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Name and title: Fritz Attaway, executive vice president for government relations and Washington general counsel Age: 57 years Fritz v. The Copyright Pirates: It might have been a movie . . . if only intellectual property lawyers were a bigger demographic. The film’s protagonist would be Fritz Attaway, general counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America Inc. (MPAA). His mission: to protect Hollywood from high-tech pirates who hawk bootleg movies on videos, DVDs and over the Internet. In the early 1990s, the lawyer represented the studios in discussions with the consumer electronics industry over anti-piracy technology in DVDs. At stake in the negotiation, Attaway said, was the commercial viability of the new digital recording product. “Studios were unwilling to license products to be played on devices that would allow the unbridled copying and redistribution of movies,” he said, “and consumer electronic companies spent billions of dollars in the development of this new technology, but there was no market for it because there was no content.” Ultimately, the electronics industry agreed to install the content scramble system, or CSS, on discs containing MPAA content. As a result of this pact, said Attaway, DVDs have become the fastest-growing consumer electronics product in history, and are now the largest single revenue source for the U.S. movie industry. Attaway has been a key player in MPAA’s push for stricter laws against digital piracy. This work began in the early 1990s after long-time MPAA President and CEO Jack Valenti was named to the Clinton administration’s National Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee. Intent on avoiding the rampant copyright piracy suffered by the music industry, Valenti and Attaway helped persuade the administration to sign the 1996 Copyright Convention drafted by the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Copyright Convention obliged signatory states to protect anti-piracy technology such as CSS. Back in the U.S., Attaway played a supporting role to Valenti’s lobbying and testifying before Congress in favor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, the federal legislation implementing the WIPO Convention. The enactment of the act “is probably the highlight of my career,” said Attaway. Big Business: MPAA is a trade association representing America’s largest producers and marketers of movies, television programs and videos. Its seven members are Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Universal Studios Inc., The Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. The MPAA advocates for the economic, political and legal interests of the movie industry. It also runs the movie industry’s G through NC-17 movie-rating system. Most of the MPAA’s 175 employees work in the association’s largest office in Encino, Calif. However, the organization is headquartered in Washington. Advise and Consent: Attaway is one of three general counsel at MPAA. Simon Barsky heads a five-lawyer office in Encino that oversees litigation and deals with most routine general counsel matters. Ted Shapiro and two other lawyers work in Brussels, at the affiliated Motion Picture Association, which handles the association’s international matters. From his D.C. office, located a block from the White House, Attaway heads MPAA’s governmental relations department, serving as Valenti’s chief counsel for legislative, regulatory and trade policy matters. Attaway and his four-person staff focus on congressional, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other governmental activity affecting the movie industry. Trial Run: While Attaway might be an unlikely star in a Hollywood action movie, his Norwegian nemesis is hardly a villain from Central Casting. In 1999, a bespectacled, 16-year-old computer wunderkind named Jon Johansen created software that allowed consumers to remove CSS copy-protection from their DVD discs. Within weeks, Johansen’s “Decode Copy Scrambling System,” or DeCSS, could be downloaded from scores of Web sites worldwide. In January 2000, MPAA sued Johansen and the DeCSS Web sites in the Southern District of New York. Attaway consulted with litigation counsel, New York’s Proskauer Rose, helping to write the briefs that persuaded the district court and the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that distribution of the DeCSS violated the DMCA and was not protected by the First Amendment. The defendants have not appealed the “slam dunk” 2d Circuit ruling, Attaway said. Digital Man: Attaway is now battling copyright pirates in the new digital television medium. He has drafted the MPAA’s comments supporting proposed FCC regulations that would require anti-piracy technology in digital TV equipment. The rule would require equipment to respond to a “broadcast flag,” an electronic signal designed to thwart the retransmission of digital TV broadcasts over the Internet. Without a broadcast flag, Attaway testified at a House hearing in March, digital TV broadcasts will be subject to rampant, royalty-free redistribution throughout the world. “The threat of such wide-scale piracy will lead content creators to cease making their high-value programming available over digital broadcast television,” Attaway warned. Outside Counsel: Williams & Connolly of Washington for general legal matters; Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld for legislative issues; Proskauer Rose for copyright and technology matters; and Smith & Metalitz for trade and copyright. Hollywood Bound: Attaway graduated in 1968 from the College of Idaho with a degree in business and political science. He then served a two-year stint in the U.S. Army special forces. After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School in 1973, Attaway became a staff attorney in the FCC’s cable television bureau. In 1976, Attaway went in-house at the MPAA, becoming vice president of congressional affairs in 1978 and Washington GC in 1993. Personal Best: Attaway and his wife, the former E. Pembroke Cartwright, live in Falls Church, Va., with a Tibetan spaniel named Tashi Gong. Last Film Seen: Seabiscuit, produced by MPAA member Universal Studios. “I’m not much of a film buff,” confessed the movie moguls’ lawyer. Last Book: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche. -William C. Smith

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