Former MPAA Chairman Valenti Dies in Washington, D.C.
Late last week, The New York Times reported that Jack Valenti died in Washington, D.C. Valenti, who was 85 years old, had been the chief lobbyist for the film industry for nearly 40 years. Valenti also was a senior aide to President Lyndon Johnson.
Valenti developed the modern film rating system that distinguishes “family friendly” films from adult films. Additionally, as former chariman of the Motion Picture Association of America, Valenti was one the main people responsible for lobbying Congress for increasingly restrictive intellectual property protections, particularly in copyright.
Valenti testified before Congress often in his capacity as MPAA chairman, and frequently his lobbyist’s rhetoric was filled with what George Orwell once called linguistic “swindles and perversions.” Among his most egregious statements was an opinion in January 2002 that his industry’s struggle with file sharing and other disruptive technologies was like fighting a “terrorist war.” Perhaps more than any other individual, Valenti was responsible for using grandiloquent and aggressive — but ultimately deceptive and inaccurate — language to further his industry’s political and public relations agenda. This kind discourse has helped unbalance this nation’s intellectual property laws.
David M. Halbfinger. Jack Valenti, Confidant of Presidents and Stars, Dies at 85. The New York Times. April 26, 2007.
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