MDF launched the Copyright Initiative to support the development of a balanced approach to copyright that places the needs of artists and consumers above the profits of corporations.
The rights of artists and content creators are an essential component of 21st century culture and economic growth, but the present copyright regime privileges the profits of corporate owners over the wellbeing of creators. Existing copyright laws can be abused to stifle free speech online, and more draconian copyright-enforcement legislation has the potential to damage the fundamental infrastructure of the internet and block universal participation in a just, fair 21st century society. MDF launched the Copyright Initiative in 2011 to support the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). In its first year, MDF grantees and allies conducted a range of campaigns that raised public awareness of these dangerous pieces of legislation, and organized a series of actions that snowballed into the massive Internet Blackout Day protest against SOPA and PIPA in January, 2012. These efforts successfully killed both bills in less than 24 hours, and have frozen further attempts to extend enforce copyright procedures for the last several years. Since 2012, the Copyright Initiative has worked to lay the groundwork for a national conversation about intellectual property laws and legal precedents that truly respects the needs of artists and consumers.