MEXICO

Chris Dodd: “We must stop depicting Mexico as narcoland”

President of Motion Picture Association of America defends copyright law on visit to southern neighbor

Chris Dodd, president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Chris Dodd, president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

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Chris Dodd believes that a good story can change a life. “Imagine how many people emigrated to the United States because they saw a Hollywood film,” he says. The theme of this 72-year-old’s story is power. Dodd represented Connecticut in the US Senate for 30 years and became one of the most respected members of the Democratic Party. He left Congress in 2011, but remains in the halls of power. He now serves as chairman and CEO of the powerful Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), a lobby that represents the interests of the six major Hollywood studios in Washington. Every year, the organization rates 750 films. “Fifty or 60 generate 90% of the revenue, the rest are garbage,” Dodd says.

Movies such as ‘The Sound of Music’ will fall into the public domain next year when they turn 50

In Mexico to attend the Morelia International Film Festival, the former senator found a few hours to see the sights, taking in the church of San Francisco, home to the city’s oldest chapel. Franciscans built it in 1536 and its presence played a part in the growth of the city. “This is a great place, full of vitality. We must stop depicting Mexico and Latin America as narcoland. It’s offensive and scares people,” Dodd insists.

The veteran politician spoke about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during a press conference at the film festival. Hollywood strongly supports the controversial trade deal because it would force the 11 countries that sign it to negotiate and establish comparable laws on many issues, including copyright and intellectual property rights. “I voted for many agreements over the course of 36 years, some good and others bad. This one is very good because it eliminates 18,000 taxes on goods and services,” Dodd explains to EL PAÍS.

Developing countries need to protect their content  Chris Dodd

The TPP would require all signatories to preserve copyright privilege for a further 20 years in order to match existing regulations in the United States. In most countries, copyright privilege remains in effect up to 50 years after the creator’s death. The treaty would extend it to 70 years for individuals and up to 95 years for corporations. TPP negotiations involve 12 nations: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The Barack Obama administration has tried to underline the importance of this agreement by reminding filmmakers that some of the industry’s gems from 1966 such as The Sound of Music and Doctor Zhivago would fall into the public domain next year when they turn 50.

Dodd, who proudly sports his Aztec Eagle medal, the highest honor the Mexican government awards to foreigners, also spoke about piracy, which he says costs Mexico $2.3 billion every year, based on figures provided by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office unit that specializes in copyright and intellectual property.

The former senator says Mexico exports 100,000 hours’ worth of television to more than 100 countries in 30 languages. “Developing countries need to protect their content or they will be taken over by multinational corporations that will become the owners of their personal information and data. It’s a kind of neocolonialism because it takes away those nations’ opportunity to develop their economies and improve the lives of their citizens. Copyright is a fundamental element in the equation,” Dodd says.

The MPAA has backed the creation of streaming platforms as an alternative to illegal downloads. It takes pirates about six seconds to re-upload content they download from unlicensed file-sharing websites after being slapped with an injunction. There are 400 such websites in the world: 14 of them are in Mexico.

English version by Dyane Jean-François.

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