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MPAA veteran Jack Valenti dead at 85

Champion of free speech, and DRM

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Former Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Chairman Jack Valenti is dead following complications of a stroke suffered in March. The voice of the MPAA for nearly 40 years, Valenti's public career began during the Johnson administration, when he served as an advisor and confidant to the late President.

Valenti is best known for devising Hollywood's G-to-X ratings system in a deliberate effort to thwart censorship. All the sex and lavish violence that theatre-goers enjoy today were vouchsafed by Valenti's "educated consumer" approach to movie content. A tireless advocate and lobbyist, Valenti remained throughout his career an energetic defender of the movie industry's interests. Most recently he's been known for an alarmist approach to digital piracy, which he predicted would bring Hollywood to its knees unless such Draconian measures as the DMCA were put in place.

A Washington insider, he was well known and welcomed warmly on Capitol Hill, where he became a favourite witness in Congressional hearings touching on movies, broadcast issues, censorship, and copy protection schemes. He could always be counted on to represent the industry faithfully and vigorously, typically with an oratorical style bordering on the archaic.

He served his country honourably during World War II as an Army B-25 bomber pilot, and flew more than 50 missions in Europe.

He is survived by his widow Mary, son John, and daughters Courtenay and Alexandra. ®

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