advocacy for CC 0 over BY-SA

Victor Stone: Consider: Zero

Earlier this year Creative Commons formally introduced a license waiver called CC0 (CC Zero). I urge musicians, as strongly as I can, to consider using this license waiver for the audio samples they put into the Commons.

Audio samples licensed with CC0 with a CC0 waiver are the most flexible and least restrictive. Put another way, they carry the most freedom. Isn’t it hard enough to be creative?

No matter how highly I consider my musical work on my best days, I would like to think there is balance between my personal desires and choking off my great granchildren’s freedoms to speak creatively.

I’ve been putting most of my own recordings into the public domain lately, but mainly because it’s the only license certain to be compatible with anything that somebody might want to remix with. Also, there’s an issue of license obsolescence that I worry about. All I care about is being heard.

Victor’s point about freedom is compelling too, though. That’s kind of a revelation to me. I remember Gordon Mohr of Internet Archive and Bitzi saying something similar 7-8 years ago, and I wasn’t ready to get it. Gordon, you were right.

Also, there’s an issue with music that’s different from code: musicians just don’t understand copyright in any way. Burdening them with the difference between the different flavors of CC license is a non-starter.

6 thoughts on “advocacy for CC 0 over BY-SA

  1. I don’t think coders knew anyhting about copyright 20 years ago either, so I wouldn’t make decisions based on that. But yes, maximizing freedom is good.

  2. Well, coders were always a lot more analytical. Musicians are usually really uncomfortable with anything that feels snooty, upscale, braniac… Just try a conversation at a loud bar about the difference between CC licenses.

  3. Sorry Lucas. I’m posting here so I can get this off my chest. Because I just don’t get it. Apologies if this sounds bitter. No need to respond to this lunatic. ;)

    First off why complicate something that’s really not necessary yet? I am frustrated seeing a new license when I don’t fully understand the old ones yet. Or more accurately, I have never really seen a real example of a CC license giving more or less musical freedom to anyone yet. In theory yeah but honestly, no.

    Secondly without attribution, data gets lost. If I like a sound I hear in a work and want to find it, CC0 won’t help or most likely misinform me of it’s origin. CC0 in my opinion will mess thing up and make people lazy.

    In a world where anything and everything can be documented relatively easily, attribution is not a whole lot to ask for. And I feel attribution is important beneficial knowledge. And it’s respectful.

    I don’t mean to offend anyone but personally I feel it’s too much freedom for the sake of well… some people feeling good about themselves. Or maybe, I’m just jealous that I’m not in that position? :)

  4. Hey, that’s cool lol – totally reasonable reaction.

    Some things to keep in mind: CC0 is not a license, it’s a waiver.

    Public Domain is an Amercian construct. There are several countries, many of them that produce music for ccMixter that do not ALLOW musicians to put music into a PD state, they are not allowed to give up ownership – to CC0 fills that need.

    Putting an attribution restriction on a loop is actually *adding* restrictions to a the model of using loops from say a typical royalty-free loop library. I think this hurts adoption of libre samples – imo – needlessly.

    I think you’ve benefited quite handsomely from the freedoms enabled by CC licenses – I’m missing something in that segment of your comment. Certainly you’ve been subject to having your expression stymied by having all freedoms limited (?)

    Data is “lost” every time you give a gift anonymously – something you do all the time when you refuse credit for all your hard work at ccM and who knows where else. A certain kind of data may be lost, but that’s the original artist’s wishes – their wish is to gift anonymously.

  5. Great posts, Lucas and Victor. Couple minor comments on comments above…

    1) CC0 means attribution is not legally required. It doesn’t mean attribution is automatically lost or that releasing under CC0 is the equivalent of publishing anonymously. I expect lots of people will use CC0 and publish recommended but not mandated attribution/credit/citation info (the geeky word for this is apparently “norms”). Whether you want to legally require attribution depends on how much being able to legally demand credit is worth to you in creating more friction around uses of your work.

    2) I don’t like the line that “PD is an American construct”. There are some important ways PD is more clear and more present in the US than most other places, but PD is an important concept that should grow everywhere. Some info at and there’s a network explicitly for exploring the (very broadly defined) digital public domain from an EU perspective, see … also it is a bit of a hack but I think the very broad conception of the public domain that I think is described in James Boyle’s book of the same name, as the inverse of copyright restrictions — eg fair use and other limitations, as well as voluntary commons, all expand “the public domain” of stuff and uses people can do without restriction as opposed to works that are wholly in the public domain, is a useful construct to at least think about.

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