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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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  • by Apple Acolyte ( 517892 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @10:49AM (#32702398)
    With ACTA looming and governments already planning how to implement it, it seems that unless something else completely disruptive occurs there will be a battle over two competing rights models: individual rights versus copyrights (and other intellectual property rights). I respect intellectual property - to an extent. I believe in copyrights that help spur creativity in arts and sciences, but the original plan for copyrights as endorsed by the US Constitution was for them to grant limited time monopolies to creators. That model has been rejected because of the special interest corruption from multi-national corporations, and now the media cartels are working to make the federal government their handmaiden and servant on the Internet. If you haven't read it yet, the current draft of ACTA calls for action against copyright offenders at the inchoate stage, before the infringement has even been committed. It calls for the creation of an "impending infringer" task-force with a broad mandate to prevent copyright infringement that hasn't even taken place yet. Media reports are claiming that under ACTA it may become illegal to search for the keywords "Metallica album download," even if no infringing material is downloaded. If true, it would destroy the Internet as we know it, and we also know that once government gets its "nose under the tent" that will be just the beginning of its regulatory and enforcement regime. So, as I said before, while I have limited respect for intellectual property and believe it is morally wrong to enjoy another's work by copying it without approval, I believe in individual rights over copyrights. And moreover, I believe in maintaining a relatively free Internet with a certain level of copyright infringement going on if the alternative is clamping down on freedom online in a draconian way to discourage infringement. 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.
  • by jetole ( 1242490 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @10:53AM (#32702422)
    While the spokesperson for creative commons may or may not be right, I would like to know that tens of thousands is an accurate number and where he got it from. I hope he is right but I am skeptical that this is a real figure. I know all the artists he mentioned have used creative commons ("including acts like Nine Inch Nails, the Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Radiohead, and Snoop Dogg"). In fact Nine Inch Nails is my favorite band and I was excited when Trent Reznor made that decision for Nine Inch Nails and it's being followed through with his new band How To Destroy Angels (lead by his wife Mariqueen Maandig). I felt these were strong acts in supporting Creative Commons which has served me and many others very well in our business and personal lives. None the less, can someone please point me to a site, registry, document or anything that says tens of thousands of musicians in a reputable manner as the spokesperson has claimed?
  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by twidarkling ( 1537077 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @10:58AM (#32702444)

    When will people take a few minutes to get some reading comprehension and realize that's ASCAP's point. CC is, in ASCAP's point of view, corrupting copyright. You can't say something's being corrupted if it's not being used. ASCAP doesn't want people using copyright in such a fashion as to be giving stuff away. Copyright must be exercised to make a profit, contributing freely to society is to be abhorred and derided as unnatural.

    This is why ASCAP is so dangerous. They want to make it so that any and every project must be either profit-oriented, or public domain, with no middle ground. And if you can't afford to monetize something, then you're stuck either keeping it under wraps, or losing complete control of it.

  • Subtle distinction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:25AM (#32702576) Homepage Journal

    ASCAP is (almost) correct. While copyleft doesn't undermine copyright, it does undermine the copyright cartel. If artists begin to license worthwhile, popular, and (monetarily) successful works under copyleft -- if artists succeed while granting people more rights than they, strictly, have to -- then consumers might begin to wonder why more artists -- and big companies -- don't do that. Using copyleft could become a competitive advantage. And then how will Big Music justify restricting users?

    If the sheep wake up, the whole industry -- as currently organized -- falls apart. And that's what ASCAP is worried about.

  • by TwineLogic ( 1679802 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:36AM (#32702626)
    Boycott ASCAP members. Email your favorite ASCAP artist and let them know why.
  • by RobertLTux ( 260313 ) <robert@lauBLUEre ... .org minus berry> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:43AM (#32702644)

    1 copyLEFT needs copyRIGHT to actually "work" (you go on the hook for copyright violations if you break a copyleft license)

    2 This "Brilliant" act by ASCAP gives the Copyleft folks something they can always use

  • Re:DONATE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by djdanlib ( 732853 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @01:46PM (#32703334) Homepage

    As easy as it is to "hate the man" in potential ugly situations like that, I've never heard of that scenario where a small business was put out of business by ASCAP + BMI fines, so feel free to cite some sources on that one.

    However, as a part time DJ, I am aware of the licensing fees and obligations on the part of both the DJ and the establishment. It's expensive to deal with them.

    And as a friend of lots of musicians, I am aware of the royalty fees that ASCAP can bring in to its members.

    It's kind of a love/hate relationship, where money circulates and there's no way to stop the cycle. Ostensibly, you're supposed to be protected from people ripping off your band's music. But, a cover band/DJ and a bar need only to get a blanket license, and they're good to go and rip you off all the way to the bank. So... what's the point, really?

    Don't forget about SESAC!

    You usually have to have ASCAP, BMI and SESAC licenses to be mostly clear, and then you should track down all the little off-mainstream labels that are unlikely to pursue legal action, but you still don't want to rip them off or get sued by some random exec you didn't know about that showed up at a wedding/party.

  • by kent_eh ( 543303 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @03:40PM (#32704086)

    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.

    It's hard to get people motivated about something that is being actively hidden from them.

    Citizen: "ACTA is bad. Please Mr. Politician, stop it"
    Politician: "which specific parts of ACTA are you talking about. Plese quote me chapter and verse"
    Citizen: "But you won't let me see it. You won't even acknowledge it exists"
    Politician: "So you have no idea what you're talking about.. Good day sir. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out"

  • Re:DONATE (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NekSnappa ( 803141 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @04:33PM (#32704458)

    A local singer that I play bass for on occasion was scheduled to play his own music at an antique store around Christmas last year.

    The gig was advertised in local media, and websites. Two weeks prior the antique store was shaken down by BMI/ASCAP for a ridiculous amount. I don't recall how much at present, but seem to recall it being in the neighborhood of $1000.

    This is a small shop in the square of the county seat in a rural area, and they want all this money for one of their own members to play his own music in a friends store.


  • Re:DONATE (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:23PM (#32706642)

    I help run a medium-sized fan convention in a major metropolis.

    A few years ago, we had a couple of musical acts play live shows during the evenings. During set breaks and open times, we would play pre-recorded music by these same artists - with their permission, heck, they provided the CDs for us to use. It also bears noting that these were independent musical acts not affiliated with ASCAP.

    About six months after the convention, we received a similar letter from ASCAP accusing us of using unlicensed music and requesting we pay some ridiculous amount plus a penalty. If I recall correctly, it was about $2500 total. Think about that: they wanted us to just send them $2500 for playing music from artists not affiliated with them, with said artists' permission and said artists' even providing us with CDs to use.

    And these people "represent the artists?" Bull. They're a Mafia-esque "protection racket" - nothing more - shaking down a non-profit financed by its directors that didn't even break even until last year.

    We replied to the letter and told them, politely but in no uncertain terms, that if they could prove that we illicitly played music by an ASCAP-represented artist, that we would pay the penalty. But, until they could prove wrongdoing on our part, we refused to pay a single cent to them.

    That was 2.5 years ago. We have still yet to hear back.

    However, we did learn a couple of important lessons during the whole fiasco. We now ask all performers to inform us of any industry affiliations they may have and we document all agreements made between us and performers, no matter how minor they may seem, in writing. Because, if they had filed a suit against us, it would have just been our word against theirs.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.