"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities about life in Paris and London during the industrial revolution. But Dickens' immortal words could have just as easily been written today to describe the impact of the digital revolution on the lives of creative artists in the early 21st century.
Yes, it is the best of times and it is the worst of times for contemporary writers, film makers and musicians and other creative artists who are all grappling with the most profound changes to their industries since the industrial revolution of the mid-19th century. Today's Internet offers artists a myriad of wonderfully innovative new technologies and business models for the creation, distribution and sale of their work. And yet the Internet has also unleashed a wave of illegal technologies and nefarious activities--particularly the scourge of piracy and its destructive impact on the intellectual property rights of their creators--that threaten the very livelihood of creative professionals in the digital age.
Next month, in Washington D.C., Arts and Labs (http://www.artsandlabs.com/), a bipartisan collaboration between technology companies and creative communities co-chaired by Mike McCurry and Mark McKinnon to which I am an advisor, is putting on a half-day event called CREATE. CREATE is an outcomes-focused forum where creators will come together to share their thought leadership and solutions on the subjects of creativity, commerce, copyright, counterfeiting and policy. The event will focus on how best to protect creative rights and foster even more innovation so that the digital economy can continue to thrive.
Being held on June 15 at the Newseum (http://www.newseum.org/), the splendid 250,000-square-foot museum of news on Washington, D.C.'s Pennsylvania Ave., CREATE brings together innovative photographers, illustrators, musicians, filmmakers and writers who are carving out new business models in today's digital economy. But it also features creators whose professional work--indeed, whose ability to earn a living--is at risk because of the continual disregard by some people for creative and intellectual property rights for content that is posted on the Internet.
Featuring keynotes from well known creative artists, panels on the current and future state of copyright and counterfeiting, the future of the digital economy, and a panel that offers a conversation with the creators themselves, CREATE promises to be both insightful and inspiring.
I'm particularly excited about a panel on new business models that I am moderating--a panel bringing together business innovators as disparate as Tom Adams, the CEO of Rosetta Stone, Matt Serletic, the former chairman of Virgin Records, Mike Fricklas, General Counsel of Viacom, and James Cavanaugh, President of the American Society of Media Photographers.
Equally inspiring will be a panel with the creators themselves, moderated by Mark McKinnon. This will feature well known musicians, photographers, illustrators, and movie directors who share the challenges and opportunities in today's digital economy. Expect this panel to offer a very clear signal to Washington, DC policymakers about prioritizing legislation to protect their creative and intellectual property rights.
There will indeed be a strong public policy focus at CREATE. Some of this will be on a discussion about PROTECT, the "Preventing Real Online Threats of Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act" that was recently introduced in the Senate and is intended to protect intellectual property rights against piracy and to fight rogue websites. And some of this discussion will feature conversations with policy makers themselves who are involved on the legislative frontline of protecting creative rights and stymieing intellectual piracy and counterfeiting.
Yes, today's digital age is the best of times and the worst of times for creative artists. Arts and Labs' CREATE event will unflinchingly confront both of these realities. This invitation-only event certainly promises to be a spectacularly interesting and provocative morning of discussion and debate at the Newseum on June 15.
For an invitation to CREATE please contact Emma Post at 212-446-1878.
Andrew Keen, an adviser to Arts+Labs, is an author and Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He is the author of CULT OF THE AMATEUR: How the Internet is killing our culture.