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Dodd Stepping Down From MPAA

Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America will step down Sep. 4 as CEO and as chairman at the end of the year,

Charles Rivkin, former assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs in the Obama Administration, will come aboard Sept. 5 and work with Dodd on the transition.

Rivkin is the former CEO of the Jim Henson Company and W!ldBrain. He was at state in 2014-2017 and has also been ambassador to France and Monaco.

Dodd has headed the association, which represents major TV and film studios, since March 2011.

"“Protecting copyright is the hallmark of Chris’ leadership at MPAA and he helped create a fully integrated, global online antipiracy operation,” said Stacey Snider, chairman and CEO, 21st Century Fox, in a statement. “His leadership in promoting copyright in the EU Digital Single Market process and preventing harmful FCC regulation of set top boxes in the U.S. set the precedent for defending the rights of creators in the rapidly evolving digital ecosystem.”

MPAA pushed back on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's set-top box proposal and having the FCC involved in a licensing body for apps used to access content. The FCC ultimately had to back off that proposal.

But MPAA had some rough times during the SOPA/PIPA (Stop Online Piracy and PROTECT IP Acts), when bipartisan support for those bills evaporated under the pressure of edge provider and activist pushback.

Those bills targeted foreign-based Web sites delivering infringing content -- like pirated TV shows and movies -- to U.S. Internet users, but critics argued they were overly broad and gave the Justice Department and industry too much power and that Internet freedom and non-infringing U.S. sites could be entangled in that legislative net.

The issue divided somewhat along a California north/south line between Hollywood and Web-centric Northern California, with Silicon Valley triumphing.

Content creators and ISPs also recently pulled the plug on the Copyright Alert System (CAS). The program, backed by MPAA and others, was an effort to alert the public about illegal online content. It lasted four years. Skeptics had questioned how effective the Copyright Alert System could be in curbing piracy, partly because it was limited to monitoring peer-to-peer applications.

“There is only one Chris Dodd, and he will be greatly missed,” said Tom Rothman, chairman, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, in a statement, but added: “Charlie brings a wealth of experience to his role at the MPAA.  From heading a production company to working at the State Department, he brings a perspective and skill set that will help him further the mission of the MPAA around the world.”

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.