MPAA Lobbyists threaten frivolous lawsuit to block CDA


For Immediate Release: May 21, 2007
David Miller (Cincinnati Office) 513-733-5775
Barry Sheets (Columbus Office) 614-920-1490

Pornography and MPAA lobbyists team up to defeat anti-crime legislation

MPAA threatens state with frivolous lawsuit

Cincinnati, OH – In an 11th-hour effort to prevent a bill that would place statewide regulations on sexually oriented businesses from becoming law, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has advised Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann that an incidental reference to MPAA ratings in the bill may be legally inappropriate. For this reason the MPAA threatens to file suit against the State of Ohio if the Community Defense Act (SB-16) become law.

“The obvious reason for the MPAA’s outrageous threat,” said Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, the organization that sponsored the bill on behalf of Ohio voters, “is to provide Governor Strickland (D) a trumped-up reason to veto a bill that the Ohio Legislature made sure was constitutionally sound in every respect.”

Because of strong leadership by Senate President Bill Harris (R) and Speaker of the House John Husted (R) to make sure SB-16 was constitutionally sound this anti-crime legislation passed the Senate and House of Representatives with a bi-partisan veto proof vote of 24-8 and 73-24 respectively. The Senate is expected to approve changes made in the House when it meets in session tomorrow.

The MPAA rating codes “NC17” and “R” appear in the definitions section of Sub. SB-16 only to explain that the selling, renting or showing of movies so rated does not qualify an establishment as a “sexually oriented business.”

CCV obtained a copy of a document forwarded to the Attorney General’s office, titled “Memorandum in Opposition to Incorporation of the MPAA Rating System into Ohio Senate Bill 16.” The MPAA memorandum suggests that the use of such terms in state legislation may be unlawful and unconstitutional and may subject taxpayers to a liability.

Said Burress, “Clearly this is nothing more than a ploy by the MPAA and the pornography industry is to deceive Governor Strickland into thinking that he needs to veto the Community Defense Act.”

Burress explains that the cases referred to in the MPAA’s memorandum were completely irrelevant to the use made of the terms in Sub SB16. Additionally, Burress pointed to a case recently decided in the 5th Circuit Federal Court that upheld an almost identical use of the rating codes in a law regulating sex businesses. He noted that the MPAA failed to mention the 5th circuit case in their memo.

CCV immediately forwarded the MPAA memorandum along with a copy of Sub SB-16 to two highly respected law firms for review by attorneys specializing in both copyright law and constitutional law. Attorneys from both firms, Keating Muething & Klekamp and Taft, Stettinius and Hollister, responded immediately, in writing, that the MPAA objections were false. Those opinions were forwarded to Attorney General Marc Dann.

“The reason the MPAA is rushing to aid of the pornography industry is because Sub SB16 will force all adult bookstores, peep booths and massage parlors to close at midnight,” said Burress. “It really doesn’t take an attorney to see what’s going on here.”

“The association between the pornography industry and the MPAA is well known. The bill that the General Assembly soon will be sending the Governor’s office is constitutionally sound in every respect and has been debated in both houses. In addition, a poll by Washington D.C.-based the polling company, conducted last weekend, shows that a majority of Ohioans recognize the need for this legislation. This is nothing more than a desperate attempt to compel Governor Strickland to veto the bill on a totally ungrounded basis.”