Musicians Censoring Themselves

Ben Collins-Sussman playing the banjo by the water.

Reader Ben Collins-Sussman sent us this letter after watching a group of hobbyist banjo players in an Internet forum shy away from sharing music because they were worried about copyright issues. It's hard to add to Ben's eloquent outrage, but we should step back and ask: how did we get here? When did the inconceivable become everyday? When did musicians start censoring themselves as a matter of course? (Notice how copyright issues actually come up twice, independently, in the forum Ben points to. That's two times in a discussion that's only nineteen posts long. It would be nice if this were somehow exceptional... but sadly, it's not.)

Here's Ben's letter:

I frequent exciting websites like www.banjohangout.org, where banjoists from all over the world (all 12 of us!) talk about banjos, songs we like, how to play things, and so on.

Swedish Pirate Party's Influence Beginning to Show...

Swedish Pirate Party Flag

Seven members of the Swedish Parliament have published an opinion piece calling for the decriminalization of filesharing. Written in reaction to a government analyst's recommendation that file-sharers be punished by losing their Internet connections, the letter is practically a verbatim recitation of what the Swedish Pirate Party has been saying for a long time now:

"...Decriminalizing all non-commercial file sharing and forcing the market to adapt is not just the best solution. It's the only solution, unless we want an ever more extensive control of what citizens do on the Internet. Politicians who play for the antipiracy team should be aware that they have allied themselves with a special interest that is never satisfied and that will always demand that we take additional steps toward the ultimate control state..."

When he visited the United States last summer, Rick Falkvinge, the Pirate Party's founder, pointed out that one of the Party's most important functions was educating other politicians. By competing for seats in Parliament, the Party forces other candidates to give more attention to copyright and patent issues, out of fear of losing votes to the Pirates. It looks like that's exactly what's happened here. If so, kudos to Rick and the Pirate Party: they've made a powerful argument for valuing civil liberties over obsolete business models, and it's clearly catching on when members of Parliament from the Moderate Party adopt a major plank from the Pirate Party platform.

[Update: Over at the P2P Consortium, there's a good new interview with Rick Falkvinge up. Shameless confession: we're very pleased to see the references there to Falkvinge's speaking tour here last summer, which QuestionCopyright.org arranged.]

Help Keep Bibliographic Data License-Free

Picture of the U.S. Library of Congress

The Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Information at the Library of Congress has just released its final Draft Report. There's much that's good in it, but it's lacking an important feature: an insistence that bibliographic data be license-free, as per point 8 of the Open Government Data Principles. (See also Jonathan Gray's post about this, and the Open Knowledge Foundation petition.)

This may just be an oversight on the working group's part, or it may reflect some deeper hesitancy about committing fully to the public domain. They've asked for comments on the draft, though, and it would be great if they heard from a lot of people about this. You can send them comments here:

Here's what I sent them...

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