Public Knowledge Launches Creators Freedom

This is a new kind of project for PK, as opposed to their usual policy and communications work. As a peer media producer, I like the idea of an NGO working directly with creators to offer education and interactive support. From the press release:

Among other activities, the Project will:

  • Work directly with artists and tell their stories
  • Partner with experts, and providers of online tools and services
  • Host local workshops, tutorials & discussions
  • Stream webinars for artists

The ultimate goal is one I found very laudable, also a more constructive response to the usual copyright battles–to help artists experiment and find new models to support their endeavors.

Details are scant so far, undoubtedly upcoming activities will be announced on the web site. I was hoping there might be some sort of community to join, even just a mailing list. I suspect it is early days and that maybe more participatory features will be added as the project develops.

Public Knowledge Announces Creators Freedom Project, Public Knowledge

Lessig Responds to ASCAP Fundraising Against CC, EFF and PK

I shared my confusion over ASCAP’s fund raising campaign against EFF, Public Knowledge and Creative Commons. Folks from EFF and PK responded quite reasonably, explaining how the association of music publishers had several misapprehended the purpose and power of the respective public interest groups.

Laurence Lessig has now offered his thoughts on the matter at the Huffington Post. Lessig helped found two of the three organizations and has served on the board of the third. He is uniquely qualified to step into what I’ve suggested is a grand teaching moment. He doesn’t disappoint, calmly and cheerfully explaining exactly what Creative Commons is and does, as this organization more than the others about which he is particularly qualified to write.

He steadfastly refuses to sink to the level of fear, uncertainty and doubt to which ASCAP and the National Association of Music Publishers have clearly sunk.

This isn’t the first time that ASCAP has misrepresented the objectives of our organization. But could we make it the last? We have no objection to collecting societies: They too were an innovative and voluntary solution (in America at least) to a challenging copyright problem created by new technologies. And I at least am confident that collecting societies will be a part of the copyright landscape forever.

Lessig even offers to continue the conversation, in the form of a formal debate, with ASCAP President Paul Williams. It is sad that ASCAP or anyone else from the music industry should have to be invited to a discussion of the work of Creative Commons or any public interest group but I would guess the fear of granting any kind of legitimacy to their efforts at the expense of their traditional business model is simply too great.

feeds | grep links > Another Facebook Competitor, Google’s Curation of the Android Market, Conflict Materials in Computers, and More

Sorry for the brevity of comments on these stories from yesterday.  I am trying to quickly catch up.  Most of my reading and blogging time was preempted by the June CopyNight event with Cory Doctorow last night. More on that shortly.

ASCAP Seeking Funds to Fight CC, PK and EFF

This is surreal to say the least. Cory has a post at Boing Boing sharing a letter sent to a member of ASCAP. The mind boggles at the suggestion that these public interest and non-profit organizations have more lobbying power than the music industry. Maybe ASCAP’s influence specifically is waning relative to the record labels but this characterization that the evil forces of free culture are conspiring to rob composers of their right to make a living makes my head spin. The plea for funds is insult on top of injury as ASCAP already generates revenue on the back of its members.

More seriously, this sort of sloppy thinking and rhetoric really irks me. It stomps on the idea that culture should be a shared and shareable good, not locked up behind the current effectively perpetual range and extreme reach of copyright. No one from CC, PK or EFF has ever suggested artists shouldn’t have a choice in how to exercise their copyright. CC in particular is all about giving creators far more choices beyond the flat assertion of all rights reserved.

I will avoid descending into a whacky Batman-Joker style dialogue of who created whom in terms of the rapacious enclosure of the public domain, DRM, etc. inspiring the desire to foster a new commons as the old one has been eaten away, followed by this latest turn. I will suggest that the real heartbreak here is that if ASCAP had sought a dialogue with any one of its perceived enemies, I know for a fact that would have opened a rich and rewarding conversation around how everyone concerned can support both our cultural heritage and creators trying to support themselves while contributing to it.