[Cc-uk] CC going mad?

Jonathan Mitchell website3 at jonathanmitchell.info
Wed Jun 22 06:47:15 EDT 2005

I'd be surprised if anyone at CC HQ was reading this mailing list. Shouldn't
these comments be posted on one of the international mailing lists they do
read, probably "Community" at http://creativecommons.org/discuss#community ?

I have to say that I find it very hard to believe with Cory that this was "a
gag to highlight the craziness of the copyright system that keeps Happy
Birthday in copyright". The press release at
http://creativecommons.org/press-releases/ gives no hint that this was
anything but serious. Nor does
http://mirrors.creativecommons.org/happybirthday/ . And CC HQ is hardly
known for this style of humour!

Jonathan Mitchell QC

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> From: "David M. Berry" <d.berry at sussex.ac.uk>
> Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2005 09:54:20 +0100
> To: cc-uk at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: [Cc-uk] CC going mad?
> I am sure that many of us will have seen the recent celebration of a
> one year old birthday for the 'free culture movement' by Creative
> Commons. Putting aside the presumption that Free Culture 'started' in
> 2004, no doubt following the publication of one of Lessig's books, I
> have to admit that I find their way of celebrating grotesque and
> backwards.
> Rather than get a songwriter to create a new song, which could then
> be CC licensed and contribute to free culture. They have... no, you
> won't believe it... licensed 'Happy Birthday' from the Harry Fox
> agency which they have obtained a compulsory license for. Naturally
> this means that they cannot give any rights to the downloaders as the
> copyright is still owned and controlled by the copyright owners. And
> who, you might ask, are the copyright owners? Luckily its those
> extremely hard-up songwriters who struggle to make ends meet --- AOL
> Time Warner (revenue in 2004 $42.8 billion, market cap £84 billion).
> Good to see Creative Commons fighting the good fight.
> They are having to pay 8.5 cents a song download in order to pay for
> the license which they then ask us to pay for. So let me just run
> that past you again - to celebrate free culture, and the freedoms it
> transfers to you - creative commons have licensed a closed
> proprietary track which cannot be given any of the freedoms that they
> purport to celebrate. But more than that they transfer all this
> money, that people might assume to be going to a good cause (you can
> even claim a tax rebate on the donation) is instead helping fill the
> coffers of an already hugely wealthy, powerful and pro-copyright
> multinational.
> Who on earth is making these really really stupid decisions? First
> the extremely ethically suspect Bzzz agency ( http://
> creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/5424 ) and now this. You really have
> to question the motivations of CC, does the management really
> understand what free culture is all about.
> Nice call Creative Commons.
> ­ David
> ---
> Happy Birthday, Free Culture Movement
> http://mirrors.creativecommons.org/happybirthday/
> Just over a year ago, April 23, 2004, at Swarthmore College,
> Swarthmore, PA, more than 100 students met to launch the Free Culture
> Movement. These students had been organized by the Swarthmore
> students who sued Diebold and won after Diebold sent a cease and
> desist letter alleging violations of the Digital Millenium Copyright
> Act to the Swathmore university administrator which then shut down
> their website. A year later, there are nine chapters across the
> country, and more brewing around the world.
> Creative Commons wanted to find an appropriate way to celebrate. So
> we put together this version of "Happy Birthday," sung by, we might
> say, some of the leaders of the free world (The EFF Staff, Mitch
> Kapor, Dan Gillmor, Brian Behlendorf, Ian Clarke, Jimmy Wales,
> Brewster Kahle, and Gigi Sohn). Of course, to do this, we had to
> license the rights from Harry Fox (who represent Warner Chappell
> Music, the copyright owner of the composition) ‹ yes, "Happy
> Birthday" is still under copyright ‹ but the folks at Harry Fox were
> willing to give us a pretty good deal. Unfortunately, that deal does
> not transfer, so while you're free to download this version and play
> it "for personal use", and free to engage in any "fair use" of the
> song, the rights we have to give don't include much more than that.
> This is because clearing rights to use music, under our current
> system of copyright is very complex. You need to clear every element
> you use. So in this recording, Warner's owns the lyrics and the
> composition and we have a limited license to use those & make them
> available to you for your personal use. The loops and sounds are
> owned by a loop distributor and licensed to us under a limited
> license that means we can't make it available to you to remix. But we
> own the rights in the recording in its entirety. We can ‹ and we do ‹
> license the rights to the recording under a Creative Commons
> Attribution license. But because the nature of music is that the
> recording, the lyrics and the music are inextricably linked, to be
> able to exercise any of your rights in the recording under the
> Creative Commons Attribution license other than for personal or fair
> use, you will need to contact Harry Fox or Warner Chappell Music for
> permission to use the lyrics and composition and PowerFX to use the
> loops and sounds.
> Alas, them's the breaks for free culture for now. Maybe if the Free
> Culture Movement is successful, things might become a bit less
> complicated. But for the moment, all we can do is wish the students
> of FCM good luck, and ask you to help us help them. We've set up a
> donation box to raise money for the Free Culture Movement. So if you
> download the song, and would like to help, here's where to donate.
> All money collected will be used to support the Free Culture Movement.
> Our license from Harry Fox requires that we make the following
> statement: song written by Mildred J. Hill & Patty S. Hill, publisher
> is Warner Chappell Music.
> Donate and Download
> Our aim is to raise funds to help support the Free Culture Movement.
> But the reality is that we've got to pay 8.5 cents for each download.
> We've therefore set up a governor that restricts the downloads to
> just a portion of the funds raised. Thus, if there are not enough
> donations, you won't be able to download a song (unless you donate).
> More donation and tax information is available.
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