is there a Creative Commons way to ask for forgiveness instead of permission?

A striking thing about the thru-you / Kutiman mashups of YouTube music is that Creative Commons isn’t part of the picture. You’d expect the sources to have been all or mainly under permissive licenses that allowed derivatives to be made, but it’s not so. The final product is just simply unauthorized in a way that suggests “whatever” or “big whoop.”

Maybe the physics of online music are 100% different than the physics of source code, and that’s why the patterns which worked so well for free and open source software seem to be irrelevant.

12 thoughts on “is there a Creative Commons way to ask for forgiveness instead of permission?

  1. I’ve always thought using CC license was sort of like thinking a step ahead. Only the next step is a big “?”.

    CC at ccmixter works beautifully because it forms a sort of community based on mutual respect. I like how that works. But out in the wild, most people seem to just want to create without boundaries.

    If big corporations like YouTube ignore the rules. And they set the tone. I don’t see why the majority of individuals would take the time to worry about it.

  2. Re-reading the above I wanted to clarify. By “next step” I mean for the music/artist/musician. Not CC or ccmixter.

    And by Youtube setting the tone, I mean Youtube should be the ones implementing CC licenses and setting a good example.

  3. The need for CC is predicated on the need for permission, but success is based almost purely on the amount of attention of piece of work gets, and if that’s the case you might as well just let forgiveness do the same job.

    And that’s even before you get to the NC issue.

    I’m feeling at a loss about the whole thing lately.

  4. I’ve always felt that the whole CC thing was based on an unexamined assumption that artists were to art what programmers were to code. Given that many of the people pushing CC were programmers given to thinking of themselves as artists, this is unsurprising. But I think that actually talking to artists outside the tech world (and here I’m probably over-generalizing) you find that they relate to their products in ways very different from the ways programmers do. A colleague of mine is doing the hard work of studying users of Deviant Art for his dissertation and is turning some interesting evidence of this. But even anecdotally, I saw this tension at work on the mailing list for the CC Sampling License when it was being developed.

  5. This email to the Pho list from a musician named Chris Alpiar explictly says that music is not a digital thing. (What he’s reacting to is a comment that copy control is done with for all time).

    No its not OK, no its not over. Go ahead and fool yourself in your little world but the only creation of music is not from bands who have a popular following. It might take some time but the concept that its OK for people to have unlimited free access to other peoples intellectual property will not last indefinitely. Go ahead and soak up your money now because you will be obsolete and classical non-digital arts and artists will always remain. Know why? Because the arts are a part of our souls and digital technology is a passing phase that will morph again and again

  6. Publication means: “I hereby deliver my work to the public, for our cultural enrichment. Let us now make of my art what we will. Share it, enjoy it, react to it, build upon it – this artwork now belongs to all of us. I place no obligations upon anyone that do not naturally exist, to be honest in representing me and my art as I am honest in representing those artists I have enjoyed and learned from, and especially those whose work I have built upon. You are welcome to reward me for the production of my work, as I would like to reward others for theirs, but I shall not accept the surrender of anyone’s liberty, as I have not accepted the surrender of my own”.

    Copyright means: “The public’s liberty to share and build upon published culture is hereby suspended, in order that a reproduction monopoly can be granted to the rich and powerful owners of printing presses that they alone may make and sell copies of art at a price of their choosing. From this day forth you are permitted to enjoy and react to art, but you may not share or build upon such published work unless you obtain the copyright holder’s permission”.

    There is no apology available for copyright. There is no way of sweetening it nor means of lining its manacles with soft fur that makes it palatable, comfortable, or ethical.

    It is the copyright holder that must ask forgiveness for seeking to constrain the public.

    It is the artist who has the obligation to throw off the albatross that is copyright, to deny their endorsement of its hold over the public and to escape its corruption of the artist’s expression or message to them.

    And this is why I suggest saying such things as: “I will not accept the enslavement of my fellow man, nor any imposition upon his liberty, as reward for the publication of my art”

    I did once try to come up with a concise copyleft license that artists might be tempted to use given CC betrays its lawyerly origins:

    libertarian license: You are free to take any liberties you wish with my published work, with but one constraint: The liberties you take may not be withheld from those to whom you give my work (or your combined/derivative work), who you must similarly constrain.

    Even better and simpler would be to abolish copyright, and restore the natural right of all to liberty, to share and build upon each other’s art.

    The greatest respect you can show another artist is to promote them and their work by sharing it, by building their audience, and if the artist and their art is really good, by building upon the art. You can also reward or commission the artist for their work. These liberties, to exchange art for love or to exchange labour for money, are natural. Reproduction monopolies are not natural, and their infringement warrants no apology.

  7. Right, like people don’t steal source code at wil LOL

    CC is about accepting things the way they are, even if it’s a temporary digital thing for only the next few hundred years. It’s the alternative to sue em all.

    Teri is right – there still isn’t a flickr for music so bootleg will do

  8. heh – gotta love iphone spell check – that should be

    teru is right: there’s still isn’t a (CC enabled) flickr for millions of pieces of music so people resort to what they can easily find: bootlegs

  9. The thing is that with code, there is often a paying client down the road. These are the folks who don’t want to get sued of of existence if some of the code’s IP hasn’t been properly cleared. Code with ambiguous licenses is more dangerous than code with restrictive licenses. This just isn’t so with music, where the chances of money coming into the picture down the road are slim-to-none.

  10. “teru is right: there’s still isn’t a (CC enabled) flickr for millions of pieces of music so people resort to what they can easily find: bootlegs”

    Even with a great resource like Flickr available, the majority of reused images that people see on the web are copyrighted. There is a lot of “forgiving” going on with images. Or from another perspective, it’s nearly impossible to regulate so most small infractions get a pass.

    I understand what Lucas is driving at. Bottom line is copyright will never stop the masses from doing what they want. Even if there is an alternative such as CC, most people will most likely continue with what they find to be most convenient and not worry about the details.

    If it comes down to civil disobedience vs. a grassroots/legal way to change copyright. Who knows which is more effective. I believe either way, doing something as opposed to nothing is a way to draw attention to something that needs to change. Every wave starts as a ripple. People don’t need to know where the ripples started they just need to catch the same wave. : )

  11. The music rights situation is a very fluid one, with a broad divergence between what the rules say and what is common practice. In the current rights regime, we see some folks argue that any form of taking is defensible, which is a position with which I do not have a lot of sympathy.
    We have a different position that intellectual property law inherently violates a natural right, which is also not my position. Finally, we have
    a dissent against permissive licensing as if permissive licensing is a positive evil. I’ll address this last idea.

    Permissive licensing takes a different tack to the problem of intellectual property than the old “all rights reserved” regime or the “pirate bay” approach. Rather than engage in civil disobedience, the permissive rights licensor demonstrates that one can simply license to others to use works in ways that are fully compatible with copyright. This is the opposite of an anti-musician’s-rights, anti-intellectual-property rights approach–it’s instead a recognition that the creator can choose to license her or his property to encourage and permit its dissemination.

    In this context, the last thing anyone could/should suggest is that liberal licensing of
    works somehow will “replace” great music or even set up a form of competition for great music. The flickr example is constructive–just because there are hundreds of thousands of great BY images on flickr for anyone to place (with attribution) on her or his website, this does not mean that flickr CC is the death knell for the gifted professionals whose work prompts people to pay for their work. Similarly, the fact that people like to post digital music with CC or other open art licenses does not mean at all that
    this is “where all the music action is nowadays”.
    Liberal licensing facilitates music creation, but nobody confuses the license itself with the act of creation.

    As to whether digital music has a future, it’s hard to say–it’s far too young and new. But I imagine that the new genres of music–and the old genres captured digitally for preservation–will endure.

    I do think that music and software open source are non-identical–but that doesn’t mean that they are completely inanalogous.

    In music, the ongoing paradox remains–the monetization of recorded music is assisted by a rights regime providing a limited monopoly to
    creators (or their assignees). Yet music “borrowing” is an historic fact so embedded in classical and popular music that its development depends on just this kind of borrowing.

    Time and democracy will permit a further discussion of how long any copyright term should be–as, in my view, the current extensions are too long.

    I don’t find the choice of an artist to use unlicensed music in violation of copyright to be a particularly compelling argument against liberal licensing of music. I don’t see the debate as one between computer software designers and musicians–but a more fundamental debate about what use(s) will be permitted of material.

  12. I think that speaking of music people and software people as if they constituted different species perhaps misses the point. I believe that liberal licensing rather than civil disobedience/agitprop is the easiest way to implement the coming revolution. When a critical mass of CC/Free Art/open source culture is out there, then we’ll have a world in which people can use good free stuff or buy directly from leaner, meaner artist-driven labels.

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