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ASCAP Refuses To Debate Lessig 183

Posted by timothy
from the as-do-I dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Back in June ASCAP oddly declared war on free culture, specifically calling out Creative Commons, EFF and Public Knowledge, making a number of false statements about all three. The war of words continued as the three groups responded politely, pointing out the errors in the statement from ASCAP's Paul Williams. Larry Lessig wrote a blog post where he asked Williams to debate these topics, saying that it might help if they could get away from making false statements. Williams has now publicly declined to debate saying that it's not worth his time, and once again attacking these groups for trying to 'silence' him. It's difficult to see how a request for a public discussion and debate is an attempt to silence, but that's ASCAP's position and they're sticking to it."
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ASCAP Refuses To Debate Lessig

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  • by _0rm_ (1638559) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:10PM (#33063410) Journal
    SIILEEENCE!!! I keel you.
  • by IICV (652597) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:10PM (#33063412)

    To be fair, no debate in the history of the world has ever actually changed the truth of any matter. Arguments and legislation should be based on published literature and statistics, not on who is the better orator.

    That being said, I'm sure they're refusing because they know Lessig would kick ass. His position is well thought-out and basically unimpeachable, while theirs is untenable and distasteful.

    • by XanC (644172) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:13PM (#33063458)

      His position is well thought-out and basically unimpeachable, while theirs is untenable and distasteful.

      Wouldn't that come out in a debate?

      Also, I think you'll find that arguments and legislation have "changed the truth" exactly as frequently as debates have: never.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by IICV (652597)

        Wouldn't that come out in a debate?

        Presumably yes, which (I imagine) is why they don't want to debate him. Seriously, listen to some of his stuff - it's very well thought out.

        Also, I think you'll find that arguments and legislation have "changed the truth" exactly as frequently as debates have: never.

        Of course they haven't, and I didn't mean to imply that legislation is capable of changing the truth. The truth exists independently of the positions we may take in an argument or the laws we might pass. That's

        • by selven (1556643) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @07:09PM (#33063998)

          Unfortunately it seems like modern politicians think that's a bad idea for some reason.

          Because you can't just throw "science" or "evidence" at real world problems and get an unambiguously optimal answer. First of all, to have an unambiguously better answer you need to have metrics. And right there, the problem is already impossible - people can't even agree on what the metrics are. Some people value freedom, others value health, others value economic prosperity, others value comfort and leisure. That's the whole reason why we have different ideologies in the first place.

          This is what we have here. Lessig values culture, the ASCAP value money for their members. Even with robot-like logical reasoning and clairvoyant wisdom, both sides are going to utterly fail at convincing the other.

          • by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @07:35PM (#33064176)
            Of course after this little tirade, ASCAP is getting heat from its members on crossing the line between what's good policy and what's just a plain out and out lie. ASCAP tried hardball with the EFF, and it has bit them in their fat asses. They are not talking about money for their members... which is where I think the debate would gravitate if that was indeed their core position. Evidence (mountains of it) has shown that ASCAP, RIAA, and MPAA are not concerned with members' rights and privileges. They are merely interested in lining their pockets. And judging by this latest ASCAP outburst, it seems they will stop at nothing to get it.

            This isn't about entrenched opinions on what the Founders meant by "for a limited time". Even the Economist said copyright was about having control over your work. It was never meant to be a property right. Yet here we are. ASCAP should apologize and learn to stop resorting to the last-ditch style mudslinging that merely underlines the EFF's position in the matter. When losing, make shit up. When losing badly, insult the opponent.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by NReichman (1253210)
              As a music producer, my work can be heard on television and on various albums. With shrinking production budgets, I depend on royalties in order to pay my mortgage, feed my kids and upgrade my computer. I have a totally middle class income, and ASCAP is doing a great job trying to stop people from stealing my work. My composer and musician friends are all professionals, and we all need to pay for groceries. The next time you go out to eat, ask the chef if you can have the meal for free. Tell him that i
              • by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:14AM (#33068616)

                The next time you go out to eat, ask the chef if you can have the meal for free. Tell him that if he's really passionate about his work he should just share it with everyone.

                This is symptomatic of the problem right here. You, dear music producer, seem to equate things of limited quantity (food) to things that are infinitely reproducible (digital performances). This is simply idiotic. Think back to that chef. Imagine he can prepare a dish one time and copy it infinitely forever. He could serve one helping to every person on the globe with no additional cost or effort on his part. How many chefs would refuse to do that?

                Your beef isn't with the attitude, per se. You're just not able to grasp the difference between physical resources and creative effort. This is probably simply due to your bias, as a professional in that industry surrounded by others likewise. It is very human. However the reason you're not finding a raft of sympathy outside of those circles is because it logically doesn't make sense to the rest of us. The fact that copyright even exists is a gift, a charity, as are royalties, etc. Imagine being born Chinese and having this same opinion. You'd starve...

                Anyway, I'm not expecting to change your mind. And I wanted to say that your post was very well-written and hits all the highlights one would need to go for that angle. I'm just hoping to illustrate that in a world of physical reality, it falls pretty flat.

              • by SloWave (52801) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:31AM (#33068836) Journal

                As an engineer, my work can be heard on television and various other communication devices. With shrinking engineering budgets, I wish I could depend on people being forced to send me moneys in order to pay my mortgage, feed my kids and upgrade my computer. I have a totally middle class income, and no-one is doing anything to guarantee my milking locked in users based on past work. My engineering and other friends are all professionals, and we all need to pay for groceries. The next time you use something I might of had a hand in creating, consider that you don't have to continue support my spending habits based on something I did a long time ago. If you are really passionate about doing this, feel free to donate my moneys you owe me to the EFF instead, because I do wish to share my earlier work with anyone. Also, keep in mind creativity in your industry too was freely shared for most of the history of humanity until the culture barons started to try to privatize and control everything artistic and musical.

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Painted (1343347)
                How is your post relevant? No one is asking you to give your work away for free. You're just spouting exactly what ASCAP is saying- that anyone who doesn't fully support continual expansion of copyright and restrictions is demanding that all creative works be given away for free.

                While I imagine there are a few loons saying that, what most of us are saying that DRM that trumps our RIGHTS is bad; that perhaps copyright should NOT be lifetime+75 years. How do you get "give away for free" from "perhaps copyr
                • For software, I think copyrights of 10 years are about right.

                  The whole original intent of copyright was to promote progress in the arts. Source code to a 50 year old program won't promote anything, other than the appreciation of the painful things one had to go through in yesteryear to write a program, and a certain degree of quaintness.

          • by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @11:53PM (#33065276) Homepage Journal
            This isn't just a "different beliefs" situation. ASCAP's Paul Williams is stating outright falsehoods about the EFF and Creative Commons. (I hear he's also stating falsehoods about Public Knowledge, but I don't know enough to judge.) Their statements border on the insane. (EFF: "If an artist wants to share their music more widely, we offer tools to make it easy to share some, but not all of the rights." Williams: "The EFF wants to force you to give away your music for free!") I do agree that ASCAP is unlikely to change their public stance as a result of a debate or other discussion. They're either willfully ignorant or they are liars.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Late Adopter (1492849)

          just like most doctors nowadays are proponents of evidence-based medicine

          Were these the same doctors that were up in arms when a US council recommended women get fewer mammograms, after evidence showed that (even absent any cost argument!) the reduced frequency was just as effective at detecting breast cancer?

          • by IICV (652597)

            Were these the same doctors that were up in arms when a US council recommended women get fewer mammograms, after evidence showed that (even absent any cost argument!) the reduced frequency was just as effective at detecting breast cancer?

            Clearly not, by definition. That was a clear-cut case of the evidence saying one thing and some physicians wanting it to say another. It's not like physicians are some special breed of always-right human.

            The thing is, that sort of thing is endemic in the US's medical practi

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by squiggleslash (241428)
            If by "doctors" you mean "journalists", I doubt it, as the GP wasn't talking about journalists. If you really meant "doctors" I suggest going back to that particular controversy and rereading what was actually said, by whom.
        • by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @07:54PM (#33064212) Journal

          The truth exists independently of the positions we may take in an argument or the laws we might pass.

          That's not entirely true. For example, I could say that it is illegal to smoke pot in the U.S. And that would be true until California takes a vote this November. Then, the truth will have changed; that statement is currently true, but no longer will be. Similarly, as this whole discussion is about copyright law, the law does, indeed, play a role, though it is unlikely that any change in the law would be sufficient to make ASCAP's statements in this matter even remotely true.

          Either way, it's pretty clear that ASCAP's Paul Williams is either an idiot or a bald-faced liar, and no changes in copyright law will ever change that. Does anybody know if there's a mechanism for ASCAP members to make a motion of no confidence? I'd love to help start that process, but I'm not really familiar enough with ASCAP's governance to know where to begin.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Macrat (638047)

            That's not entirely true. For example, I could say that it is illegal to smoke pot in the U.S. And that would be true until California takes a vote this November. Then, the truth will have changed; that statement is currently true, but no longer will be.

            Nothing that California does changes federal law that pot is illegal.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Congratulations! Your pedantry allowed you to contest the OP's primary point while completely missing that point in entirety.

              Sure, in the hypothetical situation explained by the OP, California legalizing pot wouldn't make it legal. So adjust the hypothetical. I could say that smoking pot in the U.S. is illegal. This is true. If a law is written that makes it so there is no longer a federal ban against pot smoking, then that statement would not be true any longer. And, thus, legislation would have changed
      • "Also, I think you'll find that arguments and legislation have "changed the truth" exactly as frequently as debates have: never."

        Well... for some definitions of truth.

        Just the most obvious: the truth is you can copy and share music and films as much as you want as long as there is no direct positive economical gain, and not, minored expenditures or alleged financial damage doesn't count; it's called the private copy right. That's the truth... in Spain. In USA a piece of legislation has changed that truth

      • by cream wobbly (1102689) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:52PM (#33063848)

        Religion would like you to know that truth is what it says it is.

      • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
        > Wouldn't that come out in a debate? Not necessarily. What happens in a debate is much more about who is a better speaker and who can martial better sounding (note not better- important difference!) arguments than anything connected to truth. This is strongly the experience I got from debating in highschool for example, and from helping judge debates in college. One sees this also in the real world in some other contexts such as how creationists often do surprisingly well against mainstream scientists.
        • That was one reason why I didn't like my universities philosoph society.

          From my point of view it was like watching children argue.

          Even compared to the shittiest internet debates it was pitiful, people would throw out a string of bad points and then carry the crowd because only the last one would get challenged.
          People would throw out obvious fallacies and appeals to emotion without challenge.

          And yet people would talk about how high quality the philosoph debated supposedly were.

          Debates like that, in front of

      • by Maudib (223520)

        Debates can absolutely change/define the truth.

        Morality, ethics, social good (and by an extension issues of copyrights) aren't universal absolutes. They are values and systems of rules that we as a society agree upon. The act of debating such ideas is a means by which we arrive at consensus and define the rules by which society is governed. Thus the truth of copyright law can very much be altered by debate.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:20PM (#33063524) Homepage Journal

      ASCAP has nothing to gain and everything to lose by debating Dr Lessig. Organizations like ASCAP, RIAA, etc act with impunity because they don't have a face. There's nobody to identify - there's nobody to criticize. They like to stay in the shadows and let their lawyers do their work, and the lawyers can claim that they're just "representing their client" so you can't even point to them.

      I'm sure that Mr Williams from ASCAP would just as soon never have been identified as being associated with ASCAP because now this faceless organization has a face. I'm surprised that he even made those idiotic public statements because usually those things are put forth by press releases from PR firms who can also claim removal from the actual organization. Most people don't even know that ASCAP exists, much less what they actually do. Their main goal was to create FUD about "anti-copyright extremists" and "pirates" and "hackers" and "terrorists" and then come across as an honorable organization that's standing strong against the worst elements of society.

      I don't think we'll be hearing a lot more from Mr Williams, much less seeing him stand up to Dr Lessig's examination of ASCAP's statements and behavior.

      • They are just chicken.

        Professor Lessig would chew them up and spit them out. I saw him debate Jack Valenti and it was clearly an uneven match.

        You are right, they have nothing to gain with such a mismatch.

      • ...isn't usually a problem; in fact it's usually a benefit. Maybe in other countries it is impossible to hate someone who never showed his face, but in the US it actually makes things easier. Whatever your political affiliation, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to disparage a group is to attach the words "big" or "faceless" to it. "Big" government, "faceless" corporations, "big" labor, etc. People don't trust you unless you can show them your face; that why for example BP was so eager to get a spokesman

      • Whenever I see 'ASCAP' after reading their ridiculous attack on Copyleft and free culture I now see 'ASSHAT'.

        It's completely automatic now and I don't think I could stop even if I wanted to.

        Which I don't. :)

      • by onionman (975962) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @09:12PM (#33064362)

        What is this ASSCAP organization of which you speak?

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Their main goal was to create FUD about "anti-copyright extremists" and "pirates" and "hackers" and "terrorists" and then come across as an honorable organization that's standing strong against the worst elements of society.

        From what I've seen of them, their main goal is to extort money from honest tavern owners who have the gall to hire live bands. AssCap shakes them down even if the bands play nothing but very old public domain hillbilly music, or play nothing but their own compositions.

        Obe bar owner in t

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by David Greene (463)

      Arguments and legislation should be based on published literature and statistics, not on who is the better orator.

      We would all like that to be true, but in the real world, statistics don't count for much when trying to pass legislation. Nor does oratory skill. They are useful to support a position but power does not react to statistics or oratory. Power reacts to power. Statistics and oratory can support power but they are not power in and of themselves.

      The reason Williams can decline a debate is that ASCAP has a tremendous amount of power and Lessig has little, if any. ASCAP has nothing to lose by declining debat

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by russotto (537200)

        Unfortunately, geeks and nerds tend to not understand this fundamental political truth. It's not about what's objectively right. That has almost no worth in politics. It's about who you can influence.

        We understand. It's just not where our skills lie. Which means our interests will go effectively unrepresented on every issue. Which in my mind calls into question the legitimacy of the whole process; why should I accept the legitimacy of a process where I automatically lose every time?

        The very first step is

        • Hyperbole much?

          We understand. It's just not where our skills lie. Which means our interests will go effectively unrepresented on every issue. Which in my mind calls into question the legitimacy of the whole process; why should I accept the legitimacy of a process where I automatically lose every time?

          Because there are advantages in doing so. [cooperationcommons.com] Perhaps a bit of perspective is in order. Let's turn that the other way 'round and ask a related question: "Why should the non-Geeks cater to to your whims?"

          You claim you understand, but I'm not sure you do. First off, you don't lose. Some, but not all of your interests are represented. You are fortunate enough to be educated. You have a computer, and are permitted to use it in a manner that allows you to express your views freely on /. with out hav

          • by russotto (537200)

            Perhaps a bit of perspective is in order. Let's turn that the other way 'round and ask a related question: "Why should the non-Geeks cater to to your whims?"

            Because I can code better than them, and coding skill is how issues are decided.

            Oh, wait, that makes no sense... in a system where coding skill determined how issues were decided, non-geeks would lose every time. We'd have all decisions being made by geeks... why would the non-geeks accept such a thing?

            You claim you understand, but I'm not sure you do.

      • In politics, it's pretty clear that if your opponent won't come to the debate, you've gotta have the debate anyway. And you've got to advertise the hell out of it even more. Fill the room with people and they still don't show up, you win by default. Win enough like that and you'll force them to come to the next one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by QuantumG (50515) *

      In order to have a worthwhile debate you need to have a host who is interesting in the truth and has control over the microphones. The host asks each guest to state their overall position, with limited time. Then the host identifies and lists where each of the guests appear to be *agree*. The guests are given the opportunity to make objections to the host's interpretation of what the guests agree on, but he must cut off either guest if they go off-track and start talking about disagreement. Once agreeme

    • by dAzED1 (33635)

      No important debate in the history of the world has ever thought it was changing the truth of a matter; that's not the point of a debate. The point of a debate is to find the truth of a matter.

      Some are successful in a debate because they are armed with rational, reasoned points and the ability to articulate them. Others are successful because they are charismatic and are great at obfuscating the truth. Surely you don't want people to just stop debating altogether however, just because some people are sli

      • by IICV (652597)

        Yes sorry I kinda misspoke there. No debate in the history of the world has ever really found the truth of a matter.

        Saying "we'll have a debate to see which side is true" is exactly equivalent to saying "we'll have a boxing match to see which side is true" - the outcome doesn't depend the truth, and it is no better than the ancient tradition of trial by combat [wikipedia.org]. The only difference is that instead of fists, orators use words.

        The only result we get from a debate is which side is better at debating, not which

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vbraga (228124)

          I found your position interesting.

          How would you apply an evidence-based method to what's fundamentally a subjective debate like law? What's truth in legislation? Legislation is the normatization of competition rules between social groups. What truth can be found on it?

    • by russotto (537200)

      Arguments and legislation should be based on published literature and statistics, not on who is the better orator.

      Ah, so they should be based on who can control the literature.

    • debate in the history of the world has ever actually changed the truth of any matter. Arguments and legislation should be based on published literature and statistics, not on who is the better orator."

      Debate == Formal argument. What you are objecting to is rhetoric.
    • by MacWiz (665750)

      I'm an ASCAP member, so I got a copy of William's dodge-and-weave ahead of most of the rest of the world.

      The greatest flaw in Williams' logic is that a Creative Commons license is adopted by the copyright owners. In the case of music, this would be the artists and songwriters. So basically, ASCAP has declared war on its own membership.

      A debate is not really necessary to pick the winner of this argument.

      Or to identify the fool.

    • by dargaud (518470)

      To be fair, no debate in the history of the world has ever actually changed the truth of any matter.

      'Debates' are one of the things that astound me about the US. Those competitive debate teams at school who get to debate things they don't even believe in. In the end the better orator wins. Not the truth. And you wonder why there are so many lawyers ?!? And the guy who's right but not a good talker gets stuffed. It is the exact thing an efficient society would want to abolish.

      • It is the exact thing an efficient society would want to abolish.

        Note, by the by, that "efficient society" pretty much reduces to "fascist society".

        The aim of society isn't "efficiency"....

    • by Lundse (1036754)

      To be fair, no debate in the history of the world has ever actually changed the truth of any matter.

      Nothing in the history of the world has ever changed the truth in any matter!

      But debate has frequently been key in bringing it out.
      If, as you seem to point out, it is based on evidence and reasoning and not mere oratory. You are, of course, also spot on with regards to why they are refusing. This is a FUD-like campaign and cares not one whit for the truth.

  • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:11PM (#33063418) Homepage

    Stop trying to confuse him with the facts!

  • quote (Score:2, Insightful)

    First they ignore you.

    Then they laugh at you.

    Then they fight you.

    Then you win.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:14PM (#33063466) Homepage Journal

    I suspect Lessig wanted the video of the debate available for all to see for free, and Williams wouldn't participate unless each viewer had to pay 3 cents to see it.

  • Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkKnightRadick (268025) <the_spoon.geo@yahoo.com> on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:14PM (#33063470) Homepage Journal

    ASCAP is going to become irrelevant as content producers such as authors move to distributing digitally exclusively so that they get more money from the purchase of their works.

    Amazon gives authors of e-books 70% of purchase price? When I'm ready to publish I'll pay for software to produce content in a manner that Kindle users will be able to easily read my content and sit back and watch as either the $$$ roll in or the cob-webs collect (depending on if my content is any good). Either way, I'll already have moved on to my next project.

    • And that's precisely why they're going this route. They know they're within a couple of decades of irrelevancy, at most, and need to get the same legislative protections that other media producers/purveyors/swindlers have achieved.

    • Re:Idiot (Score:5, Informative)

      by N7DR (536428) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:59PM (#33063914) Homepage

      Amazon gives authors of e-books 70% of purchase price? When I'm ready to publish I'll pay for software to produce content in a manner that Kindle users will be able to easily read my content and sit back and watch as either the $$$ roll in or the cob-webs collect (depending on if my content is any good). Either way, I'll already have moved on to my next project.

      Actually, if you're sensible, you'll first read the contract that Amazon requires you to sign. You may or may not decide after doing that that giving up substantial rights is worth seeing the material appear on a particular company's platform. Different authors have reached different conclusions on the matter.

      Anent Amazon and the Kindle in particular, you may want to read: http://www.sfwa.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Amazon_digital_publication_distribution_agreement_annotated_v3_080329.pdf [sfwa.org].

      • Thanks for the link, I think I love you now though because you saved me a butt-load of headache. I wonder what the B&N contract is like. *googles*

    • Re:Idiot (Score:4, Informative)

      by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @09:25PM (#33064438) Journal

      ASCAP is going to become irrelevant as content producers such as authors move to distributing digitally exclusively so that they get more money from the purchase of their works.

      Unlikely. This suggests that you don't fully understand what ASCAP does. ASCAP does the following:

      • Collects money from radio stations that broadcast your work. Until radio dies, this will continue.
      • Collects blanket license fees from performance venues that are distributed to folks whose works are performed. This is unlikely to ever stop being important. Those performance venues make money because of live music, little of which goes to the performers. As such, pushing the burden of licensing onto them means that composers don't get paid, pure and simple. No direct sales system for composers selling copies of sheet music/lead sheets is going to change that.
      • Collects money from sale of audio CDs and distributes it to its membership. This will likely diminish to nothing pretty soon if it hasn't already.

      Note that none of those have anything to do with performers selling works to the general public. Artists obtaining mechanical licenses so that they can record someone else's works do so either on a one-off basis through a contract or by going through HFA/Songfile or similar. ASCAP has nothing to do with that process whatsoever (except occasionally being a source of information when trying to find out who wrote a particular work). Similarly, artists selling works to the public neither license anything from ASCAP nor are members of ASCAP unless they are also composers or publishers.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        You're right, I don't know, but they will become irrelevant despite all of that.

        I know that ASCAP is supposed to facilitate those things, but what they are doing right now doesn't make any sense.

        Open Source doesn't take money away from anyone. It never has and never will. People who participate any sort of copyleft (or even copyfree) licensing do so WILLINGLY. By equating the EFF and others like them with copyright infringers using bittorrent to illegally trade in the work will backfire on them and cause th

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          ...what they are doing right now doesn't make any sense.

          And as an organization run by the members, I suspect Mr. Williams won't be speaking for ASCAP much longer. The backlash by ASCAP members has been significant [techdirt.com].

  • by sconeu (64226) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:15PM (#33063474) Homepage Journal

    It's difficult to see how a request for a public discussion and debate is an attempt to silence

    Simple.

    • War is peace
    • Freedom is slavery
    • Ignorance is strength
    • When Paul Williams is complaining about being potentially "silenced," he doesn't mean in the sense of being censored, or black-bagged or something. What he means is that Lessig, by offering to debate him and disprove his incoherent ramblings point by point, is preventing him from freely engaging the modern US press.

      For anyone who hasn't been paying attention the past fifteen years, there are basically three different, slightly overlapping, journalistic spheres, all of whom I label by their derogatory names:

      • In general, I agree. However...

        Minutemen trying to prevent Latino voters from voting by pointing guns at them,

        While I can find references in the Liberal Media to what you are talking about here, not even the Liberal Media is saying the guy(s) pointed guns at anyone. Just that he was wearing a gun. Which is legal, if in bad taste at the polls.

        In other words, might want to verify your sources a bit better if you don't want to be perceived as just a bit biased here.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Unfortunately, the "mainstream" media has, somehow, decided that journalists can't--or maybe shouldn't--influence the national discussion by injecting pesky things like facts or logic.

        That's why most people know all about Lindsey Lohan's drug and legal problems, everything about Mel Gibson's marital problems, but have never heard of either Williams or Lessig. That's why people are afraid to fly because the planes crash all the time, and why they're all afraid of the hordes of child molesters lurking around

  • Sic semper tyrannis ... and pathological liars. (With apologies to both Cato and Brutus for using their noble words to refer to pond scum. :-/)
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:22PM (#33063546) Journal
    Anyone who views an offer of debate as an "attempt to silence"(barring extreme cases like someone with a particularly mockable speech impediment, for which "debate" might well just involve having the crowd laugh at his expense. I'm assuming that you don't become head of ASCAP that way, though. Almost certainly a lawyer or business type who knows how to talk to a boardroom.) must see acting with impunity, and without external input, as their right be default, and thus the idea of someone else having equal footing becomes an attack, not simple justice.

    It is rather like the fanatics of various stripes who scream that they are persecuted when they are not allowed to persecute others. Their worldview is warped so far toward themselves as the default, that any attempt to prevent them from harming others is seen as an assault on their rights.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MoeDumb (1108389)
      " . . . barring extreme cases like someone with a particularly mockable speech impediment, for which "debate" might well just involve having the crowd laugh at his expense." Your observation reminds me of former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's speech impediment (mangling his "L's" by voicing them at the back of his throat rather than with tip of the tongue behind his top teeth). Rudy debated extensively and was never mocked for how he speaks. NBC newscaster Tom Brokaw has the same speech impairment. Jarring t
      • by SheeEttin (899897)
        Oh, god... Reminds me of pledge week on New Hampshire Public Radio.
        One of the people they pull to yak and try and get you to pledge is the webmaster, and he says "eight" in the back of his throat. And their phone number has like five eights in it, so every half hour I'm subjected to him making that noise at me.
  • no need for debate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PinkyGigglebrain (730753) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @06:36PM (#33063696)
    By choosing not to defend his statements in a debate Williams has shown that even he doesn't think they are worth talking about.
  • Would you want to debate Larry Lessig? I sure as hell wouldn't regardless of the subject or the positions taken. Williams may not be stupid but Lessig could sure make him look like he is.

    • Then perhaps ASCAP should find someone who can hold their ground in a debate against Lessig. I have a great deal of respect for him and his intellect, but it is absurd to think that he is the most intelligent person in the world, and I doubt that there are no equally intelligent people in the copyright lobby.

      As others have pointed out, ASCAP has nothing to gain from a debate. They are not looking for publicity outside of the world of music production, and within that world they are already well known.
      • Perhaps one problem is that it takes quite a bit to overcome the clear realities in this debate. Williams' position on this matter is factually incorrect, and intelligent discussion can't change this. If Lessig were to wish to go there, he could probably present a decent argument that ASCAP is actually undermining copyright themselves. You are correct that ASCAP would get no benefit, because when the facts are looked at, it will become evident that ASCAP's claims are false.
  • by mb12036 (516109) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @07:18PM (#33064068)

    I kind of felt like Lessig got beat up a little bit on Bill Moyers Journal when he debated Nick Gillespie on the Citizen's United campaign finance case. Gillespie was skillful enough to make the pro-corporate-money position seem...well...reasonable. And Lessig seemed ill at ease with the whole thing. I don't know if anybody "won" that debate, but Lessig definitely didn't win - which is surprising since he was clearly arguing from the high ground. It was actually a little scary to watch how deftly Gillespie dispatched all Lessig's jousts about corporate money in campaigns. If somebody at ASCAP has skills like Gillespie's, they might not have that much to worry about. More props to Lessig, despite all that, for wanting to keep these debates in a public forum.

    Link at: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/02052010/profile.html [pbs.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is why political debates are a waste of time -- sure, it forces both sides to bring out their best arguments, but everyone's already picked a side; if the enemy makes their position "seem...well...reasonable", that only means they're skillful, but our guy is "clearly arguing from the high ground".

      I haven't watched the debate in question, but your statement reeks of unrecognized bias -- you take the correctness of your position so axiomatically that you can't admit the other side may have a point. Don't

    • by macshit (157376)
      Keep in mind that Nick Gillespie's entire career has been devoted to making the unreasonable sound reasonable...
  • you kill the beast

    ascap's existence is due to a flow of cash that is being threatened by technological change

    so there is nothing to debate, there is only the relentless march of progress, and those who resist it because their revenue streams are drying up because of technological change are already living in denial

    with denial as their logical baseline, "debate" is an exercise in absurdity. there's simply nothing to debate or talk about: ascap's position is logically untenable from the start, yet they continue to hold their position, therefore, logic will not nor ever sway them. force is the only language they know or understand. so they must be forcibly killed off (by this i mean it becomes acceptable to deny them their revenue streams, i'm not talking about real world physical violence: you have to be careful to note your words are only symbolic because there are real lunatics out there)

  • Perhaps Mr. Williams is starting to think he really is Swan, the evil record producer he played in Phantom of the Paradise.

    A shame really, that he's revealing himself to be such a tool, because I do like his music.

  • Has ASCAP properly paid Apple and Steve Jobs for the Reality Altering Field they are attempting to deploy?

  • in some parts of the world people would take weighty stones laying about and crack his head open, if he had made such baseless accusations about them. he should be glad to be living in a country in which attempting to further private agendas by lies, defamation and bastardry is termed 'lobbying' and considered legal.
  • I guess only baseless attacks are worthwhile. Giving a reasonable explanation for your attack isn't worthwhile.

    Got it.
  • It is customary to write out the full name of an acronym you are using (in the first instance). This is especially when it is likely to be unfamiliar to a large proportion of your audience.
  • you debate a motion not a person
  • When do we ASCAP members get to vote this Paul Williams (Little Enos in Smokey & The Bandit + a Love Boat appearance) out of office? Says he was elected in April of '09, and it's past April '10, so I wonder when the next election will take place. Can't wait!
    • by ledow (319597)

      What on Earth makes you think that if you disagree with his statements and his representation of yourself that you should wait at all? Write, complain, protest, leave the organisation. Nobody is forcing you to affiliate yourself with an organisation whose stance / management you disagree with, and thus tarring yourself with the same brush as they are.

      Judging by the Wiki article on ASCAP, they are also giving you a bad name in other ways too. Do something about it if you don't like it, starting with compl

  • I really liked Paul Williams, too. He was the best engineered Muppet EVER.

  • -- is that they know Larry would beat them (figuratively, of course) like borrowed red-headed six-fingered step-children.

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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