Copyright hopes & Representative Nadler

     I was delighted to part of a panel meeting recently with Rep. Jerrold Nadler at Columbia Law School in New York City to discuss the future of copyright. Representative Nadler was interested in hearing the views of a range of artists and publishing veterans from his district as he considers a transition to a leadership role in the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, IP and the Internet.
Above photos ©Doug Menuez. Left: Chris Barron of Spin Doctors opens the copyright meeting with a solo performance. Next photo: Sandra Aistars, Copyright Alliance, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, right, with the NY Times Ken Richieri and legendary TV director Vince Misiano (backs to camera) continue the discussion after the meeting. 
     Put together by Washington, D.C. based Copyright Alliance, and led by Sandra Aistars and and Pippa Loengard (Columbia Law School), with participation by Ken Richieri (EVP and GC, New York Times Co.), Ed Klaris (SVP, head of IP Conde Nast), me, talking about my documentary and commercial work, which funds my non-profit work, Robert Stolarik (freelance photojournalist for New York Times), Vince Misiano (director of episodic TV, including West Wing, and National VP of the Directors Guild), Russ Hollander (DGA Associate National Executive Director).  Sandra described the informal meeting with Rep. Nadler as covering constitutional issues related to copyright and how copyright supports creators and journalists in their work – creating and disseminating various types of works, supporting jobs, allowing artists to pursue charitable work by licensing their works, etc. Also joining the discussion was ASMP Executive Director Eugene Mopsik and General Counsel for the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Mickey Osterreicher.
     Singer/songwriter Chris Barron of Spin Doctors performed solo with acoustic guitar to open the meeting and told his classic starving artist to rock star tale and made an appeal to Rep. Nadler to help preserve the opportunities for future songwriters. I couldn’t help but quote the lead singer of the band Cracker, David Lowery, from his appearance on Kurt Andersen’s Studio 360, whose hit “Low” was played on Pandora 1 million times and earned them a total of $16.85. Hmmm…
     I believe compromises will need to be made as the law is clearly outdated, but copyright remains a vital tool for artists and content creators to earn a living. Rep. Nadler was funny, sharp and sympathetic and pointed out that enforcement is sorely lacking, without which any law is meaningless. He implied sacrifices would have to be made by both sides and described a hypothetical outcome with photographers being thrown under the bus to make the point of how extreme the debate might get. Despite this scary moment, I felt terrific about his approach and think he will bring fresh eyes and an open mind, which is all we can ask.
     I’m hoping we can educate the next generation that they too can feed their families, put kids through college, buy a house, all through the power of the copyright of their works. It’s pretty amazing and most young people I meet have no idea or completely ceded their rights away to some misguided digital pipe-dream. These rights are written into the US Constitution and functioned pretty well for 200+ years, let’s keep it going.
July 2013
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