MPAA’s Chris Dodd Extends SOPA Olive Branch to Silicon Valley

In a speech in Atlanta, MPAA chief Chris Dodd says “Hollywood is pro-technology and pro-Internet,” but warns “a strong system of copyright protection” is necessary

MPAA Chief Chris Dodd made a peace overture to Silicon Valley Wednesday, telling an audience that "Hollywood is pro-technology and pro-Internet."

But he also made clear the legislative battle against piracy wasn't over, maintaining that "a strong system of copyright protection for online content is critical to the continued success of the flourishing Internet marketplace."

The MPAA and the tech community were on opposing sides of the battle over the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. The MPAA backed the legislation and sister legislation in the United States Senate, Protect Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA. Many high-tech firms, including Google, opposed the measures and an explosion of online opposition stalled the measures in Congress.

Speaking to the Atlanta Press Club on Wednesday, Dodd said that "nearly one-quarter of all global Internet traffic is copyright theft. And at the heart of the problem is the proliferation of parasitic foreign rogue sites whose sole purpose is to facilitate, and profit from, the theft of international property."

Also read: Sunk! How Hollywood Lost the PR Battle Over SOPA

The former senator from Connecticut said that "We are not talking about overzealous film buffs or political activists making a statement about freedom of information. We are talking about criminals."

And he drew a comparison between the movie industry and Silicon Valley.

"We cannot draw up a business model that accounts for the wholesale theft of our product," he said. "It's true for pharmacies. It's true for the automobile industry. It's true for software developers. And it's true for us."

Dodd said that, "I firmly believe that our industry cannot survive without the innovations that come out of Silicon Valley every day — and I know that we must have a free and open Internet to keep those innovations coming. But it works both ways."

He said that "copyright legislation helped to create the Internet of today — not to mention providing companies like Apple with the incentive to — as they say — think different, and to think big."

The one-time candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, told the audience that "we must act to stop the theft of intellectual property online."

"The coalition supporting a crackdown on … criminal sites includes companies large and small who produce movies, TV shows, music, software, photography, prescription drugs, consumer electronics — everyone from Gibson Guitars to the Ultimate Fighting Championship."

And he asked audience members for their support.

"If you believe that freedom of speech does not imply, and the ability to innovate does not require, a license to steal, if you believe that the men and women who work hard to make films and TV shows deserve to be fairly compensated … I invite you to join this coalition and help us move towards a solution to this problem."