Bricks in the Wall
Theater and drama fans are familiar with the Fourth Wall, the conceptual boundary between
performer and audience. It’s an artistic term, but we’ve now extended the concept in a Creative Commons way. At the South by
Southwest Film Festival this week, I moderated a panel, “Can Copyright Bring Filmmaker and
Audience Together?”, that explored creative ways for filmmakers to (1) maximize distribution
and/or (2) encourage interaction with their works by going Some Rights Reserved. The premise for the talk was the idea that any worthwhile discussion of film today has got to address the copyright bricks in the Wall.
We were lucky to have a fantastic group of panelists. Creative Commons contest winner Justin Cone
described the making of “Building on the Past” and explained how the process of working with public domain
footage opened his eyes to a new range of aesthetic possibilities. (Justin, a newcomer to moving images,
is now pursuing other film projects.) David Jacobs, chief technologist of youth media activists MediaRights.org,
explained the group’s decision to Creative Commons license their Media That Matters Film Festival.
All-around media head Wiley Wiggins put his finger on the single app that we need to make Commons’d film catch
fire: a simple “share” button and license menu in Quicktime and other film editing tools.
Zack Exley, organizing director of Moveon.org, reflected on Moveon’s Bush in 30 Seconds contest
and told of his brushes with copyright trouble in his former life as a political satirist.
Finally, in a headlong dive through the Fourth Wall, actor-writer-director David Ball announced the release of his full-length feature
Honey — plus all its component parts, from script to soundtrack — under Creative Commons
licenses. Ball is opening up the free copying and trading (for noncommercial use) of the final film, but also encouraging
film schools and aspiring editors and directors to re-interpret selected scenes by digging into the
raw footage and re-cutting it to their tastes. On the new Fourth Wall Films website and blog (which I highly
recommend you check out and participate in, esp. if you do film), Ball explains his decision and calls for others to do the same:
I want to seed a movement, one where filmmakers and the filmgoing community
are more directly linked, where people can make up their own minds, and where a diversity
of voices can be heard-not just the voices a few hundred decision makers decide are
“marketable.” So many times I heard from people that my movie was good, but not
marketable. When I heard that, I realized something was wrong with the market. Here’s to
making our own market. I hope Honey is a start.
From the South by Southwest Music Festival, Creative Commons brings you the new Music Sharing License and Get Content search engine. This copyright license lets your fans know they can download, copy, and share your music online, but not sell, remix, or make any other commercial use out of it. (The license is based on the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license but now includes new music-specific language.)
Musicians already distributing their MP3s online should opt for the Music Sharing License to invite listeners to legally download the songs they love — and to get noticed with our new Get Content search engine, which points people to music free to share.
We announced the Music Sharing License at a panel this week entitled Legal Music Promotion: File-Sharing, Sampling or Both?. We also previewed Mixter (more details soon), an application that will expose connections between different remixes of songs. The panelists described how Creative Commons licenses facilitate music distribution, discovery, and community on the Internet, in reference to their own projects. Panelist Sal Randolph from the Net label Opsound, discussed how an open-source philosophy guides Opsound to make sounds available to be remixed and curated by members of the community. Matthew King Kaufman of MP34U discussed the enourmous amount of free music on the Internet, and how groups like his are working to promote music discovery by curating personal playlists. Jake Shapiro of Public Radio Exchange, discussed how opening up content has allowed an important peer review process to enhance the value of the content. Great thanks to Chris Kelty, Professor of Anthropology at Rice University, who facilitated the whole panel. I wanted to throw out a bunch of questions to the panelists and audience, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time. Here are just a few:
*Why use the Music Sharing License rather than put your MP3 on the Internet with no official notice — why formalize it?
*Are people really afraid of downloading — even if it’s legal — in the face of possible lawsuits? Do we really need a license to clarify this?
*Could a CD that includeds noncommercial remix rights be more valuable than a CD without these rights? For example, if you sold a Madonna CD that included the right to make a noncommercial remix, could you charge more? Would this create more buzz about Madonna? If someone does end up making a great remix that could be commercialized, couldn’t this be a great new revenue stream for Madonna?
Music authoring software applications are easier to use than ever before — will this create demand for more Creative Commons licensed sounds to play with?
If you consider new sound software, legal tools like Creative Commons, and open online communities like Opsound, you’ll see a whole infrastrcuture that allows people to create their own sounds and build off others’. What’s the demand for this infrastructure? Do people really want to create and remix?
Bloggers have proven themselves to be an invaluable source of ideas and information — will self-published music authors and remixers be next? Will consuming music become more interactive — more like a video game, where the fan can participate in the process by making remixes?Comments Off
Machinista, an arts festival focusing on machine-related art, will use Creative Commons licenses for the DVD containing the winning entries. The winners will be chosen out of the 280 submissions, which are themed as “the world as seen by the machines.” Since the content will be CC-licensed, we’re also hoping to have it hosted at the Internet Archive so the world can download it for free — by using your own machine, of course.Comments Off
If you’re at South by Southwest in Austin, come by our panels at 10am (music and copyright) and 11:30am (film and copyright) Monday morning. Special guests include two Austinites: tech-media renaissance man Wiley Wiggins and GET CREATIVE! contest winner Justin Cone, whose 2-minute short “Building on the Past” perfectly exemplifies the CC mission. (How many films do you know of that involved zero in royalty costs?)Comments Off
A large part of the Creative Commons team is excited to be in Austin at South By Southwest. On Monday, we’ll be speaking on panels discussing Creative Commons for music and film. We’ll also be announcing a few related project at the conference. See you there!Comments Off
I found PIA’s Symbols through the Creative Commons search engine — a great album of electronic music. You can find lots of music through the search engine, which has currently indexed only 50,000 URLs out of the 1,400,000 URLs we know to contain CC licensed content (there are another 400,000 URLs in the queue).
Symbols is under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, so if you use Apple’s Garageband, or Adobe’s Audition, among other music authoring applications, you can remix it. Imagine how great it would be if there was a “get content” button within these applications, that would find thousands of hours of CC licensed music that you could re-use, or remix. It’s only a matter of time.Comments Off
Music journalist Devon Powers has a great piece on copyright terms, sampling, and the Beatles at PopMatters. In it, she looks at the Grey Album and comes to the conclusion that overly long copyright terms harm our culture by limiting the use of music as social force. Akin to “Free the Mouse” she arrives at the conclusion “Something’s gotta be done about the Beatles.”
And for all of us who hold music dear, we owe it to ourselves to not only let our musical past footnote our musical present, but also allow that past to live and breathe, change and reform, disappear and reappear in unexpected ways.
[via The Importance of…]Comments Off
Matt’s post earlier today about Hit Song Science, a piece of software that uses algorithms to analyze songs to predict their likelihood of success in the market, reminded me of a favorite imaginative bit in Jonathan Franzen’s novel The Corrections, which was a big hit a couple years ago:
. . . Brian spent his executive afternoons noodling around with computer code . . . and writing a piece of software that in the fullness of time he quietly patented, quietly found a VC backer for, and one day, on the advice of this backer, quietly sold to the W Corporation for $19,500,000.
Brian’s product, called Eigenmelody, processed any piece of recorded music into an eigenvector that distilled the song’s tonal and melodic essence into discrete, manipulable coordinates. An Eigenmelody user could select a favorite Moby song, and Eigenmelody would spectroanalyze her choice, search a recorded-music database for songs with similar eigenvectors, and produce a list of kindred sounds that the user might otherwise have never found . . . . Eigenmelody was a parlor game, musicological tool, and record-sales-enhancer rolled into one.
Franzen’s fictional concept sounds more feasible and useful than Hit Song Science’s, but the parallels are interesting.
Separate point: I remember reading Franzen’s passage and thinking what an interesting dilemma for a novelist to have: If you come up with a great, compelling idea for an invention, do you pursue it in your art, or in real life?Comments Off