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Among Pressing Campaign Issues, Don’t Forget About Copyright (Guest Column)

Last week, CreativeFuture and Copyright Alliance partnered to send an Open Letter to Political Candidates reminding them that copyright drives creativity and innovation.

Over 35,000 signatures from individuals in film, television, music, book publishing, and photography signed the letter. Why is this important?  Because it shows that we all understand the need to keep our creative industries healthy, but I don’t believe we say this enough to our political leaders.

Every election season, candidates travel across the country to raise funds for their campaigns. For better or worse, elections are incredibly expensive. In the 2012 election, both President Obama and Mitt Romney raised over $1 billion to fund their respective campaigns. Mitt Romney, a socially conservative Republican, holds positions on some issues that some might consider incompatible with the views of  “liberal Hollywood.” But the fact is that he raised over $6 million for his campaign at the Beverly Hilton in one night. In the last eight years, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been stuck in traffic because President Obama’s motorcade turned Wilshire into a parking lot! Countless candidates for House and Senate also come through southern California, New York, Nashville, and our other creative centers looking for support.

Most of us in the creative communities are involved in politics because there are global issues that we care deeply about.

There are so many important causes. The creative community cares deeply about our planet – we want to protect others and make the world better by our actions. But let’s never forget: it’s the living we make in the businesses we have built on copyright that allows us to engage in the political process.

However, when Hillary Clinton, or Mitt Romney, or President Obama, or any candidate for the White House comes here, there’s always one subject we don’t talk about enough. And ironically, it’s also the one thing that provides the platform to advocate for everything else.

That subject is copyright.

Like many of my colleagues in town, I have my particular causes that I deeply care about. They may not be the same as others, and that’s okay. However, on copyright issues, it’s not okay. As we said in our letter, “there is no ‘left’ or ‘right’” and we should all be able to speak with one voice.”

Too often, I feel very lonely when I raise this issue. How can that be? – when issues of respecting creativity and fighting piracy are so vital to the health of our communities?

The same candidates that come to the creative community also visit the tech communities. As we know, there are strong voices in the tech communities whose view of copyright is the polar opposite of ours – not everyone, but a lot of them. And you can bet your lunch money that when people in the tech community go to campaign events, they take every opportunity to talk about their issues, often, to our detriment. Sure, they talk about other issues, but they make damn certain that candidates come away with a clear understanding of their positions on copyright.

We need to start asking our politicians the important questions that pertain to our livelihoods. Whether you host fundraisers for our leaders or simply attend and donate – we must ask our leaders in Washington, “What do you intend to do to protect my rights as a creative?”

If we don’t, there will come a day when candidates will stop knocking on our doors because we won’t have any more money left to give.

And then, who will advocate for the environment? For schools? For veterans? For the less fortunate? For animals?

It certainly won’t be us.

Ruth Vitale is CEO of CreativeFuture.

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