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Music Your Rights Online

Creative Commons Responds To ASCAP Letter 161

An anonymous reader writes "Drew Wilson at ZeroPaid has a followup to the story about ASCAP telling its members that organizations like EFF and Creative Commons are undermining copyright. A spokesperson from Creative Commons said, 'It's very sad that ASCAP is falsely claiming that Creative Commons works to undermine copyright. Creative Commons licenses are copyright licenses — plain and simple, without copyright, these tools don't even work.' He also said, 'Many tens of thousands of musicians, including acts like Nine Inch Nails, the Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Radiohead, and Snoop Dogg, have used Creative Commons licenses to share with the public.' Many ASCAP members are already expressing their disappointment with the ASCAP letter over at Mind the Gap. Sounds like ASCAP will be in damage control for a while."
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Creative Commons Responds To ASCAP Letter

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  • DONATE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BiggerIsBetter ( 682164 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @10:27AM (#32702240)

    Although the focus is on arists of media and music, the implications to the software industry are staggering. Imagine if GPL, CC, APL, and many other licenses were deemed to be invalid as a result of ASCAP and similar lobbying. All that work you and I have put into creating a free software ecosystem are for nought, because some some media execs want to get paid for performances by musicians who didn't sign with them.

    I donated to Creative Commons [], EFF [], and FSF [] for the first time today. You might not care about the media aspects but our industry absolutely depends on copyleft licenses and creative freedom, so I encourage all of you to do the same.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @10:29AM (#32702254)
    The death throws of an obsolete industry are amusing and sad. The lazy abusers of other people's talents do not like to see their revenue stream cease as those who perform all the hard labor find alternate methods of representation and distribution. Claims that they represent the viewpoints, and wish to protect the interests, of their sheep, fall upon unsympathetic ears. The revolution will not be televised, but it will be on Youtube, under CC.
  • by http ( 589131 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @10:45AM (#32702370) Homepage Journal
    Dear ASCAP,
    Please don't spread lies. The people behind EFF, CC, PK et alia, are smarter than you, and easily ruffled by people getting the facts wrong.
    You're in for a schooling.
  • Re:DONATE (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:10AM (#32702498)

    If the posts in Boing Boing and Mind the Gap are any indication, they may have hit a nerve within their ranks that might do that.

  • Re:DONATE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:18AM (#32702542) Homepage

    Imagine if GPL, CC, APL, and many other licenses were deemed to be invalid as a result of ASCAP and similar lobbying.

    The ASCAP letter is throwing an awful lot of FUD around, but in essence it comes down to the freedom to engage in legal contracts. Open source and CC licenses are not unconscionable or obfuscated, they're some of the most well analyzed and straight forward IP licensing agreements there are. They're generally given as a voluntary offer, and are in no way coercive or presenting you with terms after the fact like an EULA. Those who agree to these terms are generally professionals who have to deal with IP laws in their general line of business. In short, those that agree to the terms have no reason to cry foul.

    If there's one thing that would be un-American, it's to limit what people can agree to. Compared to us here in Europe I'm surprised at how poorly consumers can be treated and how easily companies can get rid of problematic customers who things they don't like, for example using the advertised bandwidth. Why? Because you're free to enter almost any contract short of slavery, no matter how poor it is for you and how unequal the parties are. To seriously reach at the heart of open source and the creative commons, they would have to impose a whole new doctrine of only allowing contracts that are good for the country or the economy or whatever. It's as unlikely as snowball fights between flying pigs.

  • Re:DONATE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:23AM (#32702562) Homepage

    ASCAP is built on lies and bullying. How many small businesses have been put out of business because of ASCAP and BMI coming in and fining them tens of thousands of dollars because they had an FM radio playing for the customers.

    Yes, If your business has an FM radio playing then you are a DIRTY STINKING MUSIC THIEF and you must be punished.

    This is how scumbaggy ASCAP is. Every person alive should hate and despise them.

  • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:32AM (#32702606) Homepage

    As the New Deal, the War on Poverty/Great Society, War on Drugs (and some may also argue the War on Terror) have shown us, the government cure to what ails society is usually far worse than the disease.

    Just one point: don't confuse bad governance with government. The reason ACTA is being passed is because the public at large is failing to do anything meaningful about it. Yeah, the media is shilling for corporate interests. But you decided to play a video game instead of doing anything about it. Instead of organizing your government, you went shopping or watched another hour of tv.

    Piss and moan all you want, but anyone living in a democracy needs only a mirror to see who to blame.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bryan3000000 ( 1356999 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:58AM (#32702730)
    After they change it to a profit-oriented | public domain dichotomy, they will work to co-opt the public domain. This is easily accomplished by doing compilations, revisions, or other transformation to a public domain work. Then they will attempt to ensure that any version that remains in the public domain becomes unavailable or that its source is sufficiently unpopular/unrecognized. At the same time, they will lobby for laws which will undermine any public domain repositories. They are already lobbying to have facts themselves copyrighted (as opposed to compilations of facts, which are currently copyrightable). The public domain is easy for them to undermine, while free culture licenses are next to impossible to undermine under the laws they have already succeeded in securing.

    This strategy could be combated by setting up non-profit public domain repositories which take the same strategy of re-copyrighting works from the public domain, while refusing to license the works to for-profit ventures and making them available to the public freely or if that won't work through a membership mechanism, or some other strategy. This counter-strategy will inevitably fragment and require new strategies, etc, etc.
  • by drfireman ( 101623 ) <(dan) (at) (> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @12:01PM (#32702764) Homepage

    How about this instead:

    Hey, ASCAP, why do you think you should have the right to do what you want with your stuff but we shouldn't have the right to do what we want with ours? If you don't like Creative Commons licenses, don't use them. Don't tell us what licenses to use for our works. They're our works, not yours. That's what copyright means.

  • by David Gerard ( 12369 ) <slashdot&davidgerard,co,uk> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @12:08PM (#32702790) Homepage

    ASCAP's aim in the original letter was to stop people releasing their own works under copyleft licences. This would effectively ban Wikipedia, the entire text of which is CC-by-sa. Does ASCAP really want that particular fight? (I've already suggested on foundation-l that WMF respond to this issue.)

  • Re:DONATE (Score:4, Insightful)

    by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @12:25PM (#32702900) Homepage

    BSD people seem fine with it. Although I like the GPL, as long as Free Software exists and I can use it, that's the important thing. The rest are details.

  • by brit74 ( 831798 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @12:27PM (#32702908)
    The big problem with your argument is that you don't have a model for creators to be paid. If creators can't get paid (or get paid insufficiently), then you undermine the production part of the equation. If you don't like the system, then you should promote alternate ways for creators to get paid for their work that actually work well. For example, if tax dollars went to pay creators, then creators would get paid and society copy their work all they want because the creator already got paid. (Unfortunately, this undermines the need for creators to create something truly useful for society. At least copyright forces creators to create something that society wants to buy.) Or, perhaps a shorter copyright so that people can eventually copy it all they want (after the copyright has expired), but the creator still has an exclusive period where he can get paid (although, even that would be a compromise according to your thinking).
  • Re:Clarifications (Score:5, Insightful)

    by number11 ( 129686 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @01:00PM (#32703092)

    The EFF is slightly more moderate, although they do employ Doctorow, and seem to have a habit of doing what they can to prevent any enforcement of copyright.

    Cory Doctorow hasn't been employed by the EFF in the last 5 years. He's been a full-time writer since January 2006 [].

    Can we assume that your other claims are of similar accuracy?

  • by manicpop ( 1342057 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @01:02PM (#32703102)
    The e-mail could go something like this: "You're one of my favorite artists and I love your work! Now I won't be supporting you because of the position your performance rights organization has taken. I hope you can continue to create wonderful music without my financial support, not that I'll be enjoying them." I'm all for copyright reform, and I abhor the positions of groups like ASCAP and the RIAA, but I don't think boycotting the artists is the right step to take. For example, let's you love a great independent band but you're upset they've signed with an RIAA-backed major label, and you won't purchase their new album because of your disdain for the RIAA, and other people do the same. So, the new album is a flop. The major label realizes and decides that this small act wasn't ready for the Big Time, and drops them off the label. Now your favorite band has a failed album, they've lost their outlet with which to release their work, and if anything they're in debt from the entire experience. The RIAA is no worse off. ASCAP is different because they do performance rights, not the releasing of music, but the effect is the same. Boycotting artists that you like just because they are affiliated with ASCAP won't hurt ASCAP, there will just be fewer artists that you like who are able to be successful. How about an e-mail to your favorite artist that says "I love your work and I'm happy to support you, but I'm concerned about the positions that ASCAP and the RIAA are taking. Have your considered releasing your work through alternative channels of distribution?" A thousand musicians who can't make a living through the "system" and get dropped aren't going to change anything, but a thousand musicians inside the "system" who can lobby these groups to modernize absolutely could.
  • Re:DONATE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WNight ( 23683 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @01:20PM (#32703176) Homepage

    Yeah that makes sense, penalize a lumber yard and ignore a small store.

    No, it's monopoly abusing, rent-seeking behavior. When we pass laws making shit into property we get do-nothings seeking to exploit it. They'll happily sit by while their shit is shoved onto the airwaves and then penalize anyone who decodes it.

  • by N0Man74 ( 1620447 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @01:34PM (#32703266)

    Do realize that 2,000 sq ft is less even a 45 x 45 feet? The company I work for has a warehouse that big, which is about half our total size. We're a pretty small business, with usually about a dozen employees (or less). And 6 speaker? That's not hard to reach... Some PCs have more than that these days.

    I'm not sure if it's your understanding of the word "only" or the measure of "2,000 sq ft" that is faulty here.

  • by mpgalvin ( 207975 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @01:55PM (#32703416)

    It has nothing to do with copyright principles or any clever agenda.

    Copyleft cuts ASCAP style enforcers out of the money loop. Plain and simple, it hits them where it hurts: the business model. The letter is just FUD to scare up lobby money - though anything they could accomplish that would effectively halt copyleft licensing would be damaging to the US IT industry.

  • Re:DONATE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordVader717 ( 888547 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @02:35PM (#32703658)

    Music collection societies are the seediest groups in the copyright industry. They bully and exploit their own members, and fight free culture with all earnest. Thanks to them we have blank media levies, and their members are forced to anti-competitive licensing agreements. They usually have monopoly status in their respective markets, so they wield an incredible amount of power.

  • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @02:38PM (#32703672) Homepage Journal

    The part where no money is taken/received, apparently. The people in charge of this mess are scrooges. They subscribe to a very bad form of morals:

    1. If it results in profit, it is moral.
    2. If it does not result in profit or loss, it is pointless (or immoral)
    3. If it results in loss, it is immoral

    I forget the name of this system, but it's a real system that sociologists study. I think you could substitute profit for gain, as profit is a subset of gain.

    Honestly, I wish such people would wise up or die in a fire.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @04:10PM (#32704316)

    They're our works, not yours.

    There's the key. They THINK they have the right to represent and collect for anything music like out there even if the artist explicitly doesn't want them to. Copyleft throws a wrench in the money machine because it means someone somewhere could conceivably be playing music in public that they have no right to collect for.

  • by Xtifr ( 1323 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @04:11PM (#32704328) Homepage

    Music doesn't become popular because it's free to use or anything like that. It becomes popular because it's "catchy".

    Catchy music is a dime a dozen. Music doesn't become popular because it's catchy (although not being catchy can hinder its popularity). Music becomes popular because it's promoted, normally by large companies with plenty of money to throw around, who promote it in return for a (generally obscenely large) share of the profit.

    Releasing (some of) your music for free is a form of promotion! It may be a lot less effective than a massive media blitz and payola, but if you can't persuade (or don't want) the big companies to buy your soul in return for some more traditional promotion, it may be one of the most effective forms of self-promotion available to you. So yes, copyleft could become a competitive advantage. Not only does it increase your exposure by providing a broader potential audience, it also increases good will, making it more likely that people will think you're the kind of artist they want to support.

    Here's an exercise for you: two bands, both play fairly similar music, so they're competing for the same audience. Both have a modest audience that likes them about equally. Then one begins releasing some of its music for free. Which one is likely to start growing its audience?

    Here's another exercise. Two musicians who refuse to leave their parent's basement. One posts his music on the Internet, the other one is only ever heard by his parents and his cat. Which one is likely to find some fans?

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go serenade the cat. :)

  • Re:DONATE (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toriver ( 11308 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @04:46PM (#32704540)

    It's getting very obvious they are just running a protection racket. Can't someone report them to the police soon?

  • by toriver ( 11308 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @04:59PM (#32704638)


    "To improve our understanding, please identify the class of organization the ASCAP belongs to:

    A: Protection Racket (mafia)
    B: Guild (trade monopoly)

    Awaiting your reply."

  • Re:DONATE (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HiThere ( 15173 ) <> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @05:32PM (#32704854)

    I wish I believed you, but they own both of my senators body and soul. If they told my senators to vote to ban the use of the word small, they would. Or to vote that up was down.

    These people (ASCAP, MPAA, RIAA, etc.) are vicious parasites on society who should be bankrupted immediately. Actually, I feel they deserve worse, but making that legally possible would probably entail handing even more power to the feds. If the old institution of outlawry were still on the books, I would suggest that for every director and every member of management of those institutions. Possible with a sizable reward for each of them. Say, whatever they asked for in their last baseless copyright infringement lawsuit. Or possibly the one they filed against the person who'd been dead for years. (I should look that up, but it's not significant.) But I don't think "Dead or alive" is appropriate. Just have their heads brought in.

    (You may gather that I do not like the organizations. I've been boycotting them for around a decade now.)

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @07:30PM (#32705602) Homepage Journal

    Uh, No ASCAP, RIAA, MPAAA, and BSA. If you read the Constitution of the United States of America, you will instantly recognize that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act undermines Copyright.

    What is the purpose of copyright? To encourage artists to create more useful arts which after a limited monopoly turn over to the public domain.

    By encouraging creative commons and similar licensing schemes, the original intent of Copyright as defined in the Constitution is actually being fulfilled.

  • by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @12:41AM (#32706952)

    Part of the hardcore faithful who believed in Apple long before it was cool again to do so

    OT, but the Apple that I once believed in published their schematics and firmware source listings in the back of their reference manuals. I don't know what rough beast slouches around One Infinite Loop these days, but it's not Apple anymore.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal