Senator Dodd on Pro-Jobs and Anti-Piracy Legislation

by Senator Chris Dodd 01/20/2012 08:14 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

We applaud those leaders in Washington who have chosen to stand with the millions of hard working Americans all across this nation whose livelihoods are threatened by foreign criminal websites designed to steal. As a consequence of failing to act, there will continue to be a safe haven for foreign thieves; American jobs will continue to be lost; and consumers will continue to be exposed to fraudulent and dangerous products peddled by foreign criminals.


With today’s announcement, we hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property. The threat posed by these criminal operations has been widely acknowledged by even the most ardent critics.  It is incumbent that they now sincerely work with all of us to achieve a meaningful solution to this critically important goal.

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Senator Dodd On Irresponsible Developments of "Blackout Day"

by Senator Chris Dodd 01/17/2012 13:37 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.

It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.

A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.

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Secretary of State Clinton: Protecting Creative Content Can Coexist with Internet Freedom

by Senator Chris Dodd 11/04/2011 14:07 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Originally published on Huffington Post’s Blog

For the movie and television industry, and the 2.2 million American workers who depend on its creative products for their jobs, the Internet has become a major component and driving force of growth.

The fact is movies, television, music and other forms of intellectual property matter to our nation’s economy, especially when it comes to American jobs and business development. And the Internet matters deeply to these industries and their workers. So it is extremely important that we have a discussion about the best policies to preserve free speech, promote innovation, and grow our economy. 

To ensure our industry’s continued growth as a job generator, it is critical that those who treasure the freedom of the Internet also recognize and respect creative content and work together to prevent its theft and distribution. The bottom line:  we value and respect the Internet, and we ask that those who use the Internet respect our content and our workers.

There are those who seek to distort the debate and claim the protection of intellectual property and Internet freedom cannot coexist.   Nothing could be further from the truth as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just written in a letter to Representative Howard Berman, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who asked her to address this issue.

She wrote, “The State Department is strongly committed to advancing both Internet freedom and the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights on the Internet.  Indeed, these two priorities are consistent.” 

Secretary Clinton continued, “The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights on the Internet is critical for the United States, for its creators and inventors, and for the jobs it promotes and the economic promise it provides. There is no contradiction between intellectual property rights protection and enforcement and ensuring freedom of expression on the Internet.”

American workers and businesses are fortunate to have Secretary Clinton and Representative Berman take such a leadership role on this issue.

The connection between intellectual property rights and the economy may be a surprise for some.  A new report by the International Intellectual Property Alliance lays out exactly how critical the U.S. copyright industries—industries whose primary purpose is to create, produce, distribute, and exhibit copyright material—are to our nation’s economy.
 
These industries—music, TV, film, books, radio, newspapers, and magazines—contributed nearly a trillion dollars to the U.S. economy in 2010.  That’s more than six percent of our GDP. 
 
More than 10.6 million people are employed in copyright industries, so nearly one in ten private sector American workers depend on intellectual property for their jobs, to put food on the table and for their retirement income and other benefits.

Yet that intellectual property is being stolen every day—nearly one-quarter of all Internet traffic is copyright-infringing—and that is costing us hundreds of thousands of jobs each year.

There is much at stake for many businesses besides the copyright industries, including consumer electronics manufacturers.  Consumers want content that is delivered by these manufacturers.   The movie and TV industry relies on these manufacturers to distribute its content to consumers.  All sides need to work together to find a way to target content theft.

We must keep the Internet free and open.  And we can while promoting innovation and preserving jobs.  Like Secretary Clinton, we are strongly committed to achieving both goals. 

When It Comes to Jobs: Movies Matter

by Senator Chris Dodd 09/08/2011 13:55 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

When President Obama speaks tonight, America's creative community will, like all Americans, watch and listen and hope that our leaders will come together, help correct the course, and set our economy back on the right track. And, like workers and businesses in every sector, the creative community knows the importance of putting this nation's economy back on its feet and Americans back to work.

We have a long and storied history of promoting and practicing what is great -- and what is possible -- in our nation, and we are confident that the men and women who make American movies, television shows, and other creations will be part of the ultimate solution.

While people are familiar with the big screen and the red carpet; the Oscars and the Hollywood sign, they might not be aware of what the American creative film and television community means in terms of jobs. In a struggling economy that has 9% unemployment, the U.S. film and television industry stands out as a unique and worthy asset to the American economy. We have weathered hard times and grown while keeping our products affordable and creating new jobs in every region of the country.

Over 2.2 million Americans are employed as a result of film and television production. Those jobs result in $137 billion dollars in wages to hard working, mostly middle class, men and women each year. These jobs are not just in California and New York. Motion picture and television production occurs in ALL 50 states; states such as Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Mexico, Utah and my home state of Connecticut. In many of these states, infrastructure is being built to support production and local workforces of skilled technicians are developing.

And when production comes to a local community it means business not only for those whose work centers on film and TV, but for caterers, hotels, dry cleaners, and lumber yards too. These businesses are local and, time and time again, plow the money they make directly back into their communities, generating even more returns from local production. Vendors and suppliers, predominantly small businesses, earn over $38 billion in payments annually from the film and television industry.

Films and television series produced in America are also a leading export and help the United States remain competitive around the globe. For the three-year period of 2007 to 2009, the production industry generated a $36.4 billion trade surplus.

The coming year will bring a great debate about the best, most cost-effective way to produce new jobs and protect those we now have. Our voice in this debate will be clear: the craft of making films and television series is clearly worthy of our efforts to protect jobs here at home and to grow even more as the economy recovers. While America's creative film and television community is indeed thriving, the global economic downturn remains a serious challenge today -- and an inescapable threat in the future -- to us, as it does to most American businesses.

Further, the threat posed by theft of the products we create, by thieves both foreign and domestic, is real and has a direct impact on the millions of jobs created by our community. When people steal film or television, it is these workers that suffer.

Fewer jobs are created and health and pension benefits are harmed. Strong protections for intellectual property will help sustain a craft that historically and consistently makes such a valued contribution to America's economy.

So while our leaders in Washington spar over how best to resolve this crisis, we can never lose sight of the enormous good film and television production brings to our country and to our people -- a source of well-paying jobs for hardworking men and women, of valuable trading opportunities, of astonishing technological innovation, and of stories that endure forever.

This piece was originially posted on HuffingtonPost.Com and can be read in its original format here

On the Passing of Senator Mark Hatfield, a Man of Great Conscience

by Senator Chris Dodd 08/08/2011 16:12 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mark Hatfield, a longtime colleague and friend, whose sincerity and strength of character should serve as a model for all Americans.  As I said on the Senate Floor in 1995 after he announced that he was retiring:  “For five terms, Senator Hatfield has elevated the caliber of this Chamber's debate, frequently taking lonely stands in the process. Voting one's conscience often requires courage. Senator Hatfield has never wavered in his devotion to what he believes is just, and he has always done right by the good people of Oregon.”

Quite frankly, Mark Hatfield was one of the greatest crusaders for peace in the Senate’s history.  He was a devout pacifist since the beginning of his political career, opposed President Johnson's Vietnam policy, and more than 20 years later was one of only two Republicans to vote against United States military involvement in the Persian Gulf. He opposed nuclear testing and an extensive military buildup, and authored the 1992 nuclear test ban law. He was also the sole Republican to vote against the balanced budget amendment, and he would have paid dearly for that stand had the concept of respect for one's conscience not prevailed. Until his retirement, Oregonians continually returned their Senator to office not only because of his righteousness, but also because of his commitment to them and their values

He was widely respected for his independence and well-liked for his loyal friendship.  He will be sorely missed.

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America’s Creators Join Together in New Partnership to Fight Content Theft

by Senator Chris Dodd 07/06/2011 08:50 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Making a great movie or TV show takes the work of hundreds of dedicated people.  From the actors onscreen to the artists and technicians behind the camera, it’s truly amazing what we can do –and where our imaginations can take us – when we work together.
 
That’s why I’m so excited today to see the launch of a revolutionary new organization that will unite America’s creative community as we take on our biggest threat: the massive theft of our creations. 
 
Most of the over 2  million Americans whose jobs are supported by the motion picture industry aren’t marquee stars or studio executives.  They’re the people whose names you see in the closing credits, with titles like makeup artist, set dresser, prop maker, sound effects editor, visual effects artist, rigging electrician, costumer, and driver.  They’re the teenagers working their first job taking tickets at the local movie theatre or theme park.   And they’re the people who work for local retailers, caterers, dry cleaners, florists, hardware and lumber suppliers, transportation companies, and thousands of other small businesses that support our industry. 
 
When someone steals a movie and profits from that theft, these are the people they’re robbing from.  These are the people who will have less to feed their families, to care for their parents, to save for retirement, to put their kids through school.  And now, these are the people whose voices you’re about to hear.
 
Creative America, a new and unprecedented partnership among studios, networks, unions, and guilds,  will give the men and women of our community a new way to speak out in the fight against content theft.  This grassroots campaign will help everyone across this country understand that content theft isn’t a victimless crime – it hurts all of us. 
 
If you are among the millions whose hard work helps make filmed entertainment, if you love the movies and want to stand with us against theft, please take a minute to visit CreativeAmerica.org and sign up today.
 
Just a few days ago, our country celebrated Independence Day.  For more than two centuries, America has celebrated the power of creativity and innovation – and over and over again, Americans have fought to protect our right and ability to express ourselves freely. 
 
Our battle against content theft is another step forward in that long fight – and now, with Creative America, that battle has truly begun.  Join us.

MPAA WELCOMES WORLD LEADERS’ COMMITMENT TO PROTECTING CREATIVE CONTENT FROM THEFT

by Senator Chris Dodd 05/27/2011 11:55 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

In a communiqué released today, world leaders recognized the crucial role intellectual property (IP) plays in advancing the global digital economy and the need for international cooperation to protect it.

This commitment is an important step forward not only for the legitimate online marketplace, but also for transnational trade and the millions of Americans whose creativity is constantly driving innovation in this country. 

The G8 statement calls for the implementation of an international framework to effectively address IP theft and enforce the rights of owners online:

With regard to the protection of intellectual property, in particular copyright, trademarks, trade secrets and patents, we recognize the need to have national laws and frameworks for improved enforcement. We are thus renewing our commitment to ensuring effective action against violations of intellectual property rights in the digital arena, including action that addresses present and future infringements. We recognize that the effective implementation of intellectual property rules requires suitable international cooperation of relevant stakeholders, including with the private sector.

Calling the Internet “essential to our societies, economies and their growth,” the G8 leaders affirmed that “respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, the protection of intellectual property rights, which inspire life in every democratic society for the benefit of all citizens…must receive the same protection, with the same guarantees, on the Internet as everywhere else.”

The Internet has presented tremendous opportunities for exchanging information and ideas quickly – aid workers are utilizing online social media networks to facilitate rescue missions; researchers are developing digital databases to rapidly share discoveries; businesses are connecting with a global base of potential customers, offering consumers choices like never before.  No one could have predicted the societal good that has come from the worldwide interconnectivity afforded by the Internet.

Unfortunately, the laws and regulations put in place to protect consumers and innovation in the physical marketplace have not kept pace with the growth of illegal conduct online. The anonymous theft and ubiquitous, illegal distribution of American-made content places at risk the livelihoods of the 2.4 million U.S. workers in the film and television industry who invest time and energy to create entertainment enjoyed by millions. To the largely middle class workforce that makes up our creative community, digital theft means declining incomes, lost jobs, and reduced health and retirement benefits.

Enforcing the rule of law on the Internet ensures a safe environment for all users and fosters economic growth.  All countries have a stake in this fight; the harm perpetuated by content theft and other cyber crimes transcends national borders.

We commend the G8 leaders for recognizing that the global nature of the Internet requires an international framework for effectively addressing online content theft, and we look forward to working with them to implement strong, enforceable standards to protect our creative community here and abroad.

Celebrating World Press Freedom Day, and What the First Amendment Means to the MPAA

by Senator Chris Dodd 05/06/2011 12:48 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

This week, we celebrated World Press Freedom Day, a holiday dedicated by UNESCO to honor the fundamental principles of press freedom, monitor and defend that freedom around the world, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.  It’s also nearly the one-year anniversary of President Obama signing the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which I sponsored in the Senate and passed last year. 

As a U.S. Senator and Co-Chair of the Freedom of the Press Congressional Caucus, protecting the media – their workforce and their content – was a commitment in which I passionately believed and strived to uphold. 

As Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, I now have the opportunity to advocate on behalf of an organization that’s history is steeped in defending First Amendment principles. 

Many people don’t realize that the MPAA itself was born as an answer to government censorship.  Before the establishment of the MPAA’s Classifications and Rating Administration, early filmmakers battled a mishmash of local, state and federal boards that mandated strict “moral standards” that often destroyed the artistic integrity of films or kept them from being shown at all. 

In the early 1920’s, for example, a pregnant woman could appear onscreen in New York, but not in Pennsylvania.  Even when censorship boards in different jurisdictions were implementing substantially identical regulations, each board would often demand different changes.  It was a system that was both prohibitively expensive and restrictive for many filmmakers. 

Since 1968, the Classifications and Rating Administration’s voluntary ratings system and its partnership with the National Association of Theater Owners have served to effectively educate moviegoers about content contained in films and to bar unaccompanied minors from viewing films meant strictly for mature audiences.  This system of self-regulation rendered government censorship of artistic expression superfluous.  

I’m honored to be part of this history.  As head of the MPAA, I will continue to promote the power of film as an effective, moving and extremely valuable form of expression and the need for governments here and abroad to foster and protect the creativity of filmmakers, not censor it.


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