Are you registered to vote? Is your band registered to vote? You care about artist rights or you wouldn’t be reading this. Make sure you are registered to vote so you can raise your voice to support artist rights! (Download the #IRespectMusic and I Vote artwork here) We are all going to need to be heard to fight Silicon Valley with the Copyright Small Claims Court in the CASE Act.
Getting active at the elections may be what makes the difference. While you don’t get to vote directly for CASE, your elected members of the U.S. Congress will (hopefully) and you get to vote for them.
Rick Carnes gives an excellent explanation of the CASE Act in his testimony.
The Copyright Alliance has a number of information pages on important legislation and an opportunity to petition–but in addition to signing a petition, you need to vote.
If you’re registered to vote, don’t let being out of town stop you from voting. You can either request an absentee ballot that will allow you to vote if you’re not able to go to your local polling place or you may be able to take advantage of “early voting”.
You can find out what the rules are in your area on this website “Can I Vote?” (click here) The site is run by the National Association of Secretaries of State and it has a complete guide to every US state.
Each state includes its voter registration website that will allow you to check in your home state to see if you (or your band) are registered already, and if you’re not, it will tell you how to get registered if the deadline hasn’t passed.
You can also use the National Mail Voter Registration Form available through the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Once you get passed 21 days out from an election, it may get difficult to register. Don’t assume you can’t though, as states often have special rules for “provisional ballots” if you’re outside the registration deadlines.
We really don’t care which party you favor. We’re not partisan here at MTP. (And having lived in those vans, too, I don’t advise you to get into your band mates political business, either.)
But what we do care about is just that you vote. And if you’re going to vote for a candidate, you should make sure that (1) you know what that candidate’s position is on artist rights, (2) the candidate knows that you’ll be in their district or state (their “constituent”), and (3) that the candidate knows what you stand for.
We don’t always have a single piece of legislation that crystalizes the issues the way that the CLASSICS Act does, but this time we do with the CASE Act, the Copyright Small Claims Court which could be a huge benefit to artists dealing with companies like Google who profit themselves from the DMCA safe harbor (aka “the value gap”).
How do you let the candidate know what you stand for? This depends on how much time you have and how active you want to be. But you can sign up for mailing lists and get active.
At the end of the day though–you need to vote and that’s the next step. Get smart about your state’s absentee voter and early voter rules–these are special rules that allow you to vote from home and mail in your ballot (absentee ballot) or vote at a polling place before Election Day (early voting) if you’ll be on the road on Election Day. Your ballot will be counted just like everyone else.
The voting function of state government is usually handled by the state “Secretary of State,” and that office keeps a website with this kind of information.
Try a search for “[YOUR STATE] absentee voter rules” or “[YOUR STATE] early voting rules” and then look for the search result for “secretary of state” often abbreviated to “SOS”. If you lived in Texas, a search for “texas absentee voter rules” resulted in this link for the Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry’s website and this link that tells you how to do it if you live in Texas. That page also has a link to an online absentee ballot application: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/reqabbm.shtml/ There are definitely rules for how far in advance of an election you can apply for an absentee ballot, so get smart about those deadlines if you want to go this route. Like everything else with voter registration–don’t wait, do it now.
Once you register, you should be able to vote for all elections–city, state and federal. (This includes ballot propositions, bond measures, the works). For example, if you are pissed off about the way venues are being treated in your city (like you might be if you vote in Austin), then you’ll need to get registered to vote in order to really make a difference. You can write letters, make phone calls, and complain loudly, but it makes a lot more difference if you do all that AND you vote.
And don’t forget–elections matter. If you find yourself represented by someone who opposes artist rights, you’ll feel extra pissed if you didn’t register and or if you registered but didn’t vote.
Blake Morgan explains the campaign in this video from the #irespectmusic AND I VOTE! show at the Bitter End in New York.