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Creative industries coalition urges Biden to strengthen copyright protections

Creative industries coalition urges Biden to strengthen copyright protections
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A coalition representing more than 500 companies in creative industries is calling on the Biden administration to support tougher copyright protections.

In a letter from the CreativeFuture coalition, stakeholders from the film, television, music, photography and publishing industries said the coronavirus pandemic has led to a significant increase in digital piracy with many Americans spending more time at home during lockdowns.

“At a time when many are still unable to work, piracy is cutting into the already reduced legitimate revenue streams from our creations, exacerbating our economic challenges,” the coalition wrote to the White House on Monday.

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Digital video piracy costs the U.S. economy at least $29.2 billion annually, according to the coalition.

Ruth Vitale, CEO of CreativeFuture, emphasized that the coalition is seeking to go after criminal groups, not consumers who break the rules.

“These criminal enterprises aren’t two kids in a basement,” she said. “These are big businesses of criminals that have several verticals. It can be drug dealing, it can be child sex trafficking, it can be human trafficking. And this vertical is piracy, and piracy is a very inexpensive vertical to operate.”

Vitale said the more than 350 signatories to the letter are seeking strict enforcement of two pieces of legislation that were signed into law late last year.

One of those bills, the Protect Lawful Streaming Act, made large-scale streaming of copyrighted material by criminal enterprises a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

“That’s a very, very good start, and this administration can move forward on that and implement it through the Department of Justice,” Vitale told The Hill.

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Another measure — the CASE Act — set up a small-claims court within the Copyright Office where independent creators can receive up to $30,000 in damages for copyright infringement. Vitale said the statute helps individuals avoid the steep costs of pursuing a lawsuit in federal court.

The Copyright Office is planning to implement the system by the end of the year, Vitale said. The office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Members of the coalition are also advocating for changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was put into effect in 1998 before major online platforms like Facebook and YouTube existed. Vitale said the group hopes to work with the intellectual property subcommittees in both the House and Senate to make revisions.