By Ruth Vitale
Perhaps you have been a follower of CreativeFuture since we started, or maybe you’ve just caught up with us recently. Whenever it was, you probably know that our goal is to ensure that people who work in the creative industries are protected by a strong copyright system. Piracy is our enemy, and we do battle daily, attempting to change hearts and minds through outreach and education.
We hope that the net positive of our work is ultimately more creativity, and thus, more jobs in film, television, music, photography, and book publishing.
As part of this effort, we work to shine a light on the role of Google and Facebook in facilitating harm to our society and economy – not just to our core issue of piracy, but also privacy, opioid abuse, human trafficking, electoral misinformation… and on and on and on.
Why do we call attention to all of these abuses by Google and Facebook? For one simple reason: they are all evidence of the same problem – the lack of accountability on the part of these immense platforms for their actions and inactions.
Piracy has been an issue since the dawn of the modern internet. But, as Google and Facebook have become the essential – in fact, monopolistic – platforms on which most of the world relies, the copyright infringement problem has grown exponentially worse.
Of course, Google and Facebook are obviously not solely responsible for the growth of piracy – but there are no two companies who do more to facilitate it. And, there are no two companies better positioned to help stop it.
When you stop to think about it, online piracy was the canary in the coal mine that foreshadowed how Google and Facebook, with their immense scale, could play a role in making bad problems worse by shirking their responsibilities. The current level of copyright infringement has become unsustainable – and unless these companies take responsible measures to curb piracy on their platforms, it will only continue to grow, reducing investment in creativity and the jobs that follow.
Whether it be the spread of disinformation, a multitude of privacy violations, or any of the other issues Google and Facebook are currently faced with, that pattern of shirking responsibility continues. Without question, these companies have the power, the ability, and the responsibility to stop these abuses, but, sadly, they are not stepping up.
Facebook’s unofficial motto was “Move fast and break things” while Google’s official slogan was “Don’t be evil.” Google dumped this mantra in 2018, as the news of its many issues began to appear as a regular headline. Facebook seems to still live by its motto, and indeed they keep breaking things, often beyond repair.
The millions of hardworking people who comprise the creative community stand shoulder to shoulder with the many, many Americans and others around the world who demand #PlatformAccountability.
When Google and Facebook do more, we will be first in line to congratulate them and stand with them. Google, for example, has taken steps to reduce the abuse of their Cloud storage system by pirates and made some amount of progress on reducing piracy results in Search. But they need to do much more, and they need to move faster.
Simply put, like everyone else who has a problem with Google and Facebook, we just want to see these problems addressed and fixed. For real.
These are two of the wealthiest companies on the planet. They have some of the best minds in the world working within their walls. Leaders within Google and Facebook need to ensure that those minds are tasked with doing more than simply generating enormous profits. They must fix what they have broken and once again pledge to not be evil. We will keep pushing them in that direction, making common cause with others who demand accountability.
That’s why we care so much about Facebook and Google – because creatives who depend on copyright to make a living have no other choice.