Commons News

Lots of music

Matt Haughey, April 3rd, 2003

We have made several recent musical additions to the Creative Commons Featured Works registry, and noticed more musicians online using the licenses. Here’s a random sampling of licensed music that has caught our eyes (and ears): Christine McCarthy, Horton’s Choice, Joshua Ellis, The Phoenix Trap, Clyde Federal, brokensoundcard, The Walkingbirds’ recent songs, and some war protest songs.

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Creative Commons article in Syllabus Magazine

Matt Haughey, April 2nd, 2003

Our very own Executive Director, Glenn Otis Brown, penned an article introducing the Creative Commons to the readers of Syllabus Magazine, which covers technology issues in higher education.

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CSS Examples and Commentary

Glenn Otis Brown, April 1st, 2003

Tantek Celik has recently released some useful CSS examples (with accompanying commentary) under a Creative Commons attribution license.

Check out Tantek’s reasoning for the move.

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Harvard Blogs and Creative Commons

Matt Haughey, March 28th, 2003

Dave Winer, author of popular blogging software systems and various technical specifications, is currently a Berkman fellow at the Harvard Law School. He has spearheaded a project to bring weblogs to everyone on campus, and has chosen to include Creative Commons licenses in the default templates.

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New Global Vision

Matt Haughey, March 19th, 2003

New Global Vision is an interesting video project out of Italy. They are aiming to archive videos from around the world to ease the burden of bandwidth on any single download source. They’ve assembled a database of 130 videos so far — all under the Attribution, Noncommerical, Share Alike Creative Commons licenses.

New Global Vision is also powered by free software technology.

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Financial Times

Press Robot, March 17th, 2003

Why copyright need not be an issue” by Richard Poynder

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Franz Liszt, Mixmaster, and J.S. Bach, Klepto

Glenn Otis Brown, March 16th, 2003

“Time was when the art of arrangement” — the creative reinterpretation of songs — “occupied an honored place in musical composition.”

“Bach, Mozart, Liszt and Ravel,” writes Liszt biographer Alan Walker in the New York Times, “were among the many composers who lavished their talents on this important activity, fitting out their own works or those of others for different forces, usually larger or smaller.”

Walker’s article is an elegant reminder that rip-mix-burn art long preceded the Net, transcends pop culture, and reflects good taste as well as sound policy. Best of all is how Walker (unwittingly?) echoes a Jeffersonian wisdom about creative “property.”

Here are a few of the more striking passages (though you really should read the whole piece, even if, like me, you’re largely ignorant of classical music):

. . . The most familiar criticism of arrangements is that they harm the originals. An analogy is sometimes drawn with painting. If you put a mustache on the “Mona Lisa,” it is argued, a masterpiece has been destroyed. Likewise with music. Tamper with the original, and something has been lost forever. But this analogy is surely false. If you deface a canvas, something has indeed been destroyed. But a musical arrangement destroys nothing; it merely creates an alternative. The original is still there, unharmed, waiting to be played. . . .

. . . So complete was Liszt’s mastery of the art of transferring music from one medium to another that his arrangements have often eclipsed the models that gave them life. Consider his piano arrangements of six of Chopin’s “Polish Songs,” especially “The Maiden’s Wish” and “My Joys,” which are still in the standard repertory. Liszt elevates these pieces to a new level and makes them sound as if they were born on the keyboard. In fact, they have made their way around the world as piano pieces, while Chopin’s songs are known and appreciated only by aficionados. This is more than transcription: it is translation. . . .

. . . But what of the moral argument? Isn’t a composer’s music his or her personal property? And isn’t it a form of theft to appropriate it? If that were the case, many of the greatest composers in history would be guilty of grand larceny. And as for those artful dodgers Bach and Handel, we would have to dismiss them as musical kleptomaniacs. They and others never took the slightest interest in the “moral” point of view. Music, for them, was there to be recycled, time and again if necessary. For the rest, since all good arrangers put in more than they take out, and since nothing is destroyed, the whole of music benefits. What kind of kleptomaniac gives more than he takes? . . .

. . . In an arrangement, music talks about music; music communicates with music; the language turns in on itself and, in the greatest examples, produces a critical commentary on the original, a closed world par excellence. What a wonderful phenomenon that is. . . .

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Blog Comments Enabled

Glenn Otis Brown, March 15th, 2003

Our weblog now takes comments. So if you’ve got feedback about the several potential license innovations we debuted this week — a sampling option, an educational use option, a link-back requirement, and a safe harbor for commercial search engines — please post your thoughts and let public discussion begin.


Indexterity (Innovation 2b)

Glenn Otis Brown, March 15th, 2003

This is the fourth in a series of posts calling for comment on potential innovations to our licenses. This post deal with a potential enhancement to the language of our current “noncommercial use” option.

Indexterity (Innovation 2b)

Our noncommercial language currently includes an explicit safe harbor for file-sharing (which, under U.S. law, is considered to be a commercial use even if no money changes hands):

The exchange of the Work for other copyrighted works by means of digital file-sharing or otherwise shall not be considered to be intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation, provided there is no payment of any monetary compensation in connection with the exchange of copyrighted works.

We’ve considered adding a similar carve-out for commercial search engines, which, though now operating perfectly legally, might enjoy the extra reassurance that aggregating content licensed as “noncommercial” will not amount to commercial use.

The indexing of copyrighted works by means of search engine or otherwise shall not be considered to be intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation, provided there is no payment of any monetary compensation in direct exchange for the indexing of the copyrighted works.

Is such a provision helpful? Necessary? How might we improve upon it?


The Missing Link? (Innovation 2a)

Glenn Otis Brown, March 14th, 2003

This is the third in a series of blog postings dedicated to inviting comment on possible innovations to our licenses. Posts 1a and 1b dealt with potential new license options. This post and the one to follow deal with potential refinements of our existing license texts.

The Missing Link? (Innovation 2a)

Several people have written in suggesting that we include a link-back requirement as part of the Attribution condition. We chose not to do so in our first set of licenses because we thought it would be a somewhat onerous requirement for licensees, who after all shouldn’t be held responsible for the occasional broken link or altered URL. After hearing your input, we played with some language requiring licensees, “to the extent practicable,” to link back to the copyrightholder’s site. Some of you, however, wisely noted that this may give licensees a bit too much leeway. So we’re now thinking about the language below as a possible addition to the Attribution provision:

“If the [licensed] Work appears on a Web site, You [licensee] must accompany the work with a hyperlink to the Uniform Resource Identifier specified by licensor, assuming that Uniform Resource Identifier remains accessible.”

Do you think such a requirement would significantly improve the Attribution condition? If so, how might we improve upon this language? Should the link-back requirement be its own option, or simply part of the Attribution option?


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