Don Henley Still Really Confused: Actually Claims Copyright Office Is Not An Advocate For Copyright Holders

from the wtf? dept

The aging rocker brigade continues to make foolish statements about the internet and copyright. We’ve already mentioned John Mellencamp’s and Stevie Nicks’ anti-internet comments, but we should probably include Don Henley in there as well. You may recall that at the beginning of August, after actually winning a copyright claim against a politician who used his song in a commercial, Henley went on a tirade about how evil YouTube is, and how the government needs to do something.

Apparently he wasn’t done yet, though his version of the government’s take on copyright seems to come out of a parallel universe. Rolling Stone did a short interview with Henley, where he spews some of the most uninformed garbage on copyright law that I’ve heard in a long time:

While the onus of legally pursuing infringement has always been on copyright owners, the U.S. Copyright Office clearly has not been a strong enough advocate for copyright owners, particularly when you look at its most recent decisions. I think that fact has been lost over the last 10 years, especially with respect to digital media.

This is incredibly laughable if you know anything about the Copyright Office, which has been the leader in pushing for ever more draconian copyright law and has a history of almost always siding with content creators over the public. The 1976 Copyright Act, which completely flipped copyright on its head in this country came out of the Copyright Office, and some of the same folks are still there (including the boss, Marybeth Peters) — and haven’t changed their opinion much. Peters, in particular, has always been a staunch supporter of copyright holders over the public.

But Henley wants to believe in this fantasy world of a different sort of Copyright Office… and he even has an equally laughable explanation:

Because the Copyright Office is a part of the Library of Congress, and the mission of a library is to provide free access to the public, there is an inherent conflict of interest. Perhaps the time has come to separate these institutions so that they are not at cross-purposes. After all, the Patent and Trademark Office is part of the Department of Commerce and, since U.S. music, film and other creative copyrights comprise one of our country’s most lucrative sectors, here and abroad, moving the Copyright Office under Commerce Department’s umbrella might be the most effective way of enforcing the law.

Mr. Henley is woefully misinformed, yet again. The idea that providing access to information is somehow “a conflict of interest” with copyright law would make almost any copyright scholar choke with amazement. The entire purpose of copyright law was to provide more information to the public. And yes, it was through a system of monopolies by granting exclusive rights, but to suggest that these two ideas are in conflict is wrong. And, Henley also seems a bit confused about the Library of Congress, falsely thinking that it’s something like a giant public library, and extrapolating from that.

As for the idea of moving the Copyright Office into the USPTO or into a similar role under the Department of Commerce, that again inherently confuses the purpose of copyright law. However, even if that did make sense, it’s got nothing to do with being a more “effective way of enforcing the law.” The Copyright Office does not “enforce the law,” so the whole concept of Henley’s comments makes little sense.

Separately, it looks like Henley has been talking to someone in the RIAA about how that darn DMCA (written with the help of the RIAA) just isn’t working any more:

Congress should amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), eliminating or dramatically limiting the Safe Harbor provisions so that ISPs [Internet service providers] and websites such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook have legal liability for hosting infringing content. Just as distributors and retailers have equal liability under the law for distributing and/or selling bootleg or infringing music, films, software, and other intellectual property, so should online companies bear similar liability at law.

Doesn’t that message sound pre-written out by someone in the industry, rather than something that just popped out of Henley’s mouth? Either way, it’s also quite ignorant of the situation. There’s a very good reason why the safe harbors are in the DMCA and that’s to make sure the right party is liable for copyright infringement. The reason that distributors and retailers can be liable for distributing or selling is because they’re the parties actually responsible, rather than a separate third party tool provider. The ISPs in this case are more like the companies selling the CD players that play the bootlegs. Does Henley think those consumer electronics firms should be liable as well?

From there, Henley — again, apparently living in a parallel universe — claims that the labels never should have removed DRM:

The recording industry was bullied by online retailers into removing protective measures, such as DRM, from their sound recordings or else facing the prospect of these retailers refusing to distribute their catalogs. Yet, so far, digital royalties on music have failed to live up to the hype; in fact, removing such protective measures has increased the theft of music and other intellectual property.

First of all, the labels weren’t “bullied” into removing DRM, they finally came to their senses after consumers revolted from DRM, and there was example after example after example of DRM harming legitimate customers (or leaving them high and dry after a server was taken offline). And the idea that removing DRM increased infringement is equally laughable. Everything that was released with DRM had that DRM cracked and was available online already. Removing DRM hasn’t changed anything when it came to infringement.

We’ve seen lots of really clueless music industry folks, but this interview really takes the cake as a new low.

Separately, I should mention that I only came across this interview because of a (typically) angry tweet from Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff angrily tweeting about it. His complaint wasn’t about Henley’s blatantly laughable statements. Nope. He was downright angry that Rolling Stone referred to Henley’s ignorant comments as “conservative.” Seriously:

Don’s views are “surprisingly conservative” to whom? The writer? Please be sure to thank him for his editorial comments. It’s interesting that a writer from a magazine empire that was founded and built around music and musicians now seems to be taking a position in opposition to it’s content providers. How about free copies of Rolling Stone for everybody – in perpetuity?

Calling someone’s views on copyright “conservative” hardly is taking a position “in opposition to content providers.” On top of that, it’s downright obnoxious that Azoff seems to think that writing about music and musicians means supporting greater and greater government-granted monopoly rights for those musicians. As we’ve seen time and time again, less copyright tends to lead to greater creative output and greater net benefit. So, if you actually looked at the evidence, it would seem to suggest that a publication supporting music and musicians would also support less copyright.

But, of course, what copyright really supports is (you guessed it) middlemen and gatekeepers. And what’s one of the biggest gatekeepers around in the music industry these days? Oh right… Ticketmaster. Frankly, this is pretty disappointing. About a year ago, I met with various Live Nation execs who really seemed to get the whole new business model/CwF+RtB concept, and were talking about ways that they could better enable that for musicians. While Live Nation definitely didn’t have the greatest reputation, I was actually excited maybe a major player in the industry would start to enable new business models, focusing on the future and the opportunities of setting the infinite free and selling scarcities, rather than misguided whining about copyright. Then the Ticketmaster merger closed, and it looks like with Azoff in charge, those plans are going nowhere fast.

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Companies: copyright office, ticketmaster

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Comments on “Don Henley Still Really Confused: Actually Claims Copyright Office Is Not An Advocate For Copyright Holders”

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51 Comments
Matthew (profile) says:

Hooray for the underdog?

If there’s one trait that a majority of Americans seem to possess, it’s the almost pathological desire to position ourselves as the underdog in any conflict. So of course, people like Henley, Nicks, and Mellencamp are just lone artists speaking out against the evil faceless hordes of the internet. These scrappy do-gooders have only a pitiful alliance of multinational corporations, lobbying firms, pocket congressmen, and the bureaucracies of the governments of the majority of the nations of the world to help them defeat the pirates, and by pirates i mean primarily poor teens and twenty-something fans. (But let’s face it; if Mellencamp, Nicks, and Henley are seeing a decrease in their royalty checks it’s not because of piracy. It’s the mortality rate of their aging fans.)

JC says:

the elderly

I was trying to read the Henley comments but all I kept getting was:

“I’m old and confused. Where are my pills? Did that [Henley’s preferred derogative term for a minority] steal them? Everyones out to get me. The governments got their taxes and their roads but wheres my money? Not in the onion market thats for sure. Who are you?”

Hugh Mann (profile) says:

Your headline skips some important words

Don Henley didn’t say the Copyright Office is “not an advocate” for copyright holders, as your headline claims. He said, as you later quoted, it was not a “strong enough” advocate, and he has his reasons for believing so. Two very different concepts. Of course, reasonable people may have differing opinions regarding whether the Copyright Office strikes a fair balance in its role or if some adjustment is necessary. That’s a different subject.

On its face, your headline is demonstrably false. Why did you feel it necessary to be misleading? Your arguments – whether one agrees or disagrees with their applicability -are just as effective without misrepresenting Henley’s position.

You often go to great lengths to point out what you believe to be misrepresentation of the facts by others (at least those others who have opinions you deem to be misguided or incorrect). Why do you not hold yourself to the same standard?

HM

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Your headline skips some important words

Hugh,

His statement was that the Copyright Office is controlled by the Library of Congress which just wants to give stuff away free. He made a clear case that he believes the Copyright Office is not an advocate for copyright holders.

I see nothing “demonstrably false” in the headline.

Hugh Mann (profile) says:

Re: Re: Your headline skips some important words

So, your headline just happens to ALMOST quote him word-for-word, but you choose to drop a few words so it says something very different, and you don’t see what demonstrably false?

He asserted the Copyright Office had a conflict (and he said it was “part of”, not “controlled by” the LoC), and was not a “strong enough” advocate (which implies that he believes it IS an advocate, though to some less-than-preferred degree). You have turned that into a claim by him that the CO is not an advocate at all, merely to make it seem more extreme to aid in your arguments against his position.

Your arguments may or may not be persuasive, but they certainly do not need to rest upon a misrepresentation of Henley’s statement. Especially in light of your various posts regarding assertions that the MPAA/RIAA mis-use and misrepresent statistics and that the New York Times makes up statistics based on random anecdotal reports.

It’s clear that you have a real big chip on your shoulder about this stuff, and that you’re not overly interested in looking at these issues from the other guy’s point of view. I would hope, however, that you could at least accurately relate the facts.

My reaction when I read your headline was, “wow, Henley really said THAT?” I had in mind some of the things you yourself used to refute this supposed position of his. It didn’t make sense to me that he could, with a straight face, make that kind of comment. However, when I read further, I realized no, he didn’t say THAT at all. You didn’t merely summarize his position, or re-cast his comments in a different way. You made up an assertion that was not supported by what he actually appears to have said.

The fact that you don’t see what is demonstrably false speaks volumes.

HM

MadderMak (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Your headline skips some important words

Yet both you and me managed to read the whole summary (not just the headline) and you provided real feedback in the comments on exactly why the headline was mistaken (in your opinion)… so we should insist it be changed to suit just who? The “moron” in a hurry who only reads headlines?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Your headline skips some important words

So, your headline just happens to ALMOST quote him word-for-word, but you choose to drop a few words so it says something very different, and you don’t see what demonstrably false?

From the context of his statements, I believe the headline quite accurately reflects what he was saying.

You disagree, but I believe you are the one misrepresenting his statements.

Anonymous Coward says:

With all that paranoia in 80’s about drugs and how they would kill you, I’m surprised that we have “old” musicians, specially those that were considered garbage by older generations who saw them as junk music, now those people are “respectful” law abiding citizens?

Isn’t human behavior fun?

Those people will see ZERO from me, not a dime.

gr8oldies (profile) says:

It's Like This

You know I’m old and I like the old rockers music but just like when I listened to em in the 60’s 70’s and 80’d I ignored their views then as I do now case in point I was channel surfing the other night ran across an interview with Gene Simmons and watched just long enough to hear him say “If you listen to my music without paying for it I’ll come take your house your kitty and everything else you own” I then switched to The Three Stooges I found them to be more logical.

NAMELESS.ONE says:

@21

who cars about it being 100% specific the fact is GOVT is for the people not some fuck for brains lazy cocksucker like you or henley

fucking lazy assholes get a job and quite trying to suck off everyone elses hard earned money you creep and quit defending these sicko drug addicts who put cash in to gangsters hands to further harm society and its kids

Nah says:

@HM
– “You have turned that into a claim by him that the CO is not an advocate at all, merely to make it seem more extreme to aid in your arguments against his position.”

And you have added “not an advocate AT ALL” to make it seem more extreme, using your own words.

– “It’s clear that you have a real big chip on your shoulder about this stuff”

Oh, and you don’t? Whom are you trying to fool? You are acting by the book. The RIAA lap dog user manual, that is.

TAM 2.0?

– My reaction when I read your headline was, “wow, Henley really said THAT?”

And mine was “Of course, fucking typical Henley!.” Just find all the garbage he has said in the past.

Thomboykt (profile) says:

Copyright

Let’s play a game, you write a song, put it out there for free… that is of course after you’ve paid a producer, musicians, engineer, bgvs and all other related costs. Now this has to be your only source of income as well. Even better, let’s make this a reality show so that we can all learn from you since you seem to have all the answers regarding FREE and copyright law. Hell, I can’t understand why all of the majors have nabbed you to come run their labels. Seems like you have all the answers!

mike allen (profile) says:

Re: Copyright

ok lets do it the modern way no producer not needed no paying out for studios not needed (plenty of softwear out there some even for free) the band then is free to produce their sound as THEY wiant it to sound not some lable sayint “we want it this way”.
A large number of bands know this and already work to release their music themselves for free.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Copyright

Now this has to be your only source of income as well.

Wait, why? This line is the problem. This line is why you look foolish. The whole point is that this is not your only source of income.

Why attack me for pointing out smarter ways to make money and then say I can only talk about it if I’m stupid enough to limit myself to the one part of the market that you shouldn’t be trying to make money from?

Seems like you have all the answers!

Your sarcasm is pretty weak. Do you want to have a real discussion or do you want to just come off like a dick?

Melin says:

Copyright

Those who are gifted enough to create Art, Music, ect…have only their work in the end! Would you deny Inventors, Science and Technolgy geniuses who change our lives, their rights! Artists have a long been
taken advantage of by people who recognize their worth and simply know how to screw them– by the law.
Don Henley appears to cause a lot of envy – enough to be misrepresented and in what appears to be responses that are just stupid comments about the man’s legendary carreer! The changes he is advocating for may never come to pass in lifetime. He does not need the money but think of all those 1 hit wonders who depend on much smaller catalog of work

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Copyright

Would you deny Inventors, Science and Technolgy geniuses who change our lives, their rights!

Copyright is more accurately described as a privilege than a right. And I have no problem curtailing privileges when it’s appropriate.

Artists have a long been
taken advantage of by people who recognize their worth and simply know how to screw them– by the law.

Yes, mostly record labels.

Don Henley appears to cause a lot of envy

It’s safe to say none of the comments here are envy-based.

The changes he is advocating for may never come to pass in lifetime.

For the good of society, I sincerely hope they do not.

He does not need the money but think of all those 1 hit wonders who depend on much smaller catalog of work

The purpose of copyright is not to allow one-hit wonders to live off their one hit for the rest of their lives. It’s to encourage everyone to create more. So a system that allows one-hit wonders to suceed is actually contrary to the Constitutional purpose of copyright.

Old rock stars have droopy balls says:

Wow maybe Mick Jagger should chime in on copyright infringement. These stupid, old, fat, child molesting, rock stars don’t mind one bit stealing from unknown writers. They think it’s funny to use their money to shut down writers who don’t have money. They are exactly like the people they used to criticize in their songs back in the days when they had trim bodies and firm minds. They are too rich, too old, and too drug addled to remember what they used to stand for. I love the fact that they still have hero worshippers even though they sell they CD’s through Walmart, cha ching. I don’t envy rich people who look down their noses at the people who made them rich. Henley thinks he is better than poor people. He’s a Texas a-hole.

JNK23 says:

Anti-priracy / internet

Don Henley is an adorable man-of-age and he makes “sweet” music. I mean … the man is a genious-lyricist. And what a voice? I amdmire all that he does for artists and for the environment– spending all his time and money to make the world a better place for our children. With that being said, the legislation that he supports (IP Protect & SOPA) are too broad — very scary. At a minimun, the solution for artists must come from new business models. That is what I think. Sorry Mr. Henley!

jjobson says:

Don Henley

Sounds like all you opinionated brats with your little no nothing comments hasn’t learned your ass from a hole in the ground yet. Last I heard it is freedom of speech idiot. Henley can damn well think, say and feel whatever he wants. Respect yourself punks, I don’t honestly think any of you are attorneys and if you are obviously not a very good one. Acting as if you know anything about whats really going on makes you look ridiculous. Why don’t you find something more constructive to do like finding the balls or tits to fight for something you believe in like Henley is instead of jerking off all day on the internet because you’ve never had a real date. Go tell mommy to find your pacifier and change your diaper, you are soaking wet……

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Don Henley

Last I heard it is freedom of speech idiot. Henley can damn well think, say and feel whatever he wants.

Indeed. Just as it is our “freedom of speech” to respond, criticize and critique his speech. And it is your freedom of speech to demonstrate your own ignorance as well.

Isn’t America great?

Acting as if you know anything about whats really going on makes you look ridiculous.

I agree. Might want to take a look in the mirror, sparky.

Why don’t you find something more constructive to do like finding the balls or tits to fight for something you believe in like Henley is instead of jerking off all day on the internet because you’ve never had a real date. Go tell mommy to find your pacifier and change your diaper, you are soaking wet……

So you insist we have no idea what we’re talking about, yet make no constructive suggestion, nor explain any factual error in our statement, and conclude with an immature insult.

Why should we take you seriously?

jjobson says:

Well Mike I’m surprised that you would be the first to jump on it. I could care less if you take me seriously or not. My comment was and is directed to all the ignorance that was already initiated. I haven’t read anything mature or constructive yet, my point exactly…. Stop crying, you can dish it out but you can’t take it. After all I was exercising my freedom of speech and it obviously bothers you. Why don’t you look in the mirror and tell me what you see?? Sorry brother man but you’ve been punked.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

After all I was exercising my freedom of speech and it obviously bothers you.

I didn’t see it that way. You exercised your freedom of speech (on a platform provided to you via Mike’s efforts, no less) and Mike exercised his freedom of speech to criticize what you said. You seem to be the one bothered by it to me.

Sorry brother man but you’ve been punked.

Not at all, one needs to have actual arguments to win a debate. You seem woefully unequipped to engage in this sort of intellectual sparring.

JJobson says:

Oh my Gwiz or should I say Peterpan. If you want an intelligent debate why don’t you get the facts straight.

1. You own the copyright (the right to use and reproduce your work) from the second you create the work (press the shutter, click the record button, etc) until and unless you assign any of your rights to someone else.

2. If you’re an employee of a company for whom you are generating images, music etc. the copyrights to that material belong to the company.

3. You own the rights to any images/music/written material you make during a freelance assignment unless you have agreed to sell some or all of the rights to the client.

4. You can’t copyright an idea (only the actual production of an idea).

5. There is a procedure for registering your materials in the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress. There is a small fee to do so but registered copyrights will give you a large advantage should you need to sue someone’s ass off who infringed on your copyright.

6. © You do not have to place the copyright symbol with your name and “year created” near your published or printed materials- but if you do it’s easier to nail someone for infringement on your copyright if you go to court.

7. A fashionable flourish along sleeves or perhaps the seam of your pants that was popular in the 60’s. (And especially: when someone uses copyright protected material without permission it is illegal and called an “infringement”).

8. If someone swipes your picture/song/video from the internet and uses it for their own purposes, it is a copyright infringement. (Btw, the same is true if you nick some else’s material for your own purposes.)

9. Pictures, compositions and other “works” whose copyright protection has expired (old stuff) or “works” that were never covered by copyright law (really old stuff) are not copyright protected and are considered in the “public domain” thus can be legally used by anyone.

10. Exceptions to copyright protection include newspapers using copyrighted materials without permission for reporting and teachers who make multiple copies of copyrighted materials for classroom distribution. There also seems to be some wiggle room with using copyrighted materials for portfolios, especially student portfolios.

I guess my argument went way over your head. In other words Don Henley does have a legit complaint and should be able to sound out without being trashed for it. A debate does not have to be in poor taste. Any argument can be constructive. My prevous comments inflammatory which proves, if you lay down with dogs you get up with fleas.

nasch (profile) says:

Re:

Oh my Gwiz or should I say Peterpan. If you want an intelligent debate why don’t you get the facts straight.

What is this list of facts about copyright law supposed to rebut? I just reread the article, and I don’t see anything in it that you’re actually disagreeing with.

In other words Don Henley does have a legit complaint and should be able to sound out without being trashed for it.

Henley should not be criticized for his comments, but it’s OK to criticize Masnick for his? I don’t get it.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

Oh my Gwiz or should I say Peterpan. If you want an intelligent debate why don’t you get the facts straight.

Lol at the ad hom. The most inept arguments usually start with insults.

Care to point out what facts I actually got wrong somewhere?

In other words Don Henley does have a legit complaint and should be able to sound out without being trashed for it.

First, off I don’t think Henley’s complaints are legit at all. My opinion is that they are laughable, silly and just plain incorrect.

Secondly, you are completely incorrect when you say that anyone has the right to “sound out without being trashed for it”. Sure, you have the right to sound out about something, but you do not, I repeat, do not, have any right against someone else rebutting, correcting or even mocking you for what you’ve said.

Jennifer Jobson says:

First of all I already have a parrot. Where are your facts homey? Is that the best you can do? Now that you’ve had your ten minutes worth of internet fame do you feel important? Oh that’s right I almost forgot the bark is worse than the bite. Just because you have the freedom of speech to mock doesn’t mean you should abuse it. By the way I don’t think Henley would gives a rats ass about what you think or anyone else on this website, just my opinion. I rest my case….

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

Where are your facts homey? Is that the best you can do?

Facts for or against what? You still have not actually articulated what it is you think somebody has gotten wrong here.

Now that you’ve had your ten minutes worth of internet fame do you feel important?

Lol. If fame is what I was looking for, I wouldn’t have been using such an arbitrary moniker for the last 4 years or so.

Just because you have the freedom of speech to mock doesn’t mean you should abuse it.

I’m not sure would I call it abuse, personally. I do firmly believe that incorrect or incompetent speech should be countered and corrected with more speech, though.

By the way I don’t think Henley would gives a rats ass about what you think or anyone else on this website, just my opinion.

You are probably right, but that doesn’t really matter at all. Counter arguments and critiques, like this article, are really targeted at those who might be fooled into thinking Henley’s arguments have some sort of merit.

I rest my case….

Once again, you need to actually make some sort of case before resting it.

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