NIN’s Creative Commons licensed Ghosts I-IV has been making lots of headlines these days.
First, there’s the critical acclaim and two Grammy nominations, which testify to the work’s strength as a musical piece. But what has got us really excited is how well the album has done with music fans. Aside from generating over $1.6 million in revenue for NIN in its first week, and hitting #1 on Billboard’s Electronic charts, Last.fm has the album ranked as the 4th-most-listened to album of the year, with over 5,222,525 scrobbles.
Take a moment and think about that.
NIN fans could have gone to any file sharing network to download the entire CC-BY-NC-SA album legally. Many did, and thousands will continue to do so. So why would fans bother buying files that were identical to the ones on the file sharing networks? One explanation is the convenience and ease of use of NIN and Amazon’s MP3 stores. But another is that fans understood that purchasing MP3s would directly support the music and career of a musician they liked.
The next time someone tries to convince you that releasing music under CC will cannibalize digital sales, remember that Ghosts I-IV broke that rule, and point them here.33 Comments »
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The Craft Economy, a Toronto-based, CC-loving, CD-stapling, copyright reforming group of musicians, recently released their latest EP, Is On Your Side, for wide release under a CC BY-NC-SA license. The disc is available on on iTunes, eMusic, as a torrent file, and as a physical CD for $5.
Digital Foundations: Intro to Media Design with the Adobe Creative Suite is a new book that aims to teach the principles of Bauhaus design and its relation to modern software, Adobe’s Creative Suite in particular:
Digital Foundations uses formal exercises of the Bauhaus to teach the Adobe Creative Suite. All students of digital design and production—whether learning in a classroom or on their own—need to understand the basic principles of design in order to implement them using current software. Far too often design is left out of books that teach software for the trade and academic markets. Consequently, the design software training exercise is often a lost opportunity for visual learning. Digital Foundations reinvigorates software training by integrating Bauhaus formal design exercises inspired by the history of art and design into tutorials fusing design fundamentals and core Adobe Creative Suite methodologies. The result is a cohesive learning experience.
The book is being released under a CC BY-NC-SA license and is available for free in wiki format (also available for purchase here). This license choice not only keeps the content open and shareable, but is also a “first for AIGA Design Press, New Riders, and Peachpit, and the result of 9 months of negotiation” (via Boing Boing).
Digital Foundations‘ authors, xtine burrough and Michael Mandiberg, have posted their musings on copyright, the public domain, and Creative Commons on the Digital Founation’s blog through out the book’s creation. Similarly, we would be remiss if we failed to mention that while the book focuses on Adobe’s Creative Suite, the design principles taught therein are equally applicable to open-source design tools such as GIMP and Inkscape.1 Comment »
Monday and Tuesday next week the Program for the Future Conference celebrates the 40th anniversary of Doug Engelbart’s famous Demo, which presaged much of modern computing, in 1968 (related in some ways, see Creative Commons 1967). From the conference website:
Engelbart dreamed of technology and tools that increased our Collective Intelligence and a stunning example of how it works. Now it’s up to us to take up the challenge. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Engelbart’s astounding demo, the Program for the Future is bringing together some of the best minds in science, media, business and education — and we hope you will be among them — to explore the question: what’s next?
Monday the conference takes place at San Jose’s The Tech Museum of Innovation, Tuesday it moves to Stanford University. See the conference program for details and registration.
I’ll be speaking Tuesday on a panel about “Bootstrap Tools”. So what could Creative Commons have to do with bootstrapping collective intelligence? That’s not terminology we use every day, but a hint: I’ll probably title my slides The Commons as a Collective Intelligence Meta-Innovation. For further hints along those lines, sans futurist buzzwords, there’s good reading and viewing to be had in presentation slides by Science Commons’ John Wilbanks, e.g., Radical Sharing: Transforming Science? I’ll probably use some of his slides.
Final bit to whet your appetite, see the Engelbart Mural. A detail is below, featuring a clever CC BY-NC-SA license and attribution notice:
This week, the Grammy Awards nominations were announced – and, for the first time, a Creative Commons-licensed track and album are on the list. Nine Inch Nails’ “34 Ghosts IV” is nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, while the album that track appears on, Ghosts I-IV, is up for Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package.
This year, NIN released both Ghosts I-IV and a second album, The Slip, under a CC BY-NC-SA license. Both albums were downloaded for free and shared legally millions of times by fans under the terms of this license. At the same time, NIN found great financial success in selling cool, well-crafted, limited edition physical editions of both sets. Back in March, Wired said the band made $1.6 million on Ghosts I-IV in its first week of release alone.
Additionally, Radiohead’s song “House of Cards” is up for several Grammys, including Best Short Form Music Video. The video’s animation data was released under a CC BY-NC-SA license earlier this year (see previous post).
Congratulations to Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead for the nominations. Also, congratulations to all of the other artists whose work was nominated for Grammys this year, including Brian Eno, Diplo, Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo (AKA Gnarls Barkley), My Morning Jacket, Gilberto Gil, Peter Gabriel, Thievery Corporation, and Cornelius – all of whom have used Creative Commons licenses and/or have supported CC over the years.2 Comments »
Change.gov, the website of US president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, has undergone some important and exciting changes over the past few days. Among them is the site’s new copyright notice, which expresses that the bulk of Change.gov is published under the most permissive of Creative Commons copyright licenses – CC BY.
Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Content includes all materials posted by the Obama-Biden Transition project. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Change.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
This is great news and a encouraging sign that the new administration has a clear sense of the importance of openness in government and on the web (there’s a bit more on this over at Lessig’s blog). The embrace of Creative Commons licensing on Change.gov is consistent with earlier support by both Obama and McCain for the idea of “open debates.” (It’s also in line with Obama’s decision to publish the pictures in his Flickr Photostream under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license – pretty cool!)
Tim O’Reilly has written a smart post (which has elicited some very thoughtful reader comments) recommending that Change.gov use revision control as a way to further improve transparency and make it possible for the public to review any changes that occur on the site. Of course, licensing is just one component of openness, but getting licensing right is necessary for enabling people to truly take advantage of technologies that facilitate collaboration.
Update: Several people have pointed out that “works created by an agency of the United States government are public domain at the moment of creation” (see Wikipedia for more on this). Change.gov is not currently the project of a government agency, but a 501(c)(4) that has been set up to manage the Obama-Biden transition. Also, the public is being invited to contribute their own comments and works to the site, and it is important to have a clear marking of the permissions that other people have to this material.
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Creative Commons Board Chair James Boyle’s new book is out — The Public Domain: Enclosing of the Commons of the Mind, published by Yale University Press. Read and comment online or download and share the the PDF under a CC BY-NC-SA license. Buy a hardcopy.
The Public Domain cover, evolved from excellent contest entries. We blogged about the contest in April.
The Public Domain covers the history, theory, and future of the public domain, taking a broad conception of the meaning and import of the public domain:
When the subject is intellectual property, this gap in our knowledge turns out to be important because our intellectual property system depends on a balance between what is property and what is not. For a set of reasons that I will explain later, “the opposite of property” is a concept that is much more important when we come to the world of ideas, information, expression, and invention. We want a lot of material to be in the public domain, material that can be spread without property rights. “The general rule of law is, that the noblest of human productions—knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions, and ideas—become, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use.” Our art, our culture, our science depend on this public domain every bit as much as they depend on intellectual property. The third goal of this book is to explore property’s outside, property’s various antonyms, and to show how we are undervaluing the public domain and the information commons at the very moment in history when we need them most. Academic articles and clever legal briefs cannot solve this problem alone.
Instead, I argue that precisely because we are in the information age, we need a movement—akin to the environmental movement—to preserve the public domain. The explosion of industrial technologies that threatened the environment also taught us to recognize its value. The explosion of information technologies has precipitated an intellectual land grab; it must also teach us about both the existence and the value of the public domain. This enlightenment does not happen by itself. The environmentalists helped us to see the world differently, to see that there was such a thing as “the environment” rather than just my pond, your forest, his canal. We need to do the same thing in the information environment.
We have to “invent” the public domain before we can save it.
That’s from the preface. I encourage you to read on, to chapters about Creative Commons (of course), evidence-based policy and the public domain (my favorite), a movement for the public domain, and much history, theory, and wit leading up to those.
You can also read and subscribe to Boyle’s blog on The Public Domain, which includes an excellent post on authors, academic presses, online publishing and CC licensing. Brief excerpt, emphasis added to the truth that will be so obvious to readers of this blog that one might wonder why it would need to be said:
The one piece of advice I would offer is to make sure that you really talk it through with everyone at the press and get them to understand the way the web works. While university presses might want to experiment only with a few titles, when it comes to those titles they need fully to embrace the idea — creating an excellent website for the book (or allowing the author to do so), allowing multiple formats of the book to be made available (pdf, html etc), being excited rather than horrified if the book gets mentioned on a blog and downloads spike. The last thing you want is a publisher who has grudgingly agreed to a Creative Commons license but who then sabotages every attempt to harness the openness it allows.
Unfortunately how the web works and what that means for copyright and publishing still needs to be explained. Repeatedly. Every day. That’s one reason Creative Commons needs your support to meet our $500,000 annual public campaign goal. Every day we explain how the web works, how to work with the web, and how to keep the web open, for scientists, educators and learners, and everyone else. And we do our bit to improve the open web.
On those notes, see the CC Network badge on every page of The Public Domain website and James Boyle’s CC Network profile. Join Boyle in supporting Creative Commons and get your own CC Network badge and profile (and other goodies).
Then send this post to your friends. Or if you’re old school, send a hardcopy of The Public Domain with a printout of this post and a personal note enclosed. :-)
Pratham Books is a nonprofit publisher started by the Pratham Education Initiative, which, since 1994, has been working to secure primary education for every child in India. “Pratham Books is a not-for-profit trust that seeks to publish high-quality books for children at a affordable cost in multiple Indian languages. Pratham Books is trying to create a shift in the paradigm for publishing children’s books in India.”
While working with One Laptop Per Child and the Open Learning Exchange in Nepal, Pratham Books decided to contribute educational books and other content for use in low cost laptops and an open eBook library. They released six books under CC BY-NC-SA, and they are available for download at Scribd. The children’s books include titles like The Moon and the Cap, Annual Haircut Day, and books that make mathematics fun—translated into Neplai for local use. Pratham Books also has an imprint, Read India, that publishes more children’s books in many different Indian languages and at low cost to make them more universally accessible.
Currently, the format of the books are in PDF, but Gautum John of Pratham writes that this will soon change, as they are working on a platform to remix books and they will also be available in HTML. Check out their official blog post about it here.2 Comments »
One of the things we’ve become very interested in finding more examples of are creators who are using our licenses in combination with traditional business models. For example, many musicians (including our recent Commoner Letter author Jonathan Coulton) sell copies of their CC-licensed music. This may seem cognitively dissonant but in practice it makes perfect sense, as a CC-licensed piece of music simply announces what you can do once you get your hands on it, and it certainly doesn’t restrict the original creator from selling it to you.
Some of the most robust instances of this behavior are musicians who have released CC-licensed material on iTunes, Amazon, and Magnatune. Ambient Electronic artist Kirsty Hawkshaw has done this with her album The Ice Castle, which has a presence in all three stores, but also indicates that is under CC’s Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. In the cases of iTunes and Amazon, the stores themselves are not using the CC license, but are selling the work via the rights they have under their direct agreement with the copyright holders – Hawkshaw and her label, Magnatune. For more about how CC licenses can work in tandem with other agreements, visit our page that describes CC+.
We’d love to hear and see more examples of this kind of hybrid business thinking utilizing our licenses. Do you know of any others? If so, just drop a comment on this post, or contact us any other way. Thanks!Comments Off on The Growing Hybrid Business of Music Sharing
Last night I had the pleasure of attending Art Knows No Borders, an event that was both a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders and a release party for Bombardirovka, a book written by Crystal Allen Cook in 2004 while she was in Armenia on a Fulbright Scholarship. The novel is a work of fiction that, in the words of Cook, functions “to observe, up close, how the past, not necessarily even our own personal past, lives on the actions and bodies of people living in the present.”
Bombardirovka is free to download and released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, meaning it can be re-used and adapted in any way as long as it is non-commercial in intent, shared under the same license as the original, and Crystal Cook is properly attributed. Check out the Share Novel page on Bombardirovka‘s website in the coming weeks to find more about interesting reuse opportunities ahead.Comments Off on Bombardirovka