US creatives call for platform accountability

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CreativeFuture, a grass-roots coalition which unites those who value American creativity and innovation in the fight against content theft, has sent a letter to all candidates running for Federal office in the forthcoming midterm elections.

Over 400 prominent members from the creative communities have signed the letter – joining over 100,000 others who signed the petition calling on Washington to demand accountability from the large Internet companies.

CreativeFuture says that strong and effective copyright is not a partisan issue, but rather one that benefits the entire country. “Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative or libertarian, our nation’s creators and our creative economy deserve your support,” it declares.

The signatories of the open letter:

  • embrace the Internet as a powerful democratizing force for creative industries, individuals, and the world at large.
  • demand that major Internet platforms (in particular, Google and Facebook) assume greater responsibility for illegal content distributed on their networks that damages members’ ability to make a living.
  • embrace a strong copyright system at home and abroad that rewards creativity and promotes a healthy creative economy.
  • proudly assert that copyright promotes and protects free speech – and the protection thereof does not undermine free speech.

“Copyright should allow our creative communities to safeguard their rights against those who would use the Internet to undermine our creativity,” they say, adding that creative communities must be part of the conversation and stand up for creativity.

In the letter, they say 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 efforts. “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 incentivise 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 workforce and its prosperity – in all 50 states and beyond,” they state.

They say that 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,” they say.

“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 recognise 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,” they assert.

“Creatives must be part of the conversation and stand up for creativity. Some organisations 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 organisation that claims to be ‘against piracy’ must match their words with their actions,” they demand.

“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 global 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. It works. 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,” they conclude.


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