Anti-piracy watchdog looks to 'the challenge' of new post

The Motion Picture Assn. shuffled its upper management team after prexy and chief operating officer William Baker announced Tuesday he was resigning.

Baker, the longtime MPA watchdog on the global piracy beat, is joining the board of directors of Leapfrog Smart Products, an Orlando, Fla.-based firm that specializes in smart-card software development.

A member of several corporate and charitable boards, Baker also will sit on the L.A. Police Commission’s Rampart Independent Review Panel probing the planted-evidence scandal.

Baker joined the MPA in 1991 after decades as a top agent with the FBI. His efforts to consolidate and centralize the MPA’s far-flung anti-piracy operations are a natural prelude to the new position at Leapfrog: Among his many anti-piracy actions, Baker led the charge in Europe to criminalize the bootlegging of smart cards, the computer chip-imbedded plastic cards that are used for everything from e-commerce to portable records storage. In 1996, Baker focused the German authorities’ attention on the dozens of smart-card distributors that were legally producing cards used for stealing pay-per-view cable and satellite transmissions of movies.

In a statement about his exit from the MPA, Baker did not allude to his new role at Leapfrog, but said he is awaiting “the challenge of pursuing less structured objectives.”

Chairman and CEO Jack Valenti added the title of prexy after Baker’s exit, which took effect immediately.

Simon Barsky, senior VP and general counsel, and Bill Murray, senior VP and deputy chief operating officer, have both been upped to exec VP. They also will serve as co-chief operating officers, reporting directly to Valenti.

“All the operations and departments of MPA in the Encino office will be divided between Barsky and Murray, so that there are clear lines of authority for both men,” Valenti said.

In the org’s Washington office, senior VP and Washington counsel Fritz Attaway was upped to exec VP, continuing to report to Valenti.

“I leave with the warmest regard for Jack Valenti and my MPA colleagues,” Baker said.

Valenti said: “We’ll miss Bill Baker. He invested his tenure at MPA with great leadership and effectiveness, as well as good humor and good judgment.”

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