ArtsWatch: Championing Free Speech

Creative community leaders celebrate Free Speech Week with events and messages
October 28, 2013 -- 7:37 am PDT
By Philip Merrill /

In recent news ...

Music And Film Organizations Champion First Amendment Freedoms
This year's Free Speech Week took place Oct. 21–27 and presented an opportunity to highlight the benefits we enjoy thanks to freedom of expression, and recognize the long-standing efforts made to defend it. "The truth is, nothing preserves our culture more than our constitutional right to free speech," said RIAA Chairman/CEO Cary Sherman. "Creativity in America is strong because the First Amendment is strong." MPAA Chairman/CEO Chris Dodd served as chairman of this year's Free Speech Week Advisory Council, a group that includes Sherman as well as leaders from the Consumer Electronics Association, Directors Guild of America, National Association of Broadcasters, and National Cable & Telecommunications Association, among others. "It was not until 1952's landmark Supreme Court decision in Joseph Burstyn Inc. v. Wilson that motion pictures finally became recognized as a form of expression protected by the Constitution," said Dodd. "Since that historic ruling, the MPAA has fought tirelessly to ensure that films and other creative works are afforded the full First Amendment freedoms to which they are entitled." On Oct. 23 the Copyright Alliance published an impressive compendium of courtroom victories detailing "how the creative industries defend free speech" in areas such as fair use, battling censorship and protecting press freedoms, parody and the public interest in "stories that matter." At an Oct. 22 event, First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams discussed the Copyright Act's ongoing role as referee, protecting individuals' original expressions while digital technology enables an unprecedented multitude of voices to engage in spontaneous public discussions online.

European Creative Coalition Launched For Fresh Outreach
Creativity Works, a new European coalition, launched Oct. 17 with a uniquely diverse meeting in Brussels. Participants included indie music collective Impala, the MPAA's international arm, UK soccer powerhouse Premier League, and an impressive assortment of creative stakeholders who gathered to plan ways to promote awareness of intellectual property with a new dynamic approach. Creative Works' mission statement reads, "The goal of our alliance is to have an open dialogue with European audiences and decision-makers about the challenges we all face: Our online world has to provide fair and equal opportunities for all individuals, creators and current and emerging businesses to flourish." Federation of European Film Directors CEO Elisabeth O. Sjaastad said, "We need a dialogue about how creativity works. … Creativity Works aims to focus the policy debate on the people at the heart of Europe's creativity and culture."

Solid Subscriber Growth For iTunes Radio
On Oct. 22 Apple revealed that iTunes Radio has grown to 20 million users in five weeks since its Sept. 18 launch. The news sparked coverage speculating how soon it would overtake Pandora, leading Radio And Internet Newsletter to observe that real comparisons cannot be made until Apple announces statistics for active listeners. Meanwhile, since its launch in April, reports have surfaced indicating that the initial excitement surrounding Twitter Music has died down to the point where Twitter is considering whether or not to "kill" it.

Youth Increasingly Listen To TV While Using Smartphones
British mobile commerce firm Weve released research on Oct. 21 finding that 28 percent of the 18–34 demographic in the UK consider their smartphones to be the first and most important screen that they watch, while only 27 percent reported television as their number one screen. Weve CEO David Sear said, "The way consumers behave has really shifted — anybody who is now watching TV is actually listening to TV, and they are normally playing with their mobile device or following a story about TV on social media." While it is statistically premature to say "anybody," the fact remains that the popular phrase "second-screen experience" describing multitaskers now includes a large segment that considers TV their second screen.

The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

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