Ruth Vitale doesn’t consider herself a creative type, but she does understand the importance of what they do. As an executive in the film industry for more than three decades, she’s worked as Founder and Co-President of Paramount Classics, President of Fine Line Features and President of UBU Productions. She’s also worked as Senior Vice President of Production for United Artists, is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, a member of the Board of Overseers of Emerson Collge and is a Member of the Advisory Board of Carnegie Mellon University/Master of Entertainment Industry Management Program.
But the impressive resume is about more than being a notable list of names. Vitale’s background has helped prepare her for the mission she faces today – fighting piracy.
“Our core initiative is to mobilize the creative community,” Vitale says of her organization, CreativeFuture, of which she is Executive Director. “We speak out about digital theft of our work. There are more than 400 companies and businesses with us including book publishing, music publishing, film studio, agencies, management companies, film festivals, production companies…it’s hard for anyone not to want to join. Who isn’t opposed to having creative work stolen?”
Originally called CreativeAmerica, the organization was started by CBS, the DGA, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA and the six majors. Vitale came on board in July 2013 and in February 2014, they re-launched the company under the new name CreativeFuture (a 501 6c – meaning they are a nonprofit that can lobby). Since then, they’ve been fighting misconceptions surrounding what piracy is, what it is to be part of the creative community, and how important it is to take a stand and have a voice.
“So many people need to take part in the conversation,” she says. “The other side says copyright stifles creativity. They say we’re fat, rich pigs in the back of limousines and that we don’t understand that content should be free; that it’s a violation of people’s freedom of speech to not have access to people’s content. We need to be part of that conversation. What creative people do is hard work. To create Sons of Anarchy, that’s two years to think of it, two years to make it, two years to make something of it – but you do it because you love it. Because it’s your calling. The other side says this is a hobby and we should get real jobs. My job is to say, ‘Wake the fuck up.’”
The organization follows three objectives to help spread the word.
- Mobilize the Creative Community – speak up about the value of creativity and against the theft of creative works.
- Follow the Money – work with advertising community and credit card companies to stop supporting pirate sites.
- Youth Outreach – raise awareness among youth about the implications of creative ownership.
“People think piracy is two kids in a basement swapping files,” Vitale says. “It’s not. They are criminals making $5 to $10 million every year off the blood, sweat and tears of creative people. And major brands – credit card companies and major advertisers – are on these piracy sites.”
CreativeFuture works to educate advertisers and is trying to set the standard that known corporate brands should not appear on these theft-based sites.
“It’s our job to apply pressure,” she says. “Credit card companies are facilitating pirate subscription sites.”
They’ve also developed a curriculum for students in kindergarten to twelfth grade that focuses on ethics, copyright, fair use and creativity. The goal is to set a moral core for the next generation of thinkers and to help cement the creative future by initiating conversations in schools, both public and private. The curriculum is free.
“Some students have said that they want to start a club surrounding this idea,” she says. “That’s the greatest thing we’ve ever heard. You won’t change the world with that, but you will change what you do with your life. The world thinks arts are a hobby. It’s incumbent on students to convince one person to convince one other person that illegal downloading is shitty.”
Those who join CreativeFuture don’t owe dues and don’t have to attend meetings. The goal of leadership is to inspire members to speak up and participate in the conversation. Vitale says creative types have been quiet for too long.
“We need to increase the loudness of the conversation,” she says. “We need to mobilize the creative community from all over the world.”
To learn more about who and what CreativeFuture is and how to get involved, visit creativefuture.org.
Apr 22, 2015 at 09:06 PM
As both a lifelong, devout film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, I agree wholeheartedly with Ruth Vitale's vision. The general movie-going audience does not seem to realize just how important it really is to resist getting involved in piracy.
I recall watching a movie with a group of friends during a party one time. Once the DVD was popped into the player, the requisite FBI warning that proclaims "Piracy is Not a Victimless Crime" flashed on the TV screen. I overheard one acquaintance in the room shout out, "Oh, so what? What the hell do I care if Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie doesn't receive their end of the profits if I download a movie?" It's a fair point; those celebrities probably won't lose a great deal if this kid were to download this particular movie just once. But be that as it may, by allowing the online uploading and downloading of content on the web to occur through not just one person, but more and more until it reaches magnitudes is potentially harmful. To whom? To the persons responsible for establishing the content in the first place. The creative people, the artists, and the technical crew who got together and made the magic. That's whom.
As a screenwriter and actor with high hopes of making into this industry, I absolutely do not want all my effort to go to waste. Meaning, I will not accept my creative work to be compromised as a result of some moviegoer illegally and unethically downloading my works. The key word here is "unethically." I highly feel that piracy is the immoral undermining of a creative person's efforts. In simpler terms, it's theft of the fruit of my labor.
Therefore, I strongly place my confidence in the vision of Ruth Vitale and CreativeFuture. If the mainstream audience chooses not to support big-named rich celebrities, so be it. But if anything, they should at least consider helping that broke but aspiring filmmaker. Their creative futures must not be compromised, and dashed, in any way, shape, or form.
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