Sunday, August 29, 2010

The ASCAP "Copyleft" fund-raiser: Campaign of misinformation?

If you've not been following the Creative Commons scene, you might not have heard of the fund-raising campaign by the American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), started in June 2010.

The ASCAP fund-raiser for a legislative campaign
First, you ought to read their letter for yourself.

Their fund-raiser is for a "legislative campaign" to "urge the members of (the U.S.) Congress to support [their] rights".

I've read the letter several times. I'm still not sure what rights ASCAP is campaigning for. Or is it for a law against the lawful sharing of works -- even if initiated by the creator?

What's really controversial was ASCAP's claims that 'Creative Commons promote "Copyleft" in order to undermine "Copyright"'. was probably the first to break the news (25 Jun), and the article sums up the fallacies in ASCAP's position:
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is urging the membership to donate money to battle the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge and even Creative Commons.

ASCAP’s attack on EFF and Public Knowledge are farfetched. Those groups do not suggest music should be free, although they push for the liberalization of copyright law.

But the attack on Creative Commons is more laughable than ASCAP’s stance against EFF and Public Knowledge.

While lobby groups EFF and Public Knowledge advocate for liberal copyright laws, Creative Commons actually creates licenses to protect content creators.

Did ASCAP bother to find out what Creative Commons (CC) really is about?
CC is built upon the foundation of Copyright. CC is NOT an alternative to Copyright; CC works along side it.

The idea of Creative Commons (CC) is not hard to understand. So I was puzzled as to why an organisation like ASCAP would choose to espouse wrong ideas.

A Red Herring?
Reading the ASCAP letter carefully, I think the basis of their concerns is in this statement (emphasis mine):
If their views are allowed to gain strength, music creators will find it harder and harder to make a living as traditional media shifts to online and wireless services.

I think there's the real issue: the weakening and gradual collapse of the traditional music publishing and distribution business model, brought about by technology.

Technology is the cause of the industry's collapse (or some might say the greed and/ or narrowly-defined business models of music publishers). Certainly not global movements like Creative Commons.

Don't take my word for it. This business week post (Jul 2010) cites technology as the underlying issue to the fall in traditional music sales. Musician John Mellencamp already said it so back in 2009. Even further back, here's a MSNBC article summary by Bob Baker in 2003 that reads just like it was written yesterday.

ASCAP is trying to do something. But I think initiating a legislative campaign is just barking up the wrong tree. Not to mention wasting resources (from doners).

A music community responds to ASCAP
Anyway, what's more interesting to me was how a music community like ccMixter chose to respond to ASCAP's claims. Check out this Freedom To Share campaign.

So here’s how it works. FREEDOM TO SHARE has two stages.

Stage One: Write, record and upload a piece that reflects the theme FREEDOM TO SHARE.

Stage Two: Remix someone else’s upload from Stage One. Upload your remix BETWEEN AUG 18 - SEPT 5.


WHEN: Aug 1 through August 14

WHAT: Write and Record a lyric that comments on the themes of this project: artistic freedom, sharing culture, collaboration, the evolution of the music industry, etc.

HOW: Up through August 14, upload a recording of your lyric as an acapella….you can submit a spoken word, a rap, or a melody. (If you’ve never uploaded a poem or a song, this is your opportunity!)



WHAT: Remix one (or more) of the uploads from Stage One.

HOW: You can start woking with pells from Stage One as soon as they are submitted and upload between Aug 18 - Sept 5. Upload your remix here (or remixes) that include at least one track from Stage One. Your remix should continue to explore the theme of this event — artistic freedom, sharing culture and collaboration. Again, your remix must include at least one track piece from Stage One (please note all samples in your remix must be yours originally or under the appropriate Creative Commons license). You are free to upload more than one remix too.


Through this project, we at ccMixter will create a musical body of work that demonstrates the power of creative collaboration using Creative Commons licenses. We also hope the FREEDOM TO SHARE Remix Event will sonically illuminate matters requiring more light in this debate.

The music created by the project will become a tool for educating others about the versatility of Creative Commons licenses. We intend to share these remixes via curated playlists, podcasts and compilations in as many venues as we can reach, including other websites that support CC licensed work, such as Jamendo, Soundcloud, FMA,, etc.

Debate seems to be over before it begun
CC co-founder, Lawrence Lessig, offered to publicly debate the issues. ASCAP declined and continued to issue puzzling statements that lumped CC as part of movements that encourage "a culture of disrespect for copyright".

The irony may be that ASCAP's campaign has done the opposite of its intent. They might have inadvertently created greater awareness of movements like Creative Commons.

Dear Mr Williams...
Whichever the case, here's my contribution as an amateur songwriter. BTW, I didn't deliberately choose to make my mix an "international" one. It just so happens that I found suitable stems from musicians from Mexico and Japan, not to mention the ccmixters from US, UK, Canada (I think):

The track was made possible by those who have chosen to share their works under their chosen Creative Commons licenses:
The Full mix and backing tracks available at this ccMixter page.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG): History, today.

It came down to this.

BTW, here's a refreshingly (positive) perspective about Singapore hosting the inaugural YOG. (via

Thinking aloud
It's hard for one to fully appreciate the competencies required to pull off such an event.

We only see the end product.

We take for granted the organisational capabilities that have to exist, in order to make such a thing happen.

Taking on the responsibility of being the first to host the YOG. That required an appetite for risk.

Above all, we forget that it requires imagination to even conceive of such a possibility.

Even with awesome pictures like this, it is still hard to fully appreciate the gumption involved. Months or years later, some Singaporeans are still going to say that Singapore's decision to host the inaugural YOG was a waste of resources.

It's easy for some of us to forget that Singapore is really a tiny country, relative to the geographical giants out there.

Whenever I'm in a foreign airport, clearing immigration, I'm reminded of one stark cold fact: outside of my country, the name 'Singapore' means little to many.

Confession: Months before, I didn't think that much about Singapore's hosting of the inaugural YOG. Wasn't against it. I was simply apathetic to the whole thing.

Now, I'm wiser.

And not too late to say that I'm proud of our tiny little country.

The next time I'm in a foreign land, faced with puzzled looks when I tell them I'm from Singapore, I'll add that I'm from that country that hosted the world's first Youth Olympic Games. First in the history of modern society.

Doesn't matter if they still give me blank looks.

History has already been written.

YOG Opening Ceremony

Read in Jun 2010

In no particular order:

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer
Roughnotes | NLBsearchplus

Corporate Agility: A Revolutionary New Model for Competing in a Flat World
ISBN: 0814409113
Ebook version | NLBsearchplus | RoughNotes

X-Factor, Vol. 4: Heart of Ice (X-Men) (v. 4)
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus

Wonder Woman: Love and Murder SC (Wonder Woman (Graphic Novels))
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus=

The Ballad of Halo Jones
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus

Commencement (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Vol. 1)
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus

Fables Vol. 2: Animal Farm
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus

Courtney Crumrin And The Fire Thief's Tale (Courtney Crumrin (Graphic Novels))
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus

Music Theory for Beginners (Music Books Series)
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus

Listening to the Future: Why It's Everybody's Business (Microsoft Executive Leadership Series)
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus

Guerrilla Home Recording: How to Get Great Sound from Any Studio (No Matter How Weird or Cheap Your Gear Is)
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus

For More Than Glory (Legion)
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus

By Force of Arms (Legion)
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus

Abe Sapien: The Drowning
Roughnotes | NLBsearchplus

Batman: Year One Hundred
Roughnotes | NLBsearchplus

War: A Novel
Roughnotes | NLBsearchplus

Hellboy, Vol. 8: Darkness Calls
Roughnotes | NLBsearchplus

The dashing peacemaker : Othman Wok / [research and writing, Faith Teo, Dominic Ying ; editor, Leong Ching].
Roughnotes | NLBsearchplus

Monday, August 09, 2010

Flying the Singapore Flag: We're 45 - Part 1

Today's Singapore's 45th birthday.

I wanted to exercise my left/ right brain and write something about it. Led me to start writing about National Identity and the concept of Nationhood. Intellectually serious stuff.

Then I received an email from Siva. He had just published this blog post about my sharing of a recent experience on our national Park Connector Network (PCN).

A week before my trip to Melbourne, I bought a foldable bicycle. All because I saw a newly constructed park connector near my home.

After my first late-night exploration of that connector, I was so stoked that I immediately emailed Siva and Lucian. Both are cycling enthusiasts. Siva contributes to the Cycling in Singapore blog. Lucian traced the PCN onto Googlemaps, plus he cycles to work.

So what has the Park Connector Network got to do with National Day?

Siva's post ended with a "Happy National Day everyone!"

Nothing odd about that, since today is National Day.

But that one simple sign-off, in a post about the PCN, made me appreciate National Day from a simpler perspective.

I decided to leave my thoughts about national identity and nationhood for later.

For now I'm enjoying the simple fact that I have a Park Connector Network near where I live. It's just one one of the many reasons why I'm happy to call Singapore home.

NDP 2010 Official Website

Happy birthday.

[Later: Part 2]