Anti-SOPA Movement Unites Trent Reznor, Opera Singers

While SOPA and PIPA have the support of every major record label, the unions representing performing artists, and the organizations that manage licensing for musicians, some performers, writers and artists have stood up against the bills, including MGMT, OK Go, Trent Reznor and the members of OPERA America. (And Neil Gaiman, too!)

In a letter to Congress, a group of musicians, writers and performers declared:

As creative professionals, we experience copyright infringement on a very personal level. Commercial piracy is deeply unfair and pervasive leaks of unreleased films and music regularly interfere with the integrity of our creations. We are grateful for the measures policymakers have enacted to protect our works.

We, along with the rest of society, have benefited immensely from a free and open Internet. It allows us to connect with our fans and reach new audiences. Using social media services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we can communicate directly with millions of fans and interact with them in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

We fear that the broad new enforcement powers provided under SOPA and PIPA could be easily abused against legitimate services like those upon which we depend. These bills would allow entire websites to be blocked without due process, causing collateral damage to the legitimate users of the same services – artists and creators like us who would be censored as a result.

Separately, a coalition including the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, the National Alliance for Media Art and Culture, National Alliance for Musical Theatre, OPERA America, and the Theatre Communications Group, sent its own letter to the Senate, expressing similar concerns:

We write to you today as members of a vibrant and forward-looking arts and cultural community that is apprehensive about legislation currently being considered to deal with so-called “rogue websites” that traffic in American intellectual property. Our organizations represent tens of thousands of members from across the creative spectrum, including performers, writers, dancers, singers, composers, filmmakers and more. As creators and copyright holders, we feel compelled to present our views as a counterbalance to the larger industry trade groups who often dominate discussions on these important matters.

We are firm believers in copyright and intellectual property. Still we recognize the need to ensure today’s creators can participate directly in the innovations that advance our craft and allow unfettered outreach to our patrons and fans. It is imperative that Congress protect our right to free expression when considering approaches to intellectual property enforcement.

The fact that some performing artists and musicians are at odds with publishers over SOPA doesn’t come as a surprise, according to Casey Rae-Hunter, deputy director of the Future of Music Coalition, a non-profit education and advocacy organization for musicians. “The trade organizations that represent the content industry don’t necessarily represent all creators,” he told Consumerist. “Many artists are copyright-holders themselves and have rights as well. Gaining a broader perspective of stakeholders is a transformative thing for Washington.”

Rae-Hunter says the music industry is still “trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube,” 15 years after digital music files began becoming a viable alternative to physical media. “Difficulties in monetizing entertainment artifacts in the online space are business model problems,” he says. “I have absolutely no problem with going after the bad guys on the Internet. If there are these jerks out there and they’re overseas and wholesale ripping off American creators, figure out how to do that without stifling creative expression and the emerging economics of the marketplace.”

SOPA: An open letter to Washington [StopTheWall]
More Arts Groups Sign On to Oppose SOPA/PIPA [Fractured Atlas Blog]
Why We’re Not Blacking Out [Future of Music Coalition]


Edit Your Comment

  1. DariusC says:

    How about selling your content at a price point where users would feel more compelled to purchase it rather than copy it? Like how the Humble Indie Bundles did? That’s fixing your business model. Costs of reproduction go down and so should the prices. Until then, pirate away until they figure out how supply and demand works. Just because something is intangible doesn’t mean you can slap a price on it and be entitled to the money. If you sell it for too much, people will take to alternative means to obtain it. This is much like making guns illegal. Criminals will still get them, so there is no point in taking away the rights of all to attempt to prevent the actions of a few.

  2. Nighthawke says:

    Casey hit the nail on the head. MAFIAA has been clinging to the old ways of getting their money’s worth for too long. In order to wring the last cent out of that process, they are forcing these two bills upon us. God knows how much money they have pumped into their lobbying efforts, but I know one certain congresscritter from Texas is gone come election day. He can go back to lobbying, or garbage collection for all I care.

    • Kuri says:

      Heh, my sincere hope is that the bill’s death would bankrupt them and they NEVER see that money back.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Exactly, the music industry lost it with 17 dollar record albums and cds along with 75 dollar per concert ticket. It is a dated business model good for those that are dated as well.

      Just like a home owner must report a stolen tv it’s up to an artist or record company to report stolen or pirated material to the authorities for prosecution. No protecting their butts on a silver platter with collatorel damage.

  3. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    In solidarity with these artists, I will no longer pirate any musical “theatre” or opera performances.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i now have the urge to pirate the gilbert and sullivan musical: pirates of penzance.

  4. Darkrose says:

    I know it’s probably wrong of me to say this, but it’s not the responsiblity of the US Government to enforce content copyrights. It’s the responsibility of the copyright holders or its assignees. The government gave them the tools in the form of US code to enforce their copyrights through the civil court system, and now these people want the government to become the police of the mess they made..

    Just sayin’

    • DariusC says:

      “Mr. RIAA and Dr. MPAA don’t agree with your downloading of “Never gonna give you up” and now we are coming to “enforce” our copyrights.” *Taps bat on floor several times while laughing to self*

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Proof enough to me this should be killed – when the content originators are saying legislation to combat piracy of their own works is wrong…. well, you can’t argue with that.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      LOL. Yeah they speak for all artists everywhere so there’s no way to mount any counterargument.

      For the record I oppose the legislation, but the assertion that a few speak for all is beyond ludicrous. You wouldn’t say that about something you disagreed with.

  6. MacUser1986 says:

    Most artist are to self observed and ignorant to see what’s really going on. All they care about is the dollar.

  7. dolemite says:

    Interesting…so SCOTUS says corporations have the right to unlimited campaign finance because corporations are made up of people, but according to this, the individual people that make up a group or corporation do not necessarily believe in what the corporation stands for. How strange.

  8. Kuri says:

    Hmm, I woudln’t put it past the Really self-Important Assholes Association to file bogus claims and hold the sites of these artists hostage until they sing up with a label.

  9. Jay911 says:

    Nine Inch Nails (and Trent Reznor) has been doing for years what DariusC above has suggested. I specifically bought two albums because he/they offered them for sale on the net and at a reasonable price. Now I hear OK Go is at least in the same frame of mind if not doing the same thing? Bring it on. But I’m no opera guy, sadly.

    • TheSpatulaOfLove says:

      I bought a couple of Trent’s recent releases through his website, despite the fact that I do not find his music to be my taste anymore. I did it purely to prove that his model is the right model going forward.