license on my own music

When I post my own music, I usually have to write a little license statement each time. This blog entry is to consolidate those license statements, so that in the future I just have to point here.

My default license is Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, which means that you are free to redistribute or remix the work as long as you provide attribution and release your derivative works under the same, similar, or a compatible license. Commercial use is fine, as long as the commercial use is under the same license. (But see the canonical definitions on for the formal definition of the license).

For attribution, give my name and a link — something like “Music by Lucas Gonze (”

If you want to use another license, such as one which restricts commercial use, contact me. One way to do that is to submit a comment on this blog entry.

For music which I composed, the license grant applies to the composition as much as to the sound recording. For music which someone else composed, I take care to use only music which is firmly in the public domain or under a free license compatible with my grant. If there are samples the same rules apply.

There are cases when the terms stated here don’t apply, such as when I did something collaboratively and lack the rights to make these claims, when a piece of work predates this statement, or when a piece of work is in a medium (such as code) aside from music. This statement only applies when I explicitly say so.

22 thoughts on “license on my own music

  1. as you know I am a huge CC lover and I am using it since 2003. I would love to use BY-SA without NC but it’s not okay for me. Because SA DOES allow commercial use when the original file is not changed. So if for example Sony takes my music and puts it on a CD and sells it, that’s okay for BY-SA.

    Never understood why CC only askes remixed works to be put under the same license. A major mistake! SA should be used by anyone who’s using your music, but the license won’t handle this.

    I do hope CC changes this attribute because I would love to us BY-SA only.

    Are CC people checking this blog? Probably :)

  2. But then Sony has to put their CD under the same license, so I don’t have a problem with it any more than I have a problem with Red Hat using unix utilities that I have contributed to. Let Sony sell BY-SA stuff, I just don’t see why this a bad thing.

  3. No, only when Sony would change/alter that content. Putting it on a CD doesn’t alter the content so Sony can do that without adding the license to the CD.

    “If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.”

    That’s the BIG issue of Share Alike in my opinion!

  4. Nothing protects Sony-BMG from being sued by you for redistribution on a CD except that putting the redistributed version under the same license. This means that they wouldn’t be able to prevent EMI, Warner, or Universal from also issuing a CD with your song, and the version of your song on any of these CDs would be licensed under BY-SA, just like the original.

    However, the CD as a whole isn’t contaminated, so for example the cover art is not automatically BY-SA just because it’s packaged with your song.

  5. Sony simply doesn’t need to add the SA license at all. SA is only needed when Sony remixes that song, not when they put it on CD. If Sony does that they can still can put All Right Reserved on it.

    It is a SA bug in my opinion. You would expect SA to be like GNU GPL but it is not the same at all. :(

  6. Marco, I’m not sure there is a bug.

    Although not creating a derivative work, Sony would be distributing under terms of BY-SA, which would require them to provide license notice.

    As Sony distributed under terms of BY-SA, anyone who wanted could take the track under those terms, which could include redistribution or derivatives, still governed by BY-SA.

    So Sony can’t put ARR on a BY-SA work even if they don’t create a derivative.

    But I could be missing something, as I’m not a lawyer, and I just miss stuff. :-)

  7. I don’t get it. I have quoted Lessig’s response some time ago:

    But I also am reading that last line in the license:
    “For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page.”

    This sounds great, but the line about share alik makes it more confusing. Why not simply state:
    Share Alike. If you REUSE, DISTRIBUTE, alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one. Putting those two sentenses together.

    It confuses me and Lessig’s explanation makes me wonder as well. Lessig says: “The ShareAlike requirement kicks in only if the adopter makes a �derivative work� out of the song.” – but if I am reading that line in the License ‘For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page.’ he doesn’t seem to be right.

    Was Lessig mistaken? Let’s clearify this. This is a good discussion :)

    I would love to use BU-SA only … or in fact BY only, but that’s still tricky for a business like mine…

  8. The ShareAlike term does only kick in if you make a derivative work. But if you’re distributing verbatim, it isn’t relevant — you’re distributing under the terms of the license granted.

    The “exploitation” that SA does not prevent is twofold:

    * Inclusion of a SA work into a collective work (e.g., verbatim track on an album) does not force the entire collective to be licensed under SA.

    * SA (without NC) works can be used for commercial advantage without getting permission from the copyright holder.

    I think NC does have a big role (e.g., for those who already have a business selling verbatim copies, and the merely envious :-)) but is overused. Most people aren’t going to make money selling verbatim copies anyway and preventing commercial use just suppresses potential use, which generates demand for appearances, services, fan items, patronage, etc.

  9. Thanks a lot Mike! This makes sense after all. I’ve learned something.

    I think I will switch to BY-SA. If someone makes a buck with my music that’s also creative, so why should I completely try to control that? The thing is I need to make a livin’, but do feel that switching to BY-SA would be better. More open and more easy to transfer digitally :)

  10. I don’t meant to get into any sort of legal analysis, as on the web it’s just not a good idea to debate or give anything remotely resembling legal advice. I think I can, say, though, that while most CC licenses seem to me relatively straightforward and issue-free, the SA designation and its accompanying license gives me the most pause about whether it will require a court to interpret how its intricacies work.


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