Business Politics

Motion Picture Association of America

Motion Picture Association of America

What they represent

America’s motion picture, television and home entertainment companies have the Motion Picture Association of America, as its trade and political representative. Under the MPAA, some of the biggest Hollywood studios have banded together, including Twentieth Century-Fox, Warner Brothers, Sony, Universal, Paramount, and Walt Disney.

More than ever, the association is bent on curbing the burgeoning piracy of motion picture, television, and home entertainment content around the world. Over the years, the MPAA has in fact made overtures to technology in a bid to prevent intellectual properties from being bootlegged.

Major issues

In 2005, MPAA launched Motion Picture Laboratories or Movielabs, designed to consolidate the association’s technological initiatives in combating motion picture theft. Research is underway on tools that would detect camcorders and adverse software, manage data, and create tools like port access.

Likewise, the MPAA affiliated with Internet2, a consortium that would create new services and applications to ultimately replace the present Internet. The MPAA even collaborated with BitTorrent in 2005 to limit its users’ access to infringing material.

In a similar vein, the MPAA has created Parent File Scan, a free search application that identifies peer-to-peer software on computers, and single out its oft-infringing downloads. There is even an education program incepted by MPAA and supported by the United States Chamber of Commerce, aiming to enlighten citizens about piracy’s economic ramifications.

As battling piracy, the MPAA is just as engrossed with lobbying for the free trade of US-made movie and programming content around the world, especially in Europe. There, trade barriers have occasionally impeded the entry of US-made films, TV shows and videos.

The Motion Picture Association was created in 1945, in the interim after World War II, when territories were still wary of propaganda material. MPA is the international arm of MPAA, with branches in São Paulo, Singapore, Brussels, and Toronto. Then as now, MPA works closely with various governments and law enforcers to promote the US movie industry.

To most of the public, the MPAA has been traditionally known as the entity that administers the movie ratings. To be rated, films are viewed by a special cadre of parents known as the CARA or Classification and Rating Administration.

A rating is established after taking into consideration the theme, violence, language, nudity, sex and drug use of a movie in question. A G rating is the most unrestrictive, such that everyone can watch it. As for an NC-17 rating, the film is deemed not suitable for those 17 and younger. Otherwise, a motion picture may be rated PG, PG-13, or R.


Based in Washington DC, the MPAA, formerly the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association, was founded in 1922. Will H. Hays, former Postmaster General and President Warren G. Harding’s campaign manager, was the first to lead the association. In response to the obscenity and decadence of motion pictures of his time, Hays formulated the Production Code, moralistic standards that films must conform to before exhibition.

For 38 years, Jack Valenti had served as the longest-running president of MPAA. During his hegemony, Valenti created the present rating system and lobbied for the passage of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. He retired in 2004.