If you have ever written a poem, story or blog, written music, taken a photograph, sung a song, drawn a friend or videoed a wedding – whether you do it professionally or not – you are a creator. If you’re an illustration student or a ‘weekend-warrior’ in a rock band, you’re part of a continuum of creativity that goes from anyone who does it ‘just for me’, right through to award-winning professionals who do it for a living.
The Creators’ Rights Alliance is an affiliation of organisations representing the interests of over 100,000 original creators of music, journalism, illustration, photography, writing, film and TV directing. On the creativity continuum, the CRA represents people towards the professional end.
We live in a time of unparalleled creativity. In the internet age everyone can be a published creator. And international law says that from the moment that you create and record your work – whether it’s in writing, on a website, on tape, audio mp3, in film or even via email – this work is your intellectual property1: you have the right to say how it is copied and used.
You created it: it’s yours. This is a human right.
As a creator, your work has value. Enshrined in and protected by copyright, this value is the base of what our government calls the UK’s ‘creative economy’.
Copyright, and the exploitation of this right, provides the basis of the income by which all professional creators make their livelihoods. The world would be much the poorer if creators could not make a living – could not do their work professionally – whether that work be, for example, writing novels, or exposing corruption as a journalist, or making photographs, or composing music for films or TV.
But even if you are far from being a professional, even if you want never to be a professional creator, your creativity has a value. You might not recognise it, you might not even agree that it should, but it has a value nonetheless.
Sometimes, it is only when someone tries to use your work against your wishes, or gets financial gain from your work that you didn’t expect, or didn’t agree to, that you become aware of this value.
The arrival of Facebook, Flickr, remixes and mash-ups marks a new creative age – an age in which there are more opportunities than ever before for everyone to have outlets for their creative urges and talents. Unfortunately, this also means that there have never been more opportunities to extract value from creators’ work without permission, without prior knowledge and without payment.
This document puts forward a seven-point manifesto of principles for this new creative age. These principles are necessary for all creators along the continuum, not just for the professionals that the Creators’ Rights Alliance represents but for all, for hobbyists and semi-pros too.
We are all part of this new creative age. Understanding how to make the most of it by respecting the rights of creators of intellectual property is the best way for everyone to keep this creativity flowing.
1 In UK law the exception to this rule is if you are an employee – if you create work as part of your employment, by default the intellectual property is owned by your employer