By Brent Lang
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - MPAA chief Chris Dodd promised theater owners on Tuesday that he is still committed to rooting out content theft, despite seeing two major pieces of anti-piracy legislation crash and burn in spectacular fashion.
In a speech at CinemaCon, the theatrical exhibition trade show taking place this week in Las Vegas, Dodd made no direct mention of SOPA and PIPA, the two content-protection bills that wilted in congress after kicking off fierce blowback from Silicon Valley.
The Motion Picture Association of America and Dodd emerged badly bruised after protests to the legislation spread like wildfire across Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter, with opponents - including the White House - claiming the bills threatened free speech and could stifle innovation.
Those bills are in limbo, but Dodd said that the battle to protect intellectual property does not need to play out as an epic struggle between the entertainment industry and the technology sector.
"We are a nation of ideas with an economy of creators and producers," Dodd said. "But this will not continue if creators and makers cannot protect the ownership of their creations and production - whether a movie or a smartphone app."
Dodd said that both Hollywood and Silicon Valley have an interest in maintaining strong copyright and patent protections in order to ensure that their businesses keep running. To that end, he said, that they must find common ground.
"If protecting intellectual property results in an uninformed brawl between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, both sides will suffer - but more importantly, so will millions of Americans who rely on these intellectual property industries for their jobs, and on the consumers whose lives have been enriched by their efforts," Dodd said.
Though Dodd did not unveil any concrete steps he was taking to urge the government to crack down on piracy, he said he was heartened that in discussions with members of the technology sector there is an understanding that content theft is damaging.
Beyond that, the former U.S. Senator and Hollywood lobbyist said that many of the technology world's brightest lights share the same creative spark that is on display in the movie business.
"Some of the world's most brilliant technologists work in the audio/visual industry, devising new ways to bring artists' imaginations to life," Dodd said. "And, conversely, some of the world's foremost creative geniuses work in the tech industry, designing and building products that are as beautiful as they are useful - remember Steve Jobs."