John Conyers Jr.

H'wood's D.C. connection fosters creative rights

When it comes to matters of economic import to the entertainment biz — particularly movies, television, videogames and music –Rep. John Conyers Jr. wields the kind of clout constituents love.

Conyers, being honored by the DGA for his “extraordinary efforts to support filmmaking and the creative rights of directors,” has chaired the powerful House Judiciary Committee, which oversees intellectual property issues. In this regard, Conyers has been a leader on the most significant IP bill to move through Congress this year: the PRO-IP bill, which increases funds for antipiracy efforts as well as penalties for bootleggers.

Along with the PRO-IP measure, Conyers is most proud of having pushed through Congress in 1995 the Digital Performance Rights in Sound Recordings Act which, as he explains, “secured a performance right for digital content.” He also authored H. Con. Res. 57, passed in 1987, that, he says, “designated jazz as a rare and valuable national American treasure” that requires support and resources to ensure its preservation.

In 2004, he lent his considerable hand to DGA’s efforts to get legislation that would help stem losses from runaway production. Result? The American Jobs Creation Act.

But, Conyers warns: “There are hardly any issues where we can say nothing more can be done. We can always improve on legislation. Runaway production is one of those issues that, if not addressed, will continue to drain money and resources from the U.S. economy.”