NBC Universal Threatens Partners That They Need To Sign 'Grassroots' Support Of SOPA/PIPA Or It Might Have To Drop Them

from the this-is-getting-sad dept

We've talked about CreativeAmerica, the astroturfing group set up by the major Hollywood studios, pretending to be a "grassroots effort" in favor of SOPA & PIPA. A month ago, we challenged the group's claim that it had "sent 100,000 letters to Congress." Turns out that wasn't true. They had sent 4,191, and then about 33,000 people had "signed a petition" that the group had set up. The math by CreativeAmerica is that each thing sent out three letters: one to your Congressional Representative and one to each of your two Senators. Of course, petitions are mostly ignored. Letters have only slightly more weight -- and based on Creative America's own math, they really only had about 1,400 people sign their letter.

Either way, it seemed somewhat amusing to discover that some of the top execs at NBC Universal have been threatening all NBC Universal suppliers to sign the letter that CreativeAmerica put together or NBC might no longer be able to do business with them:
We are writing to ask you for help on an issue that is one our top business priorities content theft on the Internet, which is a major threat to the strength of our business. Our major guilds and unions are joining us in the fight to keep our businesses strong so that the tidal wave of content theft does not kill jobs. But if the current trend continues, its not too strong to say that this threat could adversely affect our business relationship with you.
Grassroots effort? When NBC Universal's General Counsel, Rick Cotton -- who famously once claimed that piracy was destroying the lowly corn farmer, since people who watch pirated movies don't eat popcorn (or something) -- is threatening suppliers who don't sign on? That's not grassroots. That's just insane. Now, it's true that Cotton wrote this carefully such that you can read it to suggest it means that if this law doesn't pass, NBC Universal's business will be in so much trouble that it has to shut down or cut off deals with suppliers. But it seems pretty clear that the obvious implication is: sign this or we may no longer do business with you.

But, given that "the big guns" at NBC Universal are pushing all their suppliers to directly sign (or else!) the letter found at CreativeAmerica's site, you might think that a lot more people would have signed on. Especially over the last month, with SOPA making so much news. So we went and checked.
It appears that 4,673 letters have been sent. A month ago it was 4,191. That's a grand total of 482 new letters sent since we last checked almost a month ago. That means in a month, with this story making major news every which way... and the major studios putting a lot of marketing muscle behind it and even threatening partners to sign on, they only rustled up 482 more signatures. And, since CreativeAmerica claims that each person who signs really sends 3 letters, we should divide that by three.

That gives us 161 new signatures (actually 160.666666 etc -- which makes me wonder what happened to that extra third of a person). 161. In a month.

Meanwhile, a real grassroots campaign turned out one million emails to Congress and 87,834 calls in one day. It should be clear at this point that the public clearly does not support SOPA/PIPA, and no amount of "faking it" is driving any public support.

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  1. identicon
    B James, 29 Nov 2011 @ 5:37pm

    Too funny, but sad.

    I don't think I have read a single comment in here from a person who has a clue what SOPA actually is. Its the reverse of a DMCA take down notice. Instead of contacting a web site owner, a SaaS provider (ie: wordpress.com), or a web hosting provider about a web page(s) and/or content at specific URLs that belong to you and they need to be taken down. Rather SOPA allows corporations to request that a domain name be removed from the root DNS servers keeping people from visiting any URL directed at that site by domain name. So if a clueless intern in a corporate legal department or someone that has little idea how the Internet works (believe me based on DMCA take down notice requests this covers a lot of legal department employees) the could easily file a request to take down yahoo.com because news.yahoo.com happen to use a copyrighted image in a story, or bobsblog.wordpress.com posts images borrowed from bigcorporation.com's web site and poof wordpress.com fully is removed from the root DNS servers. As name to IP address lookups are done by authoritative DNS servers AFTER you are directed to those authoritative DNS servers by the 13 root DNS servers on the net SOPA will not have the ability to target sub-domains ie: bobsblog.wordpress.com, it would only have the ability to totally take down *.wordpress.com as a whole. There is no need to interact with the web hosting provider, content provider or social network web site. Enforcement of copyright has always been in the hands of the copyright holder. If I copy large sections of your book, or my movie is based on your copyrighted story, its you that have to police it. SOPA reversed that and says its the job of Google to make sure stuff it indexes at images.google.com come from sites that hold the copyright of the image, or Wordpress.com that the story, images, video that Bob posts to bobsblog.wordpress.com is copyrighted to Bob and not to someone else. So this law requires that everyone but the copyright holder has to police the internet or the copyright holder can simply request that everyone gets shut off. Really go read SOPA and stop thinking that all it does is protect copyright holders rights, in reality the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 already provides them this protection with a very simple method to request content be taken down by any ISP, web hosting provider or web site owner, and it provides good reason for the ISP/web hosting provider/etc. to assist. So instead of playing fair, and policing their own copyrights, SOPA gives them the ability to shut down a web site first, then ask questions later. That is how this breaks the way the internet, at least how companies can operate in the US is concerned. Great way to force people to host more web sites outside the US... smart... sent our jobs over seas, now you can send our internet based businesses that way as well.

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