Chris Dodd sez biz needs to change image

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Above: MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd speaks onstage Thursday at the Content Protection Summit in Universal City, CA. (Photo by Jonathan Liebson/WireImage)

MPAA topper Chris Dodd is pushing hard for Hollywood and Silicon Valley to combine efforts to protect content and fight piracy.

During a keynote speech Thursday at the Content Protection Summit in Los Angeles, Dodd said the two communities have plenty of common ground. He stressed that it’s wrong to frame the debate about piracy as a choice between free speech or copyright protection — the dynamic that torpedoed efforts to pass wide-ranging anti-piracy legislation in Congress earlier this year.

“Hollywood and Silicon Valley have more in common than most people realize or are willing to acknowledge,” he said. “Not only does Hollywood work closely with Silicon Valley to create and promote films; Hollywood film and television creators are tech companies. They celebrate innovation through the world’s most cutting-edge content, and they embrace technology as imperative to the success of the creators in their community.”

Dodd stressed that he’s focused on efforts to present a united front to deal with preventing theft of intellectual property but did not specify any new legislation. The Protect IP Act and its counterpart in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act, had broad bipartisan backing last year when Dodd was in his first months with the movie biz. But he noted that Internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter campaigned effectively against the legislation, mobilizing users on grounds that the new rules would impede the free flow of information on the Internet.

“They generated 8 million emails to Congress in seven days,” Dodd said.

Hollywood needs to redefine itself in the public eye for such legislation to succeed, Dodd said. He suggested the tack of stressing the industry’s importance as a provider of below-the-line jobs in contrast to the glamorous image of movie stars and red carpets.

Dodd also noted that he’s nearing the end of his two-year cooling-off period after retiring early last year from three decades in the U.S. Senate — meaning that he’ll no longer be precluded from lobbying his colleagues on industry issues on Capitol Hill in January.

“I’m looking forward to that,” he added.

Dodd expressed optimism that Hollywood and Silicon Valley can find a solution.

“We can have it both ways,” he said. “We can have an Internet that works for everyone. And in order to continue providing the world’s greatest content, we must protect the rights of our creators so they can produce for their audiences and also profit from their work.”

The confab was produced by Variety and the Content Delivery & Security Assn.

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