Thursday, May 08, 2008

Musician's Bill of Rights

The Bluegrass Blog reports on A Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers by The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

This is good. I like the idea of explicitly defining how the concept of individual rights can be applied in a given field of enterprise; in this case, the property rights of musical artists.

However, this Bill states, “Without these rights, which directly emanate from the U.S. Constitution…”

This statement is untrue. The U.S. Constitution does not confer rights, it limits government.

Individual rights are natural and are inherited upon the condition of existence. They may or may not be recognized by a given society or government, but individual rights do not “emanate from the U.S. Constitution,” the Declaration of Independence, or any other document, decree, pact or utterance.

Better to say, “Without these rights, which directly emanate from the facts of existence and, consequently, a person’s natural right to properly and fully own the ‘fruits of their labor’…”

Otherwise, this is a fine effort to make clear how the core concept of property rights, and the attendant contractual agreements, should be exercised and recognized in the entertainment field.

The ten points are:

  1. We have the right to be compensated for the use of our creative works, and share in the revenues that they generate.

  2. We have the right to license our works and control the ways in which they are used.

  3. We have the right to withhold permission for uses of our works on artistic, economic or philosophical grounds.

  4. 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.

  5. We have the right to choose when and where our creative works may be used for free.

  6. We have the right to develop, document and distribute our works through new media channels - while retaining the right to a share in all associated profits.

  7. We have the right to choose the organizations we want to represent us and to join our voices together to protect our rights and negotiate for the value of our music.

  8. We have the right to earn compensation from all types of "performances," including direct, live renditions as well as indirect recordings, broadcasts, digital streams and more.

  9. We have the right to decline participation in business models that require us to relinquish all or part of our creative rights - or which do not respect our right to be compensated for our work.

  10. We have the right to advocate for strong laws protecting our creative works, and demand that our government vigorously uphold and protect our rights.

Sign the petition if you agree that this is a proper statement of intellectual property rights in this case, and of the efficacy of voluntary contractual agreements, and would like to support the cause.

Rock on!