[cc-community] CC-like video release form

Terry Hancock hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Wed Jan 16 09:40:31 EST 2008

Jon Phillips wrote:
> Heya, yes, please channel any of these efforts over to
> http://ownterms.org wiki right now and chip in with your forms. That is
> a cool open project to do this type of thing.

Here's the problem: none of us is a lawyer!

I think I understand copyright pretty well as non-lawyers go, but I
still prefer to defer to lawyer-reviewed copyright/copyleft licenses.

Publicity rights, OTOH, are far less familiar to me, so I am even more
reticent to try to write down a release.

BUT, let me suggest the following as a "requirements document" for such
a hypothetical legal release, to be used, let's say, by someone who DOES
understand publicity rights (not, e.g., me):

1) It should permit the work containing the publicity to be used in ANY
way consistent with the CC copyright license used (e.g. By-SA can be
used for commercial or non-commercial purposes, by anyone, juxtaposed
with any other material).

As a challenging case, consider what might happen if you do a video on
LGBT studies and interview a number of lesbian and gay people. It's
conceiveable that somebody might use your film derisively on an
anti-gay-rights website. That might be deplorable, but it wouldn't be
forbidden by the license and therefore shouldn't be by the release (IMHO).

Note that we can probably ignore the most extreme examples of this
kind of abuse, because they are criminally-prosecutable under completely
separate laws, unrelated to publicity rights (I think). E.g. in the
US there are some "hate speech" laws which apply to speech which is
directly threatening or inciting violence. OTOH, merely holding someone
up for ridicule is probably not, as long as no libel is committed (i.e.
what is said is either factually true or opinion only).

Of course, we need terms that absolutely preclude the kind of case that
was raised in the recent Virgin advertisements which were alleged to
defame the subject. So the penalty here is that you can't be
protected against that kind of thing. I can understand that some
subjects may object to this, but I would be willing to agree to it for
interview footage. It's not unlike becoming a "public figure" -- you
lose a certain amount of protection.

A very diverse group of people rely on CC licensed material and freedom
of speech is important. If I've signed a release on a video of some
public appearance, that material is out there and should be available,
even to people who want to make fun of me or trash my politics or
whatever. I might not like it and I might not like them, but I shouldn't
be able to use a publicity right (any more than copyright) as a means of
silencing them.

2) It should extend the release to anyone who has license to remix the
material according to the CC license. So, for By-SA, permission extends
to anyone releasing a derivative work under the By-SA. It should
explicitly mention that the intent is for the permission to follow all
derivatives of the work.

This is a further reduction of the subject's control. It's much easier
to ridicule someone with an edited image or video -- just look at
Michael Moore's work! Or imagine a series of photo portraits with
photo-composited swastikas on their foreheads. Or photostitch your head
onto a nude figure or an obscenely gesturing figure, etc (up to but not
including the point of libel -- if the picture is presented as factually
true, for example). Again, we might not like these uses, but I think
they fall within the realm of free speech and should be permitted by the

3) It could allow the subject to object or limit the material released
prior to CC publication of the initial work. This way, the release
applies only to the material contained in the original work.

One objection has been raised about how the author might want to use
additional work in other productions without seeking permission each
time. However, there's an easy solution using the result of #2:

Create a CC-licensed SOURCE tape with ALL of the material you might want
to use in the future on it, then get the release on that. That way you
can cut anything objectionable, but keep everything you might want. Then
you simply derive your "real" video from that source. (QUESTION: does it
matter whether this CC licensed work has actually been distributed?)

Sound reasonable? Have I missed anything? Or are you screaming inside
now that you've considered the consequences? ;-)


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

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