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ASCAP Refuses To Debate Lessig

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the as-do-I dept.

The Internet 183

An anonymous reader writes "Back in June ASCAP oddly declared war on free culture, specifically calling out Creative Commons, EFF and Public Knowledge, making a number of false statements about all three. The war of words continued as the three groups responded politely, pointing out the errors in the statement from ASCAP's Paul Williams. Larry Lessig wrote a blog post where he asked Williams to debate these topics, saying that it might help if they could get away from making false statements. Williams has now publicly declined to debate saying that it's not worth his time, and once again attacking these groups for trying to 'silence' him. It's difficult to see how a request for a public discussion and debate is an attempt to silence, but that's ASCAP's position and they're sticking to it."

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Silence him? (5, Funny)

_0rm_ (1638559) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063410)

SIILEEENCE!!! I keel you.

Oblig movie quote (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064422)

What's this bullshit? I don't fuckin' care! It don't matter to [Larry]! But you're not foolin' me, man. You might fool the fucks in the league office, but you don't fool the [Larry]. This bush league psyche-out stuff. Laughable, man - ha ha! I would have fucked you in the ass Saturday. I fuck you in the ass next Wednesday instead. Wooo! You got a date Wednesday, baby!

Debates are almost worthless (4, Insightful)

IICV (652597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063412)

To be fair, no debate in the history of the world has ever actually changed the truth of any matter. Arguments and legislation should be based on published literature and statistics, not on who is the better orator.

That being said, I'm sure they're refusing because they know Lessig would kick ass. His position is well thought-out and basically unimpeachable, while theirs is untenable and distasteful.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (5, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063458)

His position is well thought-out and basically unimpeachable, while theirs is untenable and distasteful.

Wouldn't that come out in a debate?

Also, I think you'll find that arguments and legislation have "changed the truth" exactly as frequently as debates have: never.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (2, Informative)

IICV (652597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063556)

Wouldn't that come out in a debate?

Presumably yes, which (I imagine) is why they don't want to debate him. Seriously, listen to some of his stuff - it's very well thought out.

Also, I think you'll find that arguments and legislation have "changed the truth" exactly as frequently as debates have: never.

Of course they haven't, and I didn't mean to imply that legislation is capable of changing the truth. The truth exists independently of the positions we may take in an argument or the laws we might pass. That's why (as I said) the laws we pass and positions we take in an argument should be based on published (scientific) literature and well-reviewed statistics, not on ideology or dogma. I'm a proponent of evidence-based legislation, just like most doctors nowadays are proponents of evidence-based medicine [wikipedia.org] . Unfortunately it seems like modern politicians think that's a bad idea for some reason.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (4, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063998)

Unfortunately it seems like modern politicians think that's a bad idea for some reason.

Because you can't just throw "science" or "evidence" at real world problems and get an unambiguously optimal answer. First of all, to have an unambiguously better answer you need to have metrics. And right there, the problem is already impossible - people can't even agree on what the metrics are. Some people value freedom, others value health, others value economic prosperity, others value comfort and leisure. That's the whole reason why we have different ideologies in the first place.

This is what we have here. Lessig values culture, the ASCAP value money for their members. Even with robot-like logical reasoning and clairvoyant wisdom, both sides are going to utterly fail at convincing the other.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1, Flamebait)

cacba (1831766) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064138)

you can't just throw "science" or "evidence" at real world problems and get an unambiguously optimal answer.

Perfection doesnt exist, stop asking for it. Unless you live on a plane.

This is what we have here. Lessig values culture, the ASCAP value money for their members. Even with robot-like logical reasoning and clairvoyant wisdom, both sides are going to utterly fail at convincing the other.

They both value culture. ASCAP thinks a system that pays people to produce culture produces more/better culture. This is why evidence based legislature is beneficial, it forces attacking of policy rather than the people.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (5, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064204)

They both value culture.

Haha, good one!

ASCAP thinks a system that pays people to produce culture produces more/better culture.

Holy shit, you're serious... Look, I hate to break it to you, but no, they don't. ASCAP favors a system where they make money, and they think a system where they get paid more money is better than a system where they don't. The problem is that when a bunch of people who don't really produce anything (music industry executives) and make shit tons of money for it cry out that they can't afford an extra week in Cabo on their 3rd yacht until next quarter, normal people's overwhelming response is something to the effect of "go fuck yourself with hacksaw"... so instead they complain that it will be the end of Western Civilization if people extrapolate modern commodity technology to the logical end. A few of their arguments might have some merit, at least in the (very) short term, but for the most part they boil down to "if we do things differently, things won't stay the same, " which is a pretty lame argument for just about anything, if you think about it.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064304)

ASCAP doesn't represent music industry executives. They're still asshats, but they're not THOSE asshats. They claim to represent songwriters and composers, but there's a persistent claim that only the top-played ones get anything, and the little guy can go piss up a rope when he wants his (admittedly small) share.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (2, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064512)

"They're still asshats"

ASsCAPs /pedant

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1)

cacba (1831766) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064692)

I dont doubt that they are greedy but I doubt they disagree with the logic of patents [wikipedia.org] .

What they think doesnt matter, I agree that when patents economically beneficial they should be used. The logic is simple, I give up consumption today for more consumption later. A similar argument for copyrights exists.

As a consumer, I want IP to exist solely for selfish reasons. Do you not agree?

Re:Debates are almost worthless (4, Insightful)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064176)

Of course after this little tirade, ASCAP is getting heat from its members on crossing the line between what's good policy and what's just a plain out and out lie. ASCAP tried hardball with the EFF, and it has bit them in their fat asses. They are not talking about money for their members... which is where I think the debate would gravitate if that was indeed their core position. Evidence (mountains of it) has shown that ASCAP, RIAA, and MPAA are not concerned with members' rights and privileges. They are merely interested in lining their pockets. And judging by this latest ASCAP outburst, it seems they will stop at nothing to get it.

This isn't about entrenched opinions on what the Founders meant by "for a limited time". Even the Economist said copyright was about having control over your work. It was never meant to be a property right. Yet here we are. ASCAP should apologize and learn to stop resorting to the last-ditch style mudslinging that merely underlines the EFF's position in the matter. When losing, make shit up. When losing badly, insult the opponent.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064744)

When losing, make shit up. When losing badly, insult the opponent.

Sounds like the current (Progressive) Democratic party. *sigh*

Re:Debates are almost worthless (3, Informative)

ChaosDiscord (4913) | more than 4 years ago | (#33065276)

This isn't just a "different beliefs" situation. ASCAP's Paul Williams is stating outright falsehoods about the EFF and Creative Commons. (I hear he's also stating falsehoods about Public Knowledge, but I don't know enough to judge.) Their statements border on the insane. (EFF: "If an artist wants to share their music more widely, we offer tools to make it easy to share some, but not all of the rights." Williams: "The EFF wants to force you to give away your music for free!") I do agree that ASCAP is unlikely to change their public stance as a result of a debate or other discussion. They're either willfully ignorant or they are liars.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1, Interesting)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064086)

just like most doctors nowadays are proponents of evidence-based medicine

Were these the same doctors that were up in arms when a US council recommended women get fewer mammograms, after evidence showed that (even absent any cost argument!) the reduced frequency was just as effective at detecting breast cancer?

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1)

IICV (652597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064210)

Were these the same doctors that were up in arms when a US council recommended women get fewer mammograms, after evidence showed that (even absent any cost argument!) the reduced frequency was just as effective at detecting breast cancer?

Clearly not, by definition. That was a clear-cut case of the evidence saying one thing and some physicians wanting it to say another. It's not like physicians are some special breed of always-right human.

The thing is, that sort of thing is endemic in the US's medical practices. If a doctor performs an unnecessary CAT scan, the insurance company pays the financial cost and the patient pays the medical cost (a slightly elevated risk of cancer), all in the name of covering the doctor's ass. We don't follow best practices in the medical fields as much as we should, more's the pity.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (2, Interesting)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064248)

If by "doctors" you mean "journalists", I doubt it, as the GP wasn't talking about journalists. If you really meant "doctors" I suggest going back to that particular controversy and rereading what was actually said, by whom.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064212)

The truth exists independently of the positions we may take in an argument or the laws we might pass.

That's not entirely true. For example, I could say that it is illegal to smoke pot in the U.S. And that would be true until California takes a vote this November. Then, the truth will have changed; that statement is currently true, but no longer will be. Similarly, as this whole discussion is about copyright law, the law does, indeed, play a role, though it is unlikely that any change in the law would be sufficient to make ASCAP's statements in this matter even remotely true.

Either way, it's pretty clear that ASCAP's Paul Williams is either an idiot or a bald-faced liar, and no changes in copyright law will ever change that. Does anybody know if there's a mechanism for ASCAP members to make a motion of no confidence? I'd love to help start that process, but I'm not really familiar enough with ASCAP's governance to know where to begin.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1, Insightful)

Macrat (638047) | more than 4 years ago | (#33065400)

That's not entirely true. For example, I could say that it is illegal to smoke pot in the U.S. And that would be true until California takes a vote this November. Then, the truth will have changed; that statement is currently true, but no longer will be.

Nothing that California does changes federal law that pot is illegal.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063642)

"Also, I think you'll find that arguments and legislation have "changed the truth" exactly as frequently as debates have: never."

Well... for some definitions of truth.

Just the most obvious: the truth is you can copy and share music and films as much as you want as long as there is no direct positive economical gain, and not, minored expenditures or alleged financial damage doesn't count; it's called the private copy right. That's the truth... in Spain. In USA a piece of legislation has changed that truth (and, of course, the SGAE -Spanish RIAA-like, is trying to change it in Spain too).

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33065112)

Just the most obvious: the truth is you can copy and share music and films as much as you want as long as there is no direct positive economical gain, and not, minored expenditures or alleged financial damage doesn't count; it's called the private copy right. That's the truth... in Spain. In USA a piece of legislation has changed that truth (and, of course, the SGAE -Spanish RIAA-like, is trying to change it in Spain too).

Ah, American culture... the one thing we in the USA still export.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (3, Insightful)

cream wobbly (1102689) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063848)

Religion would like you to know that truth is what it says it is.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (2)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064058)

> Wouldn't that come out in a debate? Not necessarily. What happens in a debate is much more about who is a better speaker and who can martial better sounding (note not better- important difference!) arguments than anything connected to truth. This is strongly the experience I got from debating in highschool for example, and from helping judge debates in college. One sees this also in the real world in some other contexts such as how creationists often do surprisingly well against mainstream scientists. The creationists haven't done science but have prepared to sound good and have lots of nice sounding arguments. One common tactic for example is the so-called Gish Gallop http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop#Debates [wikipedia.org] where a large number of arguments are presented in a rapid fire fashion and explaining why any given one of them is wrong takes a lot of time.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (2)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064200)

That was one reason why I didn't like my universities philosoph society.

From my point of view it was like watching children argue.

Even compared to the shittiest internet debates it was pitiful, people would throw out a string of bad points and then carry the crowd because only the last one would get challenged.
People would throw out obvious fallacies and appeals to emotion without challenge.

And yet people would talk about how high quality the philosoph debated supposedly were.

Debates like that, in front of a crowd with only a few people talking and no clear record of what's being said and no time for people to formulate effective arguments against bad points do nothing to find truth, they merely let you know who is better at composing poetic pros on the fly.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064860)

they merely let you know who is better at composing poetic pros on the fly.

In other words, the only winners are poetic prose pros?

Re:Debates are almost worthless (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063524)

ASCAP has nothing to gain and everything to lose by debating Dr Lessig. Organizations like ASCAP, RIAA, etc act with impunity because they don't have a face. There's nobody to identify - there's nobody to criticize. They like to stay in the shadows and let their lawyers do their work, and the lawyers can claim that they're just "representing their client" so you can't even point to them.

I'm sure that Mr Williams from ASCAP would just as soon never have been identified as being associated with ASCAP because now this faceless organization has a face. I'm surprised that he even made those idiotic public statements because usually those things are put forth by press releases from PR firms who can also claim removal from the actual organization. Most people don't even know that ASCAP exists, much less what they actually do. Their main goal was to create FUD about "anti-copyright extremists" and "pirates" and "hackers" and "terrorists" and then come across as an honorable organization that's standing strong against the worst elements of society.

I don't think we'll be hearing a lot more from Mr Williams, much less seeing him stand up to Dr Lessig's examination of ASCAP's statements and behavior.

Chicken! (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063922)

They are just chicken.

Professor Lessig would chew them up and spit them out. I saw him debate Jack Valenti and it was clearly an uneven match.

You are right, they have nothing to gain with such a mismatch.

Putting a face on an organization... (2, Interesting)

TheEyes (1686556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064198)

...isn't usually a problem; in fact it's usually a benefit. Maybe in other countries it is impossible to hate someone who never showed his face, but in the US it actually makes things easier. Whatever your political affiliation, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to disparage a group is to attach the words "big" or "faceless" to it. "Big" government, "faceless" corporations, "big" labor, etc. People don't trust you unless you can show them your face; that why for example BP was so eager to get a spokesman in front of cameras (too bad for them he made a douche of himself, but the point stands.)

The problem with the ASCAP/RIAA et al. is that they simply don't have anyone they can trot out in front of a camera without it looking like a South Park cartoon [southparkstudios.com] . "Look, there's Lars now. [...] This month he was looking to have a gold-plated shark tank bar installed right next to his pool, but thanks to people downloading his music for free, he must now wait a few months before he can afford it." Hollywood has spent decades highlighting the rich and glamorous lives that their stars lead, with huge houses, fast cars, and all of that; now they've got to try to work against all their own marketing to tell us that these same artists are starving and they have to put ordinary blue collar workers into debt for the rest of their lives to support them.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064258)

Whenever I see 'ASCAP' after reading their ridiculous attack on Copyleft and free culture I now see 'ASSHAT'.

It's completely automatic now and I don't think I could stop even if I wanted to.

Which I don't. :)

Re:Debates are almost worthless (3, Funny)

onionman (975962) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064362)

What is this ASSCAP organization of which you speak?

Re:Debates are almost worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064648)

I think if you download something they drive by and pop a cap in yo ass.... or something...

Re:Debates are almost worthless (2, Interesting)

David Greene (463) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063568)

Arguments and legislation should be based on published literature and statistics, not on who is the better orator.

We would all like that to be true, but in the real world, statistics don't count for much when trying to pass legislation. Nor does oratory skill. They are useful to support a position but power does not react to statistics or oratory. Power reacts to power. Statistics and oratory can support power but they are not power in and of themselves.

The reason Williams can decline a debate is that ASCAP has a tremendous amount of power and Lessig has little, if any. ASCAP has nothing to lose by declining debate. Until Lessig (or someone else holding favorable views) can put an army of people in the room, including influential legislators, there's not much we're going to be able to do.

Unfortunately, geeks and nerds tend to not understand this fundamental political truth. It's not about what's objectively right. That has almost no worth in politics. It's about who you can influence.

There are other ways to build power than by raising boatloads of money, though money is necessary. The very first step is to convince ordinary people that your position is in their self-interest and is important enough to spend time and money on. That in itself takes a rather large amount of skill, time and patience.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (2, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064344)

Unfortunately, geeks and nerds tend to not understand this fundamental political truth. It's not about what's objectively right. That has almost no worth in politics. It's about who you can influence.

We understand. It's just not where our skills lie. Which means our interests will go effectively unrepresented on every issue. Which in my mind calls into question the legitimacy of the whole process; why should I accept the legitimacy of a process where I automatically lose every time?

The very first step is to convince ordinary people that your position is in their self-interest and is important enough to spend time and money on. That in itself takes a rather large amount of skill, time and patience.

If you can pull that off, you're eligible for sainthood. Because it's not just hard; it requires a fucking miracle. Particularly when your opponents ARE the media.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33065036)

In politics, it's pretty clear that if your opponent won't come to the debate, you've gotta have the debate anyway. And you've got to advertise the hell out of it even more. Fill the room with people and they still don't show up, you win by default. Win enough like that and you'll force them to come to the next one.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063692)

In order to have a worthwhile debate you need to have a host who is interesting in the truth and has control over the microphones. The host asks each guest to state their overall position, with limited time. Then the host identifies and lists where each of the guests appear to be *agree*. The guests are given the opportunity to make objections to the host's interpretation of what the guests agree on, but he must cut off either guest if they go off-track and start talking about disagreement. Once agreement has been established, *then* the host can turn to disagreement. The host identifies the disagreement and presents the objection of one guest to the other, who is given an opportunity to respond to the objection, the other guest may then get an opportunity to rescind or defend their position, *then the host moves on* to the next objection. Some time later the host asks the guests if he missed anything, and they are each given a timed period to present any objections that have been missed. Perhaps another round of discussion on the missed objections occurs. Finally, the host offers a summary on what was discussed, what was agreed on, which positions were settled as misunderstandings or whatever, and finally the host makes a determination of which guest presented the best argument, scored the most points or persuaded the host the best.

 

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063700)

No important debate in the history of the world has ever thought it was changing the truth of a matter; that's not the point of a debate. The point of a debate is to find the truth of a matter.

Some are successful in a debate because they are armed with rational, reasoned points and the ability to articulate them. Others are successful because they are charismatic and are great at obfuscating the truth. Surely you don't want people to just stop debating altogether however, just because some people are slick talkers? There are many problems with our recent political system, but lack of debate isn't on the list. Things aren't debated at all, anymore.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1)

IICV (652597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063868)

Yes sorry I kinda misspoke there. No debate in the history of the world has ever really found the truth of a matter.

Saying "we'll have a debate to see which side is true" is exactly equivalent to saying "we'll have a boxing match to see which side is true" - the outcome doesn't depend the truth, and it is no better than the ancient tradition of trial by combat [wikipedia.org] . The only difference is that instead of fists, orators use words.

The only result we get from a debate is which side is better at debating, not which side is closer to the truth. The only system we've found so far that reliably leads us closer to the truth is our modern evidence-based scientific method, which is why I was (perhaps obliquely) pushing that in my original post.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (2, Insightful)

vbraga (228124) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064098)

I found your position interesting.

How would you apply an evidence-based method to what's fundamentally a subjective debate like law? What's truth in legislation? Legislation is the normatization of competition rules between social groups. What truth can be found on it?

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063870)

His position is well thought-out and basically unimpeachable...

And like most statements of fact, it has no chance against irrational dogma.. Same as politics in general. Debates are for historians. The fight for freedom will always remain just that, a fight, usually with guns... or at least a billy club.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064294)

Arguments and legislation should be based on published literature and statistics, not on who is the better orator.

Ah, so they should be based on who can control the literature.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064444)

"His position is well thought-out and basically unimpeachable, while theirs is untenable and distasteful."

Well, yeah, but when one guy is telling the other "No, actually that isn't what I believe", and the other one keeps repeating it anyway, any debate is pretty futile regardless of the respective positions or their ability to debate.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064496)

debate in the history of the world has ever actually changed the truth of any matter. Arguments and legislation should be based on published literature and statistics, not on who is the better orator."

Debate == Formal argument. What you are objecting to is rhetoric.

Re:Debates are almost worthless (1)

MacWiz (665750) | more than 4 years ago | (#33065520)

I'm an ASCAP member, so I got a copy of William's dodge-and-weave ahead of most of the rest of the world.

The greatest flaw in Williams' logic is that a Creative Commons license is adopted by the copyright owners. In the case of music, this would be the artists and songwriters. So basically, ASCAP has declared war on its own membership.

A debate is not really necessary to pick the winner of this argument.

Or to identify the fool.

He's made up his mind! (5, Funny)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063418)

Stop trying to confuse him with the facts!

quote (1, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063446)

First they ignore you.

Then they laugh at you.

Then they fight you.

Then you win.

Re:quote (5, Insightful)

David Greene (463) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063650)

This is only half-true, because the quote only talks about "they." It's missing what you have to do:

First they ignore you

Then you hold some public meetings

Then they laugh at you

Then you fill a room with 5,000 people

Then they fight you

Then you lobby legislators

Then you raise some money

Then you put 10,000 people in a room

Then you write a bill

Then you lobby legislators

Then you raise some money

Then you reintroduce the bill

Then you put 10,000 people in 500 rooms

Then you raise some money

Then you lobby legislators

Then you win

In other words, Margaret Mead was wrong.

Re:quote (4, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064298)

I assume you mean Gandhi, not Mead.

Or were you talking about mating habits in Samoa?

Re:quote (4, Funny)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063816)

Sir, I'm a lawyer representing the estate of Mohandas Karamchand "Mahatma" Gandhi. You owe us $75,000 for the right to use that quote in public or we will sue.

Re:quote (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064170)

First they ignore you.

Then they laugh at you.

Then a whole bunch of people laugh at you.

Then nobody professes an unironic love for disco ever again.

More likely explanation (4, Funny)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063466)

I suspect Lessig wanted the video of the debate available for all to see for free, and Williams wouldn't participate unless each viewer had to pay 3 cents to see it.

Re:More likely explanation (4, Funny)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064002)

I suspect Lessig wanted the video of the debate available for all to see for free, and Williams wouldn't participate unless each viewer had to pay 3 cents to see it.

Hell, I'd pay good money just to hear Larry say, "Welcome to my worthy opponent from... ASSsss. Cap."

Re:More likely explanation (2, Funny)

sstamps (39313) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064738)

ASCAP.. synonymous with buttplug, and about as nice smelling as a used one.

Re:More likely explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33065422)

ASsCAP? ...or Ass-Hat??

Idiot (4, Insightful)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063470)

ASCAP is going to become irrelevant as content producers such as authors move to distributing digitally exclusively so that they get more money from the purchase of their works.

Amazon gives authors of e-books 70% of purchase price? When I'm ready to publish I'll pay for software to produce content in a manner that Kindle users will be able to easily read my content and sit back and watch as either the $$$ roll in or the cob-webs collect (depending on if my content is any good). Either way, I'll already have moved on to my next project.

Re:Idiot (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063528)

And that's precisely why they're going this route. They know they're within a couple of decades of irrelevancy, at most, and need to get the same legislative protections that other media producers/purveyors/swindlers have achieved.

Re:Idiot (4, Informative)

N7DR (536428) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063914)

Amazon gives authors of e-books 70% of purchase price? When I'm ready to publish I'll pay for software to produce content in a manner that Kindle users will be able to easily read my content and sit back and watch as either the $$$ roll in or the cob-webs collect (depending on if my content is any good). Either way, I'll already have moved on to my next project.

Actually, if you're sensible, you'll first read the contract that Amazon requires you to sign. You may or may not decide after doing that that giving up substantial rights is worth seeing the material appear on a particular company's platform. Different authors have reached different conclusions on the matter.

Anent Amazon and the Kindle in particular, you may want to read: http://www.sfwa.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Amazon_digital_publication_distribution_agreement_annotated_v3_080329.pdf [sfwa.org] .

Re:Idiot (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064340)

Thanks for the link, I think I love you now though because you saved me a butt-load of headache. I wonder what the B&N contract is like. *googles*

Re:Idiot (3, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064438)

ASCAP is going to become irrelevant as content producers such as authors move to distributing digitally exclusively so that they get more money from the purchase of their works.

Unlikely. This suggests that you don't fully understand what ASCAP does. ASCAP does the following:

  • Collects money from radio stations that broadcast your work. Until radio dies, this will continue.
  • Collects blanket license fees from performance venues that are distributed to folks whose works are performed. This is unlikely to ever stop being important. Those performance venues make money because of live music, little of which goes to the performers. As such, pushing the burden of licensing onto them means that composers don't get paid, pure and simple. No direct sales system for composers selling copies of sheet music/lead sheets is going to change that.
  • Collects money from sale of audio CDs and distributes it to its membership. This will likely diminish to nothing pretty soon if it hasn't already.

Note that none of those have anything to do with performers selling works to the general public. Artists obtaining mechanical licenses so that they can record someone else's works do so either on a one-off basis through a contract or by going through HFA/Songfile or similar. ASCAP has nothing to do with that process whatsoever (except occasionally being a source of information when trying to find out who wrote a particular work). Similarly, artists selling works to the public neither license anything from ASCAP nor are members of ASCAP unless they are also composers or publishers.

Re:Idiot (1, Interesting)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064524)

You're right, I don't know, but they will become irrelevant despite all of that.

I know that ASCAP is supposed to facilitate those things, but what they are doing right now doesn't make any sense.

Open Source doesn't take money away from anyone. It never has and never will. People who participate any sort of copyleft (or even copyfree) licensing do so WILLINGLY. By equating the EFF and others like them with copyright infringers using bittorrent to illegally trade in the work will backfire on them and cause them to become irrelevant. If they want to win some real points, especially amongst the intelligencia, their arguments need to be based in reality. Ad hominem and other such logical fallacies used to attack them WILL eventually backfire. They will marginalize themselves because no one will become/remain a member just due to the bad press.

I CopyFree [copyfree.org] license all my work using the OWL [apotheon.org] just because I think it's DUMB to restrict my work. If I can make money off of it, fine. Otherwise, it probably stunk in the first place and I need to move on to the next project.

How do I make a living? With a little work and ingenuity.

Re:Idiot (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064742)

...what they are doing right now doesn't make any sense.

And as an organization run by the members, I suspect Mr. Williams won't be speaking for ASCAP much longer. The backlash by ASCAP members has been significant [techdirt.com] .

Re:Idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064862)

ASAP is not going to be irrelevant. They collect royalties on performances of my music, e.g. music used in TV shows. How would I as an independent composer have the time to track each and every broadcast where my music is used AND still be able to write music? I employ ASAP to do that for me and they do quite well.

debate = attempt to silence (5, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063474)

It's difficult to see how a request for a public discussion and debate is an attempt to silence

Simple.

  • War is peace
  • Freedom is slavery
  • Ignorance is strength

Re:debate = attempt to silence (0, Redundant)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063498)

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Re:debate = attempt to silence (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33063594)

I thought I had that book on my Kindle, but I was told that nobody ever had that book on their Kindle.

Re:debate = attempt to silence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33063668)

Snicker. I hope most people will get the joke but I'm not so sure these days.

Re:debate = attempt to silence (4, Informative)

Phroggy (441) | more than 4 years ago | (#33065606)

For those who missed it, Amazon screwed something up and determined that they couldn't sell "1984" on the Kindle, despite the fact that they had already been selling it, so they activated a remote-delete feature nobody knew they had, and removed the e-book from all of their customers' Kindles. Amazon soon resolved the original issue, then offered an apology and either a replacement or a check for $30 to affected customers. Had it been any other book, the whole thing wouldn't have been so ridiculously ironic...

Not doublespeak; just depends on your perspective (2, Insightful)

TheEyes (1686556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064252)

When Paul Williams is complaining about being potentially "silenced," he doesn't mean in the sense of being censored, or black-bagged or something. What he means is that Lessig, by offering to debate him and disprove his incoherent ramblings point by point, is preventing him from freely engaging the modern US press.

For anyone who hasn't been paying attention the past fifteen years, there are basically three different, slightly overlapping, journalistic spheres, all of whom I label by their derogatory names:
-The "liberal" media
-The "mainstream" media, and
-The "conservative" media

The "conservative" media consists of everything owned by Rupert Murdoch, a nationwide network of conservative talk radio hosts (Limbaugh, etc), and a few attack websites, like the one that posted that doctored video that got that poor woman fired last week. The "liberal" media consists of MSNBC, a few liberal talk show hosts, and a large network of liberal websites like MoveOn.org.

The liberal media basically exists to demonize and attack everything said by a Republican or by a member of the "conservative" media, and vice versa. Neither one cares about honest debate, or constructive discourse, or anything like that; all they care about is filtering out the facts that their audience doesn't want to hear, and only giving out the information that their audience does want to hear. This is why, for instance, every Republican congressman knew about that one case in Philadelphia where the New Black Panthers were accused of trying to keep a white man from voting through threat of violence, and being let off the hook by the Obama Justice Department, but none of them knew about the Minutemen trying to prevent Latino voters from voting by pointing guns at them, and being let off by the Bush Justice Department. Democrat congressmen, on the other hand, were all familiar with the Minutemen incident, but none at all knew about the New Black Panthers.

Given this climate, it's obvious why Paul Williams would be horrified about an invitation to debate: nobody would know about it! The "liberal" media wouldn't cover it, because it would risk their audience knowing who Paul Williams is, and the "conservative" media wouldn't cover it, because it would risk letting their audience know who Larry Lessig is. That's two-thirds of the press, gone, right off the bat.

Now, you ask, what about the "mainstream" media? Unfortunately, the "mainstream" media has, somehow, decided that journalists can't--or maybe shouldn't--influence the national discussion by injecting pesky things like facts or logic. Their job is to simply report on what the liberal talking heads are saying, then report on what the conservative talking heads are saying, and then try to tie them both into some kind of "narrative". Note how "facts" or "truth" don't come into play here; that's not the point. The mainstream media is "balanced," which to them means it doesn't matter if one side is right and the other side is wrong, or one side is lying and the other side is telling the truth. Their job is to simply report, to tell the story, not to inform anyone.

These are the people who told the story about WMDs in Iraq, and kept the story going until we were embroiled in a two-front war and ignoring the front that had Bin Laden in it. These are the people who told the story about Obama's rise to power, and kept it going until he won in a landslide. These are the people who talked about the health care "debate"--note the lack of any details about what was in the bill--and kept it going until we lost all hope of true reform. And these are the people who are telling the story about how Republicans are resurgent this year, and will keep telling it until they've taken over Congress, passed huge austerity measures, and, just like in 1937 when the Republicans started cutting spending in a big recession, plunge us into a double-dip, which last time we didn't really get out of (WWII was a weird situation all around economically speaking) until the US jacked income taxes to 90% and used the proceeds to build a national highway network.

Would these guys report on a debate between Paul Williams and Larry Lessig? Sure they would, but they'd take great care to make sure neither side's actual arguments saw any air time, only that there was a debate, and controversy--beautiful, beautiful controversy--was the result.

ASCrAP delenda est! (1)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063492)

Sic semper tyrannis ... and pathological liars. (With apologies to both Cato and Brutus for using their noble words to refer to pond scum. :-/)

Troll? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33063532)

How long before everyone just stops paying attention to him entirely? Seems like this has gone through the classic stages of a troll.

I thought (1)

DarkIye (875062) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063534)

I thought this was going to read like an angry old man having a good old confused fume about the modern day, but it actually seems like he thinks he's standing up for something here.

Re:I thought (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063844)

So do the flat earthers.

Re:I thought (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064006)

The letter was perfectly reasonable at its beginning -- the man was basically saying, "My job is to promote the financial interests of these people," which is at least honest. Then he says that a debate would be a waste of time, which is a bit insulting but not terrible as far as the things that copyright lobbyists say. Then he finishes the letter by saying that the copyleft movement seeks to silence criticism, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever given that he was responding to a challenge to a public debate, and is basically just an attempt to play the victim.

ASCAP should bury this guy before he makes them look any more desperate.

Interesting worldview... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063546)

Anyone who views an offer of debate as an "attempt to silence"(barring extreme cases like someone with a particularly mockable speech impediment, for which "debate" might well just involve having the crowd laugh at his expense. I'm assuming that you don't become head of ASCAP that way, though. Almost certainly a lawyer or business type who knows how to talk to a boardroom.) must see acting with impunity, and without external input, as their right be default, and thus the idea of someone else having equal footing becomes an attack, not simple justice.

It is rather like the fanatics of various stripes who scream that they are persecuted when they are not allowed to persecute others. Their worldview is warped so far toward themselves as the default, that any attempt to prevent them from harming others is seen as an assault on their rights.

Re:Interesting worldview... (2, Interesting)

MoeDumb (1108389) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064436)

" . . . barring extreme cases like someone with a particularly mockable speech impediment, for which "debate" might well just involve having the crowd laugh at his expense." Your observation reminds me of former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's speech impediment (mangling his "L's" by voicing them at the back of his throat rather than with tip of the tongue behind his top teeth). Rudy debated extensively and was never mocked for how he speaks. NBC newscaster Tom Brokaw has the same speech impairment. Jarring to the ears but it hasn't hurt him, either.

Re:Interesting worldview... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064534)

It is rather like the fanatics of various stripes who scream that they are persecuted when they are not allowed to persecute others. Their worldview is warped so far toward themselves as the default, that any attempt to prevent them from harming others is seen as an assault on their rights.

Exactly. Or in other words, the virulent mind-rotting disease previously only seen in American Teabaggers has started to metastasize. Ash recommends that you get an ax. :)

Help! (0, Redundant)

whoop (194) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063598)

Help! Help! I'm being reppressed!

For the last 20 years... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33063638)

Every time I see ASCAP I think "Ass cap" and chuckle inside.

They are who they purport to be.

Hee hee. Ass cap.

no need for debate (4, Insightful)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063696)

By choosing not to defend his statements in a debate Williams has shown that even he doesn't think they are worth talking about.

Trying to silence ASCAP / Williams? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33063708)

Wait a minute here. Who's trying to silence what? I am pretty sure that ASCAP is trying to silence the whole USA - or at least make it so that we can't perform songs live (like singing "happy birthday" in a restaurant) without paying a large and non-proportional fee (meaining you pay the same fee to sing happy birthday once as you do to have cover bands perform all weekend). I don't think it is Lessig and the EFF, et al trying to silence ASCAP / Williams. It is completely the other way around. Want to do Karaoke? Pay ASCAP. Want to sing happy birthday? Pay ASCAP. Want the radio on in a gym? Pay ASCAP. Again - who is really trying to silence who here?

Ugh. Debates. (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063732)

Aren't those typically "won" by the person who's most aggressive in attacking the opponent over and over again, never answering any questions?

I hope this debate never happens.

Re:Ugh. Debates. (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063984)

Don't confuse the "joint press conference structured for soundbites" that constitutes a modern political "debate" with actual structured debate. The former is useless, except as a venue for excesses of rhetoric. The latter can actually force people on both sides to come up with meaningful evidence and coherent arguments for their positions, and give the audience a solid basis for forming their own opinions.

That should read ... (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063824)

That should read "... ASCAP's position and with their heads firmly planted up their butts, they're sticking to it."

The problem with this... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33063912)

...Is it doesn't matter if what they say makes sense. They say it over and over, then they pay people in congress to repeat the same nonsense, then get laws passed based on it. It never has to make sense; it just needs people in power to repeat it like it is true on TV then pass and enforce whatever laws they are paid to.

I wouldn't debate Lessig either (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063916)

Would you want to debate Larry Lessig? I sure as hell wouldn't regardless of the subject or the positions taken. Williams may not be stupid but Lessig could sure make him look like he is.

Re:I wouldn't debate Lessig either (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064072)

Then perhaps ASCAP should find someone who can hold their ground in a debate against Lessig. I have a great deal of respect for him and his intellect, but it is absurd to think that he is the most intelligent person in the world, and I doubt that there are no equally intelligent people in the copyright lobby.

As others have pointed out, ASCAP has nothing to gain from a debate. They are not looking for publicity outside of the world of music production, and within that world they are already well known. They already have politicians catering to their every whim. Lessig is not well known outside of tech circles, he does not have the sort of political power ASCAP has, and a debate would only serve to increase the number of people who hear Lessig's arguments (or make no change at all -- in either case, ASCAP does not really win).

Re:I wouldn't debate Lessig either (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064822)

Perhaps one problem is that it takes quite a bit to overcome the clear realities in this debate. Williams' position on this matter is factually incorrect, and intelligent discussion can't change this. If Lessig were to wish to go there, he could probably present a decent argument that ASCAP is actually undermining copyright themselves. You are correct that ASCAP would get no benefit, because when the facts are looked at, it will become evident that ASCAP's claims are false.

ASCAP (1)

JxcelDolghmQ (1827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063988)

ASCAP can kiss my ass, no debate necessary.

He's chosen to silence himself (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064010)

"Williams has now publicly declined to debate saying that it's not worth his time, and once again attacking these groups for trying to 'silence' him."

If he decides not to debate the matter he has chosen to silence himself.

Furthermore, Williams says this (quoted in the article, which has a link to the original on the ASCAP site):

"Our members have every right to give their music away for free if they choose, but they should not be forced to do so."

All those organizations he's talking about say "YES". None of those organizations are advocating what he claims they are. Creative Commons, EFF, and others aren't saying artists should be forced to give away their creations for free. They don't *have* to use Creative Commons or other licenses that also depend on copyright. It's a choice. Under copyright law they can use whatever damn license they please, and given that Creative Commons depends on copyright law, nothing about Creative Commons undermines that.

Naturally the people Williams claims are saying this nonsense are going to loudly, repeatedly, and publicly dispute it. That isn't an attempt to "silence" him, it's an attempt to correct his flagrant misrepresentation, because people tend to get rather upset when false words are put into their mouths.

What's next? He'll claim that other people believe the sky is green, and when they correct him and say "No, it's blue", he'll accuse them of trying to "silence" his opposing view?

Translation (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064060)

So it's like Lessig called Williams out and told him he would like totally bust a cap on his ass, but Williams is like, oh no you don't, snap, you ain't busting no cap on ASCAP's ass.

Lessig on Bill Moyers Journal (3, Interesting)

mb12036 (516109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064068)

I kind of felt like Lessig got beat up a little bit on Bill Moyers Journal when he debated Nick Gillespie on the Citizen's United campaign finance case. Gillespie was skillful enough to make the pro-corporate-money position seem...well...reasonable. And Lessig seemed ill at ease with the whole thing. I don't know if anybody "won" that debate, but Lessig definitely didn't win - which is surprising since he was clearly arguing from the high ground. It was actually a little scary to watch how deftly Gillespie dispatched all Lessig's jousts about corporate money in campaigns. If somebody at ASCAP has skills like Gillespie's, they might not have that much to worry about. More props to Lessig, despite all that, for wanting to keep these debates in a public forum.

Link at: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/02052010/profile.html [pbs.org]

Re:Lessig on Bill Moyers Journal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064226)

This is why political debates are a waste of time -- sure, it forces both sides to bring out their best arguments, but everyone's already picked a side; if the enemy makes their position "seem...well...reasonable", that only means they're skillful, but our guy is "clearly arguing from the high ground".

I haven't watched the debate in question, but your statement reeks of unrecognized bias -- you take the correctness of your position so axiomatically that you can't admit the other side may have a point. Don't worry, there's a capitalist-libertarian somewhere going on about how despite Lessig's debating skill, the simple truth of Gillespie's argument won out.

(FWIW, I'm not pitching the "more polarized than ever" line -- it's always been like this, and political debate has always been like this for almost all people, almost all the time.)

Re:Lessig on Bill Moyers Journal (1)

mb12036 (516109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064842)

I guess the point was that despite the fact that I take my position so "axiomatically," Gillespie was skillful enough that I found his case compelling. If forcing me to scrutinize my own closely held beliefs is the net result of a political debate, so much the better. Besides, the alternative is to withdraw to our seperate corners and pout about the other team - maybe a strategy you're acting out here. I'm not sure that's the road forward either.

If you're going to attack someone... (1)

Zeroblitzt (871307) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064134)

You should at least give them the chance to speak. Williams is basically a giant troll.

you do not debate the beast (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064196)

you kill the beast

ascap's existence is due to a flow of cash that is being threatened by technological change

so there is nothing to debate, there is only the relentless march of progress, and those who resist it because their revenue streams are drying up because of technological change are already living in denial

with denial as their logical baseline, "debate" is an exercise in absurdity. there's simply nothing to debate or talk about: ascap's position is logically untenable from the start, yet they continue to hold their position, therefore, logic will not nor ever sway them. force is the only language they know or understand. so they must be forcibly killed off (by this i mean it becomes acceptable to deny them their revenue streams, i'm not talking about real world physical violence: you have to be careful to note your words are only symbolic because there are real lunatics out there)

I'm under contract too, Winslow. (1)

McGregorMortis (536146) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064308)

Perhaps Mr. Williams is starting to think he really is Swan, the evil record producer he played in Phantom of the Paradise.

A shame really, that he's revealing himself to be such a tool, because I do like his music.

Give me a gun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33064368)

and I'll silence him.

What I really want to know is ... (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064434)

Has ASCAP properly paid Apple and Steve Jobs for the Reality Altering Field they are attempting to deploy?

Silence him ? (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#33064488)

in some parts of the world people would take weighty stones laying about and crack his head open, if he had made such baseless accusations about them. he should be glad to be living in a country in which attempting to further private agendas by lies, defamation and bastardry is termed 'lobbying' and considered legal.

"Not worth my time", eh? (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#33065384)

I guess only baseless attacks are worthwhile. Giving a reasonable explanation for your attack isn't worthwhile.

Got it.

Adrian McCullagh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33065600)

What happened to freedom to contract. The alleged lobbying by ASCAP that authors must use their service and not move to a copyleft framework appears to me to be a very socialist movement where some statutory authority can dictate to authors where they can deposite their works. Even though I believe there is only marginal benefit of CC licensing (personal view only) Lawrence is wholly correct. CC and other movements supporting copyleft MUST have the right to exist and promote their positions. Clearly, the market place must decide and authors should not be obligated to deposit their works with any authority. It is the OBLIGATION aspect that I believe is unwarranted and totally against freedom of choice. Finally, I do not from my reading of any of the copyleft organisations see any absolute enforcement of royalty fee arrangements. It is the the choice of the author to decide much like the shareware framework that exists in the software industry.

Adrian McCullagh - Professor of Secure Business Law; Information Security Institute, QUT

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