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NetCoalition disavows antipiracy handout

Org says it neither 'wrote nor approved' post

The NetCoalition, the organization of Internet companies like Google, Yahoo and eBay that was instrumental in turning back anti-piracy legislation in Congress, is disavowing a handout that went out under its name and reprinted a story from Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment blog referring to industry unions as “thugs.”

The harsh rhetoric was part of a post that warned that even though the legislation was sidelined it is not dead, and that the MPAA, the RIAA and a “host of union thugs” would be persistent in making sure it got back on track. Studios, record labels and almost all of the industry’s guilds and unions backed the legislation, as did the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce.

Markham Erickson, exec director of the NetCoalition, issued a statement Thursday in which he said that the coalition “neither wrote nor approved the blog post.” But he said that one of its media consultants, Black Rock Group, prepared the handout “in connection with an appearance before a conservative organization.”

“This should never have happened and we are stunned and deeply sorry that it did,” Erickson said. “Throughout our efforts on piracy legislation, we have kept our objections focused on policy rather than politics. We remain committed to achieving consensus on legislation to address the issue of online piracy. We recognize that consensus is achievable only when all the parties are treated with respect. The events of yesterday have no place in that effort and we again sincerely apologize for them.”

Even so, the campaign to halt the legislation drew from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Many left-leaning public interest groups protested the legislation, but opponents also made efforts to engage Tea Party groups to rally against the legislation as another example of government overreach.

The blog post all but leaves the impression that the legislation was a Democratic-motivated effort to please its donor base in Hollywood, when antipiracy legislation traditionally has drawn bipartisan support and, in the most recent case, has also stirred bipartisan opposition. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was its chief backer in the Senate, while opponents ranged from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.)

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