Perhaps that title is a little mean-spirited. Just by a smidgen. I think it’s well-deserved though, especially considering the latest letter that makes this debate seem like an argument on a web forum. I was going to post a follow-up to my own opinion pieces to help clarify the position of Creative Commons / Free Culture, but I felt Lawrence Lessig did that just fine on his own. And now we have this to contend with.
Here’s a quick summary:
- ASCAP said that “copyleft” advocates are trying to undermine copyright, and asked for donations to eliminate the Free Culture Movement
- The Free Culture Movement collectively fired back and pointed out that the purpose of most Creative Commons Licenses is to allow people to use other works without mountains of red tape. Case in point, this podcast is only alive because of music deemed “podsafe”; if I were to shoot a documentary, I would be able to use music by a wide variety of artists because of their generosity without having to get permission from some corporation.
- Lawrence Lessig challeneged ASCAP’s President Paul Williams to an open debate, in part to try and clear the air.
- Williams has now said that attempts are being made to silence him by “copyleft” proponents.
This situation is just downright nutty. Anyway my stance is now this: I respect ASCAP’s position in that it simply wants to protect its artists and members. However, the organization is grossly misinformed when it comes to the core purpose behind the Free Culture movement, and is acting accordingly (read: like a big baby). I think a healthy debate would have saved Paul Williams from looking like an absolute dick. Maybe he should talk to Wil Wheaton?