ascap vs creative commons? seriously?

It seems like that last post of mine detailing my selfish reasons for making my music available for free couldn’t have been better timed. ASCAP has launched an attack on Creative Commons, the EFF, and Public Knowledge, asking its members to donate to a fund that will be used to campaign against copyleft licencing in the US Congress. The letter it sent to its members reads like the kind of FUD you’d expect from 90s Microsoft:

“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.”

This could not be further from the truth — Creative Commons gives artists tools to control what they wish to allow other people to do with their own work. It’s not aimed at tearing down traditional copyright, and it’s certainly not aimed at providing free access to existing copyrighted works. I’ve talked about the fact that I use CC because it’s in my best interest, but I wouldn’t claim that it’s the best option for all artists.

I can only think that ASCAP is targeting Creative Commons because it’s becoming a credible alternative to the old performance royalty model. If a cafe owner wants some background music for their customers, they can play any appropriately-licenced CC music; that is, any work not using the “Non-Commercial” clause. As more music becomes available under these licences, and awareness of its existence grows, it will be increasingly practical to work with CC music rather than pay ASCAP fees.

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