Friday, February 13, 2009

Techdirt reveals ASCAP plan to 'shut up' 'copy left/free culture pontificators'

Back on January 26, Techdirt carried the alarming news that ASCAP was "Working To Shut Up Free Culture Supporters." The origin of this revelation was a short item in Digital Music News reporting that ASCAP had organized a lunch meeting "to discuss a number of top issues" including:
licensing and rate proceedings in the digital area, the new Congress, and working together to counter the growing prevalence of the "copy left/free culture" pontificators in the public discourse about creators rights.
Some argued that "working together" to "counter" those with whom it disagrees is exactly what an organization like ASCAP is supposed to do -- and has nothing to to with "shut[ting] up" anyone else. But Techdirt boldly held its ground.

Today, in a follow-up post, Techdirt has finally got the goods on the big ASCAP shut-up plan. Ready? Are you sitting down? Here it is (citing Digital Media News):
Their [ASCAP's] latest move was to send out an email to members with links to various articles and commentaries that try to undermine Lessig's ideas.
So there you have it: ASCAP is out to "shut up" its ideological opponents by sending out an email with links to articles and commentaries that support its point of view! And criticize a book by a law professor with different views on copyright law! Scary! Perhaps next week, in another bold move to silence the copyleft, they will organize a panel discussion on issues that affect songwriters and publishers. And my super-secret ASCAP sources tell me that the final stage of the "shut up the copyleft" strategy consists of drafting an op-ed to run in Billboard. With all this shutting-up going on, it's a miracle ASCAP is even allowing Techdirt to go on publishing...


  1. To date, I have yet to see you (not once) actually quote me in context, and not totally blow out of proportion what I said.

    Please stop taking my statements out of context.

    No one said that this was all that ASCAP was doing. No one said that this was ASCAP's full plan. But this does show a trend. Start with the lunch. Move on to disparaging emails. You think that's all they'll do? You think that we shouldn't speak up when we see ASCAP working against the best interests of its members?

    I have asked you in the past to stop misrepresenting our position. I see the need to ask you to do so once again. I am finding I need to do this on every single post you do, which is a rather stirring statement about your credibility on these matters.

    Of course, I half expect that you won't post this. I find it amusing, by the way, that so many of the folks who run blogs in support of copyright insanity feel the need to moderate every comment. So afraid that people might call you on your misstatements? So afraid to deal in an actual open conversation?

  2. Here was the entire headline to the original Techdirt post: "ASCAP Working To Shut Up Free Culture Supporters."

    Here's the link to the post:

    Everyone is free to read the entire thing, and can judge for themselves whether anything I quoted from Techdirt is taken out of context.

    I didn't misrepresent anything. I simply pointed out how absurd it was to accuse ASCAP of acting to "shut up" anyone. Your follow-up post only confirms how ludicrous the "shut up" characterization was, and remains.

  3. Mr. Masnick continues to misunderstand that the ASCAP vs. Free Culture arguments are not about economic theory, but about what each group believes should be the scope of copyright law. What Mr. Masnick perhaps fails to fully appreciate is that under either circumstance of this legal discussion copyright law would remain an important part of our system of laws, and in this regard both positions are inimicable to his economic theory arguments.

  4. Just to be clear, Masnick has stated that he prefers a world without copyright law (though he concedes that's not "practical or reasonable"):

    "While I do feel that in the end, we'd probably be better off without copyright law, I do not think it's practical or reasonable that it will be aboloshed [sic]. So I'm more than willing to hope for reforms that take it in the right direction, and lead those who rely on it as a crutch that they need not to so."

  5. Mr. Scheffner,

    I fully agree with your comment, which is why I referenced that under either copyright approach it would still leave a legal regime that per his economic theory is totally unnecessary, hinders "innovation" (as he defines it), and should be eliminated with all deliberate speed. The foregoing is likewise true with regard to patent law.

    What I do find curious is that he is not opposed to trade secrets. Since progress within Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 contemplates the disclosure of information in a timely manner, it is difficult to reconcile his lack of opposition with his views regarding patents and copyrights.

    M. Slonecker


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