Commons News

Finnish CC Licence

Roland, May 27th, 2004

Finland is the third country after the US and Japan to go ahead with their fully-fledged CC licences. After several months of legal deliberation the Finnish project lead Herkko Hietanen felt able to clear the licence draft and present it to the Finnish public last Monday, thus marking a major milestone in the development of iCommons. The Finns are widely seen as one of the technologically most advanced countries in Europe.

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Music licensing and American Idol

Matt Haughey, May 26th, 2004

The New York Times published an article about how the music industry influences song choice on American Idol today. I’ve long suspected that contestant song choice was limited to what the show could afford to pay in licensing costs ahead of time, since the choices of songs to cover seem limited. A producer of the show is quoted heavily stating that many songs are off-limits due to audience preferences and style, but does let slip that any songs by Michael Jackson, The Beatles, and Shania Twain are completely off-limits to the show. That’s disappointing, since MJ and the Beatles are cultural icons, both selling one of the top ten music albums of all time.

Historically, there’s always been some legal leeway to allow for cover songs, though as this musician found out, the process can be a lengthy one to get the rights to everything you want to record.

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Announcing (and explaining) our new 2.0 licenses

Glenn Otis Brown, May 25th, 2004

Last night, after many months of gathering and processing great feedback from all of you, we turned on version 2.0 of the main Creative Commons licenses. The 2.0 licenses are very similar to the 1.0 licenses — in aim, in structure, and, by and large, in the text itself. We’ve included, however, a few key improvements, thanks to your input. A quick list of new features follows. All section numbers refer to the Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license. (Corresponding section numbers may vary across licenses.)

Attribution comes standard

Our web stats indicate that 97-98% of you choose Attribution, so we decided to drop Attribution as a choice from our license menu — it’s now standard. This reduces the number of licenses from eleven possible to six and makes the license selection user interface that much simpler. Important to remember: Attribution can always be disavowed upon licensor request, and pseudonymous and anonymous authorship are always options for a licensor, as before. If we see a huge uprising against the attribution-as-stock-feature, we’ll certainly consider bringing it back as an option.

Link-back attribution clarified

Version 1.0 licenses did not carry any requirements to add hyperlinks as attribution. Under the 2.0 licenses, a licensor may require that licensees, to fulfill their attribution requirement, provide a link back to the licensor’s work. Three conditions must be satisfied, though, before a licensee faces the linkback requirement: (1) linking back must be “reasonably practicable” — you can’t string me up for failing to link to a dead page, for example; (2) the licensor must specify a URL — if you don’t provide one specifically, I have no linkback obligation; (3) the link licensor provides must point to the copyright and licensing notice of the CC’d work — in other words, licensors who abuse the linkback as an engine for traffic to unrelated sites don’t enjoy linkback rights.

Synch rights clarified

The new licenses clarify when licensees may or may not synchronize musical CC’d works in timed-relation with a moving image. Basically, if a license allows derivatives, it allows the synching of music to video. If no derivs, no synching allowed. (See Section 1b.)

Other music-specific rights clarified

The default rules for music-related copyrights can be particularly complicated, and the 2.0 licenses go to greater length to clarify how various CC license options affect music rights. In a nutshell: If you pick the “noncommercial” provision, you retain the right to collect royalties from BMI, ASCAP, or the equivalent for performance royalties; from Harry Fox or the equivalent for mechanicals; and from SoundExchange or the equivalent for webcasting compulsories. If you allow commercial re-use, you waive the exclusive rights to collect these various revenue streams. This is not a departure from the policy embodied in the 1.0 licenses — these same results would be extrapolated by any reasonable interpretation. But 2.0 just makes it all clearer, and using the language of the profession. (See Sections 4e and 4f.) Note: This music-specific language marks the first time we’ve referred to any specific statutes in the generic CC licenses. This means that future iCommons licenses will have to do the same somewhat complicated mapping exercise for each respective jurisdiction.

Warranties? Up to licensors

Unlike the 1.0 licenses, the 2.0 licenses include language that makes clear that licensors’ disclaim warranties of title, merchantibility, fitness, etc. As readers of this blog know by now, the decision to drop warranties as a standard feature of the licenses was a source of much organizational soul-searching and analytical thinking for us. Ultimately we were swayed by a two key factors: (1) Our peers, most notably, Karl Lenz, Dan Bricklin, and MIT. (2) The realization that licensors could sell warranties to risk-averse, high-exposure licensees interested in the due diligence paper trial, thereby creating nice CC business model. (See the Prelinger Archive for a great example of this free/fee, as-is/warranty approach.) You can find extensive discussion of this issue in previous posts on this blog. (See Section 5.)

Share Alike Across Borders

Version 2.0 licenses that feature the Share Alike requirement now clarify that derivatives may be re-published under one of three types of licenses: (1) the exact same license as the original work; (2) a later version of the same license as the original work; (3) an iCommons license that contains the same license elements as the original work (e.g. BY-SA-NC, as defined in Section 1 of each license). The version 1.0 licenses required that derivative be published under the exact same license only. Our tweak means much better compatibility across future jurisdiction-specific licenses and, going forward, across versions. Less forking, more fun. (See Section 4b.)

Otherwise, Share Alike Means Share Alike

After much very strong and eloquent argument from our readers and supporters, and notwithstanding the increased flexibility of Share Alike in the iCommons context, we decided not to make the BY-NC-SA and plain BY-SA licenses compatible. If you take a work under BY-NC-SA 2.0 and make something new from it, for example, you can re-publish under BY-NC-SA Japan, or BY-NC-SA 7.4 (when that comes), but you cannot republish it under any other license or combine it with BY-SA content. Similarly, a derivative made from a work under BY-SA 2.0 may be published only under BY-SA 2.0, BY-SA (iCommons license), or BY-SA 9.1, but it can’t be mixed with BY-NC-SA or other noncommercial content and republished.

Nifty new Some Rights Reserved button

Check out the button at the bottom of this page. Wouldn’t that look good on your site? Time for an upgrade, cosmetic as well as legal?

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The Way the Music Died

Matt Haughey, May 25th, 2004

This Thursday’s Frontline on PBS is covering the modern music industry in an episode titled “The Way the Music Died“. It follows the industry rise after Woodstock in 1969, through music genre changes, and eventually how Napster and the Internet changed everything. It sounds interesting for musicians and music fans alike.

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DMusic supports Creative Commons and embeds MP3 files

Neeru Paharia, May 25th, 2004

DMusic, the oldest independent digital online music community now supports Creative Commons in their upload process. More importantly though, DMusic is providing the first web-based application to embed Creative Commons license information into ID3 tags of MP3 files. Now, when you upload your MP3 file to DMusic and choose a Creative Commons license, DMusic will put the license into the MP3 file for you. When people download your file, or share it on a file-sharing network, there will always be a way to detect the Creative Commons license.

Our hope was that one day, file-sharing networks would start to display our license information to their users, so people could easily find legal music to download. Currently search engines like Alta Vista, and applications like iRATE Radio, are able to display this information.

If you want to see how this works, check out this search result from Alta Vista’s MP3 search engine. Some of the top search results have a field called “copyright,” that contain and display Creative Commons license information pulled right out of the MP3 file.

The more MP3 files out there with embedded licence information, the easier it will be to build new applications around the distribution of legal music.

DMusic’s free service gives its members 75 MB of space to host music. In addition, you can post pictures, events, mailing lists, and even send messages to other people on the network. Check it out, and thanks DMusic — this is a big step for us.

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Jim’s Big Ego sweetens the deal — be on NPR

Neeru Paharia, May 25th, 2004

Jim will pick three to five of his favorite remixes from our remix contest to be featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered this June. The piece will be about this contest.

Jim says his deadline for entries will be June 10th. We’ll still feature our favorite song on our web site as of May 28th.

Post your entries to the remix contest blog post or send us an email. Given that there aren’t too many remixes up there, your chances of being heard on the radio — all over the country — are pretty good. Even if you’re not a musician, load up Garageband or Acid and take a crack at it! Maybe there’s even some good open-source music mixing software — anyone know?

If you need hosting for your remix, the Internet Archive provides free hosting for Creative Commons licensed music.

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Serendipity blogging application supports Creative Commons

Neeru Paharia, May 25th, 2004

Serendipity, an open-source blogging application, now has a plug-in that allows users to select a Creative Commons license.

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Derivative works and effects on book sales

Matt Haughey, May 24th, 2004

Suw Charman has a great article on The Free Culture AudioBook Project that touches on all the reasons why an author would use a Creative Commons license, and what can come out of such an exercise. The issues around business models in publishing are also covered.

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Rip-Mix-Burning DVD players

Matt Haughey, May 21st, 2004

Copyfight has an interesting post on the discrepancy in congress over ClearPlay DVD players. The players automatically remove scenes that would be offensive to sensitive viewers, but do so in the comfort of one’s own home while playing standard movies on DVD. Some politicians oppose it because individuals are creating derivative works and they also see it as opening the door to “recipe hacking”, which would be like producing the Grey Album by purchasing two legal records (the original Beatles’ White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album) and combining them at home to produce a derivative work (if DJ Dangermouse produced software that could create his mixes).

On top of all that, since the motivation behind ClearPlay technology is largely religious, it turns the argument on its ear to many participants and observers. It’s not hard to find folks that loved the Grey Album but see ClearPlay technology as something to be frowned upon, but the underlying technology and law is largely the same. It’s an interesting case and hopefully does open the doors to all sorts of creative uses of derivative works.

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New fourstones album

Matt Haughey, May 21st, 2004

Previous winner of a Creative Commons remix contest, Victor Stone has released a new record on Magnatune. Like his earlier Magnatune works, it is a remix album of other Magnatune artists. He’s written a great background post on the album and why he chose the artists he did.

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