cc0 #2

The main theme in conversation related to yesterday’s post about the CC0 license was that it reduces the amount of trouble it takes to publish music under a permissive license. Commenters differed on whether that was valuable or even a good thing at all.

Crosbie Fitch:

The GPL is a license that restores liberty to the public (otherwise suspended by copyright and patent), albeit at the expense of friction (easily surmountable by coders used to it). CC-SA is somewhat similar.

The CC0 is a license/waiver that unencumbers the art from constraint by the author’s copyright, and friction due to (well intentioned) licensing conditions, albeit at the expense of not being able to liberate anyone apart from the immediate users. It may be that opprobrium will be enough to prevent derivatives of CC0 works from being re-encumbered with copyright.

There is a similar issue (and confusion) between manumission and laissez faire between the GPL and BSD licenses (as between CC-SA and CC0). The GPL is actually freer (in restoring more people’s liberty), whereas the BSD is least encumbered by licensing conditions (the licensee is free to suspend others’ liberty).


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.

Mike Linksvayer:

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. … 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.

For myself as a musician, I’m a white collar worker who makes music purely as a hobby and I’m damned happy when my music is used at all. But then again I work hard to play well and the biggest constraint on getting better is that I don’t get compensated for playing time. If only I was in a position to impose friction I might be able to make better music.

5 thoughts on “cc0 #2

  1. I’m sure it’s no secret but I want to make clear that the guys above Crosbie, Victor, Mike and Lucas are people I respect immensely. And I sincerely hope readers don’t read my comments on par with the comments from actual experts on the subject discussed.

    My opinions are based on the limited CC world that I have seen with my own eyes. And my indifference to CC0 is based solely on my limited scope.

    I do however find it slightly hypocritical that on one hand old model record labels are condemned for taking away musicians rights but on the other forgoing their rights completely for the good of the Commons is admirable. To me, it seems to sends out a conflicting and confusing message. Especially when trying to explain to those who are not yet familiar with CC.

  2. Teru, I addressed this ‘hypocrisy’ in my blog post. Rights (natural) are good, and not to be dispensed with. Unfortunately, the state has derogated our right to liberty by granting the privilege (legal right) of copyright. This can only be fully undone by abolishing copyright, but it can be undone on a per work basis by a copyleft license. Unfortunately, with multiple similar licenses there is a compatibility issue (and one of understanding). Coders are used to it. For other art/artists, it’s simplest just to tell people “No worries. Do what you think is best – I won’t sue you for copyright infringement whatever you do with my work.” hence CC0.

    Unfortunately, CC cannot bring themselves to describe this as the divestiture of privilege to restore others’ rights. They are fundamentally a pro-copyright organisation and use the corrupt language that conflates privilege (copyright) with right (natural right), and have mottos such as “not all rights reserved”. CC treats all controls (rights and privileges) as if cut from the same cloth and simply provides mechanisms for modulating them, it won’t make any value judgement (unlike the FSF). That’s where the confusion is generated. And so I cringe when I see people then start complaining about moral rights and how difficult it is to get rid of them.

    Privileges are unnatural and suspend the natural liberty of others to share and build upon human culture (created to give printers a monopoly in the 18th century).

    Rights are natural, deriving from individuals’ natural powers and needs, and supposed to be protected by a government created for such a purpose.

  3. Crosbie, I appreciate the distinction between natural rights and privilege that you’re drawing, and I think this point is a contribution. But I also think that copyright is really just a convenient handle for regulation of the creative economy, much like the money supply and prime rate are handles for regulating finance. And I don’t grudge that power to government, even though I believe it is grossly mismanaged.

  4. Time is a factor – I think we have (artistic) ideas about when someone else’s work is aged to a point that it’s OK to proudly incorporate it into our own. And, I don’t think licenses themselves are going to immediately change how much we’re out of whack with this–where we have to tend to think that only works from the 100 years ago are OK to use.

    Obviously, some individuals and cultures find ways to incorporate works in a very present way – like Hendrix covering “Sgt. Pepper’s . . .” 2 nights after the album came out is a different standard of time than us waiting another 100 years or whatever for that song to be free to remix.

    But, I think the real effect of each of the CC licenses won’t be so obvious for another 10-20 years, when there is another generation that has maybe grown up more free to remix / reuse the present and very recent past.

    On that note, I’d like a license like CC-BY-SA that automatically turns to something like a CC0 after 4 (or 7) years. I think the original limited duration – aspect of copyright was one of its smartest features, in terms of being non-destructive to the arts.

  5. I see dedications to the public domain, as well as permissive licenses, as good things based upon the shared trait of voluntary waiver of a statutory right.

    I don’t argue that everything must be PD, nor that it’s a requirement that musicians waive copyright or license liberally.

    Instead, I believe that CC 0, which is nothing more in the USA than a cool way to say “dedication into the public domain”, is a useful device for those who want to make a donation to other artists and other listeners. My feelings about BY and even BY NC are similar,though nuanced a bit differently.

    To me, the key is that the artist/creator chooses to forego or not to forego rights. Many artists/creators choose to forego rights in pursuit of a kind of giant public library of creative material.

    I’m not saying that all books must be free–I say that a huge public library of books (i.e., sounds, samples, music) is a positive good.

    We don’t need to tear down all the ramparts of copyright to recognize a virtue in someone electing not to enforce a given one. Similarly,
    we need not imagine that our choices to liberally license or publicly dedicate to the public domain are unprecedented new steps–people have been doing this with non-standard licenses for decades upon decades.

    What is different is that digital technology has created a situation in which the ease of sharing creative material, and the obvious advantages of such sharing, are apparent to masses of people.

    CC licenses and the CC 0 desingnation merely create a user-friendly standardization, available on an entirely optional basis, to those who wish to put a sensible legal structure to this sharing.

    One need not go “whole hog” into “abolish all copyright” to go “whole hog” for CC 0. I suggest instead that CC 0 can be an aid to people who want to create “all rights reserved” copyrighted works, as well as to people who want to create liberally licensed works.

    Giving people the option to forego a statutory right in pursuit of a greater good is a very different thing than insisting that all copyright “must be” abolished. To my mind, this is not inconsistent with copyright nor inconsistent with people trying to earn money from music. It’s a different “free” regime, to subserve any of dozens of purposes, all of them amazingly good.

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