Group Fighting Digital Piracy Nearly Doubles Membership in First Six Weeks (Exclusive)

CreativeFuture's Ruth Vitale tells THR it's fighting for-profit pirates: "This is not about kids in the basement doing this because they want to screw the man."
Courtesy of CreativeFuture
Ruth Vitale began leading Creative Future in February.

A little more than six weeks after its launch, anti-digital-piracy group CreativeFuture has nearly doubled its membership, and -- more significantly -- expanded beyond the big studios, networks, agencies and others behind its founding.

The nonprofit advocacy group is the successor to Creative America, which was founded three years ago during the disastrously unsuccessful battle to pass legislation to curb international piracy of intellectual property.

"Our first set of members got people talking about it and started explaining what we want to accomplish," CreativeFuture executive director Ruth Vitale tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Now we want to make it clear this is a concern for everybody that creates entertainment. We are finding everybody (in the entertainment industry) wants to be part of this."

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In addition to the first wave of supporters -- which included Fox, Sony, CAA, the Director's Guild, SAG and about 60 other producers, lawyers and organizations -- the new list of members has managers like Bender/Spink, independents like Cinetel, producers such as Legendary Entertainment and additional agencies, including Paradigm. There are now more than 120 members and the list is growing.

"The creative community has to stand up and speak," says Vitale, a former studio executive and film producer. "It can't just be big companies. It has to be writers, directors, cinematographers, producers and many others. We are an organization of people who create the work that this country and the entire world enjoy."

"This is an issue that impacts all who create for a living," says Paul Brooks, president of Gold Circle Entertainment and a member of the coalition. "If we don't stand up for the work that we do, who will? CreativeFuture was created so we could speak with one collective voice."

There is no initiation fee or dues, only a commitment to become involved in spreading the word about the scope of the problem and working to stop the pirates in as many ways as possible.

Of course, not everyone agrees, as became clear in 2011 when SOPA and PIPPA legislation went down in flames thanks to opposition from Google and many others in the tech community -- combined with the angry reaction from those who distribute and consume content freely without paying any license fees or royalties.

Unlike Creative America, the goal is not legislation this time. It is to create a dialogue about the value of creative products like movies and TV shows and the damage caused by piracy, especially over the Internet.

"We can't be sitting here while Silicon Valley says everything should be free," says Vitale. "We shouldn't be sitting here saying we're too busy making our TV shows and movies and we don't have time to talk about this. So CreativeFuture was created as a haven, an umbrella under which all those people can speak and respond to the opponents of the value of creativity and copyright. We're starting a movement."

To accomplish that, Vitale and others have been speaking to groups, companies and people, but that isn't enough. To reach the next level, says Vitale, they have introduced some initiatives:

Mobilizing Creatives -- Encourage the creative community to speak out about the value of what they do and the harm caused by piracy, not just to them, but to all those who depend on the successful production and distribution of content -- from florists to dry cleaners.

"This is not much different than marketing movies and TV shows," says Vitale. "It's about keeping an issue at the forefront of people's minds. And what's great about it is, it's coupled with what they do for a living."

Follow the Money -- The goal is to take the profit out of piracy. The group will target advertisers, advertising agencies, networking companies, digital retailers and others. It will also go after credit card and other companies that process payments to digital sites that carry copyright material without permission.

"This is not about kids in the basement doing this because they want to screw the man," says Vitale. "This is for-profit criminal enterprises. …They are not good guys. They are bad guys."

Youth Outreach -- The group is working with schools and organizations to reach young people and explain the value and cost of creative works, the harm done to artists by pirates and how it can impact them if they choose a career in the creative fields.

"People don't connect the dots," says Vitale. "Kids steal movies, people steal movies and say 'Ah, it's just taking a copy of it.' What they don't realize is that they are putting money in the pockets of people who have done nothing but steal the creative work of people who have worked very hard."