Hollywood Mystery: Where is the Industry’s Good News?

Like any for-profit industry, Hollywood usually trumpets its financial successes to impress policymakers, investors, Wall Street and the general public. And this is the time of year that they usually do so, before ShoWest, the annual convention of movie theater owners. But not this year, reports Variety.

According to the trade magazine, despite a record breaking year at both the domestic and International the box office in 2008, MPAA President Dan Glickman has decided not to tout his members' success. But why wouldn't Hollywood want to show their importance to the economy, particularly in light of the country's financial hard times? Variety reports that the studios have been quiet because they unsuccessfully tried to belly up to the stimulus trough - to the tune of $246 million dollars in tax credits, and want to try again to get those credits this Congress.

Another reason Hollywood may not want to boast about its second record breaking year in a row is that it seriously undercuts its one of its principal arguments for stronger online copyright enforcement and technology mandates. That argument goes like this: if people can get easy illegal access to movies online, they won't pay to go to the movie theater. So, if people are going to the movies in record numbers, even in a down economy, then there clearly is no need to further restrict lawful activity and innovation through vehicles like the Anticounterfeiting Trade Agreement, Selectable Output Control and automatic filtering by ISPs.

Remember that MPAA recently tried unsuccessfully to insert a provision in the stimulus bill that would have given ISPs carte blanche to filter their networks for copyright infringement. Like the tax credit provision, there is no reason to think that Hollywood won't try again to get it passed. But it is much harder to make the case for relief if policymakers know that the industry is rolling in dough.

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