MONTREAL — Doug Frith is stepping down as president of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Assn., which reps the Hollywood studios in Canada. He will be succeeded by the association’s general counsel Wendy Noss. She will serve as acting executive director, it was announced Friday.

Frith was at the center of controversy last fall when it was reported that he was romantically linked with one of the government’s chief copyright policymakers. One of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Assn.’s main campaigns over the past couple of years has been to try to persuade the government to bring in copyright legislation that will deal more harshly with all forms of piracy of cultural products.

Patricia Neri, who was director general of Copyright Policy at Heritage Canada, was removed from her job when reports surfaced in the media that she was romantically involved with Frith. She was re-assigned to another position at Heritage Canada.

Critics suggested that the government’s recent anti-camcording legislation was remarkably similar to what was being proposed by the association and that, due to Neri’s link to Frith, the studios may be having too much influence on the government legislation.

Frith is leaving to start his own consulting company and is set to step down Jan. 31, which is when Noss will take over. Noss has been general counsel of the org since March, 2006.

Prior to joining the association, Noss was a lawyer with Sim, Hughes and Bennett Jones in Toronto where she specialized in intellectual property law. She had previously served as counsel and director of government affairs for the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency.