Interview with Jack Valenti


Wow, Jack Valenti, outgoing president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), once again shows us just how much he ‘gets it’ in this interview with Endgadget.

Over time, I believe that technological innovation is the best way to go…I have said, technology is what causes the problem, and technology will be the salvation of the problem. I really do believe we can stuff enough algorithms in a movie that only the dedicated hackers can spend the time and effort to try to plumb through those 1,000 algorithms to try to find a way to beat it.

So, the problem is that you just haven’t found a way to “stuff” enough algorithms into the movies? Maybe you need smaller algorithms? Hey Jack, what’s an algorithm?

We’re trying to put in place technological magic that can combat the technological magic that allows thievery…A lot of people are working on it–IBM, Microsoft and maybe 10 other companies, plus the universities of Caltech and MIT, to try to find the kind of security clothing that we need to put around our movies.

Technological magic? That’s genius.

It may be possible to so infect a movie with some kind of circuitry that allows people to copy to their heart’s content, but the copied result would come out with decayed fidelity with respect to sound and color. Another would be to have some kind of design in a movie that would say, ‘copy never,’ ‘copy once.’

It may be possible to ‘infect’ a movie with ‘circuitry?’ Technological magic, indeed…

Here’s what he has to say on Fair Use:

There is no fair use to take something that doesn’t belong to you. That’s not fair use. If you’re a professor in a classroom, you show ‘Singing in the Rain’ to your class. You can fast forward it, and there’s no performance fee for that. That’s fair use. Now, fair use is not in the law. People are taking fair use and changing it to unfair use and claiming it’s fair use.

Uh… first, fair use is law. Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 17. And second, uh, fast forwarding is his idea of fair use? Was there ever a question of wether we should pay a performance fee for fast forwarding a movie??

And forget about Backup – here’s what he has to say to a mother who wants to make a backup of her kids’ DVD movies:

When you go to your department store and you buy 10 Cognac glasses and two weeks later you break two of them, the store doesn’t give you two backup copies. Where did this backup copy thing come from? A digital thing lasts forever.

A digital thing lasts forever. Yep, just ask anyone who’s lost data to a corrupt hard drive, or had a CD or DVD rendered useless by a scratch.

And just in case you mistook him for a sane person, he ends by comparing himself to JFK:

I was in Dallas in the motorcade on Nov. 22, 1963, and I saw that day a brave young president murdered, and a new president take over. The president is dead, long live the president, the nation goes on. No one is indispensible, I learned that day in Dallas. My successor will come into this job and he won’t be me, but he might do a hell of a lot better job than I’m doing.

Well, at least we can hope his successor doesn’t believe in “technological magic” and has some grounding in the technological reality that we are living in.