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Creative Commons 82

mpawlo writes "Creative Commons just opened to the public. From the initial statement: "We are building a Web-based application for dedicating copyrighted works to the "public domain," and for generating flexible, generous licenses that permit copying and creative reuses of copyrighted works." Read also the article in the New York Times." There's also an older story that summarizes the concept behind the site, although I think their FAQ's do a pretty good job. A page at the Berkman Center documents some of the development of the project (although it doesn't render properly in konqueror for whatever reason). rbeattie describes it like so: "At O'Reilly's ongoing Emerging Technology Conference today, Creative Commons gave a presentation about their new service, an "easy way for people (like scholars, musicians, filmmakers, and authors--from world-renowned professionals to garage-based amateurs) to announce that their works are available for copying, modification, and redistribution." They've provided an online wizard where you can choose the type of license and restrictions you want to put on your work, and then they'll provide a circled CC logo you can put on your website with links to the license. In addition they are providing search functionality for those looking for public domain content - the license is provided in "machine readable form" (read: XML probably) so that it can be easily indexed/searched."
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Creative Commons

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  • Is it just me... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rmohr02 ( 208447 )
    ...or has this already been done []?

    There are also other sites [] dedicated to this idea.
    • Re:Is it just me... (Score:4, Informative)

      by interiot ( 50685 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:19AM (#3536507) Homepage
      Read their FAQ []: they aren't advocating or only advertising works which get released into the public domain. They're more interested in allowing authors to create their own license that allows and restricts whatever the author feels is good, in case neither of the two extremes of standard copyright or public domain are suitable for an author.
    • "easy way for people (like scholars, musicians, filmmakers, and authors--from world-renowned professionals to garage-based amateurs) to announce that their works are available for copying, modification, and redistribution."

      The terms in GPL was designed to be licenced for software/code. The GNU is basically a software project. Slashdot is a forum for (mostly) computer and tech geeks. Yes we have it, but the other people don't have a FSF equivalent in their fields.
      • Exactly. Read the GPL. It's full of software-specific terminology and concepts. I'm a photographer in addition to geek work. The real source code to my photo work is a 35mm HP5 negative. I'm not making copy negatives for everyone who wants to use the image. I will, however, give out high-res scans of that image for use.

        There are those who say that you can apply the GPL to anything that's covered by copyright. I prefer to use the correct tool for the correct job. That, at the very least, requires rewriting the GPL to apply directly to the domain in question. In my case that's photography. That would mean that sections like, "If the modified program normally reads commands interactively when run" don't apply and shouldn't be in the license. However, the general concepts in the GPL would apply, ie, if you use my images, you had better share the results just like I shared the original.
  • by tcd004 ( 134130 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:07AM (#3536443) Homepage
    "Shining a Spotlight on Sharing"

    I learned in kindergarten

    Find your ol' Prison Buddies at! []

  • good stuff (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:12AM (#3536466) Journal
    This is going to be a good thing, just because there is a central location to verify if something is public domain, or what kind of license they are using, etc.

    This is a good thing.

    Unless various legislation sponsored by the xxAA's gets passed, making greed mandatory

    • I agree that this is a very very good thing!!! I have a novel that I've been trying to shove into the public domain in a formal way for literally YEARS now. There is no formal system for making something public domain. You can find out if something's copyrighted (registered) fairly easily, and there are trademarks and patents listed in searchable databases... But Project Gutenberg doesn't accept modern works to be placed in the public domain -- including my novel! Very very frustrating. I'll admit, it's not a fantastically great book - but it's a real, full novel and I do want to give it away.

      I know people say 'Who in their right mind would do that?', but as someone who almost had her shirt sued off because she did fan-art based on a set of novels, I can tell you I'm doing it so that anyone who's inspired by my writing can be inspired, create from it, and never fear that some $500-an-hour lawyer is going to train their gunsights on them for it.

  • It's a tragedy that places like this must exist. Copyrights are so far from their original intent [] in the United States, they are almost alughable. Almost.
    • So are the Second and Third Amendments []. The intent of something evolving into something different over time is not necessarily bad. In some cases, this is actually a good thing. Try again: Why is it bad that copyright law has evolved?
      • It's bad because there really isn't much difference between copywritten material in 1790 and copywritten material in 2002. There are some [] organizations [] whose financial status is dependent on ever-increasing copyright extention, but it's always a bad deal to trade rights for all to benefit a small group.

        As to the link above, the second amendment has (probably) been curtailed sharply, but I've no idea how you think the third amendment has been abridged at all.
        • It's copyrighted, not copywritten.
          Copyrights have to do with rights to restrict others from rewriting (copying) what one writes, not about the actual writing.
          I hope that I have made myself clear writing about the right to rewrite.

          This post is copyright 2002 by some guy I know.
          The right to write about the right to rewrite what was written here rightly belongs to me, and you have no right to rewrite what I wrote without my permission.
  • Creative commons sounds like a great idea to manage small clips that might be useful for someone's college project. But, what happens when an ad agency hears your music and wants an exclusive license?

    For most starving artists (well, at least those who have starving for some time) they'd jump at the chance to make it big and forgo sharing their works publicly.

    Once the first future star gets told by their agent or a big buyer that they love their stuff but can't support the Creative Commons license, one of two things would happen: 1. They abandon Creative Commons or 2. They abandon Creative Commons and tell the world how they screwed out of their first big 'hit' by releasing it for free. Unless open source software, it sounds like a system where, by its nature, the content is always inferior.

    • if some one plans to make money on it, they can just afix the non-comercial use or any other licence feature that will allow more restricted access, but still allow for commercail use by other licences.

      if you are planing to be generous, then you probably never hoped or wanted to make BIG cash from your work.......none of the licences say that you get the work for free, you still have to pay for the origional, and if you copy left it, you can add a clause that says it must be redistributed for the exact amout you payed for it. then no one can get it for free.

    • As I understand it, an artist will be able to tailor the license. Perhaps an artist could make the art free for noncommercial use. If a big buyer comes along they have to pay for alternate licensing terms. Now while the RIAA might feel a need for total domination^H^H^H exclusive license, a car company wanting your music for an ad would probably like the wide distribution created by CC.

      Think of the Trolltech business model. QT is GPL'd for noncommercial use, but if you want a different license you have to pay. Remember, a license is not a copyright. You can dual license your own IP.

      • > Think of the Trolltech business model. QT is
        > GPL'd for noncommercial use, but if you want a
        > different license you have to pay. Remember, a
        > license is not a copyright. You can dual
        > license your own IP.

        You mean non-*proprietary* use. Commercial companies can use TrollTech's libraries as long as they release the source code to any library that links to it.

        I personally find the options need a bit of work and focus on what each combination is compatible with and incompatible with.
      • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @12:05PM (#3537578)
        As I understand it, an artist will be able to tailor the license. Perhaps an artist could make the art free for noncommercial use. If a big buyer comes along they have to pay for alternate licensing terms.

        It is these sorts of licenses that are truly a big threat to the creation of a 'creative commons.' One of the reasons Free Software was able to succeed so well, and so quickly (a blink of an eye in historical terms) was because there were relatively few free licenses: X, BSD, and the GPL initially, around which a critical mass of software was able to evolve.

        In a creative commons, one would ideally be able to incorporate the work of any project into their own, so long as their work is also released into the commons for others to use. As an example, I might want to have a Star Trek episode that is particularly apropos to my project, running on a television in the background in one of my movie's scenes. I cannot do this now because of draconian copyright regimes, nor will I be able to do this within my lifetime because of copyright's no longer (practical in human terms) limitation in duration.

        But, if every clip and contribution is distributed under its own, tailormade license, I will likely be unable to do this in any project, even taking material from the creative commons.

        Maybe, for example, I do want to sell my movie on custom burned DVDs, so I can make a little money to cover my filming expenses. But, I plan to release it under a GPL-like license (GPL-like so that Hollywood movie moghuls can't take my work and then steal the freedoms I offer from their customers by making it proprietary and css-encoding it onto their DVDs, for example, which public domain and BSD-like licenses wouldn't prevent), so it is free as in freedom, but commercial in that I'd like to get a couple of bucks selling my CDs. Or perhaps commercial in that, I've become successful and well known, and coca cola is paying me a bunch of cash to place their logo in a few key scenes in the movie.

        Now I've got to wade through a dozen different licenses, for a dozen different clips or musical scores I'd like to include, any of which may be mutually incompatible with one another as well as my own project. This severely diminishes the usefulness of the creative commons.

        What is needed is a relatively few number of licenses, as compatible with one another as possible. Ideally they would boil down to a GPL-like license, a BSD-like license, and public domain, so that, depending on one's philosophy, one can license ones work, and use the work of others, in a relatively straightforward approach. Whether one is using my Free Media License [] (still being drafted, not ready for use, and if a better, more widely accepted one a la the GPL comes along I'll use that instead), or one of the other licenses out there, as great a degree of compatiblity as possible is needed for a commons like this to work at all.

        What is really missing from the entire Free Media and Creative Commons movement is a good, solid licensing framework we can all use to license our contributions. My Free Media License [] is one attempt to fix this, but I'd much rather be writing a novel [] than writing a license, and most other creative people probably feel likewise, which makes addressing this deficiency difficult.

        Unfortunately, the Creative Commons website seems a little short on Licensing information as well ... a deficiency I sincerely hope will be corrected in the not too distant future. :-)
        • Now I've got to wade through a dozen different licenses, for a dozen different clips or musical scores I'd like to include, any of which may be mutually incompatible with one another as well as my own project. This severely diminishes the usefulness of the creative commons.

          I guess they don't understand the problem you're raising here, or how that problem is any greater than doing media development under any other licensing scheme. If anything, this would simplify the matter because you can assess compatibility based on the key freedoms: copying, distribution of derivative works, attribution, and copyleft.

          So since you're planning to distribute your work as a possibly commercial, copyleft, derivative works permitted you would just go search for public domain or licenses that permit derivative works for commercial use.

          At least one of the things that really appeals to me about this scheme is that it is modular and it treats the various aspects of licensing independently. I have been looking for a license that would open source some of the things I am currently working on while reserving the exclusive option of closing the copyright on future revisions of the product. I don't agree that the ability to use all works is really essential or even desirable. For example, I might design something specifically for a nonprofit, and I might want to keep that license as a nonprofit in order to prevent commercial enterprises from poaching it.

          Or I might want to exercise some ethical screening on how my product is used in order to make money. So while I might want to open distribution and derivative works for noncommercial purposes, I might restrict commercial distribution on a case-by-case basis.

        • It is these sorts of licenses that are truly a big threat to the creation of a 'creative commons.' .... if every clip and contribution is distributed under its own, tailormade license, I will likely be unable to do this in any project, even taking material from the creative commons.

          I disagree. The critical thing here is the machine-aided roll-your-own licencing based on standardized template components. Right now the custom license is based off six simple clauses. This could eventually expand to include variables such as cost (with automatic payment systems) duration and so forth. By keeping the compnent clauses simple and common (just like HTML tags are simple and common) you should have no problems quickly checking the compatability of licenses. Since everything is machine-readable (xml) you could build this right into some DRM software that chould check all the materials you're sampling: you'd debug your license like you would your code.

          This is exactly the kind of application that we (content creators, artists: I'm one) need to take control of copyright. It gets us out from under the thumb of lawyers and lets us fight fire with fire (our own licensing terms to combat restrictive corporation-favoring IP laws).

          I remember working with someone on this idea (machine-maintained licenses) 4 years ago. Back then, nobody saw it. Hopefully will help bring that innovation to light.
        • Are you saying there shouldn't be as many licences and especially that the ability customize one to your own needs would create chaos, but then linking to one you're creating to suit your custom needs?
    • But, what happens when an ad agency hears your music and wants an exclusive license?

      Then they can't have one, can they? Because you've already agreed to release the work on a non-exclusive basis.

      Sometimes we make choices in life. Do you want exposure or do you want the fat payoff of exclusivity? If you demand the fat payoff up front, you may never get the exposure you need.

      I could just as easily re-word your example to say "what if I've written my first book, and RandomPublisherA offers me $10K for it. Then RandomPublisherB says he likes it and offers me $100K for it. Do I abandon RandomPublisherA and spill my sour grapes to the world?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you check out the license terms, a starving artist would be perfect for a Creative Commons license, and not the public domain.

      They'd release their song with the "non-commercial" option and "attribution" options clearly marked. That would mean the world could share their work, get their name out there, and maybe into the hands of people that would want to hire this person.

      If you are an agency and want to use the work for a commercial purpose and take their attribution off it, you have to contact the author to discuss exclusive terms for that, outside of the creative commons license. The license doesn't allow for it freely, and could be a way that artists could ensure they get paid for commercial work, without having to change their licenses.

      In your scenario, the only way an artist would be "screwed out of their first big hit" would be if they released it into the public domain or didn't worry about restricting non-commercial use on a creative commons license, and then it's debateable that the artist gained nothing from it (if the first song makes money, wouldn't someone want to pay for the second?)
  • by mirko ( 198274 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:16AM (#3536490) Journal
    GNUArt [] opened a GPL'ed Art Gallery [] in January 2001.

    I am however pleased to see that other people begin in the same direction which will make this way of thinking more and more popular until the merchants begin to think differently about what copyright protection should mean for the artists.
    • I like that idea.

      There needs to be a place for people who're doing graphical, musical, or any creative work to publish & share it just for that sake. Any of my own graphic work is out there now for people to do whatever the hell they like with it. The more I create, the more I realise the fun for me was in creating it. Sharing it around to perhaps sometime inspire someone else comes secondary, and the idea of just gaining cash from it - I'm not too fussed about.

      Now to get my butt into gear and remove all the old (c) symbols from my work... the stuff I put in just cos it looked cool at the time :)

      a grrl & her server []
    • The only thing GNUArt shares with what made GNU or Linux software successful is the "GNU" in the name. Totally lost is any concept of modularly separating out the pieces so that one can make works using the material yet not being derived works under copyright law. Two market leaders of free software are the Linux kernel and the gcc compiler. Note that the point of a kernel is a separation between the kernel and userland. A person or company can make a product that invokes only the Linux system calls and license this product under any terms. Similarly usage of the gcc compiler does not give RMS any say over the licensing terms of the resulting binary. In fact the Linux kernel's owners even permit distribution of proprietary binary drivers that work with the kernel. Ironically it was the overly restrictive license of Minux that caused Linus Torvalds to create Linux in the first place. Part of the genius of Linus is that he initiated a system where he simply doesn't have to care what people bundle his kernel with in their distributions, what applications they use with the kernel, or how much money they make doing so without sharing one penny with him.

      The control of the mass media corporations may be disburbing, but to assert that the solution is to create a "commons" where the only recompense is recognition is in contradiction to the entire history of Western art. The craftsman deserves to be paid for his work.
    • For books, see this link [].
  • As a physicist, I know the importance of taking credit for my work. My livelihood depends on my continuing to make advances in the field of science and I can't do that if other people are building on the foundations I keep laying down. IP law has it's flaws, yes, but the basic structure is sound. It keeps people away from my work until I've done all I can with it--and that's good for everybody.
  • Question... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arminius ( 84868 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:18AM (#3536500) Homepage
    How will Creative Commons affect the GPL or better yet how will the GPL affect Creative Commons?
  • For "copyright violations", and for stealing parts of his idea. That will serve 'em right :)

  • You may wish to know (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blab ( 214849 )
    I was in attendence at the creative commons talk at the O'Reilly Conf. The one thing that struck me is that this organization does not seem to be aimed soley at creating an simple 'public domain' license. While they are working on that they also have numerous 'restrictions' that they are playing with that an author can tack onto the license.

    One thing that struck me is that this approach, while bringing people, their license, and their artistic product closer to the public domain than it would be otherwise with the automatic copyrighting that occurs know these are -not- going to be public domain works when these restrictions are applied to a basic license.

    While this is still a step in the right direction do not be confused that adding restrictions like 'not for commercial use' or 'you can't make derivitive works (unless you contact me)' puts a work into a public domain. These restictions are closer and better(?), but still not a public domain work when you really chew on this concept.

    One presenter was very bias'd toward companies using a work for 'commercial use' and was very intent on pushing that restriction. I was very uncomfortable with that position coming from someone at this organization. A next absurd step in that thinking, though you might know someone like this, is to add further restrictions that make sense to the person who owns the work, but not to the rest of us. "not for us in Iran", "not for use in the southern US."

    Regardless of whether you believe these restrictions are justified or not is another issue. Adding restrictions is not my idea of a "public domain".

    • I agree with you that restrictions are imcompatible with a public domain which is why I don't want my works in a public domain. (What I want is something between GPL and a traditional copyright.) In fact, the GPL is is not "public domain" either.

      Pragmatically, non-commercial licenses fill an important need for individual educators and nonprofit groups to share works without having those works gobbled up by commercial interests. If I do work for a nonprofit project, it is not fair to me or to the nonprofit if a publisher were to make money by redistributing that work. Personal and nonprofit clauses fill an important need to get information out while preventing commercial poaching.

    • Hi. Lisa Rein, Technical Architect, Creative Commons here, and I believe I was the "presenter" in question here.

      The point I made was that if a commercial entity wished to use a work (in this case I was talking about one of my own songs) for say, a movie soundtrack, after I had released it under an "Attribution" (required) "Non-commercial" Custom License, that commercial entity would still have to contact me directly for such use (to presumably pay me money for such use, as such use would constitute infringement of its terms of use otherwise).

      So I never said that our licenses would be used for commercial deals -- but I still apologize for my not being clearer with my example as it has apparently caused some confusion for my audience.

      And I do see these licenses as having great potential to promote artists in commercial ways, yes. Artists that have a bevy of songs might want to release one or two under one of our licenses to get tunes out into the artistic community before a concert tour, for instance, or to sell t-shirts or the other kinds of "commercial" shwag, after the music itself has been "given" away.

      I would also just like to clarify that we are absolutely *not* trying to water down the notion of what constitutes "public domain", and that's why the two "forks" of the conceptual prototype I demonstrated at E-tech (for our contributor licensing application) are very clearly split off in the beginning: you are creating a Public Domain Dedication *or* a Creative Commons Custom License that allows you to impose terms more restrictive than the Public Domain but less restrictive of copyright.

      So the idea is to provide licenses that enable artists to either donate to the public domain outright (currently there is NO easy way for them to do so -- you literally have to pay money to figure out how to give you work away...) OR to donate their works in the "spirit" of the public domain (using a CC custom license) without giving the rights away to that movie studio who wants to use the song on a soundtrack. (which would be the case with a public domain track).

      That said, I still think the public domain option could have commercially-powerful uses.

      For instance, a movie studio may decide to use independent, popular, public domain works on a soundtrack that is *sold* -- what a way for the studio to save money, sure, but also what a way for a no name (like me) to even have a chance of being considered for such a soundtrack.

      It goes both ways. My advice to everyone is this: If you are AT ALL WORRIED about the implications of putting your work into the public domain: don't do it -- use one of our Custom Licenses instead.

      Wait until you've had a chance to understand fully both the legal implications and potential benefits of putting your work into the public domain, and can do so with complete confidence.

      The point is to give artists a choice to contribute to (and reap the benefits of) a world-wide connected artistic community, if they're into it.


      Lisa Rein
      Technical Architect
      Creative Commons []

  • Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Washizu ( 220337 ) <> on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:42AM (#3536596) Homepage
    How will they verify that a work I submit is my own? Can they ensure all material will be in the public domain? What is to stop me from submitting an unfamous, yet copyrighted peice of artwork?
    • This really isn't a problem as it's been addressed with any other website that hosts text, images or movies.

      Slashdot, Creative Commons or any other website can only be held liable if they fail to remove the offending content upon request of the copyright holder or if they were responsible for posting the copyrighted material.

      • Their FAQ says they're not going to host material, just provide links to it. So this whole thing is a nonissue. You follow the link to the author's web site, and on that site you'll find the legal stuff, straight from the horse's mouth.
        • You can still get into trouble - even if you just have a link to something.
    • True.
      But replace "work"/"artwork/"material" with "code", and we have a pretty interesting problem.

      Of course for coding, your peers know how much beef you have and it's harder to fool people, but for small "personal projects" it's still impossible to distinguish between genuine and "pirated" works.
    • This is not the problem they are trying to address.
      Creative Commons will create a license, a legal text for me to use, to let people know what are the conditions of use for my works: I see it as something equivalent to GPL, only a license, if I don't have the rights from the first place, then, the license couldn't apply and could be challenged.
      An example: I can place a copy of MS Win on my website, claim that I own the rights and license it as GPL for everyone. Yeah, I can do that, but of course the license won't apply... even if my site is cached on google (equivalent to having my artwork on Cretive Commons search database).
  • by eyegor ( 148503 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @09:42AM (#3536597)
    How does one prove ownership of a particular property? And... How can Creative Commons prove that to users wary of something "too good to be true"?

    What better way to sow the seeds of confustion is for someone masquarading as some obscure/forgotten author or artist (such as MC Hammer) and "giving" their works to the world. I wonder how long Creative Commons would exist after one of those little trojan horses was delivered? Not that the RIAA would EVER do anything like that.

    I'll bet that proving ownership will ultimately prove to be too burdonsome.
    • First of all, Creative Commons isn't really a new idea. Slashdot,, and a slew of other websites allow users to post text, movies, music, and images that could be copyrighted.

      What happens when someone posts MC Hammer on In this case, it is up to the copyright holder to notify that they are infringing on thier copyright and to remove the material. If does not comply, then the copyright holder can sue, but only if does not comply.

      • And what happened to Napster with that same philosophy? This "I can get away with it as long as I don't get caught" mentality is positively sickening.

        The original poster is right. People will forge credentials and get Creative Commons to mark goods as free. Other people will then use the goods illegally,m actual copyright holder finds out, and it all hits the fan.

        If they cannot prove that the person "freeing" the work is the actual creator of the work. they will fail miserably. 1 year, 5 years, who knows, but failure is the only possible outcome.

        Now it's not that they COULDN'T do it. A face to face meeting with physical proof. Positive ID and noterized documents would go a long way to preventing fraud. But if you can do all this on line, they are in for a lot of trouble.
        • And what happened to Napster with that same philosophy? This "I can get away with it as long as I don't get caught" mentality is positively sickening.

          You obviously didn't understand the Napster case, because if you did, you would have understand they ruled that Napster wasn't fulfilling thier part to prevent the posting/trading of KNOWN copyrighted material.

          The RECORD INDUSTRY IS RESPONSIBLE for providing Napster with a list of known copyrighted works which can't be added to the database for trading.

          Creative Commons is considered an ISP. If I posted copyrighted MP3's on my website hosted by my ISP, my ISP could be help liable on two conditions.

          1. They knew I was posting copyrighted MP3's and ignored it.
          2. The copyright holder notified them, and they did nothing.

          The RIAA's case against Napster was that they notified Napster of the copyright infringement, and Napster didn't nothing to prevent those known copyrighted works from being traded.

          Do you get it now?
        • This "I can get away with it as long as I don't get caught" mentality is positively sickening.

          You may find it sickening, but
          • It's the way the law works! It's not like the original poster was making it up, that's how the DMCA covers this exact situation. Look it up for yourself.
          • How else do you expect it to work? Emphasis on work, not expect like you might read it at first. Ethically, it's just not my problem to figure out whether your works are being infringed, and practically, it's impossible for any non-trivial service to decide whether a given piece of content is copyrighted. Are you going to look at each and every comment posted on Slashdot, determine whether its copyrighted by someone other then the poster, further determine whether the poster has permission to post it to Slashdot (which they may!), and then take corrective action? Do you want that job? Does anybody?
          It's just not practical to expect any service that allows content posting to check everything, if for no other reason then you have to check for permission, in addition to copyright status! That's why the DMCA distributes the responsibility back to the copyright holders. It can't work any other way. Like I said, you may find it sickening, but not only is it the way it works, it's the only way it can work. (And remember... Napster never posted a copyrighted song on their service. Place the blame where it belongs, with the violators.)
  • Who in their right mind will give away the fruits of their labor for free. Here in NYC there are plenty of well to do artists selling their works for a lot of money. I haven't heard of a single one who toils just to give their work away for free. How many kids dream of being a rock star and being poor? Making unbelievable amounts of money goes hand in hand with dreams of making it big in the music biz. Same thing in anything else with creativity involved.
    • This project isn't target to people who want to be rock stars or commercial artists. Believe it or not, there are a lot of charitable people who donate thier time an efforts so they can inspire people, and this is a project to give the options to how they donate thier work to the public.

      I agree that most people want to make a lot of money, but you're also underestimating the charitable nature of people.
    • Ever hear of GNU?

      Ever hear of Linux?

      Ever look at

      Lots of people giving their stuff away.

      Sometimes, It's the sheer joy of having people use and enjoy what they've created.
    • by squaretorus ( 459130 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @10:55AM (#3537039) Homepage Journal
      There are a couple of clearcut cases.

      1: Someone who takes photos which are 'pretty good' as a hobby. You make them freely available to stop Getty being the only source for 'pretty good' photography.

      2: Someone who has made their money from a piece of work and wants to set it free before they die to stop their kids squabbling about how to milk it dry to pay for crack.

      3: Hippies. We still exist! We don't ALL pray to the almighty dollar. Give it away, give it away, give it away now!

      but other than that, no, no one in their right mind would give something away that had an earning potential if they needed the money - so I don't think this will be used too much by 'kids in the garage' or whatever. They'll just post it on whichever napster variant is in vogue right now to get 'discovered' in the hope they'll meet and shag Britney or whoever is in young chaps dreams right now.

      Can you licence a riff?
    • New artists in all fields have big problems getting themselves known. This would seem a good avenue for exposure.

      You know, the ol' crack thing. Give the first one away for free...

  • When I first read this, I thought, "great!" After all, this is every slashdotnik's dream, right?

    But then I paused. You see, as much as we'd like to think otherwise, information not only doesn't "want to be free," but it will fight tooth and nail against becoming free. In today's MTV-fueled, Britney Spears world, much of the intellectual property that's out there is so entangled in derivative works that true public domain is just a geek's pipe dream.

    If only it weren't so.
    • From what I understand, copyrighted works will expire after X years after the issuing of copyright, regardless of it's use in other copyrighted materials, so I can't really see how derivitive works can entangle original works so as to cause them to expire at a later date.
      • copyrighted works will expire after X years after the issuing of copyright

        Yes, but if X increases at the approximate rate of one year per year (as has happened in 1976 and 1998)...

        • I'm very aware that copyrights keep being extended, what I'm suggesting is that derivative works have no bearing on when the copyright will expire, which seemed to be what the original posters was saying. Was it???

          Extending copyrights indefinitely is definitely a Bad Thing(tm).
  • How many people are really going to do this? I can see plenty of applications, academics wishing to disseminate information and wanting to get around the DMCA, but I doubt we'll see John Grisham or Piers Anthony having their earlier (read: slower-selling) works unleashed for the public good.

    Great tool for Estates of dead IP holders to be publicly philanthropic. Artists could will their entire bodies of work to this post mortem, make money while alive, and enrich the public domain.

  • They've provided an online wizard where you can choose the type of license and restrictions you want to put on your work
    IANAL, but choosing licensing options from a menu sounds like a potentially dangerous idea. It may be possible that some restrictions may conflict with others, making it possible to breach whatever mix-and-match license options are offered.

    If an author/artist/programmer wants a customized "sharing" license for their work, they'd be well advised to run it by a lawyer or stick with an existing license []

    • Shoehorning mismatched content into an existing license for another type of content, ie photography covered by a software license like GPL is just as bad as hand-writing your own without a lawyer. The GPL is filled with software specific terminology and concepts that don't fit things like visual arts well. Please, people, choose a license that at least matches what you're trying to cover. The OPL (opencontent license) does a decent job of covering a pretty wide range of non-software content.
  • Open Content (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    From what I recall, [] has been around for a few years.
    • Maybe I'm missing something (in fact, in a sense I hope I am), but there appears to be no database of works, just information on "open" licenses that can be used. This is good, but not as helpful as providing access to the actual works themselves. The latter function is apparently the intent behind Creative Commons, as well as the Open Music Registry (with a narrower focus, of course).
  • The creative commons has been designed to work in the area of copyright.

    We all hate software patents, but they're not going away. We have to work within the system. Anyone have ideas on how to carve out a commons in the area of e-patents?

    Here's a thought: form a Free Patent Foundation which would owns the patents. Regular folks submit patentable mechanisms to this foundation which does the patent search, defends the patent, and collects reasonable royalties on implementations which use it. Pay back some amount of the money procured from proprietary sources back to the submitter.

    However, free implementations would pay no royalties at all, they would just be bound to reference the patent in the code.
    • Re:E-patent commons (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      On the right track, but ot quite there. Part of the problem is that searching for the existance of a patent takes time/money. Small groups/open source can't afford either. Besides, if all they have to do is reference in code, compaies like MS will stick a comment in the code right before trial, show it to the judge, and get the case dismissed.

      A better idea is- everyone releasing code to public domain, or with an open source license gets to license the patent for free. Everyone else pays (with money going to the patent holder, with an option to give to the EFF, open source foundations, etc). The license money would also go twoards defending the patents in court if necessary.
  • Free as in beer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by y6y6y6 ( 84925 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @11:50AM (#3537427) Homepage
    I've been following the Creative Commons build-up for a while and am glad to see it finally launched. I would like to help and/or collaborate if you feel that would be productive.

    I listened to a presentation Lawrence Lessig gave at SXSW earlier this year and was motivated to action.

    I've removed the copyright notice from all of my pages and replaced it with an invitation for people to use the content for whatever commercial or creative use they want.

    For many years I've maintained a website where I have recipes, stories and thousands of photos. In the past many people have asked to use some of these and I've allowed it with the provision that they include a copyright notice and a link to me. People have stolen some of my designs and I've gotten very upset and threatened to sue.

    But hearing your speech made me start to wonder why. What is the point of me stressing out over control of these things? I don't ever intend to make money from them. Why not open them to people who can find a creative use?

    So I have.

    Already people are grabbing the images and using them for some cool things. A film maker intends to use them in his work, websites are using them for banners. I am very happy. Here's a link to my page where we're discussing this: showday&pageid=737 []

    And an example of one of my public domain photo pages: 17 []

    I'm rather surprised at how tightly some people's idea of "art" is linked to copyright and control. I always thought art was creativity.

    I'm very interested in using the "contributor application" and seeing how well it matches up with the licences I've been using. One thing I did see missing from the licences they show (Attribution, Noncommercial, etc) was an explicitly public domain licence.

    Most of my photos actually fall into this category. I just want people to use them, even if I don't attribution. Of course this seems like a bit of a non-licence, but it would be nice to have something specifically stating that. I constantly get email indicating that a) people don't understand what public domain means, and b) they don't believe I really mean it.

    At any rate, I want to thank Creative Commons for their work and inspiration.
    • Your photos have been adorning my desktops since I first discovered your site. I've learned that using the food pictures is NOT for people watching their weight.
  • I sent them the following feedback on their idea. Hopefully others will do the same.

    -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o -o -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o
    -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o
    -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

    First of all, I think that the license generator is an excellent idea. Artists and programmers are not license lawyers, yet they need to deal with this issue. A site devoted to the commons is a great asset and generating easy to understand license descriptions is important.

    However I do have a few nitpicks and suggestions:

    * Some of the choice seem contradictory. For instance, someone may choose to have a no-derived works and copyleft. There needs to be a way of sorting this out.

    * Some of the choices seem ambigious. Is copyleft the same as copyleft+attribution? Are either compatible with the GPL? Novel's original free software license was copyleft, but it was GPL incompatible because Novel's license had stricter licensing terms.

    * There are several other variations of licenses that are not included that people find important. For instance, I may not mind if my work is quoted verbatum in a larger work or I may allow annotations or even deletions, so long as they are made explicit. Or I may allow changes to my work but all changes must be given to the public. Or they may wish their work to become licensed under a freer license (e.g. public domain, GPL, BSD) after a certain period of time so they can make money on it first. For an interesting look at a few more, take a look at:
    I think that there are no more than 15 main characteristics that distinguish between most source available licenses. classifying licenses along these lines would really help sort out what each license means. It's sad that licenses are more made for lawyers, than for the people who use them.

    * Relating to the above point, it would be desirable to be able to use the 15 main characteristics to not only define a license but also to look at commonly used licenses that are close to this one. For instance, there may be a license that has 3 of the 4 characteristics you consider most important. If you want users of your work to feel comfortable with your license, you'd more than likely choose a popular license, even if you have to give up on a few points. This feature allows you to reduce the license fragmentation.

    * Finally, I'd suggest that you integrate the Librock License Awareness System into your web site: ml
    1. This software allows you to determine if two licenses are compatible and may be combined into a greater work. It's best to be aware of licensing issues before you combine source code since afterwards it may take more pain to become compliant than you wish.
    2. Also also importnat when you wish to choose your license since it can alert you to unintended consequences. For instance, if you choose a license with the clause "you are free to modify this work but may only be distribute it or any derivatived work non-commercially" (i.e. an Alladin-like license), you may be upset that it's not GPL compatible. If GPL compatibility is important to you but you're not willing to give up your license on your current work (you don't want people making money redistributing your work before you have a chance to), you may be okay about making it GPL compatible after a certain amount of time or you may make other concessions.
  • I've had a community wiki project in place for months and I've been promoting it around the Jersey City artistic community for a couple of months.

    Its beginning to pay off and generate interest. Maybe you'll be able to find my site. The DNS servers don't seem to know about yet.

    I'm using an implementation of wiki, phpwiki-1.3.3, which uses logon to attribute edits to their authors, tracks all deltas and I back the thing up everyday.

    I have no opinions on subject matter, I apply no censorship. I am just trying to give writers a place to collaborate on works, register a copyright on their own works and perhaps round out some things which have always been experimental and awkward and bring to works words which couldn't exist in any othjer form.

    Come see it at

    Click on the community Wiki in the left hand pane and if you're a writer, contribute your ideas
  • I'm very glad to hear about Creative Commons because in our society, copyright is the "default", and it is very unclear how to put anything into the public domain. Most people don't worry about copyright, it seems that we all regularly violate the law, copying pages, websites, etc. without asking permission, and where expressly prohibited. The public domain is a "free trade zone" of ideas. Worrying about permissions makes it impossible to create mosaics of knowledge. This makes it impractical to accumulate our experiences and draw patterns from them. A related problem is, how can we create a marketplace where private interests pay for work to be done openly, publicly? So far I haven't seen business models for open source where the money is made from the "openness", not the exclusive "add-ons". I think this can only work if we invest in relationships, if we sell passion and people, rather than products, services, code, ideas. My lab is creating such a marketplace for working openly. sal.html We function as a research multiplier, we reduce in high uncertainty entrepreunerial projects. Funders know that they are attracting constructive workers, and workers know that they are paid to work openly. This allows everybody to work more flexibly, which is important for promising start-ups that thrive on low capital, high uncertainty. We're looking for funders and participants. Our lab, Minciu Sodas,, serves and organizes independent thinkers. Our thinkers "work for free" on their own projects, we do our best to support each other. This makes us a "constructivity magnet", as we attract those who have their own projects, and we repel those who don't want to work for free. We've been careful to conduct our work in the public domain. Our correspondence includes the tag "Each letter enters the Public Domain unless it explicitly states otherwise" and now we have 5000 letters that we can reuse as needed, without asking permission. Having a definite way to place work in the public domian is very helpful. Maybe even more helpful would be to have a convention for discussion groups to include a "Public Domain by default" tag. Most helpful, in building a "free trade zone" of ideas, would be for the copyright laws to be changed so that creative works are in the Public Domain by default, they are the ones that should be explicitly registered. But first we should demonstrate that the Public Domain is of itself productive, constructive, economic, a good investment. Andrius Kulikauskas Direktorius Minciu Sodas +1 (773) 651-3785 Chicago, Illinois
  • If it has a copyright or license, it isn't Public Domain. Duh!

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson