CreativeAmerica: When Major Hollywood Studios Set Up Bogus 'Grassroots' Campaigns

from the don't-make-me-laugh dept

For a little over a week now, we've been receiving emails from various actors and musicians, telling us that they've been getting emails from various entertainment industry giants, telling them to join a new "grassroots" coalition called CreativeAmerica, whose main purpose is to advocate for passing the PROTECT IP censorship bill. The whole thing is clearly an astroturf campaign. It was registered via domains-by-proxy to hide who really bought the domain name. It highlights the video that was secretly created and owned by NBC Universal. It includes the totally false claim that "there's no such thing as a free movie."

If you dig into the website to figure out who's really behind it, it claims that it's a "grassroots organization," but fails to name a single creative individual who was behind putting the group together. Instead, it lists out the following companies and organizations who really put the site together (amusingly, they even block you from cutting and pasting this part, so I just retyped it -- meaning I circumvented their DRM... come at me, entertainment industry):
CBS Corporation, NBC Universal, the Screen Actors Guild, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Viacom, the Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Entertainment
Well, well. That's not a grassroots effort, folks. Now, the site also includes various unions, including the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild and IATSE (stage hands, etc.). But these are the old school, out of touch unions that who have done little to nothing to help their members adapt to the times (often doing the opposite). Do we see any of the actually creative folks who have embraced new technologies, new methods of distribution and new business models? Nope.

In the meantime, how can the website seriously claim that it's a grassroots effort when it has every single major Hollywood Studio behind it. Do they think that people are stupid? And should we remind people that these are the same studios who have all sorts of scammy tricks for "Hollywood accounting" to make sure even the most successful films are never seen as profitable, allowing them to avoid paying royalties to the actual creative folks.

Next, if you dig into the website, they have a "send a letter to your elected officials" thing. And the real evidence that it's not a real grassroots effort? Just like other faux grassroots efforts, those agreeing to send the letter have no option to edit the letter. When groups like Demand Progress and EFF let you send letters about PROTECT IP, they let you edit them to your liking -- trusting people to express themselves.

But, this "Creative America" apparently does not trust its own members to be creative. The letter is 100% locked down. You can only send their text. Honestly, if a group supposedly representing creators won't even let its own members express themselves freely, you know that it's not actually about protecting "creative" America.

This is not a grassroots effort. This is not about protecting "Creative America." This is about protecting a few megacorporations who are scared of new innovations, afraid of their dwindling monopoly rents, and trying to force the rest of the world to go back to the way things used to be.

Filed Under: astroturf, creative america, grassroots, hollywood, protect ip, studios
Companies: cbs, disney, fox, nbc universal, news corp., sony, viacom


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  1. icon
    Karl (profile), 23 Oct 2011 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Most Americans are Creative Americans

    That's right. But it's actors, the directorial team, Teamsters, the crew, etc. Pretty much everyone on a set.

    They're not getting residuals as a matter of law, but through contract with the unions. And if those residuals are declining, then the unions that they belong to should find some other way of funding the health care plans and whatnot.

    Oh please. Millions if not billions of copies of copyrighted content downloaded every year and you suggest there's no evidence. C'mon.

    Downloaded content does not equal lost profits. If none of those users would have bought a DVD, then you've lost exactly $0.

    On the other hand, you'd still be in an economic recession, and have to compete with video games, music, etc. for consumer dollars.

    There's also stuff like iTunes and Netflix, which is how people watch movies nowadays - instead of buying DVD's. If the downstream revenues from those services are less than the downstream revenues from DVD's, then those revenues will be lower, without even considering piracy.

    And yes Masnick has pirate friends. Some of the so-called "tech entrepreneurs" who signed the letter Masnick orchestrated have their own history of copyright infringement.

    If that's how you're judging "pirates," then the music and movie industries are bigger "pirates" than the tech entrepreneurs - since they've had more of a "history of copyright infringement" than the entrepreneurs do.

    In any case: one of the selling points of PROTECT IP was that it would not affect any of the entrepreneurs that signed the letter. It is supposed to be narrowly tailored to affect only sites with no purpose other than wholesale piracy of complete media.

    But thanks for being honest. By including those entrepreneurs in your definition of "piracy," you've just shown that PROTECT IP is not about sites like NinjaVideo, it's about anyone who tries to innovate without the legacy industries' approval.

    Bullshit. Residuals are paid on foreign box office, broadcast television, premium cable and basic cable.

    None of which are being affected by piracy! You're really just proving my third point.

    And you totall missed this point. Think of what would happen if PROTECT IP was around in the days when VHS was just starting out. Valenti would have labeled all VCR's were devices "dedicated to infringing activity." Anyone who made them would have their storefronts shut down; their assets cut off; and all magazines with advertisements for VHS tapes would be required, by law, to pull them.

    And the aftermarket from VHS tapes - which, for some studios, dwarfed tickets sales - would never have existed.

    Whatever the next version of the VHS tape is, it will involve the internet. PROTECT IP will allow studios to kill it before it's even born. That's bad for consumers, and ultimately, bad for the industries themselves. That includes the actors, crew, and etc. who have just lost a future revenue stream.

    I guess if damage to society is defined as the inability to get copyrighted content for free, you have a point.

    PROTECT IP attacks free speech; quashes competition; and makes the internet less secure. It puts the costs of enforcement onto third-party ISP's, payment processors, and advertisers. It wastes law enforcement resources on something that isn't necessarily criminal, and probably won't stop most infringement anyway. Most importantly, it is a blank check to the goverment and third parties to shut down websites without warning.

    Any of these things, alone, would harm the public more than piracy harms the public.

    And the best you can come up with is that its opponents just want stuff for free?

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