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Appeared on: Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Chairman & Chief Executive of Motion Picture Association speaks about digital piracy...

A call for Germany, the European Union and the United States to forge strong barriers to digital piracy offered by JACK VALENTI, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, THE MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION, before the DVD Entertainment 2002 Trade Forum, at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel, in Munich, Germany...

"...One of the most unforgettable events in my life took place right here in Munich. It was the evening of June 19, 1984, almost twenty years ago. But what happened that night is seared in my memory, never to be erased.

It was on that June evening that I dined with Franz-Josef Strauss.

For almost four hours we talked, or rather he talked. I listened, asked questions. I was absolutely fascinated by him. Later on I said to my colleagues that I had met and talked with "one of the great men of Europe, and indeed the world." I understand why he was held so high in the hearts of the citizens of Bavaria. He was that rarity, a formidable leader who led. He never raised his finger to test the political winds. He knew who he was, what he believed in, and he was never false to the people he had by solemn oath sworn to serve. He was a man of convictions. It has been my political experience that a man without convictions will be right only by accident.

So as I return to Munich, the memory of that night with Franz-Josef Strauss is as alive today as it was over eighteen years ago.

I come here today to talk to you about the great promise of the digital future, as well as its potential for danger to all those who are the creative story tellers whose wonderful works entertain people in movie theaters, on television, satellite and cable, and in their homes via videocassettes and DVDs.

I believe that the Internet can be a handsome new delivery system for all of us, Americans, Germans and other countries, to dispatch to families the best of our visual entertainment. Consumers everywhere will then be able to have another option for watching movies.

But we cannot allow ourselves to be so seduced by the prospect of this new, magical Internet delivery system that we grow careless about how Germany, the other member states of the European Union and the United States protect all of our valuable creative works in digital form.

There are many in my country who have a curious philosophy which essentially has turned upside down an ancient civic morality which informs us that it is wrong to take what does not belong to you, without the consent of the owner. It is wrong to shatter the civic contract which binds together a free society. It is wrong to embrace a tattered moral mind-set that declares whatever is on the Internet ought to be FREE to everyone. It is wrong to illegally download movies, scorning payment to their authors and copyright holders, and find asking permission of the owner a kind of foolishness that only the stupid would engage in. It is wrong to insist that the new digital world is one where no one pays for anything.

A research firm in my country recently reported that 400,000 to 600,000 movies are being illegally downloaded EVERY DAY in America.

So I say to you if ever there was a single issue which ought to unite the creative communities of the world, directors, writers, producers, actors, studios, production companies engaged in film, television and home video arenas, it is the great issue of digital piracy. Those who steal movies – "steal" is a harsh word but it precisely defines the act – off the Internet or by illegally copying DVDs, are open-minded. They steal any movie, no matter its national, ethnic or cultural origin. If it is a popular film, it is fair game for theft. Therefore we are all vulnerable, Germans, the European Union, central and eastern Europeans, Asians, Latin Americans and the USA.

To make the Internet come alive as a brand new delivery system to benefit consumers, we have to fasten our courage to the sticking place and do what needs to be done.

What should we do? There is much we can do and ought to do.

First, let us build together a Global Alliance whose mandate it is to Protect Creative Works in the Digital World. None of us can go this alone. We need each other because we all speak the same language, the language of the cinema. So let us start the building of this Global Alliance of every nation in the world who wants to protect its precious creative works.

Second, we, together, have to design technological, governmental and private sector tools to fight back and not let pirates rule the field. Right now, in the Bundesrat/Bundestag, the German government is now in the process of drafting your implementation of the EU Copyright Directive. This implementation is your first line of defense. If it is porous, if it is weak, if it hesitates to do what must be done, the battle for protection in the digital environment is lost even before it begins. Your final draft has to be strong, tough, uncompromising. If it isn't, you put to peril every German film already made or will be made.

Germany and the European Union must also forge an enforcement directive that is armed with hard, sharp teeth. If that planned enforcement directive has soft edges, if it sits on a spongy bottom, you will cheer and delight those who traffic in thievery, in both the analog and digital format.

Germany's creative community is shaping a new film and television industry in this country which is being noticed and applauded throughout Europe. The number of audience-appealing films and TV programs, created by German artists, is riding a rising curve of quality and success. But if your implementation of the Copyright Directive lacks the energy of commitment and is barren of an unyielding resolve, which is the profile of copyright protection for your works, then German directors, writers, actors, producers in cinema, television and home video will be the losers.

I want to pay deserved tribute to the German anti-piracy organization, GVU, under the sturdy leadership of Jochem Tielke. It is lean and fit. Herr Tielke guides one of the best anti-piracy enterprises in the region.

Recently optical disc piracy, which has largely been an Asian plague, has intruded into Europe, its dark underside menacing the legal marketplace. Russia has now become a dangerous nesting ground for optical disk copying, with Russian-originated illegal DVDs intruding quickly into central and western Europe. A relentless counter-attack by the GVU is now in progress. We can thank the GVU for fighting on the front lines with tenacious vigilance against invaders dealing in home-burned optical discs, including CD-ROMs, VCDs and DVD-Rs. It's estimated that 70% of all pirated films in Germany are being distributed through the Internet. The GVU, in its counter measures, is tracking down Internet pirates who use webpages, auction sites, mailing lists and chatrooms to ply their illegitimate trade.

I want to offer public gratitude to the BVV, so skillfully led by Aki Birr. It is performing splendidly. A working dialogue between BVV and the German government has the promise of producing some visible success stories in the audiovisual industry here. I just had the pleasure of congratulating the BVV on its 20th anniversary.

The global rise of DVD as the public's favorite way to watch movies in the home has been nothing short of astounding. In Germany, DVD sales have increased 140%, 2001 over 2000. This huge uplift in revenues is a testament to the DVD's flawless fidelity to sight, sound and color which is the basis of its audience appeal. Which is why German and American producers and distributors have to enlarge our current state of solidarity, so that this valuable new option for watching movies is not desecrated by pirates.

I came here to Munich to embrace my German colleagues who are refusing to be intimidated by a tidal wave of thievery. We are all threatened by an invasion whose weaponry is an Internet that can move movies illegitimately around the world at the speed of light. How do we conduct ourselves so that the Internet, can reach its great potential, instead of becoming a shoplifter's paradise.

We do it by constructing a brave new voice, an energized force. We must forge a Global Alliance, knitting together creative communities from all over the world. That Global Alliance is beginning to take hold. To Brussels on October 14 came representatives of anti-piracy groups from all over the European Union. They gathered to trade intelligence and form strategy in their common fight against thievery. We need now to tighten the bonds that bind us together by igniting a series of regional gatherings of anti-piracy experts in the European Union, North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa. Our joint cry should be: "We're mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore."

We achieve victory by enlisting our governments in a broad mandate whose objective it is to cleanse the public marketplace of intruders, whether they come via the Internet or by truck or by train, or though the mails. We do it by never ever forgetting one ancient truth: If you cannot protect what you own, you don't own anything...."

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