Attacks On The Creative Commons Licenses

A while back I predicted that the Creative Commons Licenses would come under attack, as they give the artist tools that they can use to market themselves, and avoid having to become captives of the ‘Content Distribution Industries.’ That was an easy prediction to make. The Corporate Welfare Bums of the so called ‘Entertainment Industry’ had already been attacking new methods of distributing content, all of the way back to the historical attacks on the printing press.

But the ‘Entertainment Industry’ is for the artists you cry. After all, they’ve said that they have the artists best interests in mind!

Sorry. I’m a cynic. From what I can see their only interest is making as much money as possible, for as little effort as possible. There’s nothing wrong with making money. The problem is when anti-competitive means are used to block someone else from making money.

Consider the lawsuit which forced Internet Service Providers to block The Pirate Bay in Italy. It’s the equivalent of blocking your neighbor’s lane by flooding it, so that he can’t deliver his harvest to market, leaving all of the sales to you, and allowing you to raise your prices to the maximum the market will bear.

A similar thing is happening to the Creative Commons Licenses. The Czech government is working on updating their copyright laws. A leak of the proposed draft showed that:

The leaked draft of the copyright bill would put a whole new set of restrictions on public licensed materials (licenses include Creative Commons). Under the draft text, anyone who wants to use a public license must report to a copyright collective administrator. The administrator would then review the work in question and the creator would have to prove that he or she has created that work in the first place. Then, and only then, can a creator legally use a public license of their choice. (Thanks to Zeropaid).

A discussion of the new Czech law was carried out at TechDirt, where some really amazing comments were made. With no evidence that it had ever happened, a series of people defended the draft Czech legislation starting with:

Am I understanding this correctly – the Czechs want to introduce a law that prevents people who don’t rightly own their content (i.e. plagiarists) from using a public license? Is that it? So how is this an attack on the options for creators? It appears to me that this is a sensible proposal to strengthen the position of legitimate artists and make it harder for the rip-off merchants. (Italics added).

Note that there is no proof that this has ever happened. No wait, there is proof! Chris Castle, an attorney who specialized in Copyright Law tried to put Hey Jude under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. (Google Cache version is here in case Chris suffers an attack of good sense and removes the post – I also have an electronic copy backed up as evidence).

In simple terms, the only known case of this happening, occurred when a copyright attorney decided to prove it could be done. Rather than attacking the Creative Commons, Chris should be asking why the Czech Republic would suddenly want to change copyright law so drastically, and in ways that conflict with the International Obligations. Someone involved in putting together the draft bill had to have reason to believe that it was important to add this to the bill, which means that someone else had to have talked to him or her about the non-issue. Who would do this?

Simple. The Corporate Welfare Bums of the Entertainment Industry. The same people who would rather that the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States pursue copyright cases, rather than important things like Identity Theft. The same people who are attempting to block artists from using new business models like Torrent Sites, so that the consumer has no other place to get their entertainment. The same companies who claim to care about the artists, but regularly cheat them. The same people who encourage their representatives to use Lies of Omission so that citizens don’t know who is being represented in blog posts arguing for anti-consumer legislation to be introduced.

And then of course we have The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers sending a letter to it’s members asking for money to use to lobby against the Creative Commons Licenses, and when they are called on the issue, saying that they don’t want to talk about it. ASCAP is a collection society, which supposedly works for the artists, however in common with other collection societies it now appears to believe that it owns the artists, because it is trying to block them from maximizing their earning potential in ways that ASCAP does not make any money from.

This is just the start of the attack on the Creative Common Licenses. It is similar to the attacks that have been made on the Free and Open Source Software licenses over the last ten years, and made for the same anti-competitive reasons.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Tuesday August 31, 2010

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