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“Moral rights”: A discussion of Peter, Paul & Mary’s cease-and-desist letter to NOM

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Remember when Peter, Paul & Mary sent NOM a cease-and-desist letter a few weeks ago, after P8TT participant Kathleen Perrin notified them that NOM was playing “This Land Is Your Land” at their rallies? And when 23,154 Courage Campaign community members thanked Peter, Paul & Mary?

Well, the case has been the subject of discussion in other forums as well, including the blog of Brendan Riley, an Associate Professor in the English Department at Columbia College Chicago. Although Prof. Riley’s post is somewhat critical of our approach, we thought we should bring it to the attention of the P8TT community, in the interest of a free and open discussion that is edifying to all involved. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts in the comments, as I’m sure Prof. Riley is as well. — Eden James

By Brendan Riley

There’s this concept in copyright and intellectual property law that I find pretty interesting: moral rights. While this set of rules relates to attribution (citation, etc), it’s also used to discuss the artist’s right to defend the “integrity” of the work. This could include the use of the work in a context outside its intended meaning. America doesn’t really recognize this right. We defend ownership and copying rights, but moral rights don’t have codified space in our legal system.

Except in campaign music. I presume large scale political events license the music they use, but usually those licenses are not cleared with the artists, so you get the famous moments when musicians protest the use of the music in the wrong context. (Think Bruce Springsteen and the Reagan campaign’s use of “Born in the U.S.A.”) It’s usually liberal artists protesting conservative uses of music. I wonder if it’s ever gone the other way?

So I was interested to learn from the Courage Campaign that the National Organization for Marriage (which seeks to prohibit marriage, oddly) had been sent a Cease-and-Desist letter because they were playing the Peter, Paul, and Mary recording of “This Land is Your Land.”

Peter, Paul, and Mary love the marryin' gays

Peter, Paul, and Mary love the marryin' gays

In the Courage Campaign email, they write:

Kathleen Perrin, a frequent commenter on the Prop 8 Trial Tracker, was stunned and deeply offended that NOM was using this beautiful folk song to drown out the chants of equality counter-protesters. Kathleen knew that Woody Guthrie and Peter, Paul & Mary unequivocally supported justice and equality for all.

This is a really interesting moment because of the usual copyright conditions attached to “This Land is Your Land.” Woody Guthrie famously released it under the first creative commons license:

“This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”

So we have here someone advocating freedom and sharing, and another group from another era picking up that spirit and using the song again, and another group re-purposing that song in ways the original creators disagree with. Some thoughts:

  • From a legal perspective, it seems like PPM could stop NOM from using the song by refusing to license it for public performance. Since those rates are negotiable (unlike radio-play rates, for instance), there might be some traction there. I wonder if the NOM could get around it by hiring a radio station to play the song on a loop for a while (as a patriot day or something). Then they could just play the radio broadcast over their speakers.
  • But nothing would prevent them from using a different group’s cover of the song, or recording their own to play.
  • Probably the most effective part is the public announcement of this disagreement. On one hand, the people choosing the song wanted some traction from the PPM recording because it’s nostalgic. By publicly disagreeing with the use of the song, PPM calls attention to it and disrupts that pleasant nostalgia.
  • On the other hand, it seems like there’s a whole other angle here about the commodity-fetishism effect, in which PPM’s “This Land is Your Land” does more much to evoke positive memories of the 1960s than to evoke the political ideas that drove those movements. Even a rudimentary reading of the “Free Love” era would suggest that it’s clearly antithetical to Prop 8. Of course, many of the Baby Boomers are now conservatives, but they probably don’t think of themselves as no longer connected to their music. But it goes to the power of music to operate on valences other than the rational — we like the song, we enjoyed the era, therefore it’s nice. It doesn’t matter that the music actually says something opposed to what I want.
  • Like protecting marching Nazis, I tend to side with the NOM in terms of rights. I don’t agree with the idea of moral rights beyond the copyright period. If we really want to be able to have a vibrant, creative culture, we need to allow for the possibility that art will be used in ways the original artist wasn’t intending. I also think it’s amusing that the Courage Campaign email slipped Woody Guthrie in there, as if he’s also one of the signatories. I’m sure Arlo could have gotten on board. More importantly, having published it under the cc-like license above, would Woody step up and complain? Would he try to take legal action to stop it?
  • At the same time, I also appreciate that modern media gives moral rights a new kind of power, as artists like PP&M can make their disgust with groups like NOM clear and public.

I’ll file this away to discuss with my New Media students — we spend a lot of time talking about copyright and its importance or use in culture. The instinct is that artists should be able to control their work is a strong one when students think about their own work, but they also want to rip/mix/burn. Cognitive dissonance, ahoy!

Edit: As I read this, I realize it might be unclear which side of the debate I fall on, perhaps. I firmly believe that gay marriage is a fair and just idea, one we should all work for.



  • 1. Ann S.  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:32 am


  • 2. Ann S.  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:33 am

    this time I'll click the button, too.

  • 3. Kathleen  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:35 am


  • 4. anonygrl  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:38 am

    While this is an interesting article, I think it is answered in the very letter that PPM sent. The text reads "cease to play OUR recording" (emphasis added). Peter Yarrow was indicating that he understood, I believe, that the music itself is available for use, and was objecting to the attachment of his name, and that of the group, to a cause for which they would in no way support at the same time.

    So, Yarrow was not saying "you may not use the music" he was merely saying "you may not use our recording" which is perfectly within his rights for any reason at all he chooses.

  • 5. bJason  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:48 am

    And there you have it, folks. I don't think there is much more to say here than that!

    Spot on, as usual.

    <3 Jason

  • 6. Sagesse  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:33 am

    "So, Yarrow was not saying “you may not use the music” he was merely saying “you may not use our recording” which is perfectly within his rights for any reason at all he chooses."

    Riley comments on using the song for its nostalgia value. What was offensive was taking the lyrics, which were written to be inclusive, and playing them for the cause of exclusion. Peter Paul and Mary recorded the song, yes because it is a beautiful folk song, but also because of what Woodie Guthrie's words meant.

  • 7. Brendan  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    I agree that it's a bizarre use of the song — I think it actually fails as a bit of rhetorical practice since the song advocates freedom and the NOM folks restrict it (though I suspect they don't see it that way).

    And yes, as I say in bullet 1, the PPM version certainly could be restricted, from a legal perspective.

  • 8. Ann S.  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:41 am

    The writer posits that PP&M could have refused to license the song for public performance. I imagine they were never asked. I have no idea if such a license was required, though.

  • 9. Richard W. Fitch  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Ann: I would imagine that the licensing of public performance would apply here. Some of you may remember several years ago that the Girl Scouts of America were sued for using the ubiquitously familiar "Happy Birthday" song at their gatherings which required paid registration. Few people realize that this song is not in Public Domain and at the time the performance rights were owned by none other than Michael Jackson who had purchased a bundle of music from The Beatles. It is a complicated situation to be sure but holders of rights must protect themselves in even seemingly silly lawsuits if they are to be able to protect themselves from bigger fish.

  • 10. AndrewPDX  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:53 am

    It isn't that NOM used "This Land is…" that was at question. Well, okay, we wold have still picked on the hypocrisy, and did a lot.
    It's that PPM didn't want to be associated their name sullied by NOM's poisonous rhetoric.

    If they had just sung it themselves acapella or something, we would have just laughed at them (I can't imagine that Maggie has a pleasant singing voice).

    Liberty, Equalty, Fraternity

  • 11. Bill  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:24 am

    NOM should have had those fake 'clip art' people from the side of thier bus record a version of the song.

    It's just so them.

  • 12. Elizabeth Oakes  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:32 am

    "Brian and the Flatheads"? I like it!

  • 13. bluprntguy  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Music has to be licensed if it's played in a place "open to the public". Evidently the PP&M song wasn't licensed by NOM, in which case they were breaking the law.

    I know, I know, it's really hard to imagine that would be the case. NOM continually lies, they don't seem to ever be able to file tax returns on time, and they seem to enjoy breaking campaign finance laws. Clearly, they decided that they shouldn't be encumbered by copyright law either.

  • 14. Chris in Lathrop  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:56 am

    "I also think it’s amusing that the Courage Campaign email slipped Woody Guthrie in there, as if he’s also one of the signatories."

    A little off-base there, if you ask me. Like much of the amateur psychoanalysis of the whole event.

  • 15. Kate  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Signatory? Of course not. Composer/writer, yes! Did Brendan Riley even read the cease-and-desist letter?

  • 16. Kate  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Besides, I'm a Baby Boomer and I definitely haven't become conservative. Take it back, Mr. Riley. Hey, remember, we're the folks who fought for voting rights for Blacks, against the Vietnam War, for the ERA, and a whole lot more. We ain't stopping now!

    If Riley is arguing copyright, then he needs to realize the issue wasn't around Woody's copyright but around the one PP&M hold for THEIR recording.

  • 17. Hanou  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I think he might have been raising a larger point which was that the original was anti-personal property, and copyright law is a personal property law. He mentioned above Woody's feelings on people playing his copyrighted songs.

  • 18. Brendan  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Hi Kate,

    I wrote many — I would apply that term equally to the other half of the Baby Boomers (including my parents and most of their friends), but my point was that the Boomers who had shifted perspectives might not see the disjuncture so clearly.

    And Hanou hits it on the head — by invoking Guthrie, the letter also invokes his copyright (or anti-copyright) perspective. I'm sure he'd be in favor of gay marriage, but I'm not sure if he'd try to revoke the freedom from IP restrictions to make that point.

  • 19. AndrewPDX  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I have to ask the same question that Riley did: <cite> It’s usually liberal artists protesting conservative uses of music. I wonder if it’s ever gone the other way?</cite>

    But then… Except for Christian bands like those that probably played at Engle's Call concert last week… I can't think of any 'conservative artists'. It sounds like an oxymoron.

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

  • 20. anonygrl  |  September 9, 2010 at 9:59 am

    There are conservative artists… think of some country singers who go on about "Amurrica".

  • 21. Bennett  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Please! Country singers are not true conservatives. They play their geetars in a non classical style and use syncopated rhythms.

  • 22. Kate  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:13 am

    As though any of "their" music would be appropriate to our efforts…….

  • 23. Tomato  |  September 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Actually, I'm quite fond of this song:

    The first time I watched the vid, I was in a bit of shock that this level of liberalism was coming from Toby Keith. They are picking on the yuppie, but the MTF woman is completely accepted. "Come as you are."

  • 24. Bryan  |  September 10, 2010 at 7:44 am

    I'm still fond of George Strait's "Run" cause it has a nice set of memories tied to it.

    ….Of course I kind of prefer the eponymous song by Snow Patrol a bit better….

  • 25. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 10, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Actually, here is a song recorded by two of our allies that is appropriate for our side.

  • 26. Jason The Opinionate  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Can you imagine EQCA using "You Light Up My Life" at a rally? Yikes!

  • 27. Elizabeth Oakes  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Thanks Jason, I was just going to mention Pat Boone and his white-shoes version of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti":

    I was unable to find footage I saw where he sang it live on TV, in a white suit in front of a piece of white lattice with white twinkle lights…..he can't even hit the notes, people. These were the good old days?

  • 28. Ray in MA  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Elizabeth, are you talking about the good old days when white singers stole songs from black singers and hit the charts leaving the original authors behind? (This may have been done originally by Little Richard)

    I hope you're not reminising about the Ozzie and Harriet days that NOM loves so well.

  • 29. Elizabeth Oakes  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:17 am

    That's precisely what I'm talking about, Ray. Little Richard was left broke–he never earned a dime in residuals or copyright from his songs–while his work went to the top of the charts. Profits went to people like Pat Boone…..such a MORAL guy!

  • 30. Ray in MA  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:24 am

    @Elizabeth… we may be teaching the young one's here about the reality of the "good ol' days".

  • 31. Jason The Opinionate  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:08 am

    It's hard to imagine that this song is really key to winning people to their cause, so I doubt NOM will gain anything by playing it, or lose anything by desisting. But the more they use it without permission, the more they will demonstrate in yet another way that taking other people's rights is what they're about.

  • 32. Kate  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:14 am

    How long do you suppose before Maggie et al find this guy's blog and start using it as "evidence" of support for NOM and against PP&M?

  • 33. A A  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Like so many other right wing organizations, such as Focus On The Family, Protect Marriage, and National Organization for Marriage; their agenda is contrary to the American ideals of freedom and equality. In essence this was the very American ideal and spirit intended by PPM in their musical philosophy. NOM, in its infinite arrogrant wisdom thinks it can usurp an artist's work and use it for its own purposes, arguing that it is a "moral right." Through this recent assumptive action by NOM, it has overstepped a boundary here in playing the PPM "This Land is Your Land" tune at their pep rallies, assuming their application would be acceptable to PPM, including Woodie and Arlo Guthrie. By your reasoning, would PPM, Woodie and Arlo Guthrie be happy if Nazis played their music at Nazi rallies? Artists DO have the absolute right to control their artwork and the use of their artwork. I find it outrageous and appalling that anyone would think otherwise.

  • 34. Len Silvey  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Copyrights and licensing aside; it's just more of the same NOM hypocrisy. They would be better off composing their own piece and calling it "This Land Is Not Your Land".

  • 35. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Subscribing. Will comment later. have to gather thoughts.

  • 36. A A  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:40 am

    PPM are obviously not the first artists to have their music played without their permission at conservative functions….To name others: Bruce Springsteen, John Melencamp, etal….Ignorance of Copyright Laws, is no excuse, and for NOM to invent an excuse is purely outrageous!

  • 37. Ray in MA  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Riley only contibutes an intersesting point with the odd Guthrie license.

    Kathleen NEVER MENTIONED or IMPLIED anything about "SONG RIGHTS" or "MORAL RIGHTS"!!!

    Quote: "Peter, Paul & Mary would want to know of this grievous misuse of their recording".

    Kathleen was not infering any RIGHTS were violated… only simple misuse.

    She/we felt it was misused in the spirit of Equality and Inclusion
    …which is not at all a stretch of the truth… NOM's use was inapproptriate because they are exclusionists (new word?), as their track record shows… the song is "INCLUSIONARY" (another new word?) Riley missed this point completely.

    Riley appears to be in the class of educator's who LOVE ATTENTION… anyway they can get it… even by stretching an actual event beyond reality.

  • 38. Brendan  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    The very idea that an artist gets a say in whether a song can be misused is what MORAL RIGHTS means. It's the legal idea (not part of U.S. copyright code, but part of other codes, like the U.K.) that an artist should get to have control over how his or her work is used.

    And just to be clear, I wrote this originally on my own blog, which is mostly read by other academics interested in intellectual property issues. This came to your attention because the folks at the Courage Campaign asked to re-post it.

  • 39. Rebecca  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:58 pm


    I think it's important to note that Peter Yarrow's letter to NOM first and foremost simply asks them to stop playing the song. Yarrow implies that he is not sure of his legal standing on the issue. "…we will see if there is any legal action…"

    I see his letter more as a respectful request. He wants to make sure NOM understands he objects to their use, but he isn't directly threatening to sue.

  • 40. Brendan  |  September 10, 2010 at 12:13 am


    Quite true. And as I wrote above, I think making it a public letter is the best way to pursue this, as it invokes the outrage most of us feel when we hear that someone is using a song about freedom to promote non-freedom. (He does mention that he would be investigating legal options, however.)

    But when I'm teaching students about intellectual property and copyright, I like to point out the wildly varying laws and customs about who gets to do what with art after it's become public. Examples like this often provoke assertions that artists should have codified "moral rights."

  • 41. Dr. Brent Zenobia  |  September 10, 2010 at 12:18 am

    More often than not these days, IP is wielded as a powerful weapon AGAINST freedom of speech – it favors large corporations with deep pockets who can afford platoons of lawyers to enforce their rights. At the same time, these corporations like to hide behind the IP of small individual artists who have a far more difficult time securing their rights. Aggressive lobbying and overreaching lawyering are shrinking the commons down to nothing. The Walt Disney Company is famous for their zealous enforcement of IP; they once sued the LA Guitar Quartet for including "Baroque Hoedown" on one of their CDs. This melody is used at Disneyland as the theme song of their Main Street Electrical Parade – but as it turns out, it is also a medieval tune that ought to be in the public domain.

    So, Prof. Riley, the next time you say you dismiss the artist asserting his or her 'moral rights', consider the corrosive and immoral influence that IP is having on our public discourse, and especially on the shrinking public domain. Your position is, quite simply, corporatist.

  • 42. Brendan  |  September 10, 2010 at 1:29 am

    @ Dr. Zenobia

    When precisely did I "dismiss the artist asserting his or her ‘moral rights'?"

    I completely agree with what you've written in the first paragraph.

    But I also strongly advocate a far shorter copyright term, 28 years perhaps, that would allow for the kind of creative and artistic practices that are now commonplace to become legal. When I provoke students to assert moral rights, or argue about how long they should get to control their work, my goal is to help them see what the RIAA and others would like us NOT to see, that IP is a relatively recent concept developed in law and culture rather than something inherent.

    My initial article was meant to highlight the fact that our culture often thinks differently about rights–in this case, moral rights–than the law does.

    And I'm curious, is your argument that PP&M SHOULD have moral rights as a legal recourse? Isn't this upholding the notion of restrictive IP? If the artist is meant to have MORE control of a work, that's in favor of MORE IP law, not less.

    My view was that, from a legal perspective, NOM was free to use the song (not the recording) because Woody Guthrie released it under a very open license. So either you think that a) artists should have moral rights and thus IP should be strict, or b) artists have limited rights which may result in losing some control of their IP.

    I find the discomfort at the heart of this dichotomy really interesting. (Because personally, I like the idea that PP&M can stop NOM, but ethically, I think that IP rules should be less, not more, restrictive).

    Can you explain how this is "corporatist?"

  • 43. New  |  September 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Off – I just came across this: Perkins using scare tactics on texas tv program.

    [youtube =]

  • 44. Ray in MA  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:03 am

    NOTE: The host says: "Tony, tell us what Christians need to hear…"

    Would more "Christians" please speak up and say: ?

    "NO, we DON'T need to hear this".

  • 45. AngelH  |  September 10, 2010 at 9:13 am

    NO, we DON'T need to hear this.


  • 46. Elizabeth Oakes  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for posting this, New, it's shocking to hear these bald lies even though I knew what to expect. 'Scuse me while I run and throw up now (not your fault, but…blerf.)

  • 47. New  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    You're welcome.
    There are so many wrong things he sayed, I can't comment it all, it makes me sick.
    Thank you all.

  • 48. Elizabeth Oakes  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:08 am

    …and Perkins has the gall to accuse WALKER of "the height of arrogance." Sorry again, but……*blerf blerf*

  • 49. Ann S.  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:13 am

    At about 5:45, he almost seems to be inviting someone to do Walker in.

    And such blatant lies about how parents won't be able to teach their children their own values. Ridiculous.

    Yet people are so uneducated in our system of government that they believe him.

  • 50. Elizabeth Oakes  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I know. And THAT'S what's scary to me….that people are so ignorant they believe these bald, cynical, manipulative lies. This is why I work with kids and literacy, and try to enhance their critical thinking skills.

  • 51. Felyx  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Everyone on stage seems very white… the audience not nearly so much… Hmmm……

  • 52. Sheryl Carver  |  September 9, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    The host doesn't even remember if voting FOR Prop 8 was what he was supposed to do. People like Tony Perkins & those who consort with him are scary!

  • 53. Lora  |  September 9, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    As long as there's a Texas…there'll be a lot of a**holes and bigotry in America! (Not all, but a lot.)

    If Texas wants to secede, I wish they would hurry up and do it!

  • 54. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    They tried, Lora. But Mexico didn't want them back!

  • 55. Ray in MA  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:00 am

    And more… from:


    While campaigning in New Jersey in 1984, Ronald Reagan said in his speech: "America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts. It rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about."

    Springsteen talked about this in a 2005 interview with National Public Radio. Said Bruce: "This was when the Republicans first mastered the art of co-opting anything and everything that seemed fundamentally American, and if you were on the other side, you were somehow unpatriotic. I make American music, and I write about the place I live and who I am in my lifetime. Those are the things I'm going to struggle for and fight for."
    Speaking of how the song was misinterpreted, he added: "In my songs, the spiritual part, the hope part is in the choruses. The blues, and your daily realities are in the details of the verses. The spiritual comes out in the choruses, which I got from Gospel music and the church."


    This was obviously a very specific example of using a person's name and song. Riley's is a poor comparison here.

  • 56. Ray in MA  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:22 am

    may be of more interest… from Wikepedia:

    During a September 21 concert in Pittsburgh, Springsteen responded negatively by introducing his song "Johnny 99", a song about an unemployed auto worker who turns to murder, "The President was mentioning my name the other day, and I kinda got to wondering what his favorite album musta been. I don't think it was the Nebraska album. I don't think he's been listening to this one."

    A few days after that, presidential challenger Walter Mondale said, "Bruce Springsteen may have been born to run but he wasn't born yesterday," and then claimed to have been endorsed by Springsteen. Springsteen manager Jon Landau denied any such endorsement, and the Mondale campaign issued a correction.

    With "Born in the U.S.A." Springsteen was wildly misunderstood, at least for a short period. With these sound bites from Reagan and other right-wingers praising the song and Springsteen, himself, it seemed as though they'd missed the point entirely. Springsteen was lamenting the loss of a true sense of national pride. The working class no longer had a say in the foreign policy or decisions made by the government as a whole. The reverberating chorus of "Born in the U.S.A." was a cry of longing, of sorrow. It was a hollow cry of patriotism that once was, but now ceased to exist.

    In Springsteen’s own words, the song "Born in the U.S.A." is about "a working-class man" [in the midst of a] "spiritual crisis, in which man is left lost…It's like he has nothing left to tie him into society anymore. He's isolated from the government. Isolated from his family…to the point where nothing makes sense." [3] Springsteen promotes the fact that the endless search for truth is the true American way. He was frightened by the government continually rationalizing the Vietnam War

  • 57. Elizabeth Oakes  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:02 am

    It's interesting that Prof. Riley brings up moral rights in the same breath as Creative Commons, because anyone who's ever utilized CC-licensed works knows that, though anyone can use/share/alter the work (depending on the type of CC license) the creator of the work has the right to revoke permission if the usage is a violation of their "moral rights." From the CC website:

    What are "Moral Rights"?
    In addition to the right of licensors to request removal of their name from the work when used in a derivative or collective they don't like, copyright laws in most jurisdictions around the world (with the notable exception of the US except in very limited circumstances) grant creators "moral rights" which may provide some redress if a derivative work represents a "derogatory treatment" of the licensor's work.

    It's also interesting the Prof Riley would mention "morals" in reference to NOM (without irony anyway.)

  • 58. Brendan  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    You left out the rest of the creative Commons commentary on Moral rights:
    "Creative Commons licenses (with the exception of Canada) do not affect any moral rights licensors may have. This means that if you have moral rights as an original author of a work, you may be able to take action against a creator who is using your work in a way you find objectionable. Of course, not all derivative works you don’t like are necessarily “derogatory.” "

    In other words, in the U.S., you have no moral rights.

    Also, I think it's reasonable to argue that Guthrie's license is closer to putting something in the public domain than to Creative Commons, though I suspect he would have used CC license in the modern context.

  • 59. Paul in Minneapolis  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I doubt PPM's This Land Is Your Land is the only music NOM played that required permission they failed to secure.

    NOM could have played some other version of the song. Much like they played an excerpt from Gustav Holst's The Planets (Jupiter) in the wrong key — although they could have used the real version, because it's public domain.

    Which means that NOM uses fake things when they can use the real deal, but ignores the law otherwise. How fitting for such a pathetic group of moronic losers!

  • 60. Kate  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:28 am

    PP&M are not potted plants.

  • 61. Bill  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:33 am

    ***BREAKING NEWS****

    Off topic, but Feder Judge just ruled ban on gays in military – UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!!!

  • 62. Elizabeth Oakes  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:34 am


  • 63. Bill  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:35 am

    This is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO our time, my peeps!!!

    We are so lucky to be witnessing all of this.

    If only our brothers and sisters from the past were alive to see this, they wouldn't believe it.

    This is our time.

  • 64. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Maybe I can finally be fully proud to be a veteran! Judge Phillips, you are now officially a shero!

  • 65. Bill  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Congrats to you, Richard.

    The US Military will finally be deserving of your service.

  • 66. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Yes, and if my first husband were still alive, this might actually cause him to wear his USMC uniform on Veteran's Day. Today, Judge Virginia A. Philips brought us one step closer to being more American!

  • 67. Bill  |  September 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    A proud moment for you, Richard.

    Take good care,

  • 68. Ann S.  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:42 am

    And another WOOOOOOT!

  • 69. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  September 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Seems we used to have to wait Months between good news…Thank you Bill for sharing! I expect we will see more and more good news as old prejudices fall. Happy Dance!

  • 70. Sagesse  |  September 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Here's to the day there are more intelligent, activist judges than there are NOMbies at a Summer Tour rally.

    Can't wait to read this decision… only 333 messages in my inbox…. piece of cake.

  • 71. Ray in MA  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:43 am

    WOOT!!!! WOOT!!!! WOOT!!!! WOOT!!!!

  • 72. JPM  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Link to decision

  • 73. DazedWheels  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Thank you for the link.

  • 74. Ray in MA  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:50 am


  • 75. anonygrl  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:44 am


  • 76. Ray in MA  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I hope no one has standing to appeal!!!

  • 77. Ann S.  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Oh, the government will almost certainly appeal this one.


  • 78. Bill  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Twice, if they're alllowed.

    And the appeal will be printed in BOLD type, for sure.

  • 79. DazedWheels  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:46 am


  • 80. Ray in MA  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:55 am

    This can't be missed by the National Media:

    On CNN:

    Breaking News:
    A federal court in Riverside, California, rules the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is unconstitutional.

  • 81. Ronnie  |  September 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    YAY!!!!!!…….take that anti-gay fundies….shoop shoop….<3…Ronnie

  • 82. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  September 9, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Yep! I just got a news alert to my email from the Washington post too 🙂

  • 83. Richard A. Walter (s  |  September 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I just got this alert from here in Raleighwood:

  • 84. Brendan  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Thanks for the good comments, everyone.

  • 85. Dr. Brent Zenobia  |  September 9, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    It has certainly "gone the other way." Intellectual property rights have very frequently been used to suppress the free expression of pro-LGBT speech. At the height of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s Johnson & Johnson sued to stop GMHC from using the play on words "Ban AIDS" (with a logo similar to Band Aids) in connection with an AIDS prevention campaign targeted at gay men. And the Olympics sued Thomas Waddell, founder of what is now the Gay Games, from using what it was originally called: the Gay Olympics. Even though the name "Olympics" dates from antiquity, and certainly should be in the public domain and the common heritage of all humankind. The IOC was vicious to Waddell; as the poor man was dying of AIDS, they hounded him legally and attached a lien to his home.

    And who was that vicious lawyer representing the IOC? None other than Judge Vaughn Walker.

  • 86. AndrewPDX  |  September 10, 2010 at 3:53 am

    Realized I never subscribed.

  • 87. Michael  |  September 11, 2010 at 12:53 am

    So as I understand it, the shrill anti-gay pressure group NOM is free to use Big Government to take away the civil rights of law-abiding, taxpaying, gay Americans. But PPM should not stop them from using the PPM version of this song. Hmmmm. Where do the rights of gay Americans to be free of harassment and discrimination come into this picture?

  • 88. Brendan  |  September 11, 2010 at 2:08 am

    Did you even read the essay?

    It isn't actually about the question of gay marriage at all, but rather about the interesting conundrum of "moral rights" for artists. The question of whether artists should, either legally or 'morally,' expect to control how their art is used after it has been made is an interesting one, and crucial to the current era of remixing and adaptation.

    And actually, PPM probably do have a strong LEGAL case for stopping them playing it by revoking the public performance rights.

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