Copyrighting Freedom of Expression

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 has given corporations increased power to censor speech that they don't like. It severely curtails the "fair use" doctrine which allows artists, writers and scholars to use fragments of copyrighted works without permission for the purposes of education, criticism and parody.


Congress Merges With Wall Street

A new poster depicts President Bush speaking on the floor of Congress. Or is it the stock exchange trading floor? Or is it really both? Produced by Public Campaign, which works for campaign finance reform, the poster includes thirteen charts detailing how big corporate campaign contributions from leading industries are buying America, what they are getting for their political investments and what the rest of us pay in higher taxes, dirty air and water, billions lost from our retirement funds, and the like.


Cable News Wars

The Columbia Journalism Review's Neil Hickey ponders the impact that cable TV is having on news coverage. "The big story in cable news is the effect that supercharged competition is having on the quality of the prime time cable news schedule. All three networks are battling with the same weapons: talk, opinion, punditry, debate - not to mention the psychedelic, color-saturated graphics, a rataplan of computer-generated sound and screens so crowded with info-bits, including a traveling zipper of text across the bottom, that they look like pinball machines in a penny arcade. ...


PR Watch Banned From Corporate Grassroots Confab

Every February the powerful Public Affairs Council (PAC) holds its annual National Grassroots Conference for Corporations and Associations in some lovely southern location. PR Watch wanted to attend and report on this year's confab in Key West. We covered the 1997 conference and uncovered a goldmine of hidden information on how corporations wage powerful campaigns at the grassroots to promote their special interest agendas.


Bhopal Bloopers

"Dow Chemical and Dow's PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, tried to shut down some parody sites and ended up bringing themselves a heap of negative publicity," writes Joyce Slaton. It all began when the Yes Men, impersonating Dow, created a site detailing Dow's responsibility in the Bhopal disaster.


The Corporate World's Top 10 Bottom Feeders

PR industry analyst Paul Holmes notes that the corporate scandals of last year created a "chronic crisis, as constituents - shareholders, employees, regulators, the public at large - began to question whether the entire American corporate system was hopelessly corrupt." (As an indicator of how bad things got, Holmes was forced to combine Enron, Worldcom and Tyco into a single item in his "top 10" list of the year's worst PR disasters.) "Ordinarily," Holmes writes, "such an epidemic of ill-considered corporate behavior would have elevated the role of the senior corporate communications execu


Corporations Claim the "Right to Lie"

After Nike conducted a huge and expensive PR blitz to tell people that it had cleaned up its subcontractors' sweatshop labor practices, California activist Marc Kasky sued them under a California law that forbids corporations from intentionally deceiving people in their commercial statements. "Instead of refuting Kasky's charge by proving in court that they didn't lie, however, Nike instead chose to argue that corporations should enjoy the same 'free speech' right to deceive that individual human citizens have in their personal lives," writes Thom Hartmann.


Working for the Pipeline

Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Assocs., a PR firm that specializes in crisis management, is helping energy companies fend off environmentalist and human rights groups that oppose a planned 400-mile pipeline in Peru that will pass through indigenous homelands in the Amazon rainforest. CLSA's other clients have included the Arthur Andersen accounting firm during the Enron scandal.



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