The hierarchy of creative people

Photo by David Lapetina

Photo by David Lapetina

A coalition formed “to combat copyright piracy and demonstrate the value of creativity”— Creative America—has changed its name to CreativeFuture. Major motion picture and television companies initially formed this group now that is now considering the future, the present day, and no doubt, the past as well.

CreativeFuture now has individual members as well industry and trade groups. These new members call themselves “the creatives.” Apparently, by calling themselves the creatives, they are a specially placed group, distinct from other people who create.

Who are the CreativeFuture creatives? Television and film executives, producers, screen writers, actors and others in the entertainment industry. They argue that “copyright should protect creatives from those who would use the internet to undermine creativity.” In case you were wondering, “Those” are people who use the internet to allegedly infringe copyright by copying and distributing protected content.

They are incorrectly called “pirates,” because, well, it sounds more creative. The icing on the cake is the compelling narrative that goes along with the label. The story goes that if piracy [sic] is unchecked, the entertainment industries will go bankrupt, thousands of people who work for the industry will lose their jobs, and the world will miss out on the fantabulous creative works that the United States provides. And if the creatives grow disillusioned, there will come a time when the creatives will have no reason to create anymore. Only people who are creative—but not as creative as the creatives—will create their subpar content. The world will suffer.

Other than the creatives, who else should be protected by copyright law? The public. The grand feature of the copyright law is that it serves both the interests of creators and rights holders but also the information seeking (and consumer buying) needs of the public. Free expression and learning should be protected as well because they in turn advance knowledge and create new works. This is how the progress of science and the useful arts happens.

Re:create, a new copyright coalition wants to direct more attention to the public, people who create, and new and emerging creators. Piracy [sic] is bad but making extreme attempts to control it with laws like SOPA are overkill, and ultimately only favor the creatives, the companies they work for, and their legacy business models.

In closing, I will end my tongue in cheek rant with a plea. The creatives say that they “must be part of the conversation and stand up for creativity.” We all support creativity already, but the creatives, always craving attention, want to stand up higher and be seen (or heard at a Congressional hearing). I say that the concerns of the public need more attention. Let’s move forward while preserving a balanced copyright law. Don’t miss your chance to be heard.

About Carrie Russell

Carrie Russell is the Director of the Program on Public Access to Information in the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP). Her portfolio includes copyright, international copyright, accessibility, e-books and other public policy issues. She has a MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a MA in media arts from the University of Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at crussell@alawash.org.

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