March 10, 2014

The 800-pound SXSW Elephant

By Ashley Mergen

Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is well-known for spotlighting alternative culture and the creativity that serves as its inspiration. Over the years the festival has served as a launching pad for musicians, filmmakers, and digital companies, becoming a mecca for the creative and technology industries.

But the big question is: why does SXSW matter?

If you just close your eyes, you’d be able to hear music emanating from just about every building downtown mixed with omnipresent foreign tongues of badge-laden visitors. SXSW serves as the global crossroads for the music, movie, and digital industries and gives us a peek at how rich the future could be.

What really hits home at SXSW besides the sheer volume of creativity, is that these hopefuls aren’t necessarily vying for superstardom, they’re fighting to make a decent living. And so many times, we pigeonhole the entertainment industry as a luxury and forget that these are real jobs supporting real people who need to put real food on the table every night.

One way to foster the vibrancy of the creative industry and the millions of jobs it supports is to ensure the rights of creators and innovators are protected, specifically their intellectual property (IP)  rights. You can’t throw a stone in the Austin Convention Center this week without hitting someone with a copyright, patent, or trademark.

We here at the GIPC hope to tell the story behind the artists, businesses, and entrepreneurs who create for a living, highlighting how the protection and promotion of IP rights affects their ability to thrive.

Whether you’re in Austin or Anchorage, please join the #SXSW14 conversation with us on Twitter with @globalipcenter.

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