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.

Filed Under: astroturf, creative america, grassroots, hollywood, protect ip, rick cotton, studios
Companies: creativeamerica, nbc universal


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  1. identicon
    Ed C., 29 Nov 2011 @ 6:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Can you come up with 10 posts in the past year that mention an entertainment industry company (RIAA member record company or MPAA member film studio) in a positive light?

    Yesh, I only come around on occasion, yet even I've seen a few post about members of the media industry who "get it". It's rather hard though to give a "positive light" to industries that choose to take a largely negative defensive position.


    You constantly bemoan their actions as unwillingness to 'adapt', but their actions are defensive against the ever growing reality of piracy.

    The market is a race towards progress--always moving forward; you can either run with it, or get left behind. Taking a purely defensive stance in the market is like trying to win the race by standing still and pushing down anyone who tries to pass you. It might give the short-term illusion of success, but it's doomed to fail. People will ultimately bypass you, then avoid you, then eventually ignore you entirely.

    "Piracy" is mostly due to others who are already ahead of you, and people tend to follow those who are in the lead. The best why to "fight" it is just simply be a better runner--take a leading position and convince others to run with you. Ones like iTunes, Netflix, Facebook, Youtube, etc. do just that. Taking a defensive position while pushing others down, or even shooting at those who are already ahead, doesn't accomplish either. Sure, some like PirateBay may get a starting lead by flouting the rules, but most know they're cheating and will follow someone else who can take a better position that doesn't take them through the grass and mud.


    You should have anti-piracy articles that illustrate your opposition to illegal theft of content instead of articles pointing out how smart the pirates are.

    TD regularly condemns infringement, but it's hard to miss the fact the media industry's defensive stance is keeping them from catching up to even the slowest of pirates.


    Please enlighten us again. What business models would be impossible under SOPA/Protect-IP?

    Ones that allow independent artist to make money outside of the legacy media's control. Since you've failed to notice, they're mentioned quite often.


    Those business models which rely on unlicensed content?
    LOL! No, the ones that actually help the artist directly without any involvement from the legacy media companies. You might be surprised to know that there's a lot of independent artist that don't rely old media for production, distribution, and promotion. Just because it's not licensed by old media doesn't mean that it's not licensed from the actual copyright holder, or otherwise within the realm of fair use.

    Even plain infringement isn't always a zero-sum game, but that's been explained numerous times. Copyright isn't an absolute right, and absolute control doesn't maximize profit.


    Unfortunately, SOPA isn't about creating new laws it's about enforcement of EXISTING laws.

    No, it creates new rights that don't exist under current laws. Perhaps you should actually read the existing laws before making a fool of yourself.


    It is already illegal to share content but by the time the content is removed the damage has already been done.

    First, you have to provide actual proof of damages. And no, the decline of over-priced album sales only proves that the music market is in a state of transition, because the rest of the music industry is on the rise.


    SOPA hits the pirates where it hurts, in their wallets.
    First, most infringement is not only non-commercial, but generates zero-profit. There isn't a lot of money in piracy that doesn't involve physical goods, and most profits--if any--is sucked up by bandwidth and server cost. But I guess you somehow thought that they were getting all that for free as well.

    Second, SOPA can be used against anyone the media industry wants to take down. The DMCA is often abused for censorship and attacks against legitimate businesses, even for content legally posted by company reps! The media companies don't know, or even care, if the content is legit before sending a notice, because the penlites for making false claims are almost never enforced. SOPA not only gives them more power, but it makes the enforcement against false claims even harder.

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