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ASCAP Declares War On Free Culture, EFF 483

Posted by Soulskill
from the less-sense-than-a-unicorn-meat-c&d dept.
Andorin writes "According to Drew Wilson at ZeroPaid and Cory Doctorow, the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), a US organization that aims to collect royalties for its members for the use of their copyrighted works, has begun soliciting donations to fight key organizations of the free culture movement, such as Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Knowledge. According to a letter received by ASCAP member Mike Rugnetta, 'Many forces including Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation and technology companies with deep pockets are mobilizing to promote "Copyleft" in order to undermine our "Copyright." They say they are advocates of consumer rights, but the truth is these groups simply do not want to pay for the use of our music. Their mission is to spread the word that our music should be free.' (Part 1 and part 2 of the letter.) The collecting agency is asking that its professional members donate to its Legislative Fund for the Arts, which appears to be a lobbying campaign meant to convince Congress that artists should not have the choice of licensing their works under a copyleft license."
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ASCAP Declares War On Free Culture, EFF

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  • Good. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dishevel (1105119) * on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:26PM (#32696676)
    Let them attack everything. Hell. I say let them even win. Once people can't do anything with any of the stuff they own they will wither get smart and take matters into their own hands, or allow themselves to to be screwed.
    • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anrego (830717) * on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:30PM (#32696734)

      or allow themselves to to be screwed

      This is exactly what's going to happen. Lets not kid ourselves here.. most people don't care about any of this. The few people who have any interest in this.. even enough to never pay for media again.. are just a tiny little insignificant blip.

    • Re:Good. (Score:5, Funny)

      by impaledsunset (1337701) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:37PM (#32696856)

      I'm pretty sure that protecting your God-given rights to the works you've created precludes anyone else from releasing works under a free license. People who are releasing their works under a Creative Commons are stealing from the real artists, who work so hard to earn a living. They just want to get stuff for free. Good to see ASCAP has understood this simple fact.

      • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dov_0 (1438253) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:15PM (#32697334)

        I'm pretty sure that protecting your God-given rights to the works you've created precludes anyone else from releasing works under a free license. People who are releasing their works under a Creative Commons are stealing from the real artists, who work so hard to earn a living. They just want to get stuff for free. Good to see ASCAP has understood this simple fact.

        Are you trolling or seriously arguing on the side of ASCAP?

        Who says that artists have God-given rights to their works for a start? I've personally done several years of Scriptural studies, can read and write in Biblical Greek and Hebrew and find nothing to support this strange idea of yours.

        Let me use a parable to explain what ASCAP seems to be wanting to do. "At a large park there is a running track all the way around the public gardens. Many people use it every day, but when the weather is hot, they get really dehydrated and sometimes people even have heart attacks while running. An enterprising kid makes up a great drink with a mix of fruit juices and salts to sell to the runners. Some other youths set up a protection racket to make sure that the runners buy his product and take a large cut of money on the top for their 'services'. Meanwhile another kid also produces a good drink for the runners, but he really wants to just give it away. He sets up in another part of the park and starts to give away drinks on the hot days. The boys in the protection racket hear about him and come over to threaten him. When he doesn't seem likely to stop, they try and get the police to take him away."

        That is what ASCAP is about. If I want to put a copyleft license on what I produce, what is that to them? If I want other people to enjoy what I've done, to use it and possibly copy it or improve on it, what is that to ASCAP? It doesn't mean that I want anyone elses work for free, it just means I want to share what I've enjoyed making with other people on my own terms. What is wrong with that?

      • Re:Good. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:18PM (#32697376) Homepage Journal

        People who are releasing their works under a Creative Commons are stealing from the real artists, who work so hard to earn a living.

        I've been making a living releasing my music under Creative Commons licenses exclusively since 2006 (when I also quit ASCAP).

        Creative Commons is not (necessarily) a "free license.

        I understand that you're being sarcastic and you believe that you were making some sort of joke, but there are some issues about which I don't find snarkiness the least bit useful. Repeating verbatim what ASCAP really believes hardly qualifies as parody. And there are people out there that won't understand the subtlety of your wit and will believe that a bright Slashdot reader really does think this way so there must be some merit to such an argument, god forbid. For the sake of such simple folks, I politely request that you make your cleverness a little more blatant in regards to this issue, kthx in advance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by poetmatt (793785)

      I wonder how far they had to stretch to assume this was a good idea?

      It's going to put them out of business.

      "hey, we can embrace our fans, or sue our customers". I guess we knew which one of those sounded more appealing.

    • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:59PM (#32697148) Journal
      Yeah, we were having a slow month at the pirate party. Thanks for bringing new amunitions. Thanks for making clear that copyright is not the defense of all culture but the defense of an old model of culture financement.
  • Awesome.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:28PM (#32696688)

    Don't get me wrong.. this is really bad because they probably have a good chance of succeeding. As absurd as this is, essentially making it illegal to give the stuff you produce away for free, the media industry has a metric ass tonne of money and influence, and most importantly your average guy on the street is not going to understand or care.

    I am just happy to finally see what I would describe as inevitable happen. And I totally don't blame the media industry. It a logical approach:

    problem: something is costing us money
    solutions: make it illegal

    Should be interesting to see how this all unfolds.

    • Re:Awesome.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JSBiff (87824) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:35PM (#32696810) Journal

      Copyright is all fine and dandy, but if Congress tried to actually make it illegal to *give away* your own recordings, I believe that would pretty clearly run afoul of, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

      Congratulations, ASCAP: you are in the glorious position of educating Congress and the public on how awful and evil the 1st amendment is.

      • Re:Awesome.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by whoever57 (658626) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:55PM (#32697092) Journal

        I suspect that ASCAP is not going to ask congress to stop people giving away their work with no restrictions (hence allowjng other "artists" to make money from it), rather they will ask the lawmakers to remove copyright protection from works that people want to release under a Creative Commons or similar license.

        In other words, it is an attack on the GPL and similar licenses.

        • Coffee shops (Score:5, Informative)

          by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:13PM (#32697320) Homepage

          ASCAP is already [viewnews.com] preventing coffee shops from hosting independent artists.

          For Henderson business owner Mike Hopper, his coffee shop, Mocha Joe, was the perfect environment to let local artists showcase their original music. At least that was the plan until the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers said otherwise.

          [...]

          However, Hopper said it was just a misunderstanding between him and the organizations. He then called to explain that the unsigned bands were playing 100 percent original songs.

          "I am 100 percent in compliance," Hopper said. "I'm not charging cover at the door. I'm not paying the bands, and they are just playing songs they wrote. They essentially said to me, 'We don't care. We have this low-end licensing fee you must have because there is a chance your band might play a cover song.'"

          [...]

          Looking at potentially paying a total of $1,800 in annual fees to the three agencies and the possibility that he would be shut down permanently, Hopper discontinued music at Mocha Joe.

          • Re:Coffee shops (Score:5, Informative)

            by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Friday June 25, 2010 @07:33PM (#32698224) Homepage

            Holy shit. After reading the above I started searching Google for other instances of similar bullying and found this [oregonmusicnews.com]:

            "[Hines said] 'Hey we need to sit down and talk and I've got some contracts here for you to sign.' I was like, 'Who are you again?' He told me and said, 'Yeah, it's been real difficult to get ahold of you. You've been avoiding us. I'm here now and you need to take care of this. You don't really have a choice in the matter. We need to sit down and you need to sign this paperwork with me.'

            ...

            "I said I didn't have time to talk with him then, that he could send me something in the mail or email me but I don't have time, as far as I was concerned we were in compliance with all of the licensing or copyright laws.

            ...

            "He was, 'James, James you don't have a choice. I'm leaving this right here. If I don't get this paperwork from you soon, the next person you see will be an investigator. They're going to come in and you're not going to have a choice.' I said, 'Prove that we're violating your laws. Find a song that you own the rights to that we're playing, it's not going to happen.'

            "He said, 'That's not how it works, James. It's going to be too late. By the time we have an investigator come in, we don't have to prove anything.'

            I'm not usually a violent person, but if some ASCAP pisher came to my place of business and said those things to me it is very likely I'd end up in jail for assault after breaking the bastard's nose with a baseball bat.

            • Re:Coffee shops (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Reverend Zanix (1157273) on Friday June 25, 2010 @09:13PM (#32698954)
              This is not an uncommon occurrence at all. I used to enjoy playing and going to shows at this local cafe/venue that was all independent musicians playing their own songs. Then they were essentially forced to shut down because they were tiny and couldn't afford the overhead with the licensing for things that weren't even. And yes, they have agents that go around to small places like this, check if music is being played and then cross reference if they don't have a license. It's like a Mafia protection racket. You are forced to pay them when they don't even provide a service to them, lest you be sued out of existence.
            • Re:Coffee shops (Score:5, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @12:01AM (#32699836)

              I'm in Sioux City, Iowa of all places, and our band has seen this shit tried on two bars that I've played at. We called the fine gentleman who left his card and told him we were not ASCAP members and played only original music. He responded that it only takes four chords before we infringe on his artists' songs, and it was simply not possible for us not to infringe.

              ASCAP are assholes, but what about the artists who belong to them? Isn't their membership the reason ASCAP can even exist?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by adamdoyle (1665063)

      Agreed. It's their money and if they think it's in the best interest of their companies, they should do it. It's not their job to make sure the USA keeps running like it's supposed to, it's the job of Congress and the judicial system. They are who we should be outraged with.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dyingtolive (1393037)
      Indeed. It appears as though the gauntlet has been thrown. I'm concerned over where everything will be when the dust settles. It seems like every time I think that the oligarchy that governs us can't become any more absurd, they manage to discover the most creative way to strike that all-time new low. I give it five years before it's time to start passing out the Guy Faux masks.
  • by adamdoyle (1665063)

    Can't say that I blame them... it's their industry and they're advocating for it - big surprise. That's how the system works: Both sides fight it out based on how important it is to them and the courts decide. If I'm a shareholder, I want them doing everything they can to make the value of my stock go up. That's why the courts are supposed to be there to make sure they're playing by the rules. It's the courts that screw us.

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:36PM (#32696840)

      Can't say that I blame them... it's their industry and they're advocating for it - big surprise.

      Uh, they apparently want to lobby Congress to pass a law which will prevent 'artists' from giving away things they've created.

      If true, that is so mind-bogglingly retarded that I really don't know what else to say. Surely even Congress will have to laugh them out of the building?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by forkazoo (138186)

        If true, that is so mind-bogglingly retarded that I really don't know what else to say. Surely even Congress will have to laugh them out of the building?

        Depends on how much the donation campaign raises.

  • What else... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yaa 101 (664725) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:32PM (#32696768) Journal

    What else would you expect from extortionists, that they play fair?

  • by selven (1556643) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:33PM (#32696776)

    ASCAP is asking its members to send donations to help out in a project against the free culture movement. They realize that no single organization alone can finance this 'war', and are trying to spread out the effort among their companies. They are using exactly the same strategy here that open source software like Linux uses - have large corporations that benefit from the project being successful all contribute to it, and allow the entire world to benefit from the result. If they lose, we win. If they win, they will have shown us that we can also win.

    • by dsavi (1540343) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:54PM (#32697074) Homepage
      Not to mention that the fact that they are starting this is proof that CC, EFF etc. are a serious threat to their way of business.
      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:42PM (#32697642)

        Not to mention that the fact that they are starting this is proof that CC, EFF etc. are a serious threat to their way of business.

        No, its proof that CC, EFF, etc., are boogeyman that they think they can use to scare up money to use to lobby Congress to put into place laws which will provide support for their business.

        This isn't proof that CC, EFF, etc. are actual threats to their business. The fact that an organization is used to scare people into giving money to a lobbying organization is not evidence that the organization is the source of any actual problem for the constituency of the lobbying group (or even that any actual problem exists.)

        That something is useful for propaganda purposes doesn't mean that it is true.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jackbird (721605)
          "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." -Gandhi

          Looks like a pretty clear case of step 3 to me.
  • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:33PM (#32696778)
    • first they ignore you
    • then they fight you
    • then you win

    In a way this is great news. As long as people are ready to answer them with a good message, this will give great publicity. However, it's really important to point to new things that are produced by the free as in freedom movement. Out of copyright stuff and especially illegally copied stuff isn't stuff we have any right to claim and doesn't show the value of the new approach. Find good artists on Jamendo. Create your own stuff. Talk about how most new things in computing come out of the F/OSS movement.

  • by mykos (1627575) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:33PM (#32696780)
    Why is it so hard for them to understand that at one time, music was about artistic expression?
    If nobody could ever make one penny from their music, I guarantee you that music would not die.
    • by alexo (9335) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:51PM (#32697044) Journal

      Why is it so hard for them to understand that at one time, music was about artistic expression?

      It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it.
      -- Upton Sinclair (1878 - 1968)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by green_abishi (1184225)

      If nobody could ever make one penny from their music, I guarantee you that music would not die.

      Beyond that, if nobody could ever make one penny from their music, music would be better off as there wouldn't be loads of factory-produced, industry sponsored vapid pop being rammed into everyone's heads, drowning out music which has more value.

  • ASCAP v. RIAA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foo1752 (555890) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:35PM (#32696818) Homepage

    It seems that the ASCAP should be going after the RIAA so that artists can actually make money on music recordings again. Forget about free. People are willing to pay for music, but even when they do, how much do the artists actually get anyway? Not much, if anything.

  • Big brother much? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mlippert (526036)

    Wow,
    So not only do they want copyrights to last forever, but now they also want to take the copyright away from the creator of the content, because obviously the creator isn't capable of understanding what 'value' their property has if they want to release it under a copyleft license?
     

  • "Deep pockets" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dsavi (1540343) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:37PM (#32696850) Homepage
    That continues to baffle me. Apparently you can't make money off of copylefted music, so where did all this acclaimed money come from? If they can have deep pockets as copyleft organizations, then why doesn't ASCAP become one themselves?
  • What a bunch of— (Score:3, Informative)

    by alvinrod (889928) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:39PM (#32696876)
    What a bunch of asshats.
  • If it's real... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s-whs (959229) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:41PM (#32696902)

    (Part 1 and part 2 of the letter.)

    I want to see the proper letter, with letterhead, contact details etc. At the moment this looks like it can be fake.

    If it's not fake then these people are insane and by not wanting to allow people to choose another type of licence, they are taking away rights that they do want for themselves (to choose their own licence).

    Assuming for the moment the letter is real:

    They say they are advocates of consumer rights, but the truth is these groups simply do not want to pay for the use of our music.

    It's not about music. And in case of music, if it's 15 years old or more, I have no problem with copying without paying for it. It should have paid the author, if not, tough luck, that's life.

    The long copyright duration (essentially unlimited) also means companies and individuals who don't allow free copying after say 15 years, are hogging our past. Want to see a film again for nostalgia, or some music? (That you probably paid for already, via cable networks, records) Then you have to pay for it again. It's a great business model, getting paid for nostalgia etc. [ Note: Cleaning up very old records etc. and making those available should be rewarded, but for most music there's very little cost, lots of profit, and still lots of whining. ]

  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:42PM (#32696916)

    The collecting agency is asking that its professional members donate to its Legislative Fund for the Arts

    And is there a list of these donating members so I can boycott their products...?

  • by geekd (14774) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:42PM (#32696930) Homepage

    These morons want to prevent ME from releasing MY OWN SONGS under the Creative Commons?

    It's idiot moves like this that led to do exactly that. Here: http://theexperiments.com/ [theexperiments.com] All my band's music for free under the Creative Commons.

    They can pry the Creative Commons from my cold dead fingers.

  • by JSBiff (87824) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:43PM (#32696942) Journal

    Man, don't you love letters like that? They are asking for money, but they don't list a single, specific point of how the law needs to change, or what specific philosophical claims for which they are in disagreement with EFF, CC, et. al.

    They are asking you to write a check, but they haven't explained, AT ALL, what the money is going to be used for. They use very vague and nebulous statements that add up to nothing. What do they actually want to do?

    • They're songwriters (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jay L (74152) *

      What do they actually want to do?

      They're songwriters. They want to something something night, something something light, something something else something feel so right.

  • by markdavis (642305) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:44PM (#32696964)

    Free culture movement?? They either don't understand what those organizations fight for or they know and are completely twisting everything around.

    Organizations like the EFF are fighting for the consumer to be free to use what they PAID FOR in ways not dictated by multi-million dollar organizations. I have no interest in "stealing" copyrighted content, nor selling or giving it away to others. But when I pay for music, video, text, pictures, or whatever, I should be able to use it on any device I own, for as long as I like, in a manner that I choose. Most consumers are not anti-pay, or anti-copyright, or anti-arts. We just want to be able to obtain quality, reasonably priced media, and enjoy it on our stuff without some company dictating which program we must use, or which operating system, or which device.

    And if creators of content want to release things under Creative Commons, or Copyleft, or Public Domain, or whatever, that has NOTHING to do with fighting against commercial companies wanting to make a profit on their materials. They should have that choice, and it should have the protection of law, just like traditional copyrights. What do they propose? To FORCE people to not license content how they choose? What's next? Legislation to block donations to the Red Cross because it might compete with big business? Amazing...

  • Even if they win (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:47PM (#32697002) Homepage Journal

    Even if they win and oulawed 'copyleft', forcing everyone to use 'copyright', its still MY work, and i can choose to give it away if i want..

  • by atticus9 (1801640) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:48PM (#32697012)
    Rather than clinging to the old model, and try to intimidate people into using it, the industry needs to change figure alternative ways to get revenue for content.

    Will it ultimately result in less money for the same amount of art (music/video/writing)? Probably, but in a day and age with our technology does it really make sense that publishers get billions of dollars (not going to the artists) for burning cd's and posting videos?
  • "Our" music? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:49PM (#32697024) Journal

    Last I checked, the Creative Commons licenses were applied to the music by the people who created the music... you know, the ones who actually have ownership of the music per current copyright laws.

    Clearly ASCAP's problem is that they assume they should own everything and receive all the money from whatever automatic and inescapable royalties they can bribe Congress into assigning to them instead of to the actual musicians. Musicians being allowed to let other people play their music for free are cutting into their profits.

    • Re:"Our" music? (Score:4, Informative)

      by obliv!on (1160633) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:15PM (#32697338) Homepage Journal
      They probably are relying on or hoping to attain the same standing RIAA has gotten through SoundExchange to collect broadcast royalties even from non-members.

      So there is clearly precedent that suggests ownership and membership are not sufficient concerns to these types of organizations. Unless it is their material or members that is!

      So in this case they are either seeking statute authority to collect song composing royalties for members AND non-members, or they intend to behave that way anyway and defend it on the premise that the copyright office already delineated similar powers to SoundExchange and that since ASCAP is a similar group to SoundExchange they are entitled to a similar wide scope of authority (performance royalties -> SoundExchange vs composing royalties -> ASCAP)

      I'd really like to see this blow up in their face and get both groups rights to even try this sort of thing revoked, but there are too many MAFIAA members in DoJ (and probably other parts of gov't) now and they have the administration's support (much to my dismay as I do generally otherwise support the administration). So this could get ugly and have bad consequences quickly.

      I really hope the copyleft groups start gathering funds and resources in a way to respond to this head on. I'd support it.

      About RIAA lawyers at DoJ:
      http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/04/obama-taps-fift/ [wired.com]

      About RIAA/SoundExchange:
      http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/4/24/141326/870 [dailykos.com]
      http://slashdot.org/articles/07/04/29/0335224.shtml [slashdot.org]
  • by Hairy1 (180056) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:56PM (#32697116) Homepage

    Yes, its terrible, its just like those "Free Software" people rampantly pirating Windows all over the place. Oh wait. The Free Software people are a group of individuals least likely to pirate Windows. Something is wrong here.

  • The Deal Breakers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EEPROMS (889169) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:00PM (#32697162)
    Entities like ACAT can only blame themselves for the massive push back by the public regarding copyright. If copyright holders and managers had not gone out of there way to bri.. cough, give certain political entities rather large financial enticements to change copyright law so as the public are denied access to their own cultural heritage for an ever extended period of time then the push back by joe average they are experiencing now would not be happening, to put it simply, they (copyright holders) broke the original deal and now the public are saying stuff you. What I find amusing is that "all culture derives from prior works". For example I don't see bands paying chuck berries estate money for ripping of his guitar riffs but at the same time copyright lawyers are blocking all avenues or derivative works by the public even if it is satire.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:11PM (#32697300) Homepage Journal
    As someone who got targeted by ASCAP for merely having links on my website to radio stations (story is here on slashdot [slashdot.org]), I hope that they're beaten senseless by EFF, etc. These are the same people who strongarmed the girl scouts into paying royalties for songs they sang around the campfire. Yes, it's true.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:12PM (#32697306)

    The collecting agency is asking that its professional members donate to its Legislative Fund for the Arts, which appears to be a lobbying campaign meant to convince Congress that artists should not have the choice of licensing their works under a copyleft license.

    I'd like to see what their legal argument would be. Basically they're lobbying to make a particular kind of legal contract they disagree with illegal.

    Ooo, no - that's not a slippery slope at all. I'm sure lawyers all over the continent will sit still for that! I can't see how that would cause a problem ever!! *hah*

    Hell, even the bad lawyers would fight having that for a precedent. Harder than the good guys I'd guess - tricky contracts are where a good bit of their bread and butter comes from. If the law began placing restrictions on what sorts of contracts you could make...well, that would have a lot of other interesting implications.

  • by KGBear (71109) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:14PM (#32697326) Homepage
    It means we are making a difference. If you fight a tyrant, expect the tyrant to fight back. Let's hope for a good fight and may our champion slay the beast in the end.
  • by spitzak (4019) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:15PM (#32697342) Homepage

    The letter is incredibly stupid, but I suspect they are not actually trying to make the Creative Commons license or GPL illegal. I think instead the writer thinks the term "copyleft" means "ignoring copyrights".

    Of course they may want to make copyleft illegal: they would certainly love it if you could not copyright protect your work without having the means and infrastructure to sell it. But I think the chances of that are very slim because even the general public will understand that it is unfair.

    Or they are actively trying to get the term "copyleft" redefined in public perception so that these organizations can no longer use it, similar to "hacker".

    But my main guess is that the letter writer has no idea what the term "copyleft" means and they have instead made themselves look either evil or stupid or both.

  • by imthesponge (621107) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:17PM (#32697364)

    "THE NEW ENEMY" [billboard.biz]

    I have put together a top 10 list of the positions taken by these groups that I will define as their extremist, radical anti-copyright agenda.

    No. 10: They support changing the law to reduce damages for copyright infringement.

    No. 9: They support the elimination of statutory damages for secondary copyright infringement.

    No. 8: They favor rolling back copyright extension; in some cases, radically.

    No. 7: They favor the elimination of the songwriter and publisher rights for server, cache and buffer copies.

    No. 6: They oppose efforts to obtain the identities of individuals engaged in massive copyright infringement.

    No. 5: They support extreme versions of orphan works legislation.

    No. 4: They have filed legal briefs supporting anti-copyright positions of Grokster, Napster, LimeWire, Cablevision, Google, YouTube and Verizon.

    No. 3: They oppose graduated-response protection for copyright owners.

    No. 2: They oppose treaties that support copyright enforcement like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

    No. 1: They actually argue that illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing traffic helps the economy and doesn't hurt songwriters.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)

      No. 7: They favor the elimination of the songwriter and publisher rights for server, cache and buffer copies.

      That one's a joke. Isn't it? Because no one can be fucking stupid enough to believe that they should have rights to ephemeral cached or buffered copies.

      Right? Please tell me that was sarcasm.

  • Hey now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:37PM (#32697582)

    They are just being idiots about how they are going about fixing things. Bottom line? No one wants to pay for music anymore. Around half my income is derived from ascap. In the last ten years, seismic changes have occurred in television and film having nothing to do with the internet.

    First, broadcasters stopped paying royalties for movie trailer music. Next, networks on cable stopped paying fees for music knowing that we would get paid on the backend through their endlessly repeating show schedule. By and large, they were right to a certain degree. Basically, they wanted us to get paid by the broadcasters but now the broadcasters don't seem to want to pay either

    Now though, hulu has emerged and it is nothing short of a land grab. you only get paid a performance royalty if there are commercials in the show. Well guess what? Hulu does not pay out royalties even though there are millions of performances daily on their website.

    And let's not forget the shady music supervisor that fills in his own name instead of yours in the cue sheets and then he gets the back end that you were supposed to get. It happens.

    At some point you have to stop and ask yourself, what is the value of your work on a whole when everyone and there mother is hell bent on not paying you a dime.

    Creating music for television or film is no joke. It takes a lot of time, energy and skill to learn how to craft a score to picture. Underscore is a lot different but still, lots of work. I mean, if everyone is cool with hearing the same loops from GarageBand and logic than really, what the hell do I know?

    However, if you agree that while the world is not fair, just like licensing code, use of music needs a mechanism of payment that is fair.

    I like creative commons, ascap is just misguided.

    And finally, before anyone tells me to play live and find alternative revenue streams, licensing is the alternative revenue stream. I give all my music away because licensing makes it so I don't have to worry about actually selling anything.

  • by DRJR (1842278) on Friday June 25, 2010 @07:14PM (#32698028) Homepage

    Sometimes I think groups such as ASCAP forget that copyright is about letting people copy things and defining how and when it should be done. It's goal is to encourage copying and development as a way of progressing science and art. The restrictions on copying is about convincing authors via the lure of money to develop something further.

    But the restriction gets tighter and tighter... how is life-of-the-author plus 75 years (the term for individuals i.e. non-corporate authors) supposed to encourage an author to develop the something they created further? I'm pretty sure they can't create new material after they've died. Plus, progress often comes from combining other people's stuff together in new and novel ways, which copyright, an idea to promote progress, often blocks in its current form. Long ago copying was hard and temporarily limiting was no big deal to the public; today in the digital age, copying is so easy that it can happen by accident while sorting one's computer files.

    Creative commons is about striking a balance between copyright and public domain-- to come to a place closer to what copyright originally was. ASCAP would now have me believe that an independent artist, who is not affiliated with them, choosing to utilize creative commons will somehow bankrupt them (or something similarly awful) and that this would... what? destroy culture? stop development? I don't know as they don't really explain why its bad-- just a vague 'trust us, it's bad for authors' answer. If they are really worried about their business, they need to evolve with the times or simply go under just like all other companies. They are no more special then any other company, nor should they be.

    ASCAP say that the opposite side wants people to believe that music is free, and that they do not want to pay for it. First off, music is already free. The purpose of copyright is to barter away a tiny bit of its freedom for money to motivate creators to create. Second, I don't hear anyone saying that don't want to pay for music. I either hear people expressing they want a simple and affordable way to pay, or people expressing dismay over paying for the same thing the umpteenth time. Groups such as ASCAP are often against a simple affordable way of excepting people's money. It competes with their old dying way of doing business. Again, evolve or go under. They go and ask the government for help. The people are giving us less money, please force them to pay again. (Well, it's never gotten THAT simple.) When their market changes, they simply should not be going to the government and asking them to force the market to do something. It doesn't work. It never has... and it has the side-effect of creating headaches for everyone along the way.

    *Sigh* My two cents,
    David Romig, Jr.

  • Wanna fight back? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lawpoop (604919) on Friday June 25, 2010 @07:49PM (#32698376) Homepage Journal
    I give $20 a month to EFF. How about you?
  • Hypocrites... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MikeV (7307) on Friday June 25, 2010 @08:08PM (#32698494)

    They claim that we don't want to pay for music. And at the same time, their begging for donations tells us that THEY don't want to pay to litigate.

  • by countertrolling (1585477) on Friday June 25, 2010 @08:39PM (#32698700) Journal

    MPEG-LA beat ASCAP to the punch.. ASCAP will just have to buy up a bunch of patents. That should cover their bases

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday June 25, 2010 @08:49PM (#32698776)
    If enough free culture is created, people eventually realize that they have enough good free stuff to never need to go back to overpriced, over-restricted material sold by over-priveleged monopolies ever again. That's their fear -- people who create and share their creations simply for the love of it. We can't have that! It's un-American! (Forgets how the US Constitution explicitly repudiated the eternal copyrights of Europe.)

    There are already more free books and story sites on the web than any person could read in a lifetime. It used to be that the only way you could read out-of-copyright works was if someone reprinted it and sold it at a low enough price to not be undercut. Now you just download it and nobody profits from that download -- which is just WRONG to some people. And while you're reading your classic liteature, you're not paying for and consuming other overpriced content.

    Are we better off for this? I would think so because we are a richer culture overall! How long, for example, before a radio station starts only playing out-of-copyright performances that you can play in your bar or restaurant without paying ASCAP, BMI, and all the rest of those money grubbers a single red cent? Would be great, provided that they can't kill it in the cradle. Let that happen and soon there may be music everywhere!
  • by devent (1627873) on Friday June 25, 2010 @10:04PM (#32699258) Homepage
    The American Society of Prostitutes has begun soliciting donations to fight key organizations of the free love movement, such as Marriage, Girlfriends and Fuck Buddies. According to a letter received by ASOP member Lisa Rugnetta, 'Many forces including the Marriage, Girlfriends and Fuck Buddies with deep pockets are mobilizing to promote "Loveleft" in order to undermine our "Loveright." They say they are advocates of consumer love, but the truth is these groups simply do not want to pay for the use of our services. Their mission is to spread the word that love should be free.'

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