Friday, June 25, 2010
Original Link - http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/06/ascap-assails-free-culture-digital-rights-groups/
The association representing 380,000 composers, songwriters, lyricists and others associated with the music industry has begun a fund-raising campaign to stifle groups that support free culture and digital rights.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is urging the membership to donate money to battle the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge and even Creative Commons.
In a letter sent to members this week, ASCAP said those groups and unnamed “technology companies” are “mobilizing to promote ‘Copyleft’ in order to undermine our ‘Copyright.’ ”
The letter continues, saying “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.”
The fund-raising campaign came a day after Victoria Espinel, the nation’s copyright czar, outlined an intellectual-property enforcement plan that did not include a call to push internet service providers to adopt policies to cut service to repeat copyright scofflaws. Such a policy, referred to as “three strikes” or “graduated response,” was strongly backed by the motion picture and recording industries, and opposed by EFF and Public Knowledge.
Instead, Espinel said the nation’s “intellectual property-enforcement efforts should be focused on stopping those stealing the work of others, not those who are appropriately building upon it.”
The ASCAP, which also distributes royalties, said those groups are “influencing Congress against the interests of music creators. If their views are allowed to gain strength, music creators will find it harder and harder to make a living as traditional media shifts to online and wireless services. We all know what will happen next: the music will dry up, and the ultimate loser will be the music consumer.”
ASCAP did not return messages seeking comment.
ASCAP’s attack on EFF and Public Knowledge are farfetched. Those groups do not suggest music should be free, although they push for the liberalization of copyright law.
But the attack on Creative Commons is more laughable than ASCAP’s stance against EFF and Public Knowledge.
While lobby groups EFF and Public Knowledge advocate for liberal copyright laws, Creative Commons actually creates licenses to protect content creators.
The non-profit has issued various licenses to approximately 350 million pieces of content to writers, musicians, scholars and others. Flickr, for example, is filled with pictures licensed by Creative Commons.
The licenses allow the works in the public domain, with various rules regarding attribution, commercial use and remixing.
The group’s creative director, Eric Steuer, said nobody forces anybody to adopt the Creative Commons credo. “I think it’s false to claim that Creative Commons works to undermine copyright,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s an opt-in system.”
Following Wednesday’s fund-raising letter from Paul Williams, ASCAP’s president, Steuer said several ASCAP members who also use Creative Commons licenses have donated money to Creative Commons.