Hollywood labor unions declare support for online piracy bill
Warning of the perils of "illegal profiteers," Hollywood's labor unions are rallying behind a federal bill aimed at stopping the global spread of online piracy.
Unions representing directors, actors and technical crews WEdnesday strongly voiced support for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and senior Republican member Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who introduced a bill that would give the Justice Department more tools to track and shut down websites devoted to providing access to unauthorized downloads, streaming or sale of copyright content.
"We represent 300,000 creators, film talent and crafts people who create a multitude of diverse films, television programs and sound recordings that are sought by consumers around the world,'' the unions said in a letter to Leahy. "Our content is so sought after, in fact, that Internet profiteers are springing up all over the world -- individuals and businesses solely dedicated to using the Internet to create money-making websites that steal from our members and put the American public at risk."
The unions find themselves in the unusual position of siding with management on the bill. The Motion Picture Assn. of America also is backing the legislation, called the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. But the measure is facing stiff opposition from a number of consumer and interest groups, such as the Electronic Foundation, which contend that it would curb freedom of speech and is unnecessary.
Evidently, the opposition campaign spurred the unions to issue their letter to Leahy. "We respect the rights of business and interest groups to raise thoughtful questions for open discussion and debate, but we must speak up when such groups organize campaigns dedicated to paralyzing the legislative process with half-truths and absurd misrepresentations of civic rights," they wrote.
-- Richard Verrier