Report: Dodd on verge of becoming MPAA chairman

Pisano said the misplaced attention on the search for his replacement trivialized the important issues facing the movie industry and the 2.5 million Americans it employs, calling it "background noise."

“As we say in the movie business, we're separating ourselves from all the other chatter and background noise in the market place,” Pisano said.

But the MPAA is optimistic about its legislative prospects this Congress, thanks to the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last year before stalling in the full Senate.

The MPAA is among the strongest supporters of the legislation, which would give the Justice Department expedited authority to shut down domains found trafficking in counterfeit or pirated content.

But several firms and advocacy groups have expressed concern about the bill's authorities, which they fear are too broad.

Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyLawmakers, celebs honor Tony Bennett with Library of Congress Gershwin Prize Dem senator jokes: 'Moment of weakness' led me to share photo comparing Trump, Obama Leahy presses Trump court nominee over LGBTQ tweets MORE (D-Vt.) recently held a hearing where he predicted a version of the bill will pass this year. Pisano said such efforts are crucial to ensuring competition and encouraging studios to invest more into the online video market.

“I don’t care how much you talk about it you can’t compete with free,” Pisano said, adding that the movie industry is also focused on ensuring any potential regulatory system for online video allows new business models to develop.

Pisano said studios are interested in innovating for the online space, such as allowing high-definition movies to be streamed directly into homes ahead of their DVD release date. He said several studios plan to begin doing so in the first half of this year.

Pisano also suggested that while the movie industry's policy issues are generally non-partisan, the Obama administration's technology-savvy has made them more aware of the importance of cracking down on Web piracy.

He praised the recent actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to shut down domains that provide pirate materials.

"We're very supportive and delighted they're doing it," Pisano said.

As to what type of organization will await Dodd when he begins, an MPAA spokesman acknowledged the organization sustained a 20 percent budget cut during the height of the recession but said the MPAA's decision was not unlike those taken by many peer trade groups.

The spokesman said the MPAA has the resources to remain active on a variety of wide-ranging issues. The organization spent $1.7 million on lobbying in 2010 after spending $1.9 million in 2009 and a high of $2.7 million during 2008 according to data from OpenSecrets.