MPAA Boss Calls on Internet Platforms to Improve Digital Ecosystem

Taking a step away from issues involving online piracy of movies and TV shows, Charles Rivkin, CEO of the Motion Pictures Association of America, told an industry gathering that more proactive measures are needed to combat online election meddling, hate speech — and piracy.

Speaking Aug. 20 at the Tech Policy Institute’s Aspen Forum in Colorado, Rivkin said public policies that shaped the early days of the Internet are insufficient for today’s challenges and actually promote a lack of accountability by the platforms such as Amazon and Google that dominate the Web.

With the MPAA celebrating the 50thanniversary of its movie rating system, Rivkin said the milestone underscores the reality that such system is run by a private entity, not the government.

“Accountability and interdependence must be at the foundation of an Internet that continues to support free speech, expression, commerce, creativity, and innovation,” Rivkin said. “Online platforms must do more to mitigate the harms they are enabling, and we must work collaboratively to address them.”

The executive called for a “national conversation” about how Hollywood and the tech industry can return the Web to its original promise: a place for vibrant but civil discourse – “not one where false reports are retweeted thousands of times around the world before the truth has a chance to log on.”

“We live in an AI world that is still operating on an AOL policy framework,” Rivkin said. “There was a vision for the Internet, and this is not it. It’s time to realign our expectations and the incentives that will help us meet them.”

He said online platforms should voluntarily increase their efforts to curb abuse of their services. Rivkin said Congress could “recalibrate the online immunities” to mandate more proactive measures as a condition of those protections.

“I am asking for the recognition that accountability and interdependence must always be at the foundation of an Internet that supports free speech, expression, commerce, creativity and innovation,” he said. “Online platforms must do more to mitigate the harms they are enabling, and we must work collaboratively to address them.”

MPAA Boss Lauds Euro Cooperation, Anti-Piracy Efforts

Motion Picture Association of America CEO Charles Rivkin praised ongoing European efforts to thwart digital piracy of movies and TV shows.

Speaking Feb. 15 at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, Rivkin praised a gathering of the German Producers Alliance for their leadership on industry issues, including the Digital Single Market in Europe, and emphasized the importance of cross-border collaboration to Europe’s local film and television industry.

“The ability to work together is one of the great strengths of our sector,” Rivkin said. “And it is that shared purpose that helps the MPAA and the Producers Alliance collaborate on the most pressing issues facing our industry today.”

Specifically, as the European Commission explored the Digital Single Market – enabling individuals and businesses borderless access to content rights with consumer and data protections, European producers, creators, and artists worked together to draft a plan.

“[Working] together, the sector continues to remind policymakers that weakening copyright and contractual freedom will have a devastating effect on our industry,” Rivkin said.

His speech was part of a three-day German tour that included a visit to Studio Babelsberg, Germany’s oldest production studio, and the German Home Entertainment Trade Body.

Rivkin highlighted successful film and television production partnerships between U.S. and European partners and their economic impact. Across Europe, more than 11 million people work in jobs supported directly and indirectly by copyright-intensive industries, including film and television.

The executive also discussed the importance of cooperation among international content creators and owners in global content protection efforts to reduce piracy.

“I am proud that in June 2017, the MPAA helped bring together 30 leading content creators, including Germany’s Constantin Film and Studio Babelsberg, to form the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment,” Rivkin said. “[This alliance] has already seen important victories against illicit streaming devices, like Tickbox in the United States, and the elimination of apps that enable access to pirated content here in Europe and in other parts of the world.”

Separately, Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, distributed by Fox Searchlight, became the first ever animation movie to open the Berlin Film Festival.



Digital Content Driving Job Growth, MPAA Says

The entertainment industry’s digital transformation is leading to a spike in employment, the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) said in a Jan. 16 news release.

“The rapid growth of creative content development and the industry’s digital transformation has bolstered the economic contributions,” according to the MPAA. “An estimated 454 original series aired in 2016, helping drive job creation and supporting local vendors.”

The U.S. film and television industry “continues to be a key driver of the U.S. economy, adding high quality domestic jobs and paying out $49 billion to local businesses across the country,” the MPAA said.

The American film and TV industry supported2.1 million jobs in 2016, up from 2 million the year before, the MPAA said in a report based on an analysis of 2016 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which became available in November 2017.

Total wages paid out by the industry rose by $4 billion to $139 billion. Jobs directly related to the production and distribution of films and television shows grew by 24,000 over the prior year – nearly reaching 700,000 jobs. Direct industry jobs generated $53 billion in wages, at an average salary 42% higher than the national average. There were nearly 342,000 jobs in the core business of producing, marketing, manufacturing, and distributing motion pictures and television shows. “These are high quality jobs, with an average salary of $90,000, 68% higher than the average salary nationwide,” the MPAA said.

Charles Rivkin, chairman and CEO of the MPAA, said in the release, “This industry is one of the nation’s most powerful cultural and economic resources, supporting 2.1 million hard-working Americans in all 50 states and hundreds of thousands of local – mostly small – businesses.”

In 2016, the number of businesses that make up the film and television industry rose by 5,000 to 93,000 – 87% of which are small businesses that employ fewer than 10 people. In all, film and television supports 400,000 local businesses.

“The U.S. film and television industry is also a key player in markets around the world, with demand for creative content continuing to grow,” the MPAA says. “The industry registers a positive balance of trade in nearly every country with $16.5 billion in exports worldwide.”