This week, we saw an impressive public relations effort to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Wikipedia, Facebook, and Google took huge steps toward educating the public on why they thought this bill was bad.
So far the effort has worked. Google said
it collected more than 7 million signatures to stop the bill. Wikipedia saw a surge in traffic on Wednesday
when it went dark in protest of SOPA. And, in perhaps the biggest sign of its effectiveness, more than 40 co-sponsors of the measure in Congress have withdrawn their support.
(Here’s what SOPA means for PR pros
Meanwhile, Hollywood entities that championed SOPA have been skewered for not only their support of the anti-piracy bill, but also the sweeping failure to clearly communicate their message. The Motion Picture Academy of America, led by former Sen. Chris Dodd, combated the Internet onslaught against SOPA in part through—brace yourself—a press release.
The press release, which can be found on the website of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), carries the headline: “The PROTECT IP Act: Combating Online Infringement
Creating American Jobs, Promoting America’s Economy, Protecting American Consumers.”
The release is “for background purposes,” but given the enormous amount of attention social networking sites received for their anti-SOPA moves, this press release appears ineffective, at best—especially when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg can draw enormous attention to the cause
with a single tweet
, a popular online publication for the entertainment industry, seems to agree:
“Are you kidding me?” The Wrap
’s Sharon Waxman said about the release. “I’m not saying Chris Dodd did a great job speaking out on the subject (he didn’t), but honestly—that’s not how you reach people today.” She added: “Some heads have got to roll here. Hollywood showed today that it is completely clueless in leveraging the tools of the 21st Century.”
The MPAA has not responded to PR Daily
's request for comment. [Editor's note: MPAA does have its hands full after the hacker group Anonymous took down its site.
The organization updated its official blog
numerous times throughout the week, explaining its position and, in one post written by Dodd, referring to the actions of Wikipedia, Google, and others as “irresponsible … and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services.”
If the SOPA battle is to be won or lost in the court of public opinion, Hollywood has its work cut out. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter
, Dodd defended the strategy and remained optimistic:
“When people go after this industry, they do it because of misimpressions about it. They don’t go after the other ones because they know they will probably lose. It's frustrating to me. But I’m going to keep battling. We will win this case eventually.”
Not if Internet giants such as Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia have anything to say about it.