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January 25, 2006

Hoist By Their Own Petard? [8:51 am]

When worlds collide: Avast, ye pirates! [pdf]

Is the leader in the global fight against movie piracy a pirate too? That’s exactly what director Kirby Dick is charging. He says the Motion Picture Assn. of America made a bootleg copy of “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” his angry broadside against the organization’s film rating system.

The MPAA has admitted that it duplicated the documentary without the filmmaker’s permission — Dick had submitted his movie to its rating board in November. But the Hollywood trade organization said that it did not break copyright law, insisting that the dispute is part of a Dick-orchestrated “publicity stunt” to boost the film’s profile.

[...] The filmmaker said that when he asked MPAA lawyer Greg Goeckner what right his organization had to make the copy, Goeckner told him that Dick and his crew had potentially invaded the privacy of the MPAA’s movie raters.

“We made a copy of Kirby’s movie because it had implications for our employees,” said Kori Bernards, the MPAA’s vice president for corporate communications. She said Dick spied on the members of the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration, including going through their garbage and following them as they drove their children to school.

“We were concerned about the raters and their families,” Bernards said. She said the MPAA’s copy of “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” is “locked away” and is not being copied or distributed.

The standard the MPAA is using for itself appears to be at odds with what the organization sets out for others: “Manufacturing, selling, distributing or making copies of motion pictures without the consent of the copyright owners is illegal,” the MPAA’s website says. “Movie pirates are thieves, plain and simple…. ALL forms of piracy are illegal and carry serious legal consequences.”

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