Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Copyright Alliance Thinks It's Bob Marley

Bob Marley’s classic song “One Love” begins:

One love, one heart
Let's get together and feel all right

Hear the children crying (One love)
Hear the children crying (One heart)
Sayin', "Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right."
Sayin', "Let's get together and feel all right."

The Copyright Alliance apparently thinks it is channeling Marley’s spirit with its just announced “one voi©e” program to mark the first anniversary of its buffoonish existence. I have previously commented about the clown-like efforts of this group to spread the gospel of ever stronger rights under the guise of "education." But rather than quietly slink away into the shadows from whence it came, the Alliance has attempted to prove it really really is doing something, this time by celebrating its own anniversary. The alliance’s website proudly pronounced yesterday:

“The Copyright Alliance was formed with the singular purpose of serving as a collective voice and advocate on behalf of the 11 million Americans whose livelihoods depend on the principle of copyright,” said Executive Director Patrick Ross. “I can think of no better way to mark this milestone than to launch an effort to bring more individual voices to the discussion.” The Alliance is launching the “one voi©e ” outreach campaign that encourages creators to join the Alliance and “Create your work. Define yourself. Protect your copyrights.” The campaign will include both targeted online outreach and a new presence at key trade shows, festivals and other annual events throughout the year. Individuals who join the effort will have access to a network of other creators concerned about copyright via an interactive members-only web site. The site will also provide helpful resources and information about copyright to creators with questions. The first stops for the “one voi©e” campaign will include the National Music Publishers’ Association Annual Meeting in New York City in June. Also on the agenda is the Annual Americana Music Association Conference in Nashville in September. Other dates and locations will be added.

One wonders whether the Alliance is contemplating something like the “Straight Talk Express,” and is launching a tour that will meander its way across this great country, charming hard-bitten, cynical authors with its mission of truth, education, and values, Good American values like protecting copyright for large corporations. Perhaps, evangelical-like, Mr. Ross will leap out into the crowds that are sure to form around the bus wherever it appears, invite everyone to form a circle, join hands, and then lead authors in the Alliance mantra: "Create your work. Define yourself. Protect your copyrights,” followed by a (licensed) performance of Marley's "One Love Song." Overcome with emotions, authors will start to talk in tongues, and of course sign up to become members of this new church.

Leaving aside the painfully juvenile use of © in voi©e, the math used by the Alliance challenges even the math used by the IIPA in its annual country “piracy” reports. Did 11 million artists really sign up to be members of the Alliance? Clearly not. Instead the Alliance counts all those who joined other groups that then joined the Alliance, like ASCAP and BMI where composers have to join to receive performance royalties. This is like saying every employee of News Corporation is a Republican because Rupert Murdoch is. How about Madonna, who left her label to sign with a concert promoter? How about Paul McCartney who signed with Starbucks? How about all of the performers who protested in 1999 and 2000 about the RIAA’s sneaking in a change to the work for hire provisions so that artists could then be denied their termination of transfer right, or the artists who also protested RIAA’s efforts to stop them from filing for bankruptcy? How about the television writers who went on strike last winter? The list could go on a very long time. One voice indeed.

One could take the position that if all the member organizations of the Alliance want waste money on such an absurd entity, who cares? But there is one group that might care: all those 11 million individual creators who are paying for it.


EngineerScotty said...

What would be more useful, I think, would be an organization consisting *solely* of creators (songwriters, composers, recording artists, screenwriters, authors, etc.)--without all the various sharks who often claim to represent the artists' interests, but frequently act against those interests. (In other words, PROs, record labels, distributors, publishing houses, etc).

I strongly suspect that an organization which represented the interests of artists and artists alone--would focus its attention (and possibly wrath) on entities other than consumers.

William Patry said...

Hi Scott, I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

Would not speaking with the one voi(c)e in tongues, if fixed in a tangible medium, amount to an unauthorized translation, and a violation of the 106(2) right to prepare derivative works?

Joel West said...

That would be "it's Bob Marley", not "its".

Anonymous said...

Well, I thouroughly support copyright, and violation of any right should be considered illegal.

But I know that present copyright act of USA needs a lot of reform.

I wrote about copyright act here while having a debate with some people from Mises Institute.

Violation of Copyright is Illegal!.

Have a look!


William Patry said...

Freesoul, your comment: "Well, I thoroughly support copyright, and violation of any right should be considered illegal," is circular. You are saying. "Any violation of law is illegal." OK, but the question what do we want our laws to be, and, even with respect to existing laws, how far do those laws go.