NYC/NBCUniversal Pro-Copyright Propaganda Contest For School Kids: Facts Not Allowed And Your Rights Don't Count
from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept
You may recall that, last year, New York City began running a dreadfully misleading (and at points downright false) ad campaign to try to "stop piracy in NYC." At the time, we suspected that the campaign was really put together by NBC Universal, and the city did nothing at all to check the veracity of the claims used in the PSA. It later took a freedom of information request to the city to reveal that, indeed, the StopPiracyInNYC video campaign was actually "owned" by NBC Universal.
We were troubled to learn that the Federal Government, in the form of Homeland Security's ICE division, had also started using the same videos, never once mentioning that they were NBC Universal's videos. That's troubling enough, but it's even worse to find out that New York City has ratcheted up the campaign, still using the same NBC Universal video with false claims in it, and going into city high schools and colleges, asking students to create their own bogus propaganda video that repeats NBC Universal and the MPAA's debunked talking points.
In fact, the contest rules (in the smallest print possible) make it clear that if you produce a video that provides actual facts about how piracy has not harmed the industry -- but a failure to adapt has -- then your video won't be considered. Every entry will be given a series of points, and the single biggest point category is if the video "clearly advocates against digital piracy and content theft." So if you make a video that advocates that NBC Universal and the other major studios stop whining and start embracing new business models, well, too bad. You're out of luck. This isn't about truth. This is about corporate propaganda in NYC schools, sponsored by the city.
If you dig into the actual "rules" (pdf) for the contest (which are quite buried on the site, but are embedded below), you discover some interesting tidbits. While nowhere on the contest website does NYC admit that NBC Universal is the real sponsor behind this campaign, you do find that information buried in the rules. The rules make it clear that this is a joint project of NYC and NBCUniversal, along with some design agencies.
And, um, must we point out the seeming irony that this video contest is supposed to be about promoting the importance of the protection of copyright... but in order to enter, you agree to completely give up your ability to assert your own copyright?
All Submissions become the property of the Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned.... BY MAKING A SUBMISSION, ENTRANT ACKNOWLEDGES THAT HIS/HER SUBMISSION MAY BE POSTED ON SPONSOR’S WEB SITE, AT SPONSOR’S DISCRETION. Making a Submission grants Sponsor and its agents the right to publish, use, adapt, edit and/or modify such Submission in any way, in any and all media, without limitation, and without consideration to the entrant.Oh, but that's not the best part. You see, if you win, you have to agree to turn over the copyright, and admit that this video is a "work made for hire" under copyright law, so you can't ever use termination rights to get it back:
By accepting a prize Winner (and Winner’s parent or legal guardian if Winner is an eligible minor) agrees that his/her Submission will be deemed a Work Made For Hire under the Copyright laws of the United States, but if it cannot be so deemed, then Winner irrevocably assigns and transfers to Sponsor all of his/her right, title and interest in and to his/her Submission, including all but not limited to all copyright and trademark rights which he or she may have, in the United States and worldwide, therein, for consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged. Winner hereby waives in favor of Sponsor, all rights of “Droit Moral” or “Moral Rights of Authors” or any similar rights or principles of law that winner may now or later have to his/her Submission. Sponsor reserves the right to alter, change or modify Winner’s Submission, in its sole discretion. Upon request of Sponsor, Winner (and Winner’s parent or legal guardian if Winner is an eligible minor) shall execute and deliver such additional instrument of assignment (“Assignment”), as may be solely deemed by Sponsor, reasonably necessary to establish the ownership of record of the right, title and interest in and to the Submission and of the copyrights transferred and “Moral Rights of Authors” waived under these Official Rules. Should Sponsor fail to request Assignment as stated, that shall not be deemed a waiver of Sponsor’s rights and Sponsor may at a later time request Assignment.In other words, the real message of this "contest" is that you should create a video about respecting copyrights... and if you do so, we'll trample all over your copyrights.
Anyway. The grand prize for this is a mere $500. We must be able to do better than that as a community. If anyone is interested in contributing to a fund to create a "competing" contest, hit us up over email, and we'll see if we can offer a better prize for a more truthful contest...