Washington

TV, Union Execs Seek Recruits in Piracy War

Take pitch to the trenches, including TV show sets, to boost enlistment 10/24/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Major unions and studios are
ramping up their efforts to enlist the
creative community rank and file in
the battle against online theft of TV shows and
movies. This comes as broadcast and cable video
distributors are increasingly putting their valuable
content online to serve a mobile- and increasingly
broadband-centric audience.

It also comes concurrent with some movement
on the Protect IP Act, an online contentprotection
bill that has been held up in the
Senate but could see a complementary House
version introduced, according to bill supporters.

The Creative America coalition last week
launched a new Website, creativeamerica.org,
where supporters can register their backing of the bill and learn more
about the issue.

The coalition says it is targeting the “more than 2 million Americans in
all 50 states whose livelihoods are supported by the film and television
industry, and all those who value the work they create, and believe that
American jobs and creativity deserve to be protected.”

In addition, there will be increased outreach to the community, creative
and otherwise, via Facebook, Twitter, an online petition with more than
18,000 signatures already accrued and a PSA campaign that will air on
NBCUniversal broadcast and cable networks. NBCU has been among the
more high-profile supporters of online content protection.

“[T]he easy, illegal availability of all kinds of content has undermined
the legal market for it in a way that affects the entire media industry,” says
Robert Levine, former Billboard executive editor, in his new book, Free
Ride
, about digital piracy’s threat to the “culture” business.

“Creative America will enable workers to be heard in Washington,
and in the boardrooms of third-party companies such as ad networks,
credit card companies, search engines and ISPs that must work with us
to reduce internet content theft,” Rick Cotton, executive VP and general
counsel of NBCUniversal, told B&C/Multichannel News. “Content theft
is a cancer hollowing out our country’s economy. We all need to play
our part to defend American jobs, and Creative America represents a
megaphone to spread the word.”

The Coalition’s union partners will also be sending representatives to
encourage their members to join the effort.

“The message that Creative America is imparting to members of the
entertainment community and all who value American creativity and
innovation is that content theft is not a victimless crime,” says Mike
Nugent, executive director of Creative America. “And with Creative
America, you do not have to stand by and be a victim. You can make
your voice heard. You can fight back.”

Coalition members include the American Federation of Television
and Radio Artists, CBS Corp., the Directors Guild of America, IATSE
International, NBCUniversal, the Screen Actors Guild, Sony Pictures
Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Viacom, Walt Disney Co. and
Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Separately, Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann
(R-Minn.), chair of the Tea Party Caucus, says she has “serious concerns”
about the bill. In a letter to constituents, a copy of which was supplied
by IP Act critic Demand Progress, Bachmann says those concerns center
on the government getting involved in regulation of the Internet and
what she calls “ambiguities” in the bill that could result in an “explosion
of destructive, innovation-stalling lawsuits.”

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