Results tagged “FCC” from Creative Rights & Artists

This post is inspired by Kevin Erickson's comment, which suggested

It's important that as we try to make our system more nuanced and more public-purpose-oriented, we make sure that our description of present reality is appropriately nuanced as well.
The bloggers and commenters in this conversation are bringing vastly different experiences to the table - academia, philanthropy, government, journalism, organizing for example.  We're hearing a wide range of opinions and ideas from the nine musicians, filmmakers, composers, and new media artists (by my count) who have chimed in.  And the conversation is rich and inspiring. 

It also reminds me just a little of one of my favorite stories about the blind people and the elephant.

I think we've all seen it before.  When academics mostly only talk to academics, or funders to other funders, beltway insiders to other beltway insiders etc - their many shared experiences can often become unspoken understandings, that over time if unchallenged can start to feel a lot like obvious truths

Echo chambers are powerful because what resonates usually sounds  fairly reasonable.  And that's why beltway insiders can get away with speaking for the grassroots, why academics often speak for artists, and funders speak for the field.

It's refreshing to see this group challenging each other in these potential echo chamber moments.  I have always learned the most about problems, ideas, and potential solutions in conversations when you take smart people OUT of their bubble.  When you put beltway insiders WITH grassroots folks, academics WITH artists, funders WITH the field, you see which arguments stand up, which ideas might be worth pursuing, and possibly discover new and sometimes unexpected paths for potential solutions.

So, yay us.

And one minor clarification.  I greatly admire Bill Ivey and have agreed with nearly everything he has said so far this week.  Except this:

I really think our "service organizations" have let their memberships down by not being at the table in IP and media policy debates.  Jean argued this well and I agree.

While I agree with Bill and Brian that service organizations you describe (APAP, the League, Americans for the Arts) are well positioned to fill the gap that you and I agree exists, I was not actually making an argument that they are letting their constituents down in my note.  There are plenty of well informed players who chose not to comment in that particular docket, which was happening at the same time as a number of high priority proceedings at the FCC. 

This would also be an appropriate time to give props to Americans for the Arts, Performing Arts Alliance (which includes the League, Opera America, Dance USA, Arts Presenters, and Theater Communications Group), American Composers Forum, American Music Center, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, Fractured Atlas, and NAMAC, who are all hardcore nonprofit arts service organizations that have gone on the public record and also reached out to their members on the Net Neutrality issue in the last year.

I'm going to try to further clarify my thoughts (because Bill wasn't the only one to intuit an unintentional jab between my lines):

1. The creative community is being represented.  Many of the groups I mentioned have ties to our community, though we may not think of them that way because they work with both artists and creative groups that traverse both ends of the commercial-noncommercial spectrum.

2. You may disagree with how these organizations (like, perhaps the RIAA) go about their business when they claim to represent you, and that's OK.  But unless you decide to file in that proceeding, or put in your own amicus brief in the court, or show up to the hearing, or tell your representatives how you feel - you're not participating in the process, and you're not going to be counted. 

I hear Corey when he suggests that it's a little unfair that the system is so complicated.  But faced with a choice between fighting to make things easier for artists and delaying action during a critical policy window - what can I say?  Them's the rules.  You can't bend them unless you agree to play the game.  And I'm in.

July 21, 2010 4:37 PM | |
Tim, Bill and Esther touch on very smart points when they ask about representation. 

In her post, Yolanda names some groups that are addressing copyright, internet and media issues.  But who is specifically representing the creative community's interests?

It's instructive to look at the public record.

Every four years the FCC asks the public to weigh in questions like - how many radio stations should a single company be allowed to own?  How does ownership impact the health of local communities, or diversity on the airwaves?  How are communities using radio?  Why is it important?  Of the 158 comments filed in the recently closed Media Ownership proceeding (#09-186) at the FCC, two organizations besides FMC talked about the impact of media consolidation on the creative community: the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Writers Guild of America.  Other groups traditionally speaking for our sector in this area also include the American Federation of Musicians (musicians union), the Recording Academy (Grammys), the Recording Industry Association of America (major record labels), and A2IM (independent record labels).

Now this is the part where you ask yourself three very important questions.

1. Do these organizations understand how this issue impacts your community?  Do you feel your interests are represented?
2. Do you disagree with the positions of any of these organizations?  Would you want to clarify your de facto tacit support of these groups?
3. Uh, where do I get the cliff notes for this?

The arts community government relations infrastructure is currently built to service five core issue areas:  NEA funding, arts education, visas, nonprofit governance, and tax issues.  There is a huge capacity gap between desire and actual ability of the arts community to engage outside this core.  Some of the capacity issues are because media ownership, net neutrality and copyright aren't black and white, like the core issue areas.  They're the vast and scary gray area.  You don't have to be a lawyer to understand these complex and nuanced issues, but you do have to be willing to do some serious detective work and put up with a lot of legalese to develop the same clarity of position outside the arts advocacy comfort zone.

While we struggle with this challenge, policymakers have to assume that the other "creative voices" speak for us.
July 20, 2010 5:04 AM | |
Marty Kaplan brings up some good points in his post, "All About the Benjamins." It can be dispiriting to see worthwhile agendas compromised, thwarted, or, worse yet, ignored by policymakers. It's particularly discouraging when you have high expectations of (and an affinity for) certain leaders. No one would disagree that money affects our politics. And I'm personally inclined to agree that the Citizens United decision doesn't do democracy any favors.

I would argue, however, that these factors are not an excuse for giving up on making our case. In fact, I'd say the opposite.

Marty talks about the recent revelations about FCC leadership engaging in closed-door conversations with Captains of Industry (in this case, the Internet Service Providers). The purpose of these meetings (as well as some less "closed" discussions on the Hill) is to arrive at a consensus regarding proposed regulation to preserve the open internet.

Now, those of us to read the tea leaves for fun and non-profit would probably tell you that such consensus will be difficult if not impossible to achieve. What really bugs some folks about the FCC situation is that the Commission already has a pair of public proceedings about the aforementioned issue, and at least one on the National Broadband Plan. Doesn't this kind of go against the whole transparency thing?

Yes and no. It's not uncommon for policymakers to have direct conversations with representatives from the private sector, and it's not always a quid pro quo situation. It's actually a way for officials to hear potential concerns -- real or manufactured -- about proposed policies. The important thing is for these same policymakers to hear from us.

I'm not suggesting that just anyone from the arts community is going to be sitting across the table from the CEO of Comcast in a high-stakes horse trade. What I'm saying is that there are plenty of opportunities to articulate our concerns and those of the broader arts community -- we just need to get better at spotting and taking advantage of them.

Look, we already know that we can't match the lobbying power of multi-gazillion dollar corporations. But we can tell stories. We can offer real-life examples of how we benefit from access to technology and communications platforms that don't discriminate against smaller voices. We can remind policymakers that protecting these voices is an American virtue. And we can do this without name-calling, hyperbole or even gobs and gobs of cash.

If those of us in the arts community are truly concerned with the outcomes of today's policy debates, than we'll work even harder to have a voice in them. We're certainly allowed to be disappointed when our leaders fail to live up to expectations, but it's more productive to remind them of why we had those expectations in the first place.

They won't always listen. But if we don't speak, they'll never hear us at all.
July 19, 2010 12:25 PM | |


This Blog Arts and culture are a cornerstone of American society. But arts and culture workers are often left out of important policy conversations concerning technology and creative rights even though the outcomes will have a profound impact on our world. Is it benign neglect? Or did we... more

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