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CBC Bans Use of Creative Commons Music On Podcasts 148

An anonymous reader writes "The producers of the popular CBC radio show Spark have revealed (see the comments) that the public broadcaster has banned programs from using Creative Commons licenced music on podcasts. The decision is apparently the result of restrictions in collective agreements the CBC has with some talent agencies. In other words, groups are actively working to block the use of Creative Commons licenced alternatives in their contractual language. It is enormously problematic to learn that our public broadcaster is blocked from using music alternatives that the creators want to make readily available. The CBC obviously isn't required to use Creative Commons licenced music, but this highlights an instance where at least one of its programs wants to use it and groups that purport to support artists' right to choose the rights associated with their work is trying to stop them from doing so."
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CBC Bans Use of Creative Commons Music On Podcasts

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  • Re:Is this legal? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @08:01PM (#33842246) Journal

    To add some clarity, I am pretty sure that the basis for the lawsuits in my above statements was due to the Sherman Act, which says in part:

    "Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal."

    "Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony [. . . ]"

  • Canaduh (Score:5, Informative)

    by diodeus ( 96408 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @08:07PM (#33842294) Journal

    The Harper government has recently muscled in on political control over what government scientists can say publicly. The tar sands (re-branded as oil sands) is an ecological disaster. The list goes on. Don't expect sanity from this band of leaders.

  • Re:Workaround? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @08:08PM (#33842298) Journal

    This would likely not be possible simply because you don't have ASCAP or BMI handling the royalties, and they can't collect royalties on stuff that is both copyrighted as exclusive content and as CC. ASCAP and BMI have to HATE the CC, because there are no royalties to collect, so no way to screw over, collect on behalf of artists.

    Own a bar? You pay ASCAP and BMI based on number of seats. Play only CC music? They will still claim you owe and try to shut you down, usually successfully. You see, a band *might* come in and play a song that they collect for. ASCAP and BMI are pretty much like the mafia, except the mafia has a code they live by.

  • (Score:1, Informative)

    by Chaonici ( 1913646 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @08:17PM (#33842354)

    that you found only one misspelling is very good news to my ears.


    The ban on creative commons works is appalling. You are publicly funded ans thus this shows a deep confilct of interests between you, who supposedly represent the public that fund your programming, and some agreements with private entities to suppress public work. You undermine the work of artists that are thinking ahead and are creating the next generation of thinking, creating and publishing model. As you know dinosaurs are now extincts, I believe you are no longer fit and do not represent our interests. I shall consequently actively lobby for the dismanteling of our once great public broadcaster to my federal representatives unless you correct your awful actions. With all my hearth I hope this will open your eyes.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <> on Friday October 08, 2010 @08:23PM (#33842404) Journal

    According to Chris Boyce, Programming Director for CBC radio, the reason for the ban against CC music is that evidently most creative commons music is explicitly *NOT* licensed for any sort of commercial use.

    I can understand the CBC's reluctance to want to use something that is explicitly barred from being used in any commercial context.

    While not all CC music has such prohibitions, I suppose that it's apparently enough that the CBC figures it's simpler to just block it entirely than try to figure out exactly which ones are okay.

  • Re:Workaround? (Score:2, Informative)

    by illumnatLA ( 820383 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @08:34PM (#33842474) Homepage

    So are they barred from playing public domain music as well then? What about classical?

    Recordings of classical music are copyrighted by the group performing the piece... e.g. the L.A. Philharmonic's recorded performance of a Beethoven composition is copyrighted by the LA Phil.

    Also, many classical scores have been 'arranged' by someone. The person who did that particular arrangement of Beethoven's composition holds the copyright to the arrangement.

    So yeah... Beethoven's score is public domain, but a bunch of other stuff happens that makes classical music technically not public domain.

  • by Wacky_Wookie ( 683151 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @08:41PM (#33842522) Homepage Journal
    It seem that the CBC was *protecting* the creative commons license, not attacking it. From the Sparks comments section:

    We've been listening to the conversations today regarding a "ban" on the use of Creative Commons music in our podcasts and want to take the opportunity to clarify some of the misconceptions that are floating out there.

    The CBC has always embraced new ways of creating and sharing the content we make (in fact, shows like Spark and previously Search Engine were some of the first in Canada to use this type of music license in their programming), however, just like you, we must do so in a way which respects the limits put on that use by the music's creators.

    The issue with our use of Creative Commons music is that a lot of our content is readily available on a multitude of platforms, some of which are deemed to be "commercial" in nature (e.g. streaming with pre-roll ads, or pay for download on iTunes) and currently the vast majority of the music available under a Creative Commons license prohibits commercial use.

    In order to ensure that we continue to be in line with current Canadian copyright laws, and given the lack of a wide range of music that has a Creative Commons license allowing for commercial use, we made a decision to use music from our production library in our podcasts as this music has the proper usage rights attached.

    Everyone can rest easy-- there are no "groups" setting out to stop the use of Creative Commons music at the CBC, and we will continue to use Creative Commons licensed music, pictures etc. across a number of our non-commercial platforms.

    We hope this helps clarify things.

    Chris Boyce Programming Director. CBC Radio.

    SinceSpark is available on areas of the net that are being monetized, which can violate Creative Commons rules (non commercial) on the vast majority of music (and most forms of CC-licensed work) available for use.

  • Re:Is this legal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ironhandx ( 1762146 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @08:53PM (#33842592)

    Thats not a loophole though, the contract would still be thrown out for doing that. Microsoft worded things that way but still got nailed with anti trust big time, amongst other things.

  • Re:Is this legal? (Score:5, Informative)

    by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @09:00PM (#33842626) Homepage

    Almost all CC music forbids commercial use.


    1) Go to
    2) Mark "Find content I can use for commercial purposes." and "Find content I can modify, adapt or build upon"
    3) Results: 9307 albums

    Not only there is plenty of CC music that you can use for commercial purposes, as it's extremely easy to separate from the rest; there's absolutely no reason for banning CC music as a whole just to prevent uses of other CC licenses.

  • Re:Is this legal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by wolrahnaes ( 632574 ) < minus painter> on Friday October 08, 2010 @09:09PM (#33842666) Homepage Journal

    Care to quote any sources on that claim? The posts by the podcasters involved state that they're not allowed by the CBC to use ANY Creative Commons licensed content, not just those under non-commercial license. This is also specifically noted as a result of negotiations with "artists rights" groups, not as just coming from CBC management.

    I'm not sure how CC has the wording on derivative works and thus how that would affect playing music in a podcast (is the entire podcast now considered a derivative work, or is it fine to play the unmodified original in the middle of your show?), but the basic CC license itself would be completely fine with use in an ad-supported show.

    To summarize, CC is completely compatible with these shows, CC-NC is not, and ND and SA may or may not be usable depending on wording. There's no good reason for a blanket ban on all CC content. From the evidence available to me at the moment it seems the Slashdot version is accurate and you're the one full of shit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 2010 @09:12PM (#33842672)

    Creative Commons stuff that is explicitly not licensed for commercial use is also explicitly marked as Non-Commercial (i.e. CC NC []). Furthermore, by default commercial usage is permitted so all they'd have to do is look for the NC clause. It really isn't that hard to figure out.

  • Its a shame ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @09:13PM (#33842686)

    ... Canada doesn't have a Sherman Antitrust Act [].

    We could loan them ours. We're not using it.

  • Re:Is this legal? (Score:4, Informative)

    by schon ( 31600 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @09:35PM (#33842772)

    It would be illegal if the CBC did NOT have this policy.


    their PodCasts are ad supported. Almost all CC music forbids commercial use.

    So - because some CC-licensed music is non-commercial, then *ALL* CC-licensed music is illegal on an ad-supported blog?

    Logic. You fail it.

    The CBC has said that you cannot use music that forbids commercial use

    No. They said you cannot use Creative Commons licensed music, some of which (as you have already pointed out) does not forbid commercial use.

    Slashdot, of course, went the same rout it always goes with news: Outright lies.

    No, that would be you.

  • Re:Workaround? (Score:4, Informative)

    by pipatron ( 966506 ) <> on Friday October 08, 2010 @09:38PM (#33842778) Homepage
    There are people working on solving this problem, check out for example this link: []
  • by b4dc0d3r ( 1268512 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @09:59PM (#33842856)

    I started to post in order to question your claim, googled, and found lots of news making similar unfounded claims. Every article or blog said piles of people were affected, but then they give a single example. In many cases it's the same example. I'm not questioning that it happens, but it seems more likely to be

    1) legitimate claims where BMI-licensed music was played in a place without a license, and they legitimately need to pay (according to law, not me)
    2) a number of anecdotes of intimidation without any actual legal action, where either nothing happens or the owner gives up

    What I do not see is anywhere that BMI or ASCAP have ever shut someone down. They intimidate, the owner rolls over, and the owner shuts the place down. If you're clicking the reply button to chastize me, read on please before doing so. They can claim anything they want, but "try to shut [them] down"? Only through intimidation. Kinda like me repeatedly asking for my two dollars.

    This article has the claim that it's happening all over but has a single example and one that's not clearly legit or not. It also says that license costs are being pressured down, probably due to people not wanting to pay license fees: []

    Here's "one" illigitimate claim, can't tell if it's the same one: []

    Here's a guy who keeps getting invoices, but because he hasn't been caught with licenseable music nothing has happened, which is typically how it happens and not actually shutting anyone down. []

    Here's an entire essay using the word extortion instead of license, and they managed a single example (I skimmed it), and it names the musician, not the places that hired him. []

    It links to this guy, with the title being "HOW ONE INDEPENDENT MUSICIAN DEFEATED BMI". Although he didn't get hired by these places, the US Copyright Office told BMI to sodomize themselves with a rusty baton. []

    In short, there is no difference between the establishments that shouldn't pay BMI but do, and the people who give their bank accounts to Nigerian scammers. They make it bad for everybody, and they need to grow a sack. Go ahead and sue me, I have playlists for every night I've been in business. Hell, I taped every show. Tell me what night, and what was played, and I'll show you the video.

    Businesses shut themselves down out of ignorance. BMI and ASCAP are some shady bastards who need to be beaten with pillows until bruised at the very least, but business does this to itself.

  • by Mad Leper ( 670146 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:09PM (#33842886)

    The CBC is union managed and controlled, so focus your ire on the NDP and not the Conservatives. And the CBC is actually protecting themselves from litigation with this ban, there are endless variations of limitations on CC licensing and it would be a nightmare for the CBC to track down and clarify the status of every single piece of CC music they wanted to use.

      As for of the claims by some uninformed people that a simple search on the internetz would provide unencumbered music, well, citation needed. Would you bet your job on those results?

    Finally, I'm seeing a lot of ant-Harper spam on Slashdot as of late, seems those poor anarchists and jackboot radicals are still smarting from their bad press after the Toronto G20 summit debacle.

  • Re:Is this legal? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:14PM (#33842902) Journal

    Microsoft got nailed for bundling a web browser with their operating system (which was stupid, in a lot of people's opinions).

    MS also got nailed for forcing Dell to pay for a license even on computers that didn't ship with MS software (the original source of the phrase "Microsoft Tax"). This was a separate issue than bundling IE with the OS. And if Dell is putting "We recommend Windows 7" on their website, rest assured that it isn't because they are forced to (the former lawsuit already settled that), it is because they are being paid to. If you read the recent news about how most of Dell's profits weren't from selling computers, but from "rebates" from Intel which have now ended due to ethics issues raised about Intel, then you would see that Dell is looking for any way to make money. A check on their stock price over the last 10 years would also indicate this.

  • Re:Workaround? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:24PM (#33842952) Journal

    They aren't barred, they are charged a royalty based upon "number of chairs", which is not the same as "seating capacity". (at least that was the standard 20 years ago). Theoretically, they have "sampled" what you play to have an idea of which artists get a tiny, tiny cut of the royalties they charge you. The majority of the money they collect goes to "expenses". It is a racket, and I have no idea who you have to blow if you are a musician and you want a decent cut of "royalties".

    In reality, most clubs play music subject to royalties, which is all fine and good, but they really don't know what you play so they guess and give it to the artists they want to give it to, although that is offset by the fact that very little collected goes to anyone except their executive staff as pay and bonuses. And they will bulldog you if you don't pay. And if you claim you don't play music that they collect for, they *can* sue if they can demonstrate otherwise, so most clubs just pay to avoid the hassle. A decent size club used to pay around $1500-$2000 annually back in 1990, it is likely higher now.

  • Re:Workaround? (Score:4, Informative)

    by RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:26PM (#33842964)

    That isn't exactly true. What they will do first is send you a contract asking you to list whatever was played and then payup accordingly. If you ignore that, then they send a bill based on what they think you owe. And if you ignore that, then they sue.

    I worked for an organization which was hit up by ASCAP. "An annual fan event like SD Comicon" would be close enough. ASCAP didn't know exactly what we played and let us tell them. There is no "does not apply" option. You are assumed to owe for something.

    There are tick boxes for live performances, bands, etc.

    We ended up paying for an electronic reproduction license for not too much money. It fit us because everything we played was actually from some electronic source. We had little live music. Just some non-ASCAP, non-BMI musicians who played their own stuff.

    After we paid once, ASCAP came sniffing around for more money. They assume they are underbilling and you're guilty of underpaying.

  • Re:Workaround? (Score:5, Informative)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Friday October 08, 2010 @10:28PM (#33842968)
    There are recordings that have fallen into the public domain. And the US military bands play quite a bit of classical music, and (as it is a work of a US federal government employee working on government time) any recordings of those are public domain as well. I have a great recording of the 1812 Overture played by the Marine Corp band, with live artillery. Check for a bunch of public domain music.
  • by Zalbik ( 308903 ) on Saturday October 09, 2010 @01:19AM (#33843552)

    Where do you see "several employees previously, unanimously and clearly attributed the ban to a union contract in the first place?"

    The most damning evidence I see from the link is the single post from lilyjmills, which she later clarifies with the following:

    "I asked around and it sounds like APM was the most cost effective choice for production music. We're actually simply piggy-backing off the use license acquired from CBC Television (a license that can be used for the entire network). "

    Sorry, nothing to see here....move along...

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.