Hollywood Union Members Sign Petition Asking MPAA & Hollywood Unions To Stop Supporting PIPA/SOPA

from the losing-your-own-members dept

The opposition to SOPA and PIPA continues to come from all sorts of places. The latest interesting one? Union members who work on movies and TV... whose bosses signed them up as supporters of SOPA and PIPA against their wishes. They've put together a petition urging the MPAA, IATSE, IBT, WGA, SAG, DGA, and AFTRA to formally oppose both SOPA and PIPA, noting that it would be a barrier to innovation that Hollywood desperately needs, wouldn't actually stop infringement, and would also be an online security nightmare. The groups listed in the petition are basically all of the groups that have been major supporters of the bill, but as some of the signatories note, they want no part of this. Just a few examples:
I'm a proud Local One and USA829 member, and am appalled to find my union supporting this act. While I agree that piracy is bad, this act is ill-designed by legislators with no clue how the internet works, and guided by greedy corporations who have ulterior motives, and who have a track record of abusing the DMCA the same way they'll abuse this.

It will do nothing to stop it, will give unfettered power prone to abuse to corporations who don't deserve it, will short circuit due process, and will have huge unintended negative effects on the internet as a whole.
And, another one from a studio grip:
Proud Local 80 Motion Picture Studio Grip and I'm signing because these bills go too far. I'd like to think that IATSE is just trying to do what's best for its members. But, I think once they dig past the surface they will see the same thing I did. And that is that these bills need to be quashed. We need another way to deal with piracy.
Once again, for all the talk of widespread "support" of SOPA and PIPA, it seems to be crumbling in every direction, including from within the groups who have acted as if these bills were absolutely necessary.

Filed Under: hollywood, pipa, protect ip, sopa, unions
Companies: aftra, dga, iatse, ibt, mpaa, sag, wga


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  1. icon
    cosmicrat (profile), 3 Jan 2012 @ 1:00pm

    Perspective from a union member

    I have been working in the motion picture and TV industry for 14 years and have been a union member for 12. First of all let me say I am glad to see this petition. Very much against SOPA/PIPA and will be signing it right away and also publicizing it at my next union meeting. I do want to take issue with some points made in this thread:

    "i do not for one second believe that these union members etc didn't know that the unions themselves had signed up in support of SOPA and PIPA. so, why has it taken so long for union members to 'come out of the closet', speak their minds and ask that the unions stop their support?"

    I think you overestimate how "tuned in" to current events most union members are. Remember most of us work full time jobs in a blue collar environment (I work 60-70 hours a week), we are not sitting in front of a computer all day, and PIPA/SOPA have not been that well reported in the mainstream press. My experience is that union members tend to be honest, hard working salt-of-the-earth types but not necessarily tech savvy or politically sophisticated. I myself didn't become aware of PIPA until the middle of last year, and that was only after about the 4th wave of propaganda from IATSE intl. landed in my in box and I decided to check out what the heck they were talking about. I was appalled and begin agitating within my union against the bill. Even now when I talk to other members about it, the majority have little or no clue what these bills really entail. And if they have read anything at all it's likely come from IATSE, which basically regurgitates propaganda from MPAA and USCOC. The rank and file of the unions are just now becoming aware of the issues.

    "When you're petitioning your union to stop siding with your employers, isn't it time to start questioning who your union is really working for?"

    It is very dismaying. While I think it is a bad mistake for IATSE's leaders to support SOPA/PIPA, I do think it is an honest mistake. We are entering an era when corporations will try to bust the unions. I see this as an attempt to curry favor with the corporations, form alliances that can stave that off. IATSE and the Teamsters will be entering a fight with employers this year over health benefits. Some of IATSE's health insurance funding comes from residuals on TV reruns and DVD sales (although I have been unable to figure out just how significant a percentage this is -if someone knows, please say). Like so many other people, we will be fighting for our economic lives in the future and our leaders are almost frantic to do anything they can to save us.

    "This is precisely why I AM against Unions. They served a purpose at some point in the past, but now they're just cruft at best."

    I couldn't disagree more. I think the unions are just as relevant as ever. I think it's inadequate protection against corporate greed and avarice, but it's all we've got. It's true there have been mistakes made (and this is one of them), but that doesn't obviate the whole purpose of the unions. I will agree that the structure and functioning of the unions is often stodgy, conservative and seems always to be about 20 years behind the times. I am hoping that as younger and more progressive people filter into leadership positions, the culture of the unions will change. We really need to enter the 21st century.

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