[cc-community] Copyleft And Commerce
rob at robmyers.org
Thu May 25 15:26:36 EDT 2006
I've been without email for a couple of days so I've had to follow
the discussion on copyleft via the archives. :-)
There are two interesting examples of commercial CC projects that pay
for themselves. Loca Records license their music BY-SA and make money
through CD sales and performances. It can be done. :-) And Elephants
Dream, a short (11 minute) computer animated film, was paid for by
pre-sales of DVDs (the "street performer protocol"). Elephants Dream
is also a seed project, it has all the 3D files and other media
needed to make a complete short film, but it is BY rather than BY-SA.
The most successful Free Culture project, one that has outperformed a
proprietary alternative, is Wikipedia. It's FDL-licensed rather than
BY-SA-licensed, and it is a community project rather than a
commercial project. But its use of FDL is historical, and Wikipedia
does help sell a for-profit company. Wikipedia could make lots of
money from adverts and from sales of DVDs and print versions,
although that might affect the willingness of people to contribute.
Wikipedia is instructive in another way. It, like the GNU C compiler
and Emacs, is a "seed project". That is, it is a base project that
other projects can build on. The BY-SA world is conspicuously devoid
of seed projects. cc-mixter, which is BY, has acapellas and
individual music tracks on, but without an FSF-style body driving the
creation of work and policing the contributions, the tracks
contributed to mixter may use samples from CDs that do not allow
relicensing or other problem media.
There really should be a Free Music Foundation that pays session
musicians an honest rate to lay down drum and guitar tracks,
commissions songwriters to perform acapellas, and gets the
documentation required to prove that the tracks are clean for use in
other BY-SA work. They may accept contributions from commercial
projects *if* they pass due diligence. This really is the sort of
project that is needed, there are artistic and video and literary
equivalents that are needed as well.
1. We need seed projects for BY-SA work, done with the rigor of the
FSF's work, and funded by the community (which may include commercial
interests). There are non-SA projects such as Elephants Dream and
Open Clipart that help, but we need BY-SA ones to build a commons.
2. We have realworld examples of free culture projects that pay for
themselves, whether through sales and performance or through the
street performer protocol. We need more people following these
examples in more media. Hopefully seed projects and better education
will help with this.
The problems we have are the profusion of restrictive CC licenses
(imagine if the FSF had felt honor bound to release a non-commercial
GPL...) that distract from copyleft, and the profusion of unfocussed
"community sites" that are graveyards for media under restrictive
licenses but that get a lot of publicity and goodwill.
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