Donald L. Vasicek
“We’ll take your cameras and smash them to pieces! We will not allow you to come onto our reservation, video tape us and go sell the tapes for
your profit.” The Chief of the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council glared at me. I was presenting my Sand Creek Massacre documentary film proposal to the tribal council for their approval, so I was stunned when this thin man with streaming white hair cascading down to his shoulders, with a weather beaten face and eyes so penetrating I felt as though they were going to burn holes in my eyes, put me down.
I was able to situate everyone at ease by explaining that I was making the film to inform, to educate and to expand awareness with respect to racism, and that it had nothing to do with profiting from it. The tribal council eventually approved my proposal to make the film. The fine point of this experience was that his unhappiness about his people being exploited by others for profit resonated with me because I am a writer/filmmaker, a creative person. Each time a creative person puts their work out in the public, they take a chance of being exploited by having their work pirated by someone who uses it for their own profit without permission from the person who created it.
CreativeFuture, founded by ten companies and organizations: the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, CBS, Warner Bros., NBCU, Disney, Fox, Sony, and Viacom, which has grown to an organization of over 450 companies and over 70,000 individual creatives, spanning film, television, music, book publishing, and photography, works to mobilize the creative community against the for-profit digital theft of individual creatives’ work. Ruth Vitale, CreativeFuture CEO, has refashioned the organization to bring together creative communities globally. Her focus is on the “value of creativity”. She said, “that was what was needed to be communicated: that creativity is the cultural fabric of the planet, and somehow, in this digital age, creativity has become undervalued, if not minimized.”
She went on to say, “We want to be part of the global conversation about the value of creativity, its place in society, and the harm that is caused by the for-profit theft of our creative works.”
Ms. Vitale measures CreativeFuture’s success by “how much conversation we can start about issues at hand.” She noted that its success is that CreativeFuture hasn’t completely stopped piracy, but “we have begun to make people aware about what’s at stake. Our creative community was sort of absent from the conversations about the value of creativity and the harm done by digital piracy. I’d like to think now that our voice in this conversation is being heard.”
According to Ms. Vitale, other successes CreativeFuture is experiencing is that it is actively involved in the discussions about Copyright Section 512, whether or not that section of the Copyright law is working for independent voices in film and television. Ms. Vitale said, “I’d like to think we’ve had some impact there, testifying at the Congressional Listening Sessions, and the subsequent Copyright Office Roundtables.”
CreativeFuture’s members have participated in voicing their opposition to the FCC Set-top box proposal. Producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead, The Incredible Hulk, Armageddon) published an op-ed, placed by CreativeFuture on the online and in print editions of USA Today in addition to numerous blogs and news outlets. You can find her piece here for reference: http://usat.ly/!S7nr59. Executive Producer Peter Lenkov (Demolition Man, Hawaii Five-O, CSI: NY) wrote and published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Here is the link: http://www.wsj.comarticles/the-fcc-hoists-the-jolly-roger-on-your-cable-box-1465338921.
Ms. Vitale said that CreativeFuture members spend time on Capitol Hill with filmmakers who talk with members of Congress about the value of creativity, the time and care that goes into making entertainment. She emphasized her belief that CreativeFuture has had “solid success” in conveying the value of what they do, and that she measures CreativeFuture’s success in the “noise we can make with our members (artists all) and the awareness we bring to the value of creativity in our civilization.
A CreativeFuture membership is free. Join the conversation, sign up, and amplify CreativeFuture messages on social media at www.CreativeFuture.org.