NBC Wants Partners To Support SOPA Or Else

    November 30, 2011

Apparently, if you want your content to appear on NBC’s family of networks, you had better be resolute in your support of the PROTECT-IP/SOPA bills that are currently polluting the both branches of the U.S. government. According to an email that’s been leaked to the Internet, the NBC family, which includes NBC Universal, NBC Interactive, and all of the distribution properties they own, is adamant that their content suppliers support the anti-piracy acts that threaten the very nature of how the Internet functions.

The email, which was pointed out by TechDirt, was posted on Emmet Lollis’ Google+ account and there’s really no mistaking NBC’s postion.

Simply put, NBC wants their content partners to actively support these acts by visiting CreativeAmerica.org, which has a function allowing users to contact their representative to demonstrate just how supportive they are. The email, in its entirety; any bold sections were added by us:

To Our Suppliers:

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, it’s not too strong to say that this threat could adversely affect our business relationship with you.

We’re writing today to ask you to do two things:

1) Visit creativeamerica.org, a new initiative to build grassroots support for the fight against content theft, and join the fight. Creative America is a place for the people who make their living in this industry to come together with a single voice to speak out against content theft, and that includes you. In addition to NBCUniversal, the members of this unprecedented coalition are CBS, Disney, Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, and Warner Brothers, along with AFTRA, the DGA, IATSE, and SAG.

2) While you are at the creativeamerica.org site, click on the “Contact your Legislator” button to let your representative and senators in Congress know that you support an important new piece of legislation called the PROTECT IP Act, which would authorize the U.S. Department of Justice to go after foreign websites that are dedicated to the illegal distribution of our movies and TV shows. The website makes this very easy to do by providing you with a customizable letter along with a tool to let you automatically send a message to your specific legislators, based on your zip code.

We will be sure to keep you informed about our efforts to fight the growing problem of content theft. You can share your thoughts, concerns, or ideas by sending an email to protectourwork@nbcuni.com.

Or if you’d like to discuss specific ways you can help, please feel free to contact either Phil Tahtakran in our Washington, DC office at phil.tahtakran@nbcuni.com, or 202-524-6404, or John McKay in New York at either john.mckay@nbcuni.com or 212.664.6202.

Thank you for your support.


Rick Cotton
Executive Vice President and General Counsel

Marcia Haynes
Executive Vice President, Sourcing

John Wallace
President, Media Works_

Of course, the part that stands out is the threat of business relationship damage. In other words, if a company that supplies NBC with content, giving it its much-need outlet for consumption, doesn’t go out of its way to show support for SOPA/PIPA, there’s a good chance NBC won’t be doing business with that company any longer.

If that doesn’t sound like strong-arming/blackmail at its finest, someone should provide a better example.

What’s next? Visits from NBC thugs, threatening to break the legs of partners that don’t believe SOPA/PIPA is an effective means of governing the Internet? As pointed out by TechDirt, not only is NBC’s position incredibly bold, it also borders on hypocrisy:

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.

Unfortunately, because NBC’s distribution arm is so strong, it stands to reason most of these content suppliers will play ball and support SOPA/PIPA; although, one hopes these same companies might revolt against NBC’s strong-arm tactics and find another distributor.

Hey, Netflix is always looking for original content.