Commons News

Pay to license working with Creative Commons

Matt Haughey, March 23rd, 2004

One-man band Brad Sucks recently signed with Magnatune and licensed all his tracks under Creative Commons (and began selling them on a sliding scale on Magnatune’s site).

We were delighted to hear that Brad’s song “Making Me Nervous” was recently licensed for use in radio ads and TV ads that played in Canada. Thanks in part to Magnatune’s tiered licensing system, record-at-home musicians like Brad have found other ways to make a living from their music by selling commercial licenses. It’s a great example of the common sense approach Magnatune takes to commercial licensing that also allows for free sharing and listening by fans. Congrats, Brad and Magnatune!

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Roger McGuinn of the Byrds uses Music Sharing License

Neeru Paharia, March 23rd, 2004

Legendary musician Roger McGuinn of the Byrds is using the new Creative Commons Music Sharing License for all the songs in his Folkden project. You can see the Share Music tag at the bottom of each song’s page, as it’s displayed here for the song Delia’s Gone. Roger builds upon a rich heritage of public domain songs even further by opening up his own sound recordings for sharing. On the site, Roger discusses how folk music lives through the process of sharing.

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CC Remix Music — Jammin on the Net, and Holland Hopson

Neeru Paharia, March 23rd, 2004

Last featured on CC Remix Music was Funktifyno, a great fusion jam band based in Oregon. Chris Morris, based in Texas, read our blog and turned their song Funkberry Jam into Funkberrymo Jam by adding a keyboard track– how’s that for jamming on the Net?

Today we are featuring Holland Hopson’s song Cuckoo, a peaceful and melodic flow on the saxophone. Though thorougly beautiful in its current state, it lends itself to the potential of an added drum beat, possibly changing the spirit of the song entirely — care to remix?

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Science Commons

Glenn Otis Brown, March 23rd, 2004

As we announced in our short film “Reticulum Rex” and on this
blog in January
, one of Creative Commons’ New Year’s Resolutions
was to explore a Science Commons — a new, parallel branch of our
organization dedicated to investigating how our “some rights reserved”
model can be applied to pressing problems in science and the field of biomedical research.

Thanks to the hard work of our Board of Directors and many friends of
Creative Commons, that process is now underway.

We are very excited to announce the launch of the Science Commons
exploratory phase, for which we recently secured funding.

The process will build upon Creative Commons’ work in the sciences (e.g., our licensing of Public Library of Science publications). But, crucially, Science Commons will delve
into both legal areas (patents, data) and subject matter (biomedicine) outside the scope of our current organization.

We are now seeking a energetic and committed manager to join us long-term and full-time to drive the Science Commons exploratory process — someone expert in these areas and prepared for the challenge of rearing what may well grow up to be CC’s sibling organization. It’s a very exciting development.

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Call and Response

Glenn Otis Brown, March 23rd, 2004

My most vivid memory from South by Southwest:

Thursday night in Austin, TX, USA, MSN threw a party across the street from the convention center. It was in a spare warehouse space, like a rave or fly-by-night underground party, but the fancy lighting, free drinks, and imported-looking crowd (L.A.) all said Big Bucks. The women checking the guest list looked as if they might moonlight on The Price is Right. The event was planned, from what I could gather, as a buzz-builder for MSN’s big move into the iTunes-style content business.

When I came in, the crowd — around two hundred, I’d guess — had gathered around
the stage where legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash was in the middle of a set. Rumor had it that DJ Dangermouse would be playing, but that a last-minute nastygram from EMI scuppered the plan. That rumor seemed dubious for a number of reasons — what’s that cause of action, exactly? And in any event, it was hard to imagine finding anyone better to preside over the birth of Microsoft’s cool than Grandmaster Flash, by most accounts the pioneer of turntable performance: the sample, the scratch, the fader-toggle, the break, the real-time remix. If this event was meant to kick-off Microsoft’s entry into Apple’s rip-mix-burn marketing niche, they could not have chosen an entertainer with better creds to preside over it.

That was clear within just a few seconds of watching Grandmaster Flash, whom I’d never seen perform live before, stand over the turntables and mixer. I wish I could have brought with me every single person I’ve met who have said they don’t believe DJ’ing or sound manipulation to be an art form in and of itself. This guy could make a vinyl LP do anything,
make any sound, scratch it like a percussion instrument over a completely
different track before putting the needle back to precisely the place he’d left a split-second before. And this was all analog: no digital tricks, no ProTools. If you’ve ever wondered how a trombonist or the player of a fretless instrument knows where and when to find a particular note, to pull it
out of nowhere with no orientation, all while maintaining the overall
energy of the tune, you could appreciate what Grandmaster Flash was doing. The crowd was eating it up. The only thing slightly off about the show was the DJ’s sidekick, who goofily bounced around the stage pantomiming the lyrics, like a sign-language interpreter for the hip-hop impaired. But even he was entertaining in his own way.

Then, after a compelling tweak of the bassline in
Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” Grandmaster Flash cut the music and prepared the crowd for some call-and-response. It was old-school audience participation time. He’d play a hook, then cut the music, and the crowd would shout an answer in time with the song.

The call?

The chorus of “Good Times,” a 1979 disco classic whose
bassline Grandmaster’s labelmates, the Sugarhill Gang, lifted for
their single “Rapper’s Delight” — probably one of the
top few most famous hip-hop songs ever, and one of the
very first.

The response?

When I do this, said Grandmaster Flash, playing the
vocal “Good Times,” then dropping the volume, everyone yell “MSN.”

People in the audience looked at each other.

Got it? he said into the microphone, Good times — MSN! Good times — MSN! Got it? Here we go.

A few people booed. The DJ played a few rounds of the vocal, then cut the volume.

Grandmaster Flash, and about a dozen audience members, shouted “MSN!”

A few scattered boos followed. Flash tried to rally the crowd. He played the call again: Good Times . . . Good Times . . . And the music cut out again — the audience’s turn.

This time they responded. But they didn’t say “MSN.”

What did they say? I asked the couple in front of me.

They said, ‘Bulls–t,’ the couple said, laughing. I asked my friends. They heard the same thing.

After a couple more such calls and responses, Grandmaster Flash went back to the regular show, and right away the crowd threw its hands in the air and danced again as if none of it had ever happened.

I don’t really blame Grandmaster Flash. Or MSN for that matter. It’s all just business.

Whether it’s smart business is another story. And whether the stunt’s layer upon layer of irony were intended or accidental is simply a mystery.

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MusicBrainz for OS X (finally!)

Matt Haughey, March 20th, 2004

MusicBrainz, the Creative Commons licensed music metadata database, has long been limited to windows users. OS X users are in luck though, as iEatBrainz has been released.

By using a sophisticated set of audio fingerprinting and other technology, iEatBrainz and MusicBrainz allow you to re-tag all your MP3s. This is a killer feature for anyone that’s ever ripped one of their CDs with iTunes, but didn’t have a network connection at the time the songs were imported. Try it out, after a few moments MusicBrainz will likely find a match for all your “Track 01, Track 02, etc” tracks in iTunes. [via Ben Hammersley]

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Audio Lunchbox

Matt Haughey, March 20th, 2004

Although they’re not selling any Creative Commons licensed music, it’s worth noting that there’s a new player in the downloadable music arena: Audio Lunchbox. They specialize in small indie rock labels, selling albums for around ten dollars each in instantly available downloadable formats. Additionally, the high bitrate MP3 and ogg vorbis tracks contain no DRM of any kind; just unencumbered music.

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Matt Haughey, March 18th, 2004

This week’s featured content is the wonderfully wacky and off-the-wall stuff at Goopymart. Flash movies and animated comics feature a variety of animal-like creatures. Yuggy is my favorite and a longtime popular fixture of the Goopy universe.

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Glenn Otis Brown, March 18th, 2004

As far as I’m concerned, the very best among the many great things about being part of Creative Commons is getting to meet CC users and supporters face-to-face. Knowing that one and a half million web pages (and growing) carry Creative Commons licenses is always an inspiring thought, but getting together with musicians and writers and activists and business people who use Creative Commons — particularly when I’ve never met them before — is the most satisfying thing I can imagine. At such times, it’s as if our basement office in sleepy Palo Alto suddenly stretched out to hold the whole CC community.

The team had just such an encounter here this week, when we got together with the EFF, EFF Austin, Common Content, and Magnatune to celebrate our common cause at El Sol y La Luna in Austin, Texas, USA. And we’ll get to do it again this Thursday, when Magnatune and Creative Commons co-host a party during SXSW Music. Thanks to all of you who came by, to those of you who’ll make the next shindig, and to all of you out there who have turned Creative Commons the idea into Creative Commons the community.

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Bricks in the Wall

Glenn Otis Brown, March 17th, 2004

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,
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, 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.

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