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MPAA's Chris Dodd: Attack on Sony 'despicable, criminal'

Chris Dodd, head of Motion Picture Assn. of America, calls attack on Sony 'despicable, criminal'

The head of the Hollywood studios' chief lobbying arm on Friday called the cyberattack on Sony Pictures "a despicable, criminal act."

The statement from the Motion Picture Assn. of America came minutes after the Federal Bureau of Investigation officially accused the North Korean government of being responsible for the assault on the Culver City film and television studio.

The hackers, who call themselves Guardians of Peace, shut down the company's computer systems, exposed troves of sensitive information and ultimately forced Sony to scrap release plans for "The Interview."

“The FBI's announcement that North Korea is responsible for the attack on Sony Pictures is confirmation of what we suspected to be the case: that cyber terrorists, bent on wreaking havoc, have violated a major company to steal personal information, company secrets and threaten the American public," MPAA Chairman and Chief Executive Chris Dodd said in the statement.    

Dodd said the seriousness of the situation goes well beyond the cancellation of a movie and the contents of emails that were released by hackers. Some of the email exchanges published after the hack have been embarrassing for Sony executives, including Co-Chairman Amy Pascal, who made racially tinged jokes about President Obama in correspondences with movie producer Scott Rudin. 

The MPAA chief said the most important aspect of the attack is the threat such a large infiltration of computer systems poses to the livelihoods of those who work in the film and television industries, as well as moviegoers.

"The Internet is a powerful force for good and it is deplorable that it is being used as a weapon not just by common criminals, but also, sophisticated cyber terrorists," Dodd said. "We cannot allow that front to be opened again on American corporations or the American people." 

Earlier this week, the group issued a statement of support for Sony Pictures as it tried to recover from the hack. Until then, Sony's rivals in Hollywood had resisted making public statements about the hack and subsequent leaks.

Here is Friday's full statement from Dodd: 

"The FBI's announcement that North Korea is responsible for the attack on Sony Pictures is confirmation of what we suspected to be the case: that cyber terrorists, bent on wreaking havoc, have violated a major company to steal personal information, company secrets and threaten the American public.  It is a despicable, criminal act.

"Disappointingly, that fact has been lost in a lot of the media coverage of this over the past few weeks.  This situation is larger than a movie’s release or the contents of someone’s private emails. This is about the fact that criminals were able to hack in and steal what has now been identified as many times the volume of all of the printed material in the Library of Congress and threaten the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who work in the film and television industry, as well as the millions who simply choose to go to the movies.  The Internet is a powerful force for good and it is deplorable that it is being used as a weapon not just by common criminals, but also, sophisticated cyber terrorists. We cannot allow that front to be opened again on American corporations or the American people.”

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage @rfaughnder.

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