[Foundation-l] ASCAP comes out against "copyleft"

Andre Engels andreengels at gmail.com
Sat Jun 26 11:06:16 UTC 2010

On Sat, Jun 26, 2010 at 12:17 PM,  <WJhonson at aol.com> wrote:

> When I go to YouTube, the number of videos which are some bad amateur
> singer trying to sing some good song far outweigh the number of original videos
> of that song/group.  The amount of free content in music, in general is
> rapidly approaching or perhaps past par with all professional music ever created
> to this day.

A video of an amateur singer trying to sing a song is also a copyright
violation - they are publishing the song, and do not own the copyright
on either text or melody. They probably won't be prosecuted over it,
but legally they are violating copyright.

Copyright laws were mostly created in a time when situations were
different. There used to be a group of content creators, and a general
public. Copyright was mostly a right from one content creator to
another - you should not publish the book, song, whatever that I own
the copyright on. The public at large did not have the means to
publish, so copyright laws might as well not apply to them. What they
could do was so inconsequential (write over a chapter of a book, sing
a song in presence of their coworkers) that nobody minded exceptions
being made for them.

In the last few decades this changed. Automatic copying became cheaper
and simpler with photocopiers, tape recorders, video recorders
becoming mass products. Still, their impact was relatively minor.
Although copyright industry saw these things as very problematic, they
were mostly used to make single or few copies. Few people would make
hundreds of copies of a single work to send them out. Fewer still did
so for money. Many more people had the ability to become content
publishers, but most of them did not use it.

Then came the internet, enabling every single one of us to make our
work available on an unprecedented scale. And with that the borderline
between public and content publishers really came down. And with that,
copyright became applied to situations totally different from the ones
for which it was created. It used to be clear that if you put a poem
in a book that sold in the shops, part of the proceedings should go to
the poet. It used to be clear that nobody had anything to do with it
if you put that same poem in your diary. But now, people are making
their diaries (blogs) available for everyone, without getting any kind
of compensation for the effort. Large amounts of non-professional,
non-commercial publishing to potentially huge audiences is a situation
that copyright laws did not foresee. Unfortunately, instead of
realizing that the effect of copyright laws, intended to protect the
rights of one commercial publisher against another are draconian when
applied to such a different situation, where the average citizen is
the one being affected, the main reaction seems to be to make the laws
even stricter.

André Engels, andreengels at gmail.com

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