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A Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers.


JiveJust

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It looks OK in some respects, at least at for the first line or two -- but I think there's a bit of a fundamental problem with it.

 

Clearly it's based on the idea of the 'natural rights of man' at the root of the western liberal tradition (using "liberal" for its actual definition and traditional use, here -- as the found fathers of the US would have used it, not as it's become twisted by intentional misuse by some to connote the positions of their political opponents).

 

But it starts going afoul of that putatively noble framing with this element:

 

 

We have the right to protect our creative works to the fullest extent of the law from all forms of piracy, theft and unauthorized use, which deprive us of our right to earn a living based on our creativity.

That's not a statement of anything close to a natural law, principle or right.

 

It's a bit of a false claim and a threat -- in that it seems to attempt to assert the claim of a natural right to use existing law -- regardless of whether the law or the efforts to use it are fair or not or whether it impinges on others rights-- to the fullest extent, all in order to pursue parochial interests of a protected class!

 

Other people have rights, as well, and songwriters -- like any other segment of society must fit their rights in with the rights of others -- not simply taking full advantage of the law to increase their own benefit.

 

 

I'm very strong in support of the notion of an artist's right to the product of his work.

 

But wrapping that up in this ends-motivated assertion of parochial privilege in an attempt at the language of the Bill of Rights is not just puerile and clumsy, it is deeply offensive to those who take the rights of songwriters and the rights of all citizens seriously.

 

 

[Full disclosure: I'm an ASCAP member.]

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ASCAP seems mostly to be based around looking out for the financial interests of its members, and that document deals almost exclusively with financial matters. I don't write songs for money, and frankly, I can't imagine anybody ever paying for one of my songs, so it's pretty irrelevant to me.

 

If anyone wants to "pirate" my songs, go for it!

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Here's mine:

 

1. We have the right to never be covered by an American Idol contestant.

 

2. We have the right to never be used in a car commercial.

 

3. We have the right to use as few or as many chords as we like.

 

4. We have the right to play loudly and softly in the same song.

 

5. We have the right to say "baby" as many times as we feel like.

 

6. We have the right to sing nonsensical, incomprehensible lyrics as long as we sound sufficiently sophisticated while doing it.

 

7. We have the right to syncopate.

 

8. We have the right to repeat ourselves.

 

9. We have the right to repeat ourselves.

 

10. We have the right to rhyme "fire" with "desire" as much as we want.

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Here's mine:


1. We have the right to never be covered by an American Idol contestant.


2. We have the right to never be used in a car commercial.


3. We have the right to use as few or as many chords as we like.


4. We have the right to play loudly and softly in the same song.


5. We have the right to say "baby" as many times as we feel like.


6. We have the right to sing nonsensical, incomprehensible lyrics as long as we sound sufficiently sophisticated while doing it.


7. We have the right to syncopate.


8. We have the right to repeat ourselves.


9. We have the right to repeat ourselves.


10. We have the right to rhyme "fire" with "desire" as much as we want.

 

I'm seriously considering adding this to the 'Rules/Resources' sticky. :D

 

 

 

I release my stuff under a Creative Commons mark, for the most part, delineating fairly restricted use: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States

 

 

I ended up with ASCAP, frankly, because after hearing BMI talk and talk about how they were going to have online services for musicians and make it easier to qualify and sign up, ASCAP actually got their first (with an arrangement with MP3.com) offering online sign up and facilitating the use of non-standard releases to qualify. (My works had been on the radio but I'd never formally distributed any manufactured recordings until I put out an album through Mp3.com's old DAM service. Of coruse, the old Mp3.com self-destructed due to incredibly wrong-headed legal advice that cost them well over 300 million dollars, but, hey, that's life in show biz, huh?)

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Are those rules or rights? What if a car company I really like wants to use one of my songs? Or for an iPod commercial?...those little iPods are so cute and damned-it if they're not handy too! My amp only goes up to ten...how loud does your amp get? Yikes! Do I have the right to be creative?

 

Are those rules or rights? What if a car company I really like wants to use one of my songs? Or for an iPod commercial?...those little iPods are so cute and damned-it if they're not handy too! My amp only goes up to ten...how loud does your amp get? Yikes! Do I have the right to be creative?

 

oops, sorry...I got carried away with my right exercising.

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It's a bit of a false claim and a threat -- in that it seems to attempt to assert the claim of a natural right to use existing law -- regardless of whether the law or the efforts to use it are fair or not or whether it impinges on others rights-- to the fullest extent, all in order to pursue parochial interests of a protected class!

 

 

They might have worded it better, but it's a right that everyone else has, so it's a sign of how badly respect for creative people's work has degraded that it's even necessary to specifically point it out. No one else out there working in non-IP based industries would even feel the need to point it out. You steal from them and you'll end up in jail, for reasons long believed to be fundamental to fairness and to allow people to make a living.

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I think the concept of the thing -- it's an educational tool, in a sense -- is fine. I just have a problem with some of the particulars of this particular bill of rights.

 

As I tried to suggest, the wording here suggests that the drafter didn't really have an understanding of the document he was pardodying or its place in the development of ideas of innate human rights.

 

By applying the form of a universal statement of those human rights to an assertion not just of parochial entitlement but a pugnacious assertion that those claims to entitlement will be pursued aggressively to the full extent permitted by the particular laws of the land, subject as they so manifestly are to manipulation by particular interests, clouds the entire 'document' -- but far worse it trivializes and demeans the US Bill of Rights, one of the most important landmarks in the evolution of the idea of the rights of humankind.

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Here's mine:


1. We have the right to never be covered by an American Idol contestant.


2. We have the right to never be used in a car commercial.


3. We have the right to use as few or as many chords as we like.


4. We have the right to play loudly and softly in the same song.


5. We have the right to say "baby" as many times as we feel like.


6. We have the right to sing nonsensical, incomprehensible lyrics as long as we sound sufficiently sophisticated while doing it.


7. We have the right to syncopate.


8. We have the right to repeat ourselves.


9. We have the right to repeat ourselves.


10. We have the right to rhyme "fire" with "desire" as much as we want.

 

 

Baby, baby, baby!!!

 

KAC

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