictly a decision of the ISP and not ours,” Attaway said.
The full interview with the two MPAA executives is available on the Copygrounds website which is part of the introductory course on the production of digital media at the University of Texas.