Motion Picture Association of America chairman-CEO Chris Dodd regrets the way his agency responded to the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and wishes he had been more outspoken when the studio was in the midst of the crisis.
“This happened to a member of our family,” said Dodd. “This was an attack on free speech and private property and as the head of the MPAA, I should have been more vocal.”
Last November, hackers breached Sony’s cyber-defenses and leaked employee’s personal information, internal documents, budget information and email correspondence. The attacks were allegedly launched by North Korea in retaliation for the studio’s release of “The Interview,” a comedy that mocked the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
The MPAA worked behind the scenes to craft a statement of industry support that never came to fruition, but Dodd limited his public comments to a few short expressions of concern. The organization’s silence on the issue has been criticized in some circles because as the industry’s top lobbyist, Dodd is in many ways the public face of the movie business.
His comments to Variety represent his first, in-depth public remarks since the leaks of information and threats of violence stopped.
“In retrospect I wish I’d spoken out more,” said Dodd. “But you live and learn and you move on. Now Sony is back on its feet, and the industry is pulling together around it.”
The MPAA chief said that the attacks were a wake-up call that studios and corporations must remain vigilant about their cybersecurity. He predicted that legislation may occur in response to the threat of similar attacks.
“This was a historic event when you consider the magnitude of the problem,” said Dodd. “It was the largest hack in this country’s history. Just a massive undertaking caused by a foreign government.”
Dodd said he was concerned about what the Sony hacks and last week’s attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by Islamists upset over its depiction of Muhammad mean for free speech.
“If you said to me, what’s the one thing that has been responsible for the 100 years of success of the American film industry, I’d point to one thing — it’s freedom of speech,” said Dodd. “We have always been a great advocate for freedom of expression and speech, and I don’t represent anybody who doesn’t embrace that value.”