MPAA looks for strong voice to represent them on the Hill

WASHINGTON: The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is

searching for a high-level lobbyist to help protect the industry from

piracy, copyright and intellectual property theft and a whole host of

issues facing the entertainment industry.



Even though domestic gross box office receipts reached new highs last

year of $7.66 billion, the number of screens and theaters are in

decline.



Phuong Yokitis, director of public affairs, said MPAA is doing a "slight

internal reorganization" and the new person will report to Fritz Attawy,

vice president and counsel for legislative affairs. The former lobbyist,

Cindi Tripodi, who left a month ago to become director of government

relations at Public Strategies (PSI), had reported to John Liebowitz, VP

of congressional lobbying.



One of the biggest issues facing the motion picture industry is the

piracy of copyrighted material. The digital age has increased the ease

of theft of intellectual property, which can be distributed without

proper licensing or fees.



Illegal Internet downloads of movies have become so commonplace that

Jack Valenti, MPAA president, recently brought the issue up before a

Senate Judiciary Committee.



According to MPAA statistics, since 1995, authorities have seized more

than 1.1 million pirated video cassettes, worth more than $62

million retail. Piracy is estimated to cost MPAA members more than

$87 million annually.



Yokitis said that other issues facing the association, which represents

the entertainment industry from film to cable and home video, include

First Amendment and trade issues. Furthermore, the entertainment

industry still faces ongoing criticism from organizations that object to

depictions of violence in movies available to children.



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