Commons News

Mmm . . . Free Samples (Innovation 1a)

Glenn Otis Brown, March 11th, 2003

This post is the first in a series that will roll out, over the course of this week, potential innovations to our licenses for your review and comment.

Mmm . . . Free Samples

Right now, our menu of license options lets authors choose between prohibiting or encouraging a) commercial re-uses of their work, and b) transformations of their work.

It does not, however, let an author choose c) to encourage commercial transformations of their work while d) prohibiting commercial verbatim copying of their work.

That is, if you like the idea of people making a remix of your song, or re-cutting your film, but you don’t want them simply to sell whole, unaltered copies of your work, our licenses today may not perfectly fit your needs.

The “noncommercial” provision is a blanket restriction, treating all commercial uses — no matter how innovative — the same.

Creative Commons could do better, say Negativland, People Like Us, Wayne Marshall, and other artists at the forefront of the booming digital collage culture.

Many folks like the idea of inviting others to build on their work; and they really like the notion of a copyright regime that would recognize and honor that practice. (Of course, copyright today doesn’t.)

Don Joyce of legendary culture jammers Negativland nailed both of these concepts in an early conversation with us on the subject:

“This would be legally acknowledging the now obvious state of modern audio/visual creativity in which quoting, sampling, direct referencing, copying, and collaging have become a major part of modern inspiration. [A sampling option would] stop legally suppressing it and start culturally encouraging it — because it’s here to stay. That’s our idea for encouraging a more democratic media for all of us, from corporations to the individual.”

In this spirit of democratic media and collaboration, we offer this draft provision for your comment and improvement. You are all Kings and Queens of Copyright: What would proper “sampling” and “collaging” look like in your world? How might you build on or re-mix our formulation below?

You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in this license in any manner (except as described immediately below) that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.

You may exercise the right to create and reproduce Derivative Works in a manner primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation — provided that the Derivative Work(s) constitute a good-faith “sampling,” “collage,” and/or “mash-up,” as appropriate to the medium, genre, and market niche.

Now, we anticipate that the phrase “as appropriate to the medium, genre, and market niche” might prompt some anxiety, as it leaves things relatively undefined. But there’s more method here than you might expect: The definition of “sampling” or “collage” varies across different media. Rather than try to define all possible scenarios (including ones that haven’t happened yet) — which would have the effect of restricting the types of re-uses to a limited set — we took the more laissez faire approach.

This sort of deference to community values — think of it as “punting to culture” — is very common in everyday business and contract law. The idea is that when lawyers have trouble defining the specialized terms of certain subcultures, they should get out of the way and let those subcultures work them out. It’s probably not a surprise Creative Commons likes this sort of notion a lot.


Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim Joins Creative Commons Board of Directors

Glenn Otis Brown, March 11th, 2003

We’re very excited to announce that Davis Guggenheim, a celebrated director and producer of both documentary and dramatic film and television, has joined our Board of Directors. Davis brings to our team the invaluable perspective of a creator with both extensive commercial experience and a commitment to public policy.

In 1999, Davis undertook an ambitious project documenting the challenging first year of several novice public school teachers. Two films resulted from this intensive immersion in the Los Angeles public school system: The First Year and Teach. Both films sought to address the tremendous need for qualified teachers in California and nationwide and to create awareness of this crisis — as well as to inspire a new generation to become teachers. In 2002, Davis received a Peabody Award for The First Year.

Davis was an Executive Producer on Training Day and directed a feature film called Gossip, both for Warner Bros. His television directing credits include recently completed episodes of “The Shield,” “Alias,” and “24” as well as such critically acclaimed programs as “NYPD Blue,” “ER,” and “Party of Five.” He is currently a Producer and Director of the upcoming HBO series “Deadwood.”

Guggenheim’s other documentary films include Norton Simon: A Man and His Art, produced for permanent exhibition at the Norton Simon Museum, and JFK and the Imprisoned Child, produced for permanent exhibition at the John F. Kennedy Library. Guggenheim wrote and edited many films with his father, four-time Academy Award winner Charles Guggenheim. Davis graduated from Brown University in 1986.

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Glenn Otis Brown, March 10th, 2003

This week we’ll roll out several potential innovations to our licenses, then call for your comments. First, we’ll post some proposed text for two new kinds of license options: “sampling” and “educational use.” Second, we’ll float some draft language that we’ve considered adding to our licenses as enhancements: an explicit safe harbor for search engines under our “noncommercial” condition; a clear distinction between privacy-enhancing encryption tools and over-reaching digital rights management; and a potential link requirement as an addition to our “attribution” provision.

We plan to post around one draft provision a day this week; by the end of the week, we’ll have upgraded our blog so that you can share comments with other readers. Please weigh in: Let us know if you think the proposed enhancements and options are worth it, and if so, how we might improve the specific language of each.

Note: We’re not changing or versioning the licenses — not yet, anyway. We hope through this process simply to vet publicly issues that a few of you have raised via email, and to explore how Creative Commons and our adopters might best work together as our project grows. After a healthy comment period, we’ll take stock and move on from there.

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Creative Commons at SXSW

Matt Haughey, March 9th, 2003

Today, Creative Commons metadata advisor Aaron Swartz joined blogger and author Cory Doctorow, programmer Brandon Wiley, Rice University‘s Chris Kelty, and Executive Director Glenn Otis Brown to talk about the Creative Commons at a panel discussion at the South By Southwest (SXSW) interactive conference. The panel covered issues surrounding the project, how people have used our licenses, and what comes next.

This afternoon, Creative Commons chairman and co-founder Lawrence Lessig will deliver a much-anticipated keynote.

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Commons Sin Fronteras

Glenn Otis Brown, March 5th, 2003

We are excited to announce today the launch of the International Commons project. The goal of the International Commons is to “port” our licenses to operate in the legal systems (and languages) of countries across the world.

Christiane Asschenfeldt, a copyright expert and the newest member of the Creative Commons team, will coordinate the effort from Berlin.

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Digital Dictionary of Buddhism

Neeru Paharia, March 3rd, 2003

Charles Muller has licensed the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism under a Creative Commons license. The dictionary is a compilation of Buddhist terms and texts — as well as names of temples, schools, and people — found in East Asian Buddhist canonical sources. The dictionary project, which began in 1986, is thought to be the most comprehensive compilation of Buddhist terms available in English today.

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Copyright Comics

Glenn Otis Brown, March 1st, 2003

Two new additions to our site help explain the how and why of using our licenses.

These comics walk the Creative Commons walk: our very own Neeru Paharia built them from Ryan Junell’s original artwork, which debuted in our Flash movie under a Creative Commons license, and from photographs taken and licensed by our webmaster Matt Haughey.

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Tim Hadley on licensing your weblog

Matt Haughey, February 26th, 2003

Last month, a few folks in the world of weblogs asked some good, hard questions about Creative Commons licensing of their works. (We covered that discussion here). At the time, Denise Howell put a request out to other lawyers to weigh in on the issue, and recently, attorney Tim Hadley did so.

Tim’s exhaustive analysis examines the ins and outs of applying a license to a weblog (specifically in the context of Movable Type’s recent support for Creative Commons licenses). He takes a long look, in particular, at the issue of license revocation and echoes our chairman’s take on the subject not long ago.

Tim has also posted a follow-up based on feedback and posts from other sites and is planning a complete revision of his first post on the subject — the goal being to cover as many sides of the issue as possible.

Thanks, Tim — and to the rest of you sparking discussion about the licenses.

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Cat Power + Creative Commons = Rock

Glenn Otis Brown, February 26th, 2003

Creative Commons will sponsor acclaimed singer-songwriter Cat Power (a.k.a. Chan Marshall) at the San Francisco NoisePop music festival this Wednesday, Feb. 26. Advanced tickets are sold out, but some tickets may still be available at the door (Bimbo’s 365) the night of the show.

Creative Commons staffers will be in the lobby handing out copies of our new “enchanced CD.” It’s hot off the press and features our Flash animation plus Creative Commons-licensed tracks by D.J. Spooky, Roger McGuinn, Dealership, The Walkingbirds, and Gamelan Nyai Saraswati.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian ran a cover story on Cat Power this week.

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Swarm Radio in the commons

Matt Haughey, February 25th, 2003

Brandon Wiley, an early developer of Freenet, unveiled his newest work at CodeCon. Using various cutting-edge peer-to-peer technologies, he’s developed a shared radio streaming system, dubbed Alluvium, that allows listeners to share their connections with others as they tune in. In a Register write-up today, Wiley mentions that the project may include spidering the web for Creative Commons-licensed music to play (all Creative Commons-licensed music can be webcast freely).

Wiley will be on a panel discussion featuring Creative Commons executive director Glenn Otis Brown and Metadata Advisor Aaron Swartz at the upcoming SXSW festival.

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