February 5, 2019
Dear Member of Congress,
As you begin your term, CreativeFuture – an organization that strongly supports creative communities by working to protect creativity and encourage respect for copyright law – wants to share a letter with you from over 100,000 creatives, audience members, fans, and consumers attesting to the need for a strong copyright system. Copyright is a critical complement to our nation’s commitment to free expression, creativity, innovation, and technological advancement.
CreativeFuture is a coalition of over 540 organizations and companies and over 220,000 individuals. Many of us make our living creating in film, television, music, publishing, and photography. Our nation’s creative economy, the world’s best, is under siege by digital piracy because ever-evolving technologies facilitate the unauthorized duplication and distribution of our valuable creative works.
The U.S. core copyright industries are a significant economic driver, contributing more than $1.3 trillion to America’s Gross Domestic Product and employing 5.7 million Americans. Our industries are leading exporters, outselling other major U.S. industries – including aerospace, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals. When consumers in other countries enjoy American-made creative products legally, job creation and economic growth occur here.
Strong and effective copyright is not a partisan issue, but rather one that benefits our entire country. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative or libertarian, our nation’s creatives and our creative economy deserve your support.
The signers of the attached open letter affirm that:
- We embrace the internet as a powerful democratizing force for creative industries, individuals, and the world at large.
- We demand that major internet platforms (in particular, Google and Facebook) assume greater responsibility for illegal content distributed on their networks that damages our members’ ability to make a living.
- We embrace a strong copyright system at home and abroad that rewards creativity and promotes a healthy creative economy.
- We proudly assert that copyright promotes and protects free speech – and the protection thereof does not undermine free speech.
- Copyright must be protected at home and abroad by obtaining strong commitments from trading partners in our country’s many free trade agreements.
- Copyright should allow our creative communities to safeguard their rights against those who would use the internet to undermine our creativity.
- Creative communities must be part of the conversation and stand up for creativity.
Now that the 116th Congress has been sworn in, our creative communities want to know that we will have your support. We welcome your thoughts and comments on our concerns at any time.
An Open Letter from the Creative Communities to the 116th Congress
We are members of the creative communities. While our political views are diverse, there are core principles on which we can all agree. And we appreciate the opportunity to share our views with our country’s current and future leaders.
We embrace the internet as a powerful democratizing force for our world and for creative industries. We recognize its ability to inspire positive change and improve lives. In our creative industries, the internet has removed barriers to entry for newcomers, fostered a dialogue with fans and audiences, and provided numerous additional ways to reach them. The internet has expanded creativity and free expression.
But, the internet has also introduced massive new harms to creatives and creativity. About 20 years ago, Congress created a legal environment meant to encourage the growth of the internet while also allowing internet abuses to flourish. These abuses are now in the headlines every day.
We embrace a strong copyright system at home and abroad that rewards creativity and promotes a healthy creative economy. The incredible cultural and economic value that the internet delivers to billions of users is based, in very large part, on the efforts of creative content makers whose livelihoods depend on being compensated for their work. Internet platforms are making massive profits from creative contributions to the internet’s growth. It is not too much to ask that content creators should continue to be able to make a living from the value they provide. These protections, which incentivize millions of Americans to join the creative economy, must be reinforced globally. Stronger IP protections clearly correlate with larger and more dynamic creative outputs, as well as larger legitimate digital content distribution marketplaces. These robust digital markets around the world contribute directly to the American economy, its workforce, and its prosperity.
We proudly assert that copyright promotes and protects free speech. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression go hand in hand with the freedom to create and to preserve the value and integrity of those creations. The copyright clause of the Constitution is not in conflict with the First Amendment; indeed, the Supreme Court has called copyright law the “engine of free expression” with “built-in free speech safeguards.” Additionally, the Fair Use exception allows many creatives in various fields to create important work, but it should not be used to undermine the core tenets of established copyright law. To creative people, self-expression is deeply personal. It is at the heart of everything we do. We view any effort to diminish the rights of creatives in the name of “free speech” as cynical and dishonest.
Copyright should protect creatives from those who would use the internet to undermine creativity. The internet can be a great tool for creatives just as it can be for science, education, health care, and many other disciplines. However, when misused, it can harm creativity and stifle freedom of expression. We trust that our current and future leaders recognize that a safe and secure internet benefits us all – and that all parties recognize the importance of strong copyright protections in their technology policy platforms. Because protecting copyright and internet freedom are both critically important and complementary – they are not mutually exclusive. A truly free internet, like any truly free community, is one where people respect the rights of others and can engage in legitimate activities safely – and where those who do not are held accountable.
Copyright must be protected at home and abroad by obtaining strong commitments from trading partners in our country’s many free trade agreements. When consumers in other countries enjoy American-made creative products through legitimate distributors, job creation and economic growth occur here at home. But rampant online piracy diminishes the value of the creative economy around the world, adversely affecting our favorable trade balance and American jobs. It is essential, therefore, that the United States always seeks to achieve a gold standard for copyright and intellectual property protections in all free trade agreements.
We demand that major internet platforms assume greater responsibility for the illegal content distributed on their networks. Companies like Google and Facebook, now among the largest companies in the world, must step up to greater responsibility for the theft of creative content that they facilitate, and take proactive steps. While the creative communities recognize that the need for greater platform responsibility extends far beyond copyright infringement, our industry has long suffered from a lack of platform accountability – threatening the aspirations and livelihoods of millions of Americans. This must change.
Creatives must be part of the conversation and stand up for creativity. Some organizations and advocates, who in many cases are funded by the major online platform providers, repeatedly claim to be pro-creativity and pro-audience, yet they denigrate or block effective efforts to preserve and promote creative content, including enforcement of existing laws and voluntary industry initiatives. Any company or organization that claims to be “against piracy” must match their words with their actions.
There is no “left” or “right” when it comes to respecting copyright. We stand united in support of a copyright system that will continue to make the United States the worldwide leader in the creative arts and the global paradigm for free expression.
Our copyright system is not perfect but, like democracy, it is better than the alternatives. We urge our leaders to uphold America’s commitment to the rights of creatives to determine when and how our works are shared in the global marketplace. Please join us to #StandCreative.
Marilyn R. Atlas
Sara Paige Smith Backstrom
Stephen Ryan Carman
Stephen F. Cooper
Michael Tanner Cusumano
Nic de Armendi
Martha De Laurentiis
Deborah Del Prete
Susan N. Fleishman
Anne Marie Fox
David M. Gale
Mini Polk Gitlin
James V. Hart
John N. Hart Jr.
Lynette Howell Taylor
Gale Anne Hurd
Michael A. Jackman
Paul Kelmenson Latinus
Peter M. Lenkov
Matthew D. Loeb
Kristie Macosko Krieger
Luke Parker Bowles
William J. Rouhana, Jr.
Paul Alan Smith
Daniel George Smith
Shari Springer Berman
Andrew R. Tennenbaum
David P. White