Wednesday, October 7, 2009





AFTRA, as a founding member of the Copyright Alliance, is joining a grassroots network of creators to circulate among those in the arts and entertainment community nationwide a letter to President Obama and Vice President Biden, asking the Administration to pursue policies supportive of the rights of artists.

"I urge our members and supporters to join creators nationwide to ensure the creative work of American performers continue to receive protection from theft and exploitation," said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon. "By upholding copyright protection, creators will have the ability to earn a living from their work and talent which further enriches American culture and the world.”

There has been a rapid internal response to the letter, which within a few days of circulation among the Alliance's grassroots network garnered nearly 7,000 electronic signatures. With artists encouraging participation within their personal networks on blogs and Twitter feeds, the letter already has been signed by creators in all 50 states and representing a full spectrum of creative disciplines.

"Artists and creators make important contributions not only to our society and culture, but also to our economy," said Lucinda Dugger, the Alliance's Director of Outreach. "Increasingly, creators are finding their work misappropriated, reproduced and distributed without their knowledge, consent or benefit by those who believe intellectual property should be free for the taking. It is important that creators speak up about their works and how the principle of copyright empowers and provides incentive for creators to earn a living with their talents and ideas."

Signers include authors, photographers, songwriters, graphic designers, filmmakers, musicians, publishers, jewelry designers, web designers, photojournalists, illustrators, video game developers, architects, cartoonists, composers, playwrights, voice actors, animators, sculptors, painters and videographers.

Creative works are a key contributor to America's economy. In 2007, copyright industries in the U.S. contributed $1.52 trillion to the nation's GDP. They employed over 11 million workers and represented over 43 percent of the U.S. economy's total real growth between 2006 and 2007. [Source: Copyright Industries in the U.S. Economy, the 2003-2007 Report; Stephen E. Siwek, Economists Inc. for the International Intellectual Property Alliance].

"We believe the Obama Administration understands and values the important contributions creators make in our society," said Copyright Alliance Executive Director Patrick Ross. "The appointment of Victoria Espinel to the position of Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator was a strong sign by the Administration that it believes in the importance of creators' rights and seeing those rights are enforced here and abroad. But there is much more that needs to be done, such as ensuring Ms. Espinel has the tools and resources to do her job and receives the cooperation she needs from key officials throughout the Administration. We'll be watching with optimism."

AFTRA, along with the Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (IATSE), Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) joined together on Sept. 25 to support Obama's nomination of Espinel.

Individuals interested in signing the letter can do so at The Alliance intends to deliver the letter to the Administration later this fall.