End Creative Monopolies
The current U.S. copyright system is broken. Our laws for creative works like books, songs, and movies make art-monopolizing corporations like Disney, News Corp, Spotify, and Amazon richer at the expense of artists. We demand change.
Sign to demand protections for artists, not corporations!
I am deeply concerned by the concentration of artists’ rights and opportunities in monopolistic corporations and investor funds. While creative monopolies are posting record profits, the artists themselves are struggling. I support a drastic reimagining of artists’ rights that will put artists first and help them reclaim their power from exploitative Big Content companies like Instagram, Amazon, News Corp, Spotify, and Disney.
The US copyright system currently enables creative monopolies to harm creators, oppress emerging artists, profiteer off of art, and undermine basic rights and social change. Copyright is incompatible with modern society and broken for all of us because it is rigged to benefit corporate monopolies. Creators and the public alike are harmed while rich corporations get richer. I demand the dissolution of the current US copyright system and a fundamental reimagination of artists' rights and protections for the 21st century that shifts power away from creative monopolies and puts the interests of artists and the public first.
Copyright Harms Artists Across Mediums
Whether you are a musician or an author, or work in a wholly different medium, the gap between creative monopolies’ profits and the struggles of artists they are supposed to support is striking. This blatant monopolization of creative culture and exploitation of workers across the broad spectrum of creativity is enabled by the current U.S. copyright system.
Big Content relies on the legal corpse of a bygone era to oppress creators.
The current U.S. copyright system is broken. Our laws for creative works like books, songs, and movies make art-monopolizing corporations like Disney, News Corp, Spotify, and Amazon richer at the expense of artists.
Copyright is supposed to protect and encourage creators, but mega-corporations have corrupted these laws so that they are incompatible with digital society, social justice, and modern creativity. Big Tech and Big Content rely on the legal corpse of a bygone era to oppress creators. They shield their profiteering in a pro-poverty business model that devalues the work of artists and perpetuates the myth that creatives need to starve to make great art. It’s time to debunk this myth, address these injustices, and abandon our corrupt copyright system to reimagine artists' rights in the 21st century.
Profiteering at the Expense of Creators
Our current copyright system harms artists by allowing monopolies to hoard the rights and opportunities that artists themselves would otherwise have. This system benefits only the largest corporations and shady investment firms, with many artists unable to access the benefits of our laws, making art less diverse and innovative.
In the music industry, extended copyright terms discourage innovation by supercharging the profitability of back catalogs from deceased and wealthy musicians at the expense of new artists. Why would companies invest in new creators, when they can make record profits off new-to-the-public works of already established artists? Meanwhile, the vast majority of modern living musicians are barely compensated while streaming services poach the publishing profits of their creative works. Copyright no longer fosters innovation, and no longer protects living creators.
Restricting New Audiences
Despite record profits during the 2020 pandemic, the publishing industry’s creative monopolies chose to “move the goalposts” on author payments and offer more conservative compensation overall. Simultaneously, creative monopolies are charging public libraries, a primary location for new authors to find their audience, prohibitive licensing fees to offer accessible and cheaper-to-produce ebooks.
Often, these negotiations are so complex that even prominent authors are not aware that beloved public institutions and independent bookstores, another essential venue of discoverability for emerging writers, cannot gain access to their books. These restrictive schemes are also allowing monopolists to rip off public schools and libraries with exorbitant ebook prices and limit the number of creative voices available to young learners.
Oppressing Emerging Creators
The story of art is a story of emulation and re-imagination, but the current system does not foster innovation: it directly deters it. Creators use the art of others to evolve, especially in mediums such as dance that require the use of music. Creative monopolies are intent upon restricting the nature of art by punishing or censoring anyone they cannot exploit for profit.
In the well-known Blurred Lines case and many other pop music lawsuits, legal decisions have essentially ruled that merely being inspired by another artist to make a song that has a similar feel, even without copying any actual part of the music, is illegal. Even the Recording Industry Association of America has told the courts that their interpretation of copyright law has gone too far in the direction of oppressing creativity.
The automatic punishment and content takedowns for allegedly infringing on another’s copyrighted work have made streamers and other online creatives hesitant to include any copyrighted material in their works—closing off an audience of billions from artists and chilling creativity and collaboration in streaming.
LGBTQ+ artists, whose traditions such as drag performances include copyrighted art, may find their performances censored and their digital platforms erased.
Today, the News Corps and Disneys of our world act as gatekeepers, policing what constitutes art, who shapes culture, and where people can enjoy creative works. This role gives them outsized power to oppress creators and cause substantial collateral damage in the process.
Undermining Social Change & Basic Human Rights
Laws to protect creators date back to 1790 in the US. They have not kept up with the times. The invention of the Internet completely disrupted the original copyright model by effectively ending the problem of scarcity and barriers to self-distribution, since art can be shared so easily online. Now, bloated creative monopolist companies rely entirely on these archaic laws for outsized power over creative people and our culture. But creative people are not the only ones who are harmed by these outdated laws. Increasingly, the tools of oppression used by creative monopolies are being subverted to undermine social change and basic human rights in instances such as the following:
- Withholding lifesaving COVID-19 technology from those in need because of inappropriate claims that sharing vaccines and ventilators would harm creators, in the interest of Big Pharma.
- Obstructing journalism and protecting a white supremacist involved in the capitol riots by censoring a video in which music was played under her speech.
- Weaponizing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act against a college student exercising free speech about an invasive and racist educational tool.
- Censoring activist videos to prevent police accountability.
Our current copyright system is incompatible with modern society and broken for all of us because it is rigged to benefit corporate monopolies. These laws harm creators and the public alike while propping up outdated and oppressive practices. In the wake of so much injustice, momentum is growing to put the interests of artists and the public first.
Read More About the Harms of Creative Monopolies:
Techdirt:How Years Of Copyright Maximalism Is Now Killing Pop Music
Gizmodo:Watch a Police Officer Admit He's Playing a Taylor Swift Song to Keep Activist's Video Off YouTube
Politico:Copyright Laws Don’t Work in the Digital Age
Rolling Stone:Investors Are Favoring Dead Artists Over Living Ones Because of Gains From Copyright Laws
Public Knowledge:Copyright Vogued, Dragged, and Bounced -- Reimagining ‘Fair Use’ Through LGBTQ+ Artistic Expressions
Wired:Why Copyright Laws Hurt Culture
Techdirt:Reaping What They Sowed -- Recording Industry Now Quite Upset About Copyright Run Amok
Publishers Marketplace:Despite record profits, publishing industry may be paying authors less.