Non-Profit Groups Urge Congress to Support Copyright Laws (Guest Column)

Capitol building GETTY - H 2016
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Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture CEOs sent a letter to Congress asking them to protect laws protecting intellectual property, saying it would boost the economy.

In support of the millions of Americans who currently make a living in the creative industries and the next generation who will join them, our two organizations – the Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture – recently sent a letter to all elected officials outlining the importance of copyright. Over 70,000 individuals signed their name to this letter because they understand that without a strong copyright system, content creation and the jobs it generates across film, television, music, photography, publishing, software, and other industries would be impossible.

Our letter underscores the fact that there is no “left” or “right” when it comes to the importance of copyright. The creative communities stand united in support of a copyright system that will continue to make the United States the world leader in the creative arts and the global paradigm for free expression.

Copyright provides millions of people the opportunity to make a living directly or indirectly from the creation of copyrighted works. For example, over $200,000 per day is injected into local economies during a major film shoot, with much of the money going to local businesses like hotels, lumberyards, restaurants, and car rental companies. Further, according to the Entertainment Software Association, video games are another “strong engine for economic growth. In 2014, the industry sold over 135 million games and generated more than $22 billion in revenue. Fifty-two percent of total game sales were generated by purchases of digital content, including online subscriptions, downloadable content, mobile applications, and social networking games. Computer and video game companies directly and indirectly employ more than 146,000 people in 36 states.”

Georgia is a perfect example. Congressman Doug Collins from Georgia’s 9th Congressional District recently wrote that “in 2015, Georgia’s workforce benefited from $1.7 billion in direct spending and 79,000 new jobs paying $4 billion in wages with salaries averaging $84,000, which is 75 percent higher than the national average.”

Indeed, Georgia is now the third-most-popular state for film and television productions, trailing only California and New York. Stories like this can be seen across the country, as thousands of Americans join the millions already working in the core copyright industries, which represent over 6 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product.

In 2016, core copyright industries (film, television, music, radio, books, newspapers, and software in all formats) added more than $1.2 trillion of value to the U.S. GDP, accounting for 6.88 percent of the U.S. economy, according to a report by the International Intellectual Property Alliance.

The same report shows that in 2015, sales of selected U.S. copyright products in overseas markets amounted to $177 billion. This number is significantly higher than other American industries, such as agricultural products ($62.9B) and pharmaceuticals ($58.3B).

With this economic impact, it is no wonder our letter proudly states that we embrace a strong copyright system that rewards creativity and promotes a healthy creative economy. This translates into millions of jobs across the country – something undoubtedly worth protecting.

Moreover, the sheer size of the creative economy and the protections afforded by copyright underscore that making a film or television show, recording a song, writing a book, developing software, or taking a photograph, among other creative endeavors, is certainly a viable career choice. These professions are not hobbies – they’re livelihoods.

Well-known creatives who make a living in the copyright industries, like two-time Academy Award-nominated producer Richard Gladstein (The Hateful Eight, Finding Neverland, The Bourne Identity) and author T.J. Stiles (winner of the National Book Award and two Pulitzer Prizes) have signed our letter.

Gladstein explains: “When I produce a film, hundreds of hardworking people are employed. In addition to trying to create a good film and a fair and safe environment for all employees, I am also responsible for the business of trying to create a financial success. Strong copyright protection is essential to accomplishing this goal.”

Stiles adds: "Even before the First Amendment, the framers of the Constitution protected freedom of speech with the copyright clause. By establishing a market for creative work, the Founders ensured that writers, thinkers, artists, and entertainers could continue to produce, allowing them to turn their passions into professions. Companies in the creative industries partner with individuals by funding, developing, and distributing their work. In 2015, this sector added $1.2 trillion to the U.S. GDP, employed nearly 5.5 million people, and exported to countries around the globe. Copyright stands as a bulwark of our economy and our individual right to express ourselves."

Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, a liberal, conservative, or libertarian, strong and effective copyright benefits our entire country and is a meaningful way to strengthen America’s job market.

As we send this letter to all 535 members of Congress, we ask that you, too, reach out to your Senators and Representatives and ask that they support copyright, because millions of Americans rely on its protection to pay their bills and put food on the table, and millions more rely on it to enhance their lives by keeping them entertained and informed.

Our favorite movies, television shows, songs, books, and video games became a reality because the people behind them decided to turn their love of creativity into a career – let’s make sure that they can continue to make a living creating what we treasure.

Kupferschmid is the chief executive of Copyright Alliance, and Vitale is chief executive of CreativeFuture