Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Public Interest? Don't Hold Your Breath: In his recent book Profit with Honor (reviewed in our newsletter last year), Daniel Yankelovich expressed the touchingly naïve hope that companies practicing what he calls “stewardship ethics” (a fancy new term for enlightened self-interest) would take the public interest—and not just their own narrow self-interest—into account in their public affairs activities.

How likely is that? Exhibit one for the prosecution: the Motion Picture Association of America.

A California law that would have prevented companies and their private investigators from using “false, fictitious or fraudulent” representations in order to obtain private information such as telephone records, has been killed because of lobbying from the motion picture industry.

The law, proposed after the scandal over HP’s egregious invasion of reporters’ and board members’ privacy earlier this year, was apparently sailing through the Senate before the MPAA voiced its opposition.

The MPAA claims—essentially—that it needs to engage in fraudulent behavior in order to combat film “piracy.” If there’s a more egregious example of an industry putting its own narrow self-interest ahead of the broader public interest, I can’t imagine what it would be.

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