Copyright Industry Hard-Hitter Fritz Attaway Retires

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Fritz Attaway, a fighter for copyright in the international legal and policy trenches for nearly four decades has retired, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has announced.

Attaway served as a top attorney at MPAA for 36 years, during which time the film industry underwent drastic changes with the advent of the internet, which led to worldwide battles against unauthorised use of copyrighted material, efforts to find new business models, and increasingly strong copyright protection. Attaway proved a formidable contributor to policymaking as well as opponent of those trying to prevent overly strong copyright laws.

“Over the past nearly four decades, few have contributed more to creating the legal and policy landscape that has fostered a thriving motion picture industry than Fritz,” MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd said in a statement.

MPAA said in a release: “Attaway was hired by Jack Valenti in 1976 as the sole attorney in the MPAA Washington office and worked closely with Valenti for the next 28 years, advancing to Senior Vice President and Washington General Counsel, and later Executive Vice President. Valenti also praised Attaway in his book, This Time, This Place, calling him ‘the master of copyright law.’ Attaway was a pallbearer at Valenti’s funeral in 2007.”

MPAA continued: “In 1976, Attaway played a role in the final negotiations on the revision of the Copyright Act concluded that year, and went on to have leading roles for MPAA in a number of landmark events for the motion picture industry, including the US/Canada Free Trade Agreement (1987) and the Uruguay Round Agreement (1994), U.S. accession to the Berne Copyright Convention (1988), the World Intellectual Property Organization ‘Internet’ treaties (1996), the copy protection measures that led to the marketing of DVDs (1997), the enactment of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) and most recently, the adoption of the WIPO Audiovisual Performers Treaty in June of this year.”

Attaway was listed as a member of the US delegation to the Beijing Treaty negotiations (IPW, Copyright Policy, 29 June 2012).

“Few people spend over 36 years at one organization, and even fewer can say that they look back on that time with immense satisfaction and no regrets,” Attaway said in the statement. “I had the incredible privilege of being mentored by one of hardest working, most erudite and kindest individuals one could ever meet, one who made MPAA the gold standard of Washington trade associations, and I represented a high profile industry undergoing monumental change. For a farm boy from Idaho, it has been a great ride.”

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