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Creator Spotlight: Mark Olshaker, Mindhunter
In the late 1970s, before the spread of forensic science and criminal profiling, FBI agent John E. Douglas was faced with a seemingly impossible task—get inside the mind of a serial killer. To accomplish this goal, he embarked on a quest that thrust him face to face with some of the most violent and notorious killers in history: Charles Manson, Richard Speck, David Berkowitz, Ed Gein, James Earl Ray, Joseph Paul Franklin, Edmund Kemper, John Wayne Gacy. This is the story of Mindhunter.
Mark Olshaker, an author and documentary filmmaker, is a storyteller who made his living through the publishing and television industries. He worked with Douglas to compose this compelling narrative. He is a New York Times best-selling author and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. As a prolific member of the creative community, he knows first-hand the importance of intellectual property. His eighth book with Douglas, The Killer Across the Table, was published in May.
“I definitely have skin in this game,” Olshaker said at the launch of GIPC’s study on video piracy in June. “For anyone in the creative, inventive, or innovative community, intellectual property laws are the only bulwark that protects our ability to make a living.”
Olshaker is no stranger to the threats of illegal streaming. In 2017, Mindhunter was adapted into a critically-acclaimed Netflix series, executive produced by a cast of A-list names including Charlize Theron and David Fincher. Its highly-anticipated second season will air on August 16. “Theft of intellectual property – and digital piracy certainly falls into that realm – is the same as theft of money or anything material because it prevents us from earning a living,” he said. “Moreover, it rewards the copycat, thief or other exploiter at the expense of the creator.”
Threats to legitimate distribution of content can hugely undermine the hard work and financial investment that goes into the production of such a thrilling television series as Mindhunter. The study found that illegal streaming costs the U.S. economy at least $29.2 billion in lost revenue each year and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs both directly and indirectly tied to the entertainment industry.
For creators like Olshaker who make their living in the entertainment industry, strong intellectual property (IP) protections are essential to preserving their source of income and the rights to own their creative content. Without these protections, writers, inventors, and artists would be unable to make a living from their creativity. Given the substantial cultural contributions that creators make to our society, failure to protect their best interests could cause us all to lose in the end.
At the GIPC launch, Olshaker highlighted the human and cultural impacts of digital piracy. “If we look throughout history, we quickly conclude that the only things that truly endure from any era or civilization are the creative arts and inventions. Nothing else lasts, and without them, history is nothing but a chronicle of wars and conflict. They are what truly define every civilization,” he noted.
Olshaker has sold millions of copies of his hit books, but he has elevated his social contributions well beyond the enlightening content of his written work. His insights and expertise have made him a prominent speaker and advocate on several issues, including criminal justice, victims’ rights, public health, and now, intellectual property.
In his closing remarks, Olshaker said it best, “if artists, writers, and inventors cannot make a living because their ideas and work are stolen, they will stop doing the work or stop sharing it…by protecting intellectual property, you are establishing the only legacy our current civilization will bequeath to the future.”