Songwriting & Music Publishing

ASCAP Attacks Creative Commons, The EFF & Advocates Of Free Music

"our biggest challenge ever."

Last week ASCAP sent a fund raising letter to its members launching a campaign to counter the efforts of  the country's most vocal advocates of copyright reform.

image from "Many forces including Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation and technology companies with deep pockets are mobilizing to promote 'Copyleft' in order to undermine our 'Copyright.' 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."

"music will dry up"

"…We fear that our opponents are influencing Congress against the interests of music creators. If their views are allowed to gain strength, music creators will find it harder and harder to make a living as traditional media shifts to online and wireless services. We all know what will happen next: the music will dry up, and the ultimate loser will be the music consumer."


The attack on Creative Commons is particularly puzzling since use of it's licenses are fully voluntary and act as additional rights of use tools on top of the very copyright laws that ASCAP says it is fighting to maintain.

Creative Common's responds:

“It’s very sad that ASCAP is falsely claiming that Creative Commons works to undermine copyright” Eric Steuer of Creative Commons told ZeroPaid. “Creative Commons licenses are copyright licenses – plain and simple, without copyright, these tools don’t even work. CC licenses are legal tools that creators can use to offer certain usage rights to the public, while reserving other rights. Artists and record labels that want to make their music available to the public for certain uses, like noncommercial sharing or remixing, should consider using CC licenses. Artists and labels that want to reserve all of their copyright rights should absolutely not use CC licenses.”

Many tens of thousands of musicians, including acts like Nine Inch Nails, the Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Radiohead, and Snoop Dogg, have used Creative Commons licenses to share with the public. These musicians aren’t looking to stop making money from their music. In fact,” Steuer added, “many of the artists who use CC licenses are also members of collecting societies, including ASCAP. Incidentally, that’s how we first heard about this email campaign – many musicians that support Creative Commons received the email and forwarded it to us. Some of them even included a donation to Creative Commons.”

Share on:


  1. Regardless where you stand on this, music won’t dry up. Maybe the people who received a bigger royalty check last year than this will modify their creation habits. People do things for many reasons, some people make music to make money. I suppose that could dry up a bit. But plenty of people will still make music.

  2. ‘ could dry up a bit ‘ stone me Chris this will please pro musos, earning a living at playing music is a hard one…John Shaw

  3. Three words would have made the difference: “Many forces including (THE MISUSE OF) Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation and technology companies with deep pockets are mobilizing to promote ‘Copyleft’ in order to undermine our ‘Copyright.’
    ASCAP is correct. Technology companies are pretending to represent the consumer just like the RIAA tried in the past to pretend to represent artists. When a technology company has the use of creative commons to obtain content as part of their business model (as in making $$$), then they are steal and/or using undue influence over artists who will trade in potential awareness for their protected copyrights. Once the company starts profiting yet still does not intend to pay any royalties, then they are guilty of theft and undue influence. Period.
    Also, you can not use artists like the Beastie Boys or Radiohead to make a point about anything related to this topic. Their livings and earnings are secure and they have vast ways of monetizing their time spent creating, performing and making appearances. Those who are not millionaires need the protection(!); hence, the misuse or creative commons is an absolute threat to the creative community and requires very strong rules and regulations tied to the earnings of any company profiting from content they did not create themselves.

  4. Dudes, wake the f**k up. There is no logical way artists can continue to sell their music even if they wanted to. Look at the facts. 1. Unless you are known, making a lot of money from your music is almost impossible with current promotional methods available online(spam). Thus, giving your music away for free can many times be the best promotion. Also, no one is going to buy something they haven’t heard, especially from someone they don’t know. 2. Say you do get huge. There is a 100% chance that someone is going to pirate your music. Screw creative commons..people are straight up stealing songs!! Sure it’s not what SHOULD happen, but it IS happening nevertheless. So, thinking rationally about the reality of piracy, it’s safe to say that it won’t just go away. The logical solution would be for artists to give their music away for free to their fans directly. If they did this, there would be no reason to go to a torrent and risk getting a virus. Then the artists could FINALLY track ALL of their fans, for the first time since the early 90’s, and artists could then use these “hits” to their site to get ad revenue. The only other problem is effective promotion for new and unknown talents. Turns out this is as simple as a social recommendation engine, where if I like something enough to save into my playlist, it automatically gets sent to anyone following me, who would share a taste in music with me. If they like, they pass it on too. Let’s use our social networks and this force of “piracy” and file sharing to fuel results for artists. WE NEED TO BE IN REALITY HERE. THERE’S NO GOING BACK ON PIRACY. TRADITIONAL MODELS WILL NEVER WORK AGAIN. FREE IS THE ONLY OPTION FOR ARTISTS TO MAINTAIN ACTUAL HEALTHY CAREERS IN MUSIC.
    I’ve designed a model like the one I’ve described above. It’s called Beat-Play. will be up in beta in little under 3 weeks. Change is coming, but it has NOTHING to do with ASCAP. They don’t care about artist’s rights. They care about collecting money for their most popular, and most played artists only. They’re not a fair organization to their artists. They are not team players. They throw their power around to intimidate people because they’ve never lost in court, and when they do win, the artist they were fighting for keeps none of the money gained. They spend most of their contract money on lawyers and then go looking for people to sue. AND their methods for tracking plays is laughable. They have about 300 employees in charge of all the media in the US, including TV, Radio(satellite,FM,AM), Public Venues, and the Web. Countless artists have complained about not getting paid for all of their plays. What is there to stick up for? You fighting a losing battle. Go home, realize it’s over, forget everything you knew about the music industry, and start over with a fresh head. We need solutions that will work in this new landscape we are in right now. It’s not going to encompass anything we’ve seen before. It might not be comfortable for some, but it will work in this environment, and that is the most important thing. You can hate the idea of it all you want, but why spin your tires. Nothing else will work except free anymore, but that doesn’t mean that the artists can’t get paid fairly, or even better than they are now, and in my model, the artists retain full control over every aspect of their careers, including full rights ownership, with the right tools to license their music however they want. The key to the future of music is options for artists. Labels, Collection Agencies, Retail Distribution Deals with Lawyer Fees, Expensive promotion: It’s all out the window. The internet is free, easy, and viral. Get with the times, or don’t bother.

Comments are closed.