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Jack Valenti, former head of MPAA, dies

Lobbyist dies weeks after suffering stroke, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Jack Valenti, the longtime Washington lobbyist for the motion picture industry has died, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Valenti suffered a stroke in March and was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for weeks before returning home to Washington on Tuesday, the newspaper reported.

As chief of the Motion Picture of Assn. of America for nearly 40 years, Valenti became famous for creating the movie-rating system (G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17).

In Silicon valley, many technologists considered Valenti an antagonist and enemy of innovation.

Twenty-five years ago this month, Valenti testified before a congressional committee reviewing whether it was legal for people to use VCRs when he uttered his now famous quote: "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone."

Under Valenti, the MPAA has waged an aggressive legal battle with those it accuses of pirating copyright work. The MPAA has also actively policed peer-to-peer sites, supported the broadcast flag and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. In addition, Valenti was a vocal proponent of strong digital rights management.

In a interview with CNET News.com2004 just before he retired, Valenti said that he thought that the biggest challenge facing his successor would be protecting content.

"If you can't protect what you own, you don't own anything," Valenti said.