The Content Creators Coalition have come out with two ads to try and rustle up some sympathy for creators in the day and age of free digital stuff™ and "just sell t-shirts" mantra. Full and complete disclosure, as readers of Adland will know I've long been warning about the future when we rob people of their intellectual property, my opinion is that the remix generation is robbing themselves of profitable creative careers, and I have attended some of the very first meetings with the Content Creators Coalition when old rockers were sitting in a semi-circle, discussing the dying business of creating content.
So, it was with great expectations I watched these first commercials from the CCC. I was, naturally, expecting something very creative which would suit a group that is literally made up of creatives. Granted, they're mainly musicians. I guess that's why this is as disappointing as a milk bowl of Weetabix replaced with a brick is. Here we have "Mac vs PC", except it's a musician teaching us streaming vs Youtube. P.S. they're both bad, but you knew that already.
This is where I start to have issues. Not only are we copying a campaign that was launched ten years ago, we're educating the audience on streaming income. Is that really what needs to be done here? If that's what we need to tell people, and is a commercial really the way to do it?
The strategy is way off here. Whoever conceived of and created this is clearly not a communications creative because we are communicating the wrong thing, in the wrong media. Like a bad corporate training film, you'll only watch this to the end if you have to and if there's a promise of free dry danishes at the end.
The other ad in the campaign is "Takedown shakedown." It shows the difficulty a small time creator has with getting their content off world-reaching websites like YouTube. It does become a game of whack-a-mole, where you spend more time removing your content from unauthorized uploads than you do creating content. We've said for years that this places the burden on the wrong party, only the copyright holder can ask for the content to be removed when it should be the uploading party that proves the content is theirs or they have the right to use it. So while the CCC is yelling for #updatetheDMCA, they have missed the opportunity to speak with the new content creators who are hampered by the same DMCA. You see, when YouTube bloomed, so did "Remix Culture" where creators could add a song and images and whatnot together, to create a new thing. This spawned a new genre of news commentators and reviewers who would play games, show footage, snark about the world in general and turn that into a show. These people are now getting their YouTube channels shut down by the hamfisted use of the DMCA - which should allow for fair use and commentary. So while musicians can't get 27,000 uploaded copies of their song off YouTube without clicking 27000 times on things they actively seek out or pay for the service to have it removed, people who have made their livelihoods off YouTube itself have suddenly found that this can be shut off by three DMCA strikes against them, too. What a missed opportunity to join forces! You guys are on the same side, and this is exactly how you will make enemies of each other. The big guys like Google, who owns YouTube, will be quite happy to see you ignore each other's plight as you fight to the death in the colosseum. God forbid, you work together to actually make the big tech guys who are walking away with 90% of the money off your creative works kneel, and pay you your fair share.
Now, what really rubs me the wrong way about this campaign is that they used an existing concept to explain their issues. The Mac Vs PC idea may have been "just an idea," and as all commercial creatives know, we can come up with similar or have them copied every day. That's why Badland exists, which is why this site exists. As a young creative, it bothered me to no end to see ideas being re-done, stolen and copied - all the while fresh new concepts were incredibly hard sold. As a commercial creative, I also soon learned that ideas cannot be copyrighted - one day, you show your portfolio to your tutor and six months later he wins an award for a campaign based on that concept while you're still on unpaid placement somewhere. Sucks for you, but we've all been there at some point. As idea creators, we are the only people whose craft is not protected by law.
Perhaps that's why it irks me twice more to see the bits that are, are protected being eroded. The executions, the illustrations, the songs, the words, the shape of a chair, the bits of code, all of these things used to be owned by the creator. Everything that is the expression of the idea, that we all once owned, is now being given away for free. Trust me, you do want your copyright. You want your patent. You want to watch your contracts and see if you give all of that away. If you write a novel, a song, take a photo, create an illustration, a short film, or a smart-ass YouTube news commentary video, you own it now, and you should get paid for it. Nobody even blinks when Paris Hilton inherits her grandfather's hotel chain, but everyone scoffs at J. D. Salinger's widow for needing some help with her medical expenses.
So that musicians understand, this commercial is the equivalent of a sound-alike. It's totally legal, but you're assholes for doing it.