CreativeAmerica Literally Resorts To Buying Signatures

from the grassroots! dept

Remember CreativeAmerica? This is the slickly produced operation that claims to be a “grassroots” organization in favor of SOPA and PIPA… but which is actually funded by the major studios, staffed by former MPAA employees, and has had all the major studios directly pushing employees and partners to sign up for the program — even to the point of threatening to take away business if they don’t sign.

This is also the group that was caught copying an anti-SOPA activism letter, and using the exact same words as if it was written by themselves (I guess they’re fine with plagiarism). It’s also been caught using funny math to pump up its tiny number of supporters.

In December, we joked that CreativeAmerica had resorted to buying support, after it released a big (and expensive) advertising campaign all over TV and on some big screens in Times Square. Not exactly a “grass roots” operation.

Either way, it appears the group has gone more direct now: to the point that it’s literally paying people for signatures. I’ve received very credible evidence, that a consulting firm hired by CreativeAmerica is now offering to pay people to get signatures on CreativeAmerica’s petition. The following email was forwarded to me, with some details redacted to protect privacy:

the organization I am doing work for is Creative America, which is a grassroots organization that is working to stop foreign rogue websites from illegally distributing American content such as books, music, films, etc…. These specific websites costs the U.S. and the 2.2 million middle class industry workers $5.5 billion in wages and hundreds of thousands of jobs. Your job would be just collecting signatures from whoever is interested in signing up for updates. A newsletter may come once a month and anyone can unsubscribe if they don’t want it. We don’t care if they do; all I care about is getting initial signups.

The hours are flexible and we will pay you $1/signature, so if you collect 100 signatures a week, we would pay you $100/week. We will also pay for you to go to local film festivals in the area (SXSW, Austin Film Festival, etc.). We are also taking as many people as possible, so if you have some friends who are interested in doing it we can take them as well. Let me know your thoughts….

This raises even more questions about the already anemic number of people supporting CreativeAmerica and its pro-SOPA, pro-PIPA, MPAA-driven agenda. As the email makes clear, they’re willing to pay as many people as possible to get signatures to make the group look larger than it is. That’s pretty crazy. I think we can be pretty sure that the millions of people who spoke out against SOPA/PIPA did so without someone paying them $1 per call or email.

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Companies: creativeamerica, mpaa

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Comments on “CreativeAmerica Literally Resorts To Buying Signatures”

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gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Something about hammers...

These guys are scumbags.The MPAA are scumbags.The RIAA are scumbags.The Big Content Industry are scumbags.
This News Story is not surprising at all.
Hopefully some very smart IT TYpes will be able to get into the private emails of these Arses and out to the Public the Dirt that we all know exists in the scummy Hollywood Industry.
Paying off Politicians,Paying Private Citizens Now, and their “LEGAL” ways of Accounting which is the true cause of money loss in the film Industry.
Boycott Big Content Organization on FB

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Something about hammers...

What I want to know is if an IP critic did something like this to a petition opposing IP, will government investigators investigate? Maybe big tech can start paying for petitions to abolish copyright, they can afford to pay a whole lot more and get a whole lot more signatures.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Something about hammers...

I wonder … if they pay $1 per signature and you worked 1 hour per signature, that sounds like it would violate minimum wage laws. They can pay you by commission, sure, but then laws dictate that the commission must at least meet minimum wage.

Also, buying votes tends to be illegal. Are there any laws against what is happening here?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Something about hammers...

Once the persons hired to collect the signatures realise that it is much easier to just forge signatures from people found in the local phone book, the hourly rates goes way up. You have to be severely ethically challenged to be on the **AA roster I imagine, so why would they not resort to fraud?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Something about hammers...

Maybe when the only tool you have is money, everyone starts to look like a politician.

Think of it this way. Hammer is a tool that gets applied to nails. Bribes/money is a tool that gets applied to politicians.

Corruption is a tool that gets applied to … the public (since that’s who it hurts)?

I’m sure someone can come up with something funny, but right now I can’t.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Paid petition gathers are nothing new. They have been used for quite a few things. Here in Oklahoma, they are used to gather petition signatures for new political parties and to get questions added to the ballot. They come in handy when you have a strict deadline to get a minimum number of signatures. Often times, voluntary gathering doesn’t work.

However in this case it merely shows that there is no real grass roots support for SOPA.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Paid petition gathers are nothing new. They have been used for quite a few things. Here in Oklahoma, they are used to gather petition signatures for new political parties and to get questions added to the ballot. They come in handy when you have a strict deadline to get a minimum number of signatures. Often times, voluntary gathering doesn’t work.

The funny thing about this is that the unions here tried to use this as a reason why signature-gathering was nefarious a while back. They actually had ads saying that those gathering signatures for petitions were being paid (along with them being criminals,) and thus people should never sign a petition or they were opening themselves up to fraud and identity theft. The goal was to keep people from signing petitions that the unions didn’t like, but unfortunately it backfired for them because when they actually wanted people to sign petitions for stuff they wanted, the people wouldn’t sign because of fears of identity theft and fraud.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Or it is because of obscene signature amounts. To get a new political party recognized in Oklahoma you need 10% of the votes cast in the last general election. This year that is over 50,000. Two years before it was 75,000.

To get a question on the ballot, depending on what type it is, it can be from 8% to 15%.

On top of the actual amount is the time restraint. One must get all the required signatures in a fairly short period of time. In Oklahoma’s case it is 6 months. Next we have the issue of what makes a valid signature. One must clearly print their name, sign their name, fill out the exact address (not a PO box) and date it. Additionally, all signatures have to be grouped by county. If you sign on a page that is not your county, your signature is not valid.

So with all these restrictions and hurdles one must get 1.5x to 2x the number actually required to make sure they get the needed amount. You need a lot of people gathering. While volunteers will work for some of the larger political movements, smaller ones have a need to get paid petitioners.

Robert (profile) says:

Sign Me Up

But I don’t want $1.

I want full publishing, distribution, licensing, performance rights, and copyright, ownership and control over every copyrighted song and video currently owned by RIAA/MPAA members. Secondly, I want full control and ownership over every patent controlled/owned by Intellectual Ventures, Kodak, Novell, Motorolla, Apple, Sun, Microsoft, etc..

When the bullshit lawsuits stop over “IP violations” and “copyright violations” (and they would because I’d own all of it) only then will I give you my signature and support.

PS: The DOJ cannot act without my permission either.

Seriously though, talk about desperation, paying people to sign in support of legislation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Sign Me Up

Paying people to gather signatures is OK. Paying them based on the number of signatures they get is at the least ethically grey.

So this is ethically gray and taking music or video from its creator without compensation is cool. Right. You’re not freedom fighters, not freeloaders.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Your probably right. It’s more than likely just one of his many subordinate shills who post everywhere, kind of like spreading manure, to see if anything grows or just attempt to stink up the place.

At least we know for certain it can’t be Senator Joseph McCarthy. Last time I checked he was still dead, although I doubt that U.S. Senate rules would preclude him in voting for SOPA.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Oh, it may very well have been sarcasm from the AC, but just in case it actually was Chris Dodd or someone working for him, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tell them to go away.

Even if it was just a sarcastic remark, I’m sure the AC got as much of kick out of the reply as we did about their post.

Either way, I believe it can serve as an example of that Win-Win scenario people talk about.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Buying signatures

It only sounds bad if you didn’t know that’s the way it’s done.

I’ll argue that it still sounds (and is) bad even if you know that’s how it’s regularly done. No matter which side is doing it.

Copyright is not a typical liberal/conservative issue, as the SOPA protests demonstrated. Many issues aren’t, either, but still end up covered that way, unfortunately.

GMacGuffin says:

So they’re taking a page from California’s wholly awful Proposition process, in which folks stand on the street collecting petition signatures (for pay-per-sig) to get a bill to “save the children” on the ballot, which the public then passes at the next election, only to find that the only children saved were those of the special interests who funded the petition drive, through bolstered profits and lowered accountability the new law gave the special interests at the expense of citizens’ pocketbooks and civil liberties. Whew…

JJ says:

There are more internet users than there are corporations. Create a fund, people can donate even just a dollar, and then pay $1.25 to gather pro-Internet signatures. With the current stakes, a lot of people would be willing to do it gratis. Start playing the same manipulative games in wording the petition title, i.e. something about saving jobs, protecting children, etc

Anonymous Coward says:

As much as I hate SOPA and the MPAA it is common practice to pay people to gather signatures. However, in some states it is illegal. If the petition driver isn’t paid by the signature than they are generally paid by the hour. Minimum wage is a topic of litigation but for reasons beyond my understanding paying people by the signature doesn’t violate minimum wage laws. Some petition drivers are paid minimum wage and then additional commission.

Pirate says:

I don't think you read that correctly

I’m in no way for creative america myself, but I think you should avoid doing basically what you are accusing them of.

They aren’t paying people for signatures according to this email, they are paying people to canvas and collect emails. There is a difference. Doing as this email says is not much different than having someone on payroll to spam the nation and get people to sign up.

If they said you are authorized to OFFER $1 to anyone that signs up then your article title would be correct. But it isn’t.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to download Prometheus and burn it to a DVD…

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