The new president of the Motion Picture Association of America, Dan Glickman, says his industry is getting tough on movie piracy. Mr. Glickman was a member of Congress and was later an official in the Clinton administration.
He says Hollywood loses $3.5 billion a year to piracy. "And that is mostly physical piracy, the kind that if you were to break the law, go out in the streets and buy counterfeited DVDs and tapes. What worries us more is the impact of online piracy," he said.
He says high quality copies of films can quickly spread worldwide over the Internet.
But the film industry has taken a cue from the music business, and recently announced it will file a series of lawsuits against people who offer pirated films on file-sharing networks. Mr. Glickman says the industry is also working with the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute criminals behind piracy operations, and will educate the public so people understand that not everything on the Internet is free for the taking.
"We want to create the attitude that theft, where it occurs, is wrong. We also have to work with technology companies, both to make sure that our product is adequately protected, but also to come up with new ways to get product to people in the modern way that is reasonably priced and hassle-free," he said.
He says the music industry has been successful in distributing its products to paying customers through digital downloads, and the movie industry is also doing that through websites like CinemaNow and MovieLink.
Mr. Glickman was U.S. secretary of agriculture from 1995 to 2001, and in that role, he also headed the U.S. Forest Service. He says stopping piracy is like dousing a spreading forest fire, started by one person. "What can happen is that just one illegally copying of a movie on the Internet can spread around the world by reason of modern copying technology," he said. "You can have thousands and thousands of replications of that, and therefore going after this issue is extremely important."
He says the movie industry's revenues need to be protected so it can continue to produce its product. Mr. Glickman took over as head of the Motion Picture Association in September, replacing Jack Valenti, a vocal defender of the industry against its many critics.
Mr. Glickman was asked about the recent U.S. election in which more than 20 percent of Americans said that moral values motivated their vote, and about its implications for the movie industry. He says the industry is responding to conservative consumers in the American heartland, and cites the recent animated hits The Incredibles and Shark Tale as examples of family-friendly movies. But Mr. Glickman says his association will continue to defend cutting-edge producers who tread on more controversial ground.