Yesterday, I attended a conference called CREATE (Protecting Creativity from the Ground Up) at the NEWSEUM in DC. The event – which brought together film directors, artists, musicians, technology policy experts and legislators – discussed the need to crack down on online piracy from “rogue” websites and other “enablers” of intellectual property (IP) theft that undermine the incentives to take risk and innovate in our IP-driven economy.
Recording artist Suzanne Vega – famous for her 80’s hits, “Tom’s Diner” and “Luka” – keynoted and sang at the event. In advocating for the rights of creators, Vega told attendees that though she understands the allure of “free” downloaded content, it’s wrong. Still, she remains optimistic that the next generation of Internet users gets educated, changes its behavior for the better, and pays artists (and other rights holders) for their work instead of thoughtlessly poaching it online.
Others at the conference included Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Representative Jared Polis (D-C0), both of whom were there to discuss pending congressional legislation (Protect IP Act) designed to reduce online IP theft.
Lively discussion ensued during the half-day conference, revealing a common message from the CREATE expert panelists – Downloading “free” art, music, software or other IP isn’t cool. Not only does it hurt the individual artists who made the work (and who depend on being remunerated to survive and create more work), it hurts American jobs and our economy, which now more than ever relies on IP and its proper protection to grow and thrive.
I couldn’t agree more.