Welcome to the website of the Creators' Copyright Coalition. We at the CCC are committed to access to our creative works just as we are committed to copyright: we work for copyright legislation that ensures both. Here on our op-ed pages we will be posting opinion, commentary, links, and news of interest to creators and others engaged in copyright reform. Elsewhere, you'll find our archive of studies, handbooks and press releases. And while we're not currently hosting a discussion forum, comments sent to us may be posted or noted here (unless you ask us not to).

Rights of the Dead

By Christopher Moore | December 19, 2005

John Perry Barlow, the American electronic freedom guru, is presented to us as the former lyricist for the Grateful Dead. What rock banks have lyricists? one asks churlishly, but no matter. It sounds more imposing than “he used to be a songwriter.”

Barlow has always used The Grateful Dead as exemplars of his vision for the extinction of intellectual property.

If you did not hear The Dead live, you did not hear them. As a performance band, rarely performing the same song the same way twice, the Dead prospered on performance revenues. They encouraged fans to make and circulate their own tapes of Dead music. The more people heard Dead tapes, the more they flocked to Dead shows.

Here was the root of Barlow’s vision for creative work. Give it away, and you will make a living somewhere else. This gradually became strengthened into policy proposals. In the new digital universe, you must give it away; you must consent to have it appropriated. You can make your living somewhere else, though just how is not our problem. Hey, it works for the Grateful Dead. Who are you to question it.?

Today, the Grateful Dead no longer tour. (Not from losing John Perry Barlow, more from losing Jerry Garcia.) Since the band no longer tours, it no longer has concert income.

The Dead still feel they ought to be rewarded for the value they still give us. Now that they no longer have concert revenue, they want to live on the proceeds of their music. And selling rights to their music has puts them in conflict with the Deadhead ethic of “Grateful Dead music belongs to us.”

So far the Deadheads have won this conflict. The Dead, after a generation of encouraging rip and burn, are finding it hard to defend their right to sell rights to their music, rather than having it continue to be appropriated. For them, Barlow’s future is already, well, dead: they can’t get paid for their work and they don’t have alternate revenues from it.

Probably the Grateful Dead and their survivors have a certain sufficiency set aside. But their examples demonstrates again what the Barlow rules mean to a lot of artists. Deprived of rights to their own work (even as it goes on being shared and appreciated), they will simply be plundered of the value they have contributed.

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Price of Music

By Op-Ed Editor | December 8, 2005

Interesting piece in Slate.com, asking why music downloads should all be 99 cents.

Suggests there could be a download market like the stock market. A tune in high demand would see its price rise. Price of tunes few wanted would go way down.

Why? Well, it lets demand set the price, is the economics-theory part. (Consider live music: you pay hundreds of dollars to see a superstar band in an arena, but get the local group in an intimate bar setting for the price of a drink. ) But more, demand-priced downloads might encourage diversity in music. If obscure, low-demand music were cheap, there’d be more incentive to seek it out.

Given digital media’s growing love of monopolies — one dominant operating system, one dominant search-engine, one dominant iTunes, two digital tv systems, two sat-radio systems — anything that suppports diversity sounds good.

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More Heather

By Op-Ed Editor | December 6, 2005

If copyright were ever simple, Robertson v. The Globe and Mail would be dead simple. They stole the rights, they get hammered.

But copyright never is. And this Supreme Court of Canada has been cobbling together an interpretation of copyright law that is both user-friendly and creator-hostile.

In cases like Thiverge, the Supreme Court seems to have begun theorizing that since creators really create for the sheer love of it and can live happily on air and arts grants, there’s no social benefit created when the law respects or protects creators’ economic rights. On that looney theory, you could imagine them supporting the Globe’s right to plunder creators’ rights.

It would be a kamikaze victory for the publishers. If the Court gives the publishers a win, it will be by creating a new user’s right: essentially, the right to take copyright material without payment or permission. Vis-a-vis creators, publishers are users, of course, and they would love to have this freedom reinforced by the courts.

But whatever the SCC provides will be used by end-users against publishers.

In their eagerness to plunder creators, the publishers may be setting up the conditions for their own plundering.

Of course the Court could save the publishers from themselves by giving Robertson et al a big win. Here’s hoping.

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Heather Robertson at the Supreme Court

By Op-Ed Editor | December 5, 2005

Tuesday, December 6, 2005, Robertson v. Globe and Mail opens at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Years ago Heather Robertson sold first serial rights to a story to the Globe. The Globe appropriated the electronic rights without payment or permission and began offering them for sale on its digital services.

So simple a transgression has required a decade of legal action by a class action group representing all freelancers who have ever had their rights abused by their publishers. Heather keeps winning, but the delaying tactics never end. Finally it has reached the highest court.

Good luck Heather. More tomorrow.

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