NBC Uni folks asked to fight piracy


NEW YORK -- NBC Universal wants to enlist its own employees in the citywide fight against film and TV piracy.

On Wednesday, the company launched an awareness campaign among its New York-based employees on what they can do to help snuff out piracy. The campaign, which featured posters from the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting and a package of Junior Mints with a similar wrapper, urged them to call 1-800-NO-COPYS to report sales of illegal DVDs.

New York and the MPAA this year launched a law enforcement effort to stamp out piracy that costs major movie studios up to $6 billion in annual revenue and the state and city at least $50 million a year in lost city and state taxes. NBC Uni and News Corp. are members of a pilot program that stresses employee awareness as a vanguard of enforcement.

News Corp.'s awareness campaign launched several weeks ago in a similar manner. NBC Uni's uses "Today" film critic Gene Shalit.

"This is an effort to partner with the city and with law enforcement to provide them with some eyes and ears in terms of gathering information on counterfeit DVDs and sales," NBC general counsel Rick Cotton said. "We're dedicated to it."

Cotton said the tip program is anonymous and includes a toll-free number as well as a Web site.

NBC Uni's employees, particularly the unionized ones, have a special reason to take the initiative. Their pension fund and health care contributions are tied in part to the sale of DVDs.

"It's a way to educate all of our employees on the nature and scope of the problem," Cotton said.

The tips are followed up by MPAA investigators and, eventually, New York police, who are assigned to breaking up the illegal DVD sales and the production of them that includes surreptitious taping in movie theaters.