Music for Free Frees the Music

By Russell McOrmond 10/21/05

Jane Siberry has an email newsletter on her web site, says Siberry fan Russell McOrmond on his web site, Digital Copyright Canada.

"I just put 'Calling All Angels' on my website for free," posts Siberry. "People have been contacting me recently wondering how the song could be sent out in a wider way in these difficult times. One person wanted to burn copies for relief workers. I said yes. Then I thought that feels so right. And better yet, if Ialso make it available as a free website download the gesture would be more Earth-loving with no plastic created".

"Then I thought, heck, why don't I just make everything free (that I have rights to). Something feels forced about withholding (music) until one gets something (money). People could pay what they want or not pay at all. That would be more authentic, pure. And probably bring more positivity to all. I think the music would be happier, too."

Russell McOrmond

Well put. McOrmond agrees, but adds a few thoughts -- Jon Newton

Sheeba Forum Index -> Let Go, Let Go

While I'll read the rest of the threads later, I wanted to throw in some quick legal thoughts. Please ensure when you say "Let Go, Let Go" that you realize as few creators do that Copyright is not an "all or nothing" situation. You have the ability to "let go" in places where money is not being made and you want to turn it into advertising, while at the same time not letting go those things which are making you money.

Creative Commons was created for that. You can say (as many musicians do) that non-commercial royalty-free distribution of your music on the Internet is great advertising (and people will donate/"pay as they like"). You would then charge if someone wanted to make commercial use (sell CDs) or make derivatives (change it, include it in their movie, whatever).

To do the above would be the basic license called the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license (Canadian version is at: ).

Policy discussions:

There's a current problem in the music industry where a few foreign (European and US) major labels control 95% of the Canadian market for recorded music and yet have less than 2% of Canadian musicians signed to them. We now have a situation where that 2% can make a living, but everyone else can't.

This is a serious situation that needs to be corrected.

Each time the 98% makes any headway the "math wizards" at CRIA come out with some questionable statistical study to suggest they're loosing money to "theft". In fact, like their software counterparts, these studies don't differentiate between copyright infringement and competition. We need to get politicians to understand that these foreign corporations only represent ("own") less than 2% of Canadian musicians, and we need music policy that supports the 98% that are currently pushed out of the loop.

I'm actively involved in copyright reform in Canada and internationally. While not a musician, I am a software and non-software literary author. I'm fighting against Bill C-60 that's designed to implement the 1996 WIPO treaties. These treaties are "policy laundered" from the United States who designed a way to protect from competition those methods of production, distribution and funding which are currently US-dominated. Bill C-60 isn't about protecting Canadian creativity, it's about protecting US companies from Canadian creative competition.

For more information, please see: (AKA: )

Infringement of copyright is a problem, but the statistics over-state the problem. In fact, the current corporations who primarily profit from, and control, creativity are a far greater threat to Canadian creativity than the small amount of infringement.

We also have a Petition for Users' Rights. We need to remember that in copyright reform there is more than one creator to be concerned with: past creators (copyright holders), and creators-in-waiting (creators that build on the works of the past, and thus are lumped in as "users").

We also need to remember there's more than just the copyright holder that is considered an "owner".

When you legally purchase content and legally purchase tools to access content, you're a legitimate owner of these tools and content. That's not to say that you can do anything you want with them (IE: copyright still applies for public activities), but that copyright holders have no business trying to monitor, meter or control the private activities of their audiences using their own property.


Russell McOrmond, the editor of Digital Copyright Canada, is an independent author (software and non-software) who uses modern business models and licensing (Free/Libre and Open Source Software, Creative Commons).


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