[cc-community] Intellectual Highway Department

Terry Hancock hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Wed May 31 18:14:41 EDT 2006

drew Roberts wrote:
>  On Wednesday 31 May 2006 02:24 pm, Greg London wrote:
> > On 5/31/06, rob at robmyers.org <rob at robmyers.org> wrote:
> >> Quoting Greg London <teloscorbin at gmail.com>:
> >>
> >>> Yes. This morning on the commute to work, the idea of using a
> >>> sunset approach to a certain niche of projects could possibly
> >>> modify the terrain on which it's built. The specific project
> >>> that came to mind was "Elephant Dreams".
> >>
> >> Elephants dream was paid for by pre-sales (effectively SPP) and
> >> is now available BY as a torrent. I believe that a sunset clause
> >> would have killed interest and pre-sales.
> >
> > I did mention I'd like to see a sunset license tried on the the
> > other side of a blast-door first, didn't I? If it blows up in
> > someone's face, which I'm not entirely convinced that it wouldn't,
> > I'd rather not be pulling shrapnel out of CC for the next few
> > years, that and end up walking with a limp.

Greg's probably right.  A proof-of-principle test is probably the
best next step if it's this hard to convince people.

But my point is this: CC is already eating lead over promoting NC
licenses to begin with.  Nevertheless, CC folks stubbornly support
NC because "it's the most popular license".

Lessig called this phenomenon "Is-ism" in his 'Code' book.  These
folks are stuck on the way things are, and are using it as an excuse
for not changing.

Of course NC is the most popular license, but what does that mean?

People who don't want a commons aren't going to use CC licenses
at all.  Even if they do, the NC-ND serves the purpose.  By this
reasoning, the NC-SA should be almost unused, a marginal edge-case
license.  In the "loss leader" or "try before you buy" strategy, where
NC is just an addendum to ARR marketing, the NC-ND ought to be
the most popular license (it gives the artist the most control, while
allowing extensive marketing).

But look at the stats: NC-SA /is/ quite popular --

               (Source: http://wiki.creativecommons.org/License_statistics)

Compared to 11.44% By-NC and 21.32% By-NC-ND, or collectively
32.76% -- still less than By-NC-SA.

And By-SA (13.72%) and By (9.77%) only collectively amount to 23.49%.

Obviously NC-SA is capturing some serious mindshare with artists.

What do those people want?  You mention a couple of edge cases
'makes fanfics legal'.  So what? No one had problems making fanfics
before -- the non-commercial use is itself a shield against litigation
(you may technically be infringing, but if there are no financially
deleterious effects from it, you won't win anything for your trouble).

So maybe it has a tiny, tiny use-case. But it isn't worth it. And I
guarantee you that those stats are not coming from that single
use case.  No way.  There's something more general going on here --
a market for a non-commercial clause, because the artists perceive
a value that you and I agree isn't there.

I think they want what SA offers (a commons), but are too hooked
on the license fees, and find our suggested SA money-making
plans far too marginal to embrace.  What works pretty well for
software (and it was no clear win -- we are still engaged in a long
struggle for mindshare from the proprietary software marketplace),
doesn't work as well for art.

The strategy that made a marginal win for software is a marginal
loss for art.

Can't we find a way to deliver what these artists want, instead of a

> >> The project would not have happened. Sunset is bad for people who
> >> use it, as they create uncertainty around their own sales.
> >> People will just wait for the sunset.

Pre-sales create even more uncertainty, because the product may never
even happen, much less be of sufficient quality. Many people will just
wait to see if the project succeeds -- we can't all afford to be patrons.

> > Well, I think some software businesses GPL the old versions of
> > code, but you have to pay to get the latest rev, so the idea seems
> > to be workable, I just question whether implementing an artificial
> > barrier via a sunset will have the same effect that comes naturally
> > from software revisions.
> >
> > Some people will just wait for the current version of the software
> > to get released GPL rather than pay for it. But that doesn't mean
> > that you couldn't stilll make an income on the people who are
> > willing ot pay.

I think you are seriously underestimating the power of fashion.

How many people do you know who would listen to an oldies station
instead of buying new music?  Yes, it probably cuts into the cost
that the market will bear -- but not brutally.

How many people pay top-dollar ticket prices to see a movie *now*,
instead of waiting to rent it for cheap on DVD (next year)?

Of course, there *are* people who wait for the DVD rental, but enough
people go to the movies that there is still money to be made from
movie houses.

> >> Back to the old Flash Gordon shorts then. Yay! :-)
> >
> > We showed a Flash short at my old university in the main movie
> > theater before every main attraction. Imagine my surprise when the
> > first short started and I saw the Star Wars crawl of text and
> > thought, HEY! But! You! He! How! What! After that initial shock,
> > they were actually entertaining in their own way.
>  Some of the movies available on the internet archive are not bad to
>  watch either.

SPP might work quite well for an true series or serial. The first
problem is probably overcoming the perception that free-licensed
works are automatically of poorer quality (and that mainly in
getting talent to work for you).

I can imagine something like a typical anime serial -- 13 to 52
25 minute episodes, where each episode is paid for by pre-sales,
advertised by the previous episode (want to see what happens next?
buy a copy now!). Somebody has to front the money for the first
episode though (realistically, if this is a business plan, they need
to front money for the first 6 episodes to accomodate the ramp-up
effect as people get into the series).

I think the Orange project has this in mind, but they don't have the
'series' concept -- just separate short film projects. That doesn't
seem nearly as strong.  'Story completion' is a powerful motivator.

Of course, it goes without saying that you need real talent to make
that work -- writers, directors, actors, etc.  A half-***ed attempt is
not going to get anywhere, and it'd have to be a gutsy entrepreneurial
filmmaker who would try this.  On the other hand, it could become
globally popular.  Maybe Elephants Dream is enough to sell the
idea, though.


Terry Hancock (hancock at AnansiSpaceworks.com)
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com

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