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Dodd Calls for Less Vilification of Hollywood in Law School Address

The head of the MPAA termed "The Hurt Locker" a financial disaster due to piracy

Suggesting that "The Hurt Locker’s" box-office receipts were deeply hurt by piracy, MPAA Chairman-CEO Chris Dodd on Monday called for less vilification of the movie industry and greater efforts to work together to retain financial incentive for creativity.  

Dodd used a law school commencement to make his plea. Speaking to graduates at the U. of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia, he contended that the MPAA’s fight over copyright issues and piracy — a complicated multi-layered debate over difficult issues with range of impacts — had wrongly been simplified into an us-versus-them battle.

“Unfortunately, there are those who have for obvious reasons reduced this debate to the simplistic proposition that you must choose — freedom of speech, free access to the Internet, or Hollywood,” he told the graduates. “The protection of intellectual property and free speech, as well as an Internet that works for everyone, are concepts that must be conjoined.”

“In order to continue providing the world’s greatest content, we must protect the rights of our creators and makers so they can not only profit from their innovations, but will be further inclined to create more,” he added.

Pointing to Kathryn Bigelow‘s film, Dodd described "The Hurt Locker" as an artistic triumph, but “a financial disaster.”

“This small, independent film, produced on a relatively modest budget — about $11 million — was first released in the U.K., where it was well received. By the time it opened in the U.S., literally millions of pirated copies of the film were being unlawfully sold on street corners or streamed illegally across the Internet.

“Consequently, the film became the lowest-grossing movie to ever win Best Picture at the Academy Awards,” Dodd said.

Dodd said the graduates were entering the work force during “what I believe will be a new gilded age of creativity and innovation,” with the variety, quality and platforms for creative content growing every day. But he suggested that sustaining the age will require considerable effort.

“If we believe there is value in protecting the work of creative people, and we want to sustain the incentive to keep creating, we will need to be equally imaginative in protecting their creative content, as some have been in gaining free access to their work,” Dodd said.