Creative Commons and Negativland Begin Work on Free Sampling and Collage
Matt Haughey, May 30th, 2003
The Silicon Valley Nonprofit Also Rolls Out New Model for Community
Palo Alto, California, USA – May 29, 2003 – Creative Commons, a nonprofit
dedicated to building a layer of reasonable copyright, announced today
that it would begin development of the Sampling License, a copyright tool
designed to let artists encourage the creative transformation of their
work, for profit or otherwise. Leading the public discussion and
development of the license is Negativland, practitioners of “found sound”
music as well as other forms of media manipulation.
Glenn Otis Brown, Creative Commons Executive Director, commented: “The
Sampling License is among the most exciting projects we’ve taken on so
far. The technology and culture of the Net already facilitate the
remixing of culture. The law does not, so we’re helping it catch up by
remixing copyright itself.”
When completed, the Sampling License will allow people to create collage
art and “mash-ups” – as well as other art forms based on re-used
materials – from licensed works. Like all of Creative Commons copyright
tools, the Sampling License will be made available for free to the public
from the organization’s website.
“There’s a crucial difference between bootlegging another’s work and the
creative transformation of it.” Negativland said. “Collage is a technique
that has an undisputed currency in virtually all art forms today.
Originally, copyright was designed to prohibit the piracy or bootlegging
of complete works; that was and remains a worthy goal. But copyright is
now also routinely used to prohibit collage, as if it were no different
from outright piracy. With Creative Commons, we’re trying to build a
license that will allow copyright holders to invite transformation of
their works – even for money – while preventing this sort of verbatim
Negativland is Creative Commons’ first Project Lead, a role central to
the organization’s new community development model. As Creative Commons
identifies new projects, Project Leads will drive public discussion from
the Creative Commons website.
“Creative Commons is a public laboratory for new ideas,” said Lawrence
Lessig, Chairman of Creative Commons and professor of law at Stanford.
“By having real-life practitioners like Negativland lead volunteer
discussion groups, we’ve come up with a nice way to build on the great
ideas among our supporters.”
Creative Commons will soon announce new Project Leads for an Education
License, a Developing Nations License, and others. The nonprofit plans to
extend the Project Leads model into technological developments as well.
More about Creative Commons
A nonprofit corporation, Creative Commons promotes the creative re-use of
intellectual works – whether owned or public domain. It is sustained by
the generous support of The Center for the Public Domain and the John D.
and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Creative Commons is based at
Stanford Law School, where it shares staff, space, and inspiration with
the school’s Center for Internet and Society.
For general information, visit http://creativecommons.org.
To follow the progress of the Sampling License discussion group, visit
The experimental music and art collective known as Negativland has been
recording music/audio/collage works since 1979, producing a weekly 3-hour
radio show (“Over The Edge”) since 1981, hosting a World Wide Web site
since 1995, and performing live on occasional tours throughout America
and Europe. They have released 15 CDs, one video and one book (Fair Use:
The Story Of The Letter U And The Numeral 2) since 1980.
Negativland’s particular musical practice incorporates found sounds and
musical samples into their collage compositions. This contemporary
interest in collage (a hallmark of 20th Century art of all kinds) stems
in part from fact that art and commerce have now merged to a degree where
corporations finance, groom, direct, filter, manufacture and distribute
almost everything we know of as “culture.” This inevitably uncomfortable
partnership of art and commerce to produce “mass culture” means that art
is no longer an independent creation. It is now instigated, owned,
operated, and promoted by administrators, subsumed by demographic
targeting, and subjected to economically inspired “guidelines” for
For more information, visit http://negativland.com.
More about the Project Leads model at http://creativecommons.org/discuss.
Glenn Otis Brown
Executive Director (Palo Alto)
glenn AT creativecommons.org
dj AT webbnet.com
markhosler AT charter.net