Open letter for pro-Creative Commons

Creative Commons Swag Contest 2007_1 I recently attended a very informative workshop on getting your music into TV and Film. It was awesome. Afterwards we all went out for drinks. At the very end of the evening I was speaking to one of the presenters and told her that I release my stuff via Creative Commons Licensing. She said that “Creative Commons was bunk and that Lessig (the founder of CC) can basically stick it”. She said that nobody in the industry really understands it anyway and why bother with it when you can just write your own terms in plain English in your release. Unfortunately at the time I had no response because I was both in shock and it was getting quite late and we were already heading out to our vehicles. I was going to let it go but I can’t. I feel that a point needs to be made! I wrote an email to her but ultimately decided not to send it. My friend Spinmeiser thought the information was good though and suggested I post it as an open letter. He also pointed out (and rightly so) that such a personal and blunt statement by someone like that is indicative of individuals in an industry that feels threatened because their very foundation of “how it should be” is being shaken at it’s core by this concept.

So here it is. I’m not a legal expert (quite the contrary) and not extremely well-versed in the history and intricate details of Creative Commons Licensing. This is merely my personal observations and opinion.

A) Why not? You said why bother releasing under CC Licensing when you can just write it out in plain English yourself. When we’re dealing with copyright issues, protection and permission is important. CC is already in very plain, easy to understand English. Because of their clear, concise website, it’s easy to find out (which types of licensing you need). And the description of each type is written out in quite plain and easy to understand terms. I’m a legal idiot and I can understand it.

B) Flickr, Wikipedia, and even Google image search now have Creative Commons functionality. The first time I posted to Wikipedia (before CC) I had a headache trying to figure out under which licensing to post photos. Now is easy as could be. Also if I want to find images released under CC on Flickr or Google they’re just a click away.

C) The very phrase “Creative Commons” itself specifies unique search terms. If I’m a remixer, a film student looking for music for my project, or just a regular schmoe looking for material for my YouTube videos, it just takes a quick search for “Creative Commons” to come up with ample material that I can use. Searching for “royalty-free” or similar terms comes up with hordes of bad links or packages you have to buy just to get the royalty-free material. Also with YouTube and similar sites cracking down on copyright violations, there are hundreds of people who find themselves without supplemental material for their work. It just takes one person to tell them about Creative Commons to open up a world of available material for them.

D) Community and association. People who issue work under CC and people who use CC are creating networks amongst themselves. Creative Commons itself even has a remixing website (ccMixter.org) in which I issue all of my song stems for the hundreds of members across the globe to remix. These type of communities are invaluable to DJ’s and students, etc..

Here’s an excellent blog post by Curt Smith of Tears for Fears on why he uses Creative Commons http://www.curtsmithofficial.com/blog/about-creative-commons

*** UPDATE ***
Here’s a really nice post on some prominent organizations using Creative Commons Licensing which includes a much better description of Google and Wikipedia’s usage:
http://creativecommons.org/about/who-uses-cc

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