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Valenti: Piracy sole motivation

Move to help pic preservation, org head sez

MPAA chief Jack Valenti stuck to his guns Wednesday, reiterating that piracy was the sole basis of his decision to ban Oscar screeners.

Addressing the fallout from the decision, Valenti said: “I wasn’t surprised by the opposition. I knew it was a unpopular decision, but I knew that when piracy of screeners was up 50%, that was cause for great alarm.”

He also quantified the threat of piracy in relation to “for your consideration” DVDs.

“Last year the studios and their subsidiaries sent out 68 titles and 34 of those were pirated, which was directly ascribable to screeners. That’s almost 50% of screeners and when you realize that almost 40,000 screeners were sent out you can imagine the potential for piracy.”

Asked if the MPAA would consider possible other methods of sending out screeners, such as sending only VHS tapes rather than DVDs he added. “Of course not. We can’t make exceptions here. It’s a total ban on screeners period.”

Valenti rejected any sort of compromise or rejection of the ban. “There can’t be a scenario where some screeners are sent out and others are not. That’s not middle ground. Everyone has to be treated the same.”

Valenti also said that there were no penalities in place for companies who violated the voluntary ban. “There are no sanctions except that people will be breaking their good faith and word. They’ll be breaking something they pledged they will do and if they break it they should be ashamed of themselves.”

Regarding the opposition from non-MPAA companies Valenti said he had had conversations with the independents. “I’ve talked to two of them. Both did not want to join,” he said.

A representive for the studios said the org was aware of the complaints from the indie sector.

“The decision was not meant to be populist. It was meant to help the preservation of the motion picture industry and to control piracy. Though some may ascribe more sinister motives, there really are none. This is about piracy first, second and third and I think its good for all who make their living from the motion picture industry.”

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