Chris Dodd: Consumers Need to Understand That Piracy Hurts Middle-Income Families

This column is part of Variety’s Broken Hollywood feature. For more execs and their opinions on the state of Hollywood, click here.

Two million people get up every morning in all 50 states to go to work in good-paying jobs. Few will ever walk a red carpet, but their jobs are in jeopardy because of piracy.

When we talk about stolen property like pirated films or shows, I think the assumption is these are wealthy people, so what difference does it make if I steal from them? There’s not an understanding that 96% are hard-working, middle-income families paying mortgages and trying to educate their kids.

In many cases, the financing of projects is at risk, particularly midsize films, like a lot of those this year nominated for Oscars.

Twenty five percent of Internet bandwidth traffics in infringed property. In January 2013 alone there were some 327 million unique visitors to sites with illegally downloaded material.

In the last few years, we have developed some 400 legal distribution services providing access to legal content. These have resulted in some 57 billion downloads of legal TV episodes and 6 billion legal downloads of films. We need to make it easy for people to find content at a price point that’s affordable.

China is an incredibly important market. It’s the second-largest market for the American film industry, but it’s also a major source of piracy. Yet as they are becoming very active in producing and distributing their own content, they recognize that piracy is impacting their ability to have a vibrant industry.

If you want to make a dent in a decentralized echo chamber like the Internet, what’s necessary is the voluntary understanding and buy-in of stakeholders. In the coming years, we hope to facilitate some of those conversations with companies such as Google. We need to propagandize better, to engage more of the community and make them aware of the threats to our creative future.

The events that we’ve had recently, such as the hacking at Sony, show that it’s more than just a movie problem; it’s a business problem. Photos, personal information, company data are all at risk. In retrospect, I wish I’d spoken out more. This happened to a member of our family. This was an attack on free speech and private property, and as the head of the MPAA, I should have been more vocal.

More Biz

  • Andhadhun

    Booming Digital Lifts Eros Indian Film Distribution Giant

    Eros International, India’s largest and most controversial film distributor, says that its digital revenues now outstrip conventional theatrical and syndication revenues. Its Eros Now streaming platform claims 18.8 million paying subscribers. The New York-listed company reported annual results that were distorted by multiple adjustments to presentation. Reported revenues in the year to end of March [...]

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

  • Weapons Cache

    D.A. Files 64 Charges in Bel-Air Weapons Stockpile Case

    The L.A. County District Attorney’s office has filed 64 counts against Girard Saenz, the man who allegedly kept a stockpile of more than 1,000 weapons at a Bel-Air home linked to the Getty family. Saenz is accused of illegal possession of assault weapons, transferring handguns without a dealer license, possession of short-barreled shotguns, and possession [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series

    Fox Sees Primetime, Sports Ad Gains As TV Upfront Wraps

    Fox Corporation is the latest to benefit from stronger-than-expected trends in TV ad spending, as the company notched strong gains in advertising commitments for its next cycle of programming – its first since selling off a large chunk of its media assets to Walt Disney. Ad demand was stronger than many executives anticipated, according to [...]

  • BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior

    BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior VP of Licensing

    BMI today announced that David Levin has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Licensing, effective immediately. In his newly expanded role, Levin is responsible for all of BMI’s domestic licensing and revenue generation, encompassing radio, television, digital media, cable, satellite and general licensing.  Levin, who will oversee teams in New York and Nashville, reports [...]

  • Warner Music Group Logo

    Warner Music Acquires Musical Theater Indie First Night Records

    Warner Music Group has acquired First Night Record, an independent record label for West End and Broadway musical theatre cast recordings. The company will be overseen by WMG’s Arts Music Division, led by President Kevin Gore. First Night co-founder John Craig will join the Arts Music team under a multi-year consulting agreement to identify and record musical theatre productions in [...]

  • Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House

    Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House for Local Residents Before Permit Review Tuesday

    If nothing else, the producers of Woodstock 50 are persistent. After two permit applications to hold the troubled festival at the Vernon Downs racetrack in Upstate New York were rejected by the town of Vernon codes office, the producers and venue owner Jeffrey Gural today invited the local community “to embrace the Festival’s spirit of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content