By: Ruth Vitale, CEO, CreativeFuture
Summer holidays are upon us! And it seems the right time for all of us at CreativeFuture to thank you, our friends and followers, for the success we’ve had in the last year or so.
When we asked for your help, and needed you to #StandCreative, you were there – all 130,000 of you! You’ve helped with tens of thousands of supportive emails, been part of hundreds of meetings, created dozens of op-eds and blog posts, and supported several important petitions.
Here are some highlights of what you’ve helped achieve over the past 18 months.
In February 2016, then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed what he called a “consumer choice” plan allowing consumers to buy their TV set-top boxes from anyone. Good idea. Very bad plan. His proposal would have hurt creatives while destroying programming contracts and the security of creative content – promoting piracy in the living room… just to give a few big tech companies the chance to get even richer by controlling those set-top boxes!
If Wheeler had succeeded, it could have cost tens of thousands of creative jobs, because the proposal would do nothing to protect content – making piracy as attractive as the real thing.
The creative community said “No!” Over 20,000 of you signed our petition and shared op-eds from our friends and allies (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) explaining the danger of the FCC’s proposal. Ultimately, Wheeler had to abandon his bad plan – that wouldn’t have happened without you!
Fast forward. October 2016. The elections were around the corner. We needed to make sure that the new Congress would stand up for strong copyright laws and our creative industries. Activists dedicated to destroying copyright and the incentive to create were pushing their message to candidates. We couldn’t just stand by and let that happen!
The great thing about copyright is that there’s no left or right on our issues. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, a liberal, conservative, or libertarian, strong and effective copyright is not a partisan issue – but rather one that benefits our economy and culture. Copyright makes possible the investments in creativity that strengthen America’s job market. It was essential that our elected officials stand up for the 5.5 million people who depend on copyright to make a living.
Over 70,000 friends and followers of CreativeFuture signed our open letter and petition to the candidates. This made a lasting impression on both the newly elected and returning Members of Congress, who had never before seen this kind of broad outpouring of support for strong copyright.
That same month, we faced another challenge when the Register of Copyrights – who is responsible for our nation’s copyright registration system, and serves as the nation’s policy expert on copyright – was terminated without warning. The Librarian of Congress, who currently has unlimited authority to select the Register, later issued a SurveyMonkey to “ask the public” what attributes the next Register should have.
It was clear to us that this was a tactic encouraged by anti-copyright activists to empower the Librarian to choose someone who was weak on copyright. CreativeFuture reached out to you for your help – we asked you to respond to the survey, telling the Librarian that the next Register should protect copyright and creativity. Again, you responded… by the thousands.
The Register of Copyrights’ firing brought to a head a four-year-long effort by the House of Representatives to modernize the Copyright Office. With the help of many CreativeFuture members, we kept the voice of creatives front and center. Several of our members spoke at Congressional hearings. Others contributed their personal stories about the harm of copyright infringement to our first #StandCreative essay series.
In March, we went to Capitol Hill with Executive Producer Keri Selig (The Kennedys After Camelot, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe) and Director/Executive Producer Jon Cassar (24, The Kennedys After Camelot), where they spoke to Members of Congress about their entertainment industry experience, the importance of copyright, and how productions stimulate local economies.
We also joined with other leading organizations to call on Congress to bring the Copyright Office into the 21st century – giving all Americans a modern Office that can respond to changing technologies. We made the case that the Copyright Office deserves to have a Presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed leader – similar to other federal offices with oversight of major sectors of the American economy.
Shortly after our meeting in Washington, the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee introduced the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act – also known as H.R. 1695. This Bill would make the Register of Copyrights a position nominated by the President from a pool of qualified candidates recommended by the Librarian and Congressional leadership, and confirmed by the Senate. This would increase accountability to Congress and improve transparency by giving every American a voice, through their elected representatives, in the Register’s selection.
In April, we returned to Washington with producer and CreativeFuture Leadership Committee member Richard Gladstein (The Hateful Eight, The Bourne Identity); producer and CreativeFuture Leadership Committee member Joana Vicente (Awake); David O’Ferrall, Business Agent of Local 487 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE); documentary filmmaker Jason Kliot; and former Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney and documentary filmmaker Paul Szynol to bring the case for H.R. 1695 to even more Members of Congress.
In every meeting on Capitol Hill, we were able to report that over 33,000 of you joined us in Washington by signing your name to our petition urging Congress to pass H.R. 1695. You stood right there with us!
On April 26, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1695 with overwhelming, bipartisan support (378-48)!
Thanks to these efforts, the appointment process for a new Register of Copyrights has been postponed so Congress can decide how to modernize the office.
The Senate now has a version of the House Bill pending – Bill number S. 1010 – and we need your help telling Senators why the creative community needs an independent Copyright Office.
These are just some of the highlights of the past 18 months. With your help, we’ve spread the word that piracy is bad for audiences and creativity. We’ve fired back with facts against those who claim piracy is a victimless crime. We’ve expanded the base of voices willing to #StandCreative in the face of continuing challenges to our ability to create.
Thank you for joining us on this journey. Please help us bring more people on board. Tell everyone you know to join our fight – because without you, we can’t do what we do.
Thank you – from the bottom of my heart. #StandCreative