Glickman Defends Industry IP Meeting With Biden

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Chairman Dan Glickman called this
week's meeting of copyright industry representatives with Vice President Joe
Biden, as well as the attorney general, head of the FBI and the secretary of
Homeland Security, "very productive," and said the folks who
criticized it were "dead wrong."

He also weighed in on the industry's request to the FCC for a waiver of its selectable output controls, and said he thought there was a way to protect content and still find common ground with the FCC on network neutrality.

The meeting was requested by the vice president's office to
get more information about the copyright industry, Glickman said in an
interview for C-SPAN's Communicators series.

He was defending the administration and the meeting from
charges it was a one-sided affair because it featured representatives from the
movie, music, games and publishing industries, but not from groups like Public
Knowledge who argue the industry seeks to overprotect its content from
legitimate "fair uses."

Reacting to a Public Knowledge blog posting, "Big Media
Writing Joe Biden's Script," Glickman called it an effort to demonize the
opposition and an ad hominem attack on the administration that would not win
them very many friends there.  "It is
perfectly appropriate for our government to meet with industries producing jobs
that feel they have a threat in the event you see business models develop that
have the opportunity of ending, or significantly reducing it. So I think they
are just dead wrong."

He said they had "the perfect opportunity" to have
their own meeting with the same people, "and I expect they will."

The vice president, wanted to get more information on the
nature of the IP, said the MPAA chief. He pointed out that as a Senator, Biden
was head of the Judiciary Committee and interested in intellectual property, so
it made sense for him to have the studios in for a meeting.

Public Knowledge spokesman Art Brodsky, author of the PK
blog item, stuck to his guns. "This was a one-sided, protectionist meeting
that looked to the past, not to the future," he told B&C. "It's a shame the discussion was about how the
industry could continue to exist as it is with the protection of all the
enforcement power of the government, rather than how it should rework itself to
take advantage of changing technologies."

"It is amusing that the MPAA president thinks that
associating his industry with the vice president is an ‘ad hominem attack' and
attempt at demonization.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 
We view it as a statement of fact, which is borne out by Mr. Glickman's
description of the meeting.  The executives present did indeed present
their view of the industry, the script, if you will. We look forward to a
meeting in which an equally impressive lineup of government authority takes an
interest in the rights of consumers and the process of innovation and
Glickman says IP theft of TV shows and movies has the
potential to be a "dagger in the heart" of content creators. He also
said that organized crime was beginning to move into the IP theft space and
hoped there would be more government funds coming to fight it.

Asked if he were overstating the case for an industry with
strong box office receipts, he said no, pointing to a slipping DVD business and
uncertainty about monetizing the online element. He cited President Kennedy's
advice that the time to fix the roof was when the sun was still shining. He
said the sun wasn't exactly shining, but that he didn't want to wait until he
was staring into the abyss and the industry was having to lay off half its work
force to say the industry needed to do something.

Talking about MPAA's request to the FCC for a waiver on its
selectable output ban (so studios could deliver movies before the DVD window
and still protect them from unauthorized distribution), he said it was to help
viewers--specifically the handicapped, senior citizens and small family groups
he has met with.  It would help them get
access to movies earlier in the distribution window. He said it hurts no

Asked whether that would force some people to have to
upgrade their older TV's to get that content, Glickman conceded there are some
older sets that won't get the content, but said the number of those sets will
be gradually reduced by new technology. He also said there are protections
against some of the allegations of potential abuses of the waiver, and that the
industry would not be operating on the worst-case scenario in any event.

Brodsky, whose group has argued against granting the studios
a broad waiver to selectively block TV outputs in service of a plan--cable VOD
delivery of the movies--that has yet to be detailed, says the group "has
not come close to meeting the evidentiary burden" for what it calls
"the extraordinary power to control consumer devices."
On network neutrality, Glickman took issue with the
suggestion the studios were entirely at odds with the Google's and Skype's of
the world. "I think it's wrong to say that we are permanently opposed to
these folks. That's just not true. We have been working very closely with the
FCC, with Chairman Genachowski and the other commissioners in finding common
ground to work on these issues, and I think we can get that done."

Glickman, a former congressman and Secretary of Agriculture
in the Clinton Administration, is exiting the MPAA post at the end of next
year. He said he was not sure what was next for him. But he said part of what
had drawn him to movies were there stories about changing people's lives. He
mentioned the possibility of moving to the nonprofit world or working in
international, food and hunger issues. "I guess I want to see if I can
save the world in this last part of my occupational life," he said.

John Eggerton

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.