Worst “journalism” ever.

This Reuters article on critics of Creative Commons is just about the most ridiculous article I’ve seen about CC to date. It reads as if the president of the National Music Publisher’s Association knew the author and basically wanted to get a anti-CC article out there. It contains a few quotes from CC board members and CC supporters (including Hilary Rosen and the current RIAA president) but generally lets the songwriter representitive dub the movement a “trojan horse” and claims that when you license a song under CC “it is really an argument why others should be forced to give away their property.” (my emphasis) Then the article confounds the Eldred case into Creative Commons because Lessig is behind both but the real gem is at the end.

They cover one songwriter that found success. Nevermind that Tim O’Reilly’s quote in the same article explains how 1 in a million songs are successfull and that CC exists for letting the other 99.999% of people that didn’t hit it big share their works with the world. In a wonderful bit of journalistic gymnastics they mention how this successful songwriter has contracted the AIDS virus, and bring it all back to Creative Commons. I quote from the article:

Had he given up his rights to those early hits, he would not have the resources to cover his treatment for AIDS.

Such a decision might have been tragic. Fraser says he has been kept alive by medication, radiation therapy and experimental medical treatments — largely paid for with his song royalties.

“No one should let artists give up their rights,” he says.

That’s right, you just read a Reuters article try to make the claim that Creative Commons can kill those living with AIDS.

So to recap, the only legitimate point made in the article is that a musician may not know what rights they are giving away, and I’ll grant you that it may be true, provided an artist ignored the page explaining the licenses and the page explaining the rights in all licenses. While the article contains comments supportive of Creative Commons from music industry giants like the RIAA, the article’s author turns some minor confusion about a name appearing in an amicus brief into unwanted support for a supreme court case that is somehow CC’s fault and the author lets the songwriter association president call the movement names, construe that it is unfair to artists, and finally, twist some emotion out of a ailing songwriter, equating a CC license with a death sentence.

I’m sure Reuters will be getting a Pulitzer for this bit of drivel.

update: Lessig has more to say and mentions previous (and similar) articles from the same Billboard Magazine reporter. Also, it occurred to me that the ailing songwriter in the article could still be alive and paying for medications through royalites, if he chose a non-commercial Creative Commons license for his song. As they say, share your music and good things often follow.

Published by mathowie

I build internet stuff.

5 replies on “Worst “journalism” ever.”

  1. Reminds me of that Simpsons episode where they have Fox News reporting that “Democrats may cause Cancer”. Some Liberal Media…Why are you even reading Yahoo! News? BBC news man…


  2. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this article began as an RIAA press release. Declining budgets (and standards) in journalism, and increasingly sophisticated corporate PR strategies mean that many of the “news” stories we see in newspapers and on television are in fact little more than press releases.
    True also of our “CEO President” and his cabal.


  3. Matt: The beginning of the article indicates that it’s not actually a Reuters story, just one they’ve picked up from Billboard, which is geared toward music industry folks. Could explain some of the problems.


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