Copyright & Creativity: Inextricably Connected

CreativeFuture has partnered with Macmillan Learning and a group of Los Angeles-based street poets to create a video about the importance of copyright for university students. This video debuted at the end of 2019 and is currently part of Macmillan Learning’s Media Essentials, Fifth Edition online textbook of their Launchpad platform, used by hundreds of universities nationwide.

The poets who appear in this video are Angelena Aguilera, Aman Batra, Matthew Cuban, Kito Fortune, Tonya Ingram, and Alyesha Wise. These performers are passionate, hardworking creators doing what they love. As you hear in the video, they sell “CDs and chapbooks out of the trunks of their cars” – and a $10 purchase of one of their works can mean the difference between “feast and famine.” This video is a window into their lives, showing us how they make a living.

For artists like these, the theft of their creative works affects their ability to pay even their basic expenses, let alone pursue their craft as a viable profession. And yet, despite the basic obligation of federal law to educate students about this theft, about copyright infringement, piracy on college campuses is more the norm than the exception.

In 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) mandated that colleges take meaningful action to curb piracy over their campus networks. One of the requirements of that Bill is an annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and how violating it goes against federal law and campus policies. Unfortunately, this important message tends to get wrapped up in a lot of legal language that can alienate students and faculty, while failing to convey why anyone should care about copyright other than being caught.

Cue CreativeFuture’s collaboration with Macmillan Learning and the poets. We partnered to ensure that this message will not be a boring legal letter, but will instead inspire students to do better in their daily life online. The LaunchPad for Media Essentials will now give teachers the ability to easily distribute this video to all of their students. Hopefully, this will spark the type of conversation that changes attitudes and opinions in the next generation of creators and audiences. 

Unfortunately, most people think that piracy is a victimless crime or, at the very least, a crime only against very wealthy individuals or corporations. But the truth is that the people who are most hurt by piracy are the millions of Americans who work in the creative industries who are not rich and rely upon their weekly paychecks to afford the basics – things like feeding their families and paying rent. We are pleased to offer one small yet impactful opportunity to help “you think,” as the poets implore, “before stealing from [their] plate.”