On Wednesday, June 5th, ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams delivered a powerful keynote to attendees of the CISAC World Creators Summit in DC. He spoke passionately and pointedly about what it means to be a creator in today’s challenging digital environment.
This excerpt of the talk touches on one of many well made points.
Literature, music and art have value to individuals, to businesses and to countries. They open our hearts and minds. They inspire. They teach. They comfort. They drive economic growth and innovation. They define our time; they define our cultures; they bring us together.
So then, why are we now in the position of having to defend ourselves against the insidious erosion of the basic principles of copyright in so many parts of the world?
Intellectual property rights are a cornerstone of democracy. As a citizen, a creator and a consumer, I should have a reasonable expectation that I live in a society where thieves and outlaws are not allowed to run rampant – even when they are operating in cyberspace. But when lawmakers in North America and Europe tried to enact legislation that would help enforce laws against online fraud and theft, the technology sector said it would break the internet. They called it censorship.
Creators are in the business of free expression. Freedom of speech is about political speech, it is not about protecting fraud or theft. They trivialized what free speech means. Forces that want to control and diminish the value of our work for their own economic benefit are systematically attacking the rights of creators. They are methodically attacking the validity of copyright laws. They are building their businesses in a way that makes enforcement of our copyrights next to impossible.
The hope that creative work will pay off for the author, composer, filmmaker or photographer if it becomes successful is no longer a given. Fair payment has become another profound uncertainty in the professional life of every creator. This is true for people at the top of their game, and especially so for those just starting out. This is true globally – not just in the United States, in Canada, in the European Union – all over the world.
PLEASE READ THE FULL KEYNOTE ADDRESS HERE AT ASCAP: