Thursday, November 4, 2010

Licensing and Me

This is about the practical side of copyright use in the US legal system.

One person can write a story, make music, record sound effects, make art, and produce it. It’s time-consuming and most people aren’t skilled in enough media to make a good product that way.

If you’re not rich, you need to collaborate with other poor people or combine your work with the Public Domain or appropriately non-restrictive licences. Sadly, too many people use the most restrictive Creative Commons license possible. If you use a No Derivatives license, your music can’t be background for a scene and your photo can’t be a cover for a story. If you use the Non-Commercial clause, your work can’t go in a video because video host sites have ads. I won’t be making money, but someone will, and likely not much of it.

Some people who license NC say “share it all you like, just don’t charge money for it.” In other words, if you aren’t charging you’re ok. That’s what NC should mean, but doesn’t.

For the last several weeks I’ve been licensing all my non-writing material on the following logic: is this something I want to turn into a larger business venture? If not, I release it public domain or CC-BY at the strictest. I chose PD or CC-BY depending on whether I want credit. In photography, I don’t care so it almost all goes public domain.

If it could be a larger business venture, I release it CC-BY-NC.

Writing is a bit more complicated and that’s why I haven’t set a specific license for my writing available here. I don’t like CC licenses for writing, but I’ve yet to find one I like better.

Most of the stuff I write here will be released under something like CC-BY. No Derivatives is tempting, but making a video or podcast from text is transformative and that’s forbidden by ND. Also, I’d rather not have my mistakes perpetuated for all time because I used an ND license.

Until I find something better, you can use any of my work (except Chrissmas Collins Universe stories) with only two restrictions. Make it clear I wrote the original work and don’t charge money.

The advantage, for those who are wondering, is that I maximize my audience and keep my fanbase interested. I don’t release all of my work on Troll Jammies. You probably shouldn’t release all of yours for free either. But make sure you get the maximum benefit out of what you do release.

The people using our work to make other things are people like us. If we make it easier on them, there’s more likelihood that we’ll get the publicity we want.

Note: As I’m sure someone will note if I don’t mention here, it is possible to negotiate with individual creators to get work licensed under less restrictive licenses. However, it’s easier and less time-consuming to simply find something else to use.

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