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ASCAP's attack on copyleft

June 30th, 2010 (04:29 pm)

Allegedly (Boing Boing, Wired), ASCAP sent a letter to its membership claiming that Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, and the EFF, in supporting copyleft, were undermining copyright, and inducing copyright infringement. I wrote the following to ASCAP via their contact form:

It is being reported that ASCAP has sent letters to members claiming that copyleft groups such as Creative Commons are undermining copyright, and inducing infringement.

This is absolutely untrue. Copyleft is simply one option for creators to use when licensing their work. It has nothing to do with infringement. For example, I am a programmer; I release much of my personal work under copyleft licenses such as the GPL, but have no problem with the stricter licenses my employers use on the work I do for them. And I do not infringe copyright--not on software, not on movies, not on music.

You are correct about one thing: copyleft is a threat to ASCAP--but because it has anything to do with infringement. Rather, the copyleft movement is a threat because it is competition, and because copylefted music has no room for middlemen such as ASCAP. Whether copyleft is a threat to ASCAP's *members* is a much harder question. For you to claim that it is a threat is simple fearmongering, and does your members a disservice.

...and now I see I left out the "not" in "but not because it has anything to do with infringement".