LOS ANGELES — In the fall of 2012, Ruth Vitale, a sassy independent film executive, nosed her horse into a badly directed jump and crashed in the mud.
The animal was fine. But Ms. Vitale broke her back, providing painful perspective on the need for the right mix of caution and daring when faced with an obstacle.
And the lesson may now ease her leap into another quagmire: the online piracy debate.
“It was pilot error,” Ms. Vitale said of the riding accident, though she could well have been describing the crackup, just months before her own, of Hollywood’s push for broad antipiracy legislation in both houses of Congress.
In a surprise move, Ms. Vitale, who built her executive reputation on hip films like “Hustle & Flow” and “The Virgin Suicides,” last month was named executive director of CreativeFuture, a coalition of movie and television producers, unions and companies that are bound by a common determination to get a grip, finally, on Hollywood’s digital future.
The entertainment industry is usually more comfortable with backdoor maneuvers than with public campaigns. But a Beltway lobbying operation by the Motion Picture Association of America and others was smashed in early 2012 by the combined effort of Silicon Valley giants like Google, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and grass-roots web activists. Together they persuaded Congress to abandon proposed antipiracy laws as unduly restrictive of online freedom.
Credit Stephanie Diani for The New York Times
Two years later, Hollywood is beginning to respond. Its new strategy generally eschews legislation, pursues voluntary agreements with legitimate companies that may be complicit with film piracy, and is looking for help from young consumers.
But it also counts on the now slightly tempered brassiness of Ms. Vitale, who said she was openly frustrated at seeing techies steal the movie world’s sense of cool.
“We’re the cool kids. We actually adopt new technology every day,” snapped Ms. Vitale, who spoke on Wednesday morning at Ago, a West Hollywood restaurant that was co-founded by Robert De Niro, and that finds her cool enough to have opened its doors an hour early for her interview.
The New York Times MARCH 30, 2014