TV, Union Execs Seek Recruits in Piracy War - Broadcasting & Cable

TV, Union Execs Seek Recruits in Piracy War

Take pitch to the trenches, including TV show sets, to boost enlistment
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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.”

E-mail comments to jeggerton@nbmedia.com and follow him on Twitter: @eggerton

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