Jack Valenti, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), spoke to over 150 Irish business leaders on Monday (Oct 13) at an Institute of Directors (IOD) lunch in Dublin.

In Ireland as a guest of Screen Producers Ireland (SPI), Valenti emphasised the need for legislation, education, and technological solutions to fight piracy in Europe.

In his address Valenti stated that Ireland, in its EU Presidency in 2004, could provide the type of leadership needed to protect Irish and European creative works.

He referred in particular to the EU's proposed Enforcement Directive which is currently undergoing scrutiny by the European Parliament and by the Council over which Ireland will preside. Valenti appealed to those involved with the directive to strengthen aspects relating directly to the issue of piracy.

Willie O'Reilly, president of IOD, responded, "Piracy is theft. If we wish to safeguard and develop creative activity then we need to respect the rights of the owners. Irish artists from Beckett to U2 have made enormous contributions to the creative arts, they are entitled to benefit from their labour and to have their works protected."

A morning courtesy call by Valenti to Ireland's prime minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, had to be cancelled when pressing matters called him to London for discussions with British prime minister Tony Blair and representatives of the political parties in Northern Ireland.

Having already met Irish Arts minister John O'Donoghue in Cannes last May to discuss the likely effect on incoming production of doing away with the Section 481 tax break, Valenti may have the opportunity to meet with other high-ranking Irish government officials before his departure on Oct 14.