Artist Rights
May 22, 2002
Me Yappin' About Creative Commons

Let me preface this yap by stating that this is when I yap on this blog about Creative Commons it is me yapping as an artist and a technologist "at-large" and not necessarily in my official capacity as Technical Architect for Creative Commons. (Though most likely if I were to get official about it, the information I am conveying would not change. It might, however, be a lot more official-sounding.)

That said, my answer to a Slashdot reader seemed like it might be of interest to interested parties :-)

...the point I made was that if a commercial entity wished to use a work (in this case I was talking about one of my own songs) for say, a movie soundtrack, after I had released it under an "Attribution" (required) "Non-commercial" Custom License, that commercial entity would still have to contact me directly for such use (to presumably pay me money for such use, as such use would constitute infringement of its terms of use otherwise).

So I never said that our licenses would be used for commercial deals -- but I still apologize for my not being clearer with my example as it has apparently caused some confusion for my audience.

And I do see these licenses as having great potential to promote artists in commercial ways, yes. Artists that have a bevy of songs might want to release one or two under one of our licenses to get tunes out into the artistic community before a concert tour, for instance, or to sell t-shirts or the other kinds of "commercial" shwag, after the music itself has been "given" away.

I would also just like to clarify that we are absolutely *not* trying to water down the notion of what constitutes "public domain", and that's why the two "forks" of the conceptual prototype I demonstrated at E-tech (for our contributor licensing application) are very clearly split off in the beginning: you are creating a Public Domain Dedication *or* a Creative Commons Custom License that allows you to impose terms more restrictive than the Public Domain but less restrictive of copyright.

So the idea is to provide licenses that enable artists to either donate to the public domain outright (currently there is NO easy way for them to do so -- you literally have to pay money to figure out how to give you work away...) OR to donate their works in the "spirit" of the public domain (using a CC custom license) without giving the rights away to that movie studio who wants to use the song on a soundtrack. (which would be the case with a public domain track).

That said, I still think the public domain option could have commercially-powerful uses.

For instance, a movie studio may decide to use independent, popular, public domain works on a soundtrack that is *sold* -- what a way for the studio to save money, sure, but also what a way for a no name (like me) to even have a chance of being considered for such a soundtrack.

It goes both ways. My advice to everyone is this: If you are AT ALL WORRIED about the implications of putting your work into the public domain: don't do it -- use one of our Custom Licenses instead.

Wait until you've had a chance to understand fully both the legal implications and potential benefits of putting your work into the public domain, and can do so with complete confidence.

The point is to give artists a choice to contribute to (and reap the benefits of) a world-wide connected artistic community, if they're into it.


Lisa Rein
Technical Architect
Creative Commons

Posted by Lisa at May 22, 2002 03:49 PM | TrackBack
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