from the a-tragically-rhetorical-question dept
If you look in the dictionary, the word “projection” has many different definitions. I find it particularly amusing that in Merriam Webster’s dictionary, the following two are right next to each other:
- the attribution of one’s own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people or to objects; especially : the externalization of blame, guilt, or responsibility as a defense against anxiety
- the display of motion pictures by projecting an image from them upon a screen
This is a story that kind of involves both of those definitions, because it’s all about a front group, created and funded by Hollywood, very much “projecting” its own blame, guilt and responsibility onto one of the most respected and thoughtful copyright law professors. And… almost no one wants to comment on the organization’s shameful tactics. Perhaps some of you might help in my ongoing efforts to get literally any of Creative Future’s members to explain why it still supports the organization after its shameful smear campaign over the past few weeks and months.
Some of you may recall that during the run up to Hollywood trying to get Congress to pass SOPA, a terrible pro-censorship, anti-internet, mysterious Hollywood front group showed up called Creative America to advocate for SOPA. It was a Creative Disaster. While pretending to be a “grassroots” effort by “creatives,” it came out that the organization was actually very much created by Hollywood’s biggest studios:
CBS Corporation, NBC Universal, the Screen Actors Guild, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Viacom, the Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Entertainment
The grassroots effort completely collapsed and Creative America received widespread mockery on the internet. In early 2014, the organization brought in new leadership and took on a new name: Creative Future, with the same Hollywood studios behind it, the same bogus “grassroots” rhetoric, but now lead by a former Hollywood studio boss. The board of Creative Future has remained staffed entirely by Hollywood big shots. The most recent filing from the organization shows that its Board of Directors includes: Alan Braverman (Senior VP and General Counsel at Disney), John Rogovin (Exec VP and General Counsel at Warner Bros.), Leah Weil (Senior Exec VP and General Counsel at Sony Pictures), Kimberly Harris (Exec VP of Comcast and General Counsel at NBC Universal), Jean Preweitt (CEO of the Independent Film & Television Alliance), Christa D’Alimonte (Exec VP and General Counsel at Viacom), Carl “Chip” Smith (Exec VP of Public Affairs for 21st Century Fox, at least until earlier this year when Disney took them over). It’s notable that D’Alimonte only joined in April of 2017, at the same time as Michael Fricklas, who was Exec VP & General Counsel at Viacom, left both Viacom and the Creative Future board — more or less confirming that Creative Future is a mouthpiece of the big Hollywood studios, and when one person leaves a studio (as Fricklas did), they’re immediately replaced by a new person from Hollywood.
In other words, Creative Future is pure astroturf, and is 100% about representing the interests of Hollywood’s biggest studios.
Over the last few years, it seems that Creative Future has gotten more and more unhinged in its conspiracy theory pushing. Earlier this year, for example, it attacked the DC think tank R Street, because it had provided a grant to us. Creative Future declared that this somehow proved that R Street was “anti-copyright,” because (it claimed) we are “anti-copyright.” This is wrong on so many levels — in particular, because the R Street grant as specifically for our Working Futures project, and the money from the grant was used to pay authors to write creative science fiction stories. And, I would bet Creative Future’s entire operating budget (of over $3 million) that the contract we gave to those authors (in which they retain the copyright to their stories and are told they can do whatever they want with those stories, including republishing them elsewhere) was a hell of a lot better than the contracts any of the companies on Creative Future’s board signs with its “creatives.”
But we’re something of a sideshow here. The real anger from Creative Future over the past few years has been directed at EFF. For reasons that I cannot comprehend, a few extraordinarily confused Google haters, like to insist that EFF is a Google front group. Creative Future is one of the most vocal about this (see the above definition regarding projection). Creative Future actually is a Hollywood front group. The idea that EFF is a Google front group is crazy. Remember, EFF has regularly criticized Google’s practices, including filing an FTC complaint about Google’s privacy practices and is currently fighting hard against Google concerning how California’s new privacy law will be implemented.
And, for all the talk of claims that Google “funds” EFF, Google gave EFF a grand total of $7,500 in 2018. That’s out of the $15.1 million that EFF brought in, nearly $10 million of which came from individuals (either by themselves or their own personal foundations). In insisting that Google really funds EFF, Creative Future likes to point to various cy pres awards, in which a court forces Google to give money to EFF to atone for some sort of wrong doing. That’s not, in any way, Google choosing to fund EFF. It’s a court punishing Google over its failures, and having it fund EFF and others as punishment. Between Creative Future and EFF one of these organizations is a front group for a set of giant corporate interests, and it ain’t EFF.
But Creative Future has its bogeyman, and so when news came down that EFF had appointed renowned and incredibly well-respected copyright law professor Pam Samuelson to be its new board chairperson, Creative Future went on the attack. It first published a hilariously full of “projection” blog post accusing Samuelson of being “anti-copyright.” It’s not even remotely worth debunking each of the points, other than to note that not a single one of them is accurate. It repeatedly frames reasonable positions taken on copyright as extreme. It takes statements of opinion — including the claim independent artists (you know, the ones not supported by Creative Future’s esteemed board of legacy Hollywood big shots) are put at “some disadvantage” in fighting piracy — as “lying to lawmakers.” What? It also (perhaps no surprise) claims that Samuelson’s reasonable arguments regarding the copyrigtability of APIs in the Oracle/Google fight proves she’s anti-copyright.
That last one is particularly stupid, given that Samuelson has been among the most knowledgeable experts on questions regarding the copyright of interfaces since before Google existed, and the idea that siding with Google in the Google/Oracle case is “anti-copyright” suggests a near total lack of understanding on the topic.
There’s a lot more in there, but nearly all of it is projection a la the top definition that I quoted at the top of this article. Creative Future is a front group. Creative Future regularly lies. Creative Future always defends Hollywood’s biggest studios, and not the interests of independent artists.
In response to this fact-free smearing of such a respected professor, Microsoft (who no one would ever claim is “anti-copyright”) told Creative Future to remove its name from Creative Future’s list of “members.” Microsoft has chosen not to comment publicly on this issue, but two separate sources confirmed to us that the decision to leave Creative Future was 100% in response to the smearing of Prof. Samuelson, which people at Microsoft believed to be beyond any reasonable standard of decorum, even if the company still supports Creative Future’s mission. Most organizations might stay quiet when receiving a rebuke like that, but Creative Future instead tried to brand Microsoft as anti-copyright, because apparently facts are completely optional in the delusional world of Hollywood.
Creative Future then decided to run a second article smearing Samuelson, literally blaming her for Microsoft deciding to disassociate itself with the organization:
We’re also unhappy because she asked Microsoft why their logo was on CreativeFuture’s website. In response, Microsoft emailed us asking us to remove their logo. Of course, we did so.
This statement is somewhat telling. For all of Creative Future’s attempts to describe the hundreds of organizations on its website as “members,” it seems quite clear that most of them are not “dues paying” members. They just have their logo on the website.
With that in mind, I began to wonder what were some of the other organizations on that same page of logos, and what they felt about their name being associated with flat out lies being used to smear one of the most respected law professors in the world. There are hundreds of logos on the page. Over the past few weeks I’ve contacted somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty of those members to ask for any comment on the situation. Below are all their comments.
Ha ha, just kidding. Not a single organization was willing to comment on the record. The vast majority completely ignored my request. A few sent back generic “no comments.” One said the situation was “complicated.” Oh really? The most startling to me, however, were the organizations on the list whose focuses are entirely about promoting women’s voices, and fighting back against stereotypes about women. I figured, at the very least, those organizations — including Women in Film, Women Make Movies and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media — would at least have something to say about an organization put together by Hollywood’s biggest studios smearing such a respected female law professor.
But, nope. None of them wished to comment — even after it was pointed out that Microsoft had left Creative Future over this mess.
Other organizations that I thought might have a bit of a spine, but who refused to comment: Alamo Draft House (I will find other places to watch movies, thanks), the American Film Institute, Comscore, Crackle (do they still even exist?), IMAX, the Jim Henson Company, Legion M, Miramax (you’d think, post Harvey Weinstein, they’d be more open to recognizing issues, but nope), National Hispanic Media Coalition (this one’s especially disappointing, as they’ve been a staunch ally on net neutrality, and even posted a guest post on Techdirt earlier this year), PodcastOne, the Tribeca Film Institute, and many, many more.
And, of course, none of the giant Hollywood studios, which set up Creative Future and hide behind its “edgy” attacks on people, wanted to comment either. I wonder why, Disney, ComcastUniversal, Viacom, Sony, and Warner Bros., might want to ignore the fact that an organization that they set up and control, is out there smearing respected law professors? Actually, I don’t wonder at all.
Anyway, I recommend that people scan Creative Future’s big list of “logos” and see if you recognize any. Feel free to ask them (politely, of course) why they’re willing to have their name associated with an organization smearing such a well-respected professor with outright lies?
In the end, though, this all comes down to pure projection — and not the one that involves a screen. Creative Future is a front group for big businesses, pretending to be a “grassroots” group for creatives. As such, it can’t even imagine that there really are legitimate organizations like EFF that are actually focused on protecting individual rights and are actually supported by individual members. And thus, they feel the need to project Creative Future’s own sins upon such organizations. It also can’t imagine that someone like Prof. Samuelson, with her decades of clear, careful, nuanced, and thoughtful writing and advocacy on better copyright law (i.e., copyright law that protects everyone’s rights, not just big Hollywood studios, and includes in that the public’s rights), could possibly come by her positions honestly.
This whole episode has been revealing. Not about Prof. Samuelson or EFF. But it’s said an awful lot about the type of people who run the major Hollywood studios. Alan Braverman, John Rogovin, Leah Weil, Kimberly Harris, Jean Prewitt, Christa D’Alimonte and Chip Smith: this cowardly attack is on you. If you’d like to actually provide a real comment on this nonsense you’ve helped create, you know how to reach me.
Filed Under: alan braverman, chip smith, christa d'alimonte, hollywood, jean preweitt, john rogovin, lies, pam samuelson, projection, smear campaign
Companies: cbs, comcast, creative future, disney, eff, google, microsoft, nbc universal, sony pictures entertainment, viacom, warner bros.