Coalition Formed To Push Net Users To Legit Content

Five large media, technology and service provider companies—NBC Universal, Viacom, AT&T, Cisco Systems and Microsoft—have lent their names to an advocacy organization designed to promote legal sources of content on the Internet and discourage consumers from engaging in piracy.

The coalition, called Arts+Labs, is the brainchild of two erstwhile political operatives: Mike McCurry, White House press secretary under Bill Clinton from 1995 to 1998, and Mark McKinnon, a one-time songwriter who has served as chief media advisor to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain.

Arts+Labs, whose founding members also include the Songwriters Guild of America, will “inform and educate” consumers about the availability of legal entertainment content online as well as the dangers of obtaining media content illegally. 

“We want consumers to have exponentially greater opportunities to access creative content in a variety of formats, and with confidence that they are safe from viruses, hackers, malware, illegal file trafficking and other net pollution that puts them at risk,” McCurry said, in a statement.

The group’s first activity is a press tour publicizing itself that will hit New York, Los Angeles and Nashville, Tenn. Currently, Arts+Labs has no plans to run public service ads.

Companies interested in joining the organization would pay a fee, but a spokesman for Arts+Labs said that information was not being made public.

The group’s advisory board includes Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters Guild of America, and Chuck Sims, partner with the law firm Proskauer Rose.