U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales came to Hollywood on April 28 to emphasize that Internet piracy is best fought by balancing prosecution with education so that young people know the costs and co
LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) -- U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales came to Hollywood on April 28 to emphasize that Internet piracy is best fought by balancing prosecution with education so that young people know the costs and consequences.
Gonzales, the nation's top law-enforcement official, made the appearance at the taping of a TV special that will be supplied to schools and featured in coming weeks on Court TV.
"Intellectual property theft is against the law, and there are consequences for things you do today -- even at your age -- that can follow you the rest of your life," Gonzales told the 120 Los Angeles-area high school students who attended the taping on UCLA's Westwood campus. "Most of you don't realize that, and I know you want to do the right thing -- I'm positive of that -- and so we're here to educate you about the consequences of that conduct."
The latest installment of the Department of Justice's "Activate Your Mind: Protect Your Ideas" also featured Motion Picture Assn. of America president/CEO Dan Glickman, Screen Actors' Guild secretary-treasurer James Cromwell and U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Debra Yang.
Despite the warnings, the event's mood was upbeat as Gonzales tried to appeal to the students' love of movies and creative aspirations.
"We want to encourage our brightest minds in America to invent, to create, to write and to compose, and we want to encourage that by passing laws that protect that effort," Gonzales said.
In a separate news conference, Gonzales said his office was ready to enforce the newly enacted Family Movie Act, which criminalizes the distribution of prerelease content. Still, nabbing people with camcorders in theaters might be better left to local and state law enforcement, he said.
"Obviously, for the Department of Justice the fight against terrorism is still the No. 1 priority, but my presence here is to acknowledge that [fighting piracy] is a priority for this community, and we are doing what we can to address this problem," Gonzales said, adding that the studios also need to play their part.
The studios' efforts have been spearheaded by the MPAA through a series of civil lawsuits against illegal movie trading.
"If people steal a movie, whether it be physically on the streets or an illegal download, it creates much less incentive to make [a movie] in the first place, [and] that's a really bad thing for you and the country as a whole," Glickman told the students. "I'll bet you there are movies that have changed your lives. We're proud of that, and we want to keep it alive and this industry strong."
Some students wondered whether piracy was fueled in part by the ever-increasing price of theater tickets, which they in turn saw as tied to the $20 million contracts for top-line actors.
"How big of a threat could it be if you guys are still making billions and billions of dollars?" one student asked. "And who are we actually stealing from? The people who are making the billions of dollars or the ones who don't actually produce?"
Glickman said that exhibitors set ticket prices and that most people who work in Hollywood are just making a living.
"My judgment is, if we don't deal with it now, it will be a crisis as big as it's been for the music industry over the last few years," Glickman said. "But it's also a real crisis if you can't get your movie made because the studio says that because of piracy we don't have the resources to make your movie."