Neil Turkewitz
Sep 5, 2019 · 5 min read
Photo ©2019 Neil Turkewitz

Blue Sky Dreaming: An Open Letter to the Department of Justice & FBI from the Ad Hoc Coalition for Copyright & Digital Prosperity

The individuals and organizations identified below are a diverse group of performers, songwriters, musicians, authors, artists, academics and others who share an abiding interest in expanding opportunities for the creative sector through Internet commerce. The Internet has the capacity to fuel a cultural renaissance, and enhance economic competitiveness. Alas, far too much of that potential has been lost as a result of the culture of lawlessness and lack of accountability that define broad swaths of the Internet ecosystem.

Last week’s indictment of eight individuals for conspiracy to violate federal criminal copyright law by running two of the largest unauthorized streaming services in the United States represents a milestone in a growing understanding that lack of responsibility should not be the default setting for conduct on the Internet, and that US law enforcement bodies are ready, able and willing to take action against criminal conduct regardless of the modality used in the commission of the offense. This is a tremendously powerful moment, and we wanted to ensure that you fully grasped our recognition of, and appreciation for, this action. For internet commerce to drive global prosperity, it must be built on a framework that demands accountability. For taking this decisive action, we say thank you.

We also want to take this opportunity to offer thanks to all of the members of the team that made this possible. We are well aware that actions like this require high levels of coordination and common vision across departments, across agencies, and that there are far more people involved than we could possibly thank individually. But you know who you are. Thank you.

In closing, we wanted to reiterate our belief in the potential of the Internet to drive creativity and prosperity, and to note that this potential will not be realized unless societies demand the technology neutral application of the law. We can not allow conduct to take place via the Internet that we would find intolerable in the physical world, yet there are many who would lead us down that path. Internet freedom can not, in a civilized world, mean the freedom to act without regard to legality, and to be free of the consequences of one’s conduct. The indictments announced last week not only address the practices of a major rogue actor, but send a much broader message about responsibility in the Internet age, and for that, we can’t thank you enough.

Finally, we want to highlight that while much of the attention on piracy issues understandably focuses on major actors that can afford to maintain anti-piracy personnel, that the most devastating effects tend to be on individuals and small enterprises whose very existence is threatened by unfair competition. Fortunately there has been a growing awareness of the impact of piracy on individual creators and SME’s, including in discussions leading to the introduction of the CASE Act, and we hope that criminal actions undertaken in the public interest will help to illustrate the impact of commercial scale infringement on economic development, cultural diversity, and most fundamentally, on our dignity and sense of justice.

Neil Turkewitz, on behalf of the following individuals who have come together in this ad hoc coalition for copyright and digital prosperity,

Steven M. Alper, Composer

Russell Alexander — Songwriter, Guitarist

Eric Ambel, Guitarist, Producer, Studio Owner

Charlie Apicella, Composer

Deirdre Bair, Ph.D, Writer and Independent Scholar

Benjamin Bierman, Associate Professor, John Jay College, City University of New York

Leslie Burns, Copyright Attorney for Artists

Eric Cady, Senior Counsel, Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA)

Alicia Wagner Calzada, Deputy General Counsel, National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)

John Campo, Musician, Songwriter, Novelist & Entertainer

Susan Cleary, Vice President & General Counsel, Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA)

Phil Galdston, Songwriter, Co-Founder Music Answers

Peter Gethers, Author, Editor and Producer

David Golumbia, Associate Professor of Digital Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University

Alan Graham, Author, CTO & Co-Founder OCL

Brian Groder, Trumpeter & Composer

Hugh Hansen, Professor of Law & Director, Fordham IP Institute

Devlin Hartline, Assistant Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

Ken Hatfield, Guitarist, Composer Co-Chair of ARC 802

Justin Hughes, Hon. William Matthew Byrne, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola Law School

Erica Jong, Author, Past President, The Authors Guild

Roy Kaufman, Author and Managing Director, Business Development, CCC

Adam Krauthamer, President, Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM Composer

Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi , Professional Musician, President of Musicians For Musicians (MFM) (a NY non-profit Musicians Rights advocacy organization)

David Lowery, Singer/Songwriter Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker

DT Max, Author, Staff Writer, The New Yorker

Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

Greg Murphy, Pianist & Composer

Kerry Muzzey, Classical and Film Composer

Victor Navasky, Publisher Emeritus, The Nation

David Newhoff, Writer

Mickey H. Osterreicher, Photographer & General Counsel, National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)

Gene Perla, Bassist, composer, band leader, music publisher, producer & label owner. Educator at Lehigh University & The School of Jazz & Contemporary Music at The New School

Letty Pogrebin, Author and Journalist, Founding Editor, Ms. Magazine, Past President, The Authors Guild

Sean A. Pager, Professor of Law, Michigan State University

Dean Pratt, Director, Jazz Composers Service

Doug Preston, Author and Journalist, President, The Authors Guild

Jean Prewitt, President & CEO, on behalf of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA)

Jim Pugliese, Drummer, Percussionist, Composer

Elliott Randall, Guitarist and Music Producer

Mary Rasenberger, Executive Director, on behalf of the Authors Guild

East Bay Ray, Guitarist, co-founder, songwriter of Dead Kennedys

Marc Ribot, Guitarist, and Chair of Artist Rights Caucus of Local 802 AFM

Roxana Robinson, Author, Past President, The Authors Guild

John P. Schmelzer, illustrator, past National President, Graphic Artists Guild

Ellen Seidler, indie filmmaker and artist rights advocate

Lisa F. Shaftel, Illustrator and graphic artist, past National Advocacy Liaison, Graphic Artists Guild

James Shapiro, Author and Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

David M. Sherr, Composer, instrumentalist

Michelle Shocked, Singer-songwriter

John Simson, Executive in Residence and Program Director, Business & Entertainment, Kogod School of Business, American University

Jonathan Taplin, Director Emeritus, Annenberg Innovation Lab, University of Southern California

David Wolfert, Songwriter/composer, Co-Founder Music Answers

Doug Wood, Composer, Co-Founder Music Answers

Note: Unless otherwise specified, members of this Ad Hoc Coalition are signatory in a personal rather than representational capacity

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade