Press Realizing That ICE May Be Breaking The Law Showing NBC Universal Propaganda Films On Domains It Seized
from the oops dept
Over the last year or so, we’ve been one of the few publications out there following the exceptionally questionable use of NBC propaganda material by the federal government as if it were its own content. You may recall that NBC Universal created some propaganda “anti-piracy” PSAs for New York City, in which actor/comedian Tom Pappa claims “there’s no such thing as a free movie.” The irony that he’s saying so while appearing on a free YouTube video stream is apparently totally lost on him.
A few months later, the same video, minus references to NYC, appeared on the YouTube page of the Immigrations & Customs Enforcement group ICE (part of Homeland Security). No reference was made to the fact that the video was created by NBC Universal. A few weeks later, these videos started appearing on domains that ICE had seized, and then forfeited.
After filing a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, we found out that the videos were property of NBC Universal — something that ICE (to this day) refuses to disclose. Further FOIA requests turned up no records of ICE ever properly licensing the video.
Already, this should be exceptionally troubling. ICE running corporate propaganda without any disclosure? And doing so on websites it had seized under questionable legality?
Turns out the story gets even worse. Jeff Roberts over at PaidContent notes that, under civil forfeiture procedures, the federal government must sell or destroy forfeited property. It cannot keep it and use it for itself. It does not appear to be legal to make use of the property for other purposes — and certainly not for spreading corporate propaganda without disclosure.
The article also points out, quite reasonably, that it seems odd that ICE is using these videos — which present a ridiculously inaccurate and one-sided argument that “piracy” is taking away movie industry jobs — on web sites seized & forfeited for trademark violations. That seems extra weird. The sites have nothing to do with downloading movies, as the video discusses. And do the big brand companies that urged ICE to seize these domains to “protect their trademarks” really feel comfortable with the federal government now running NBC Universal propaganda on those domains instead?