[cc-licenses] After Disney or: Help Robot George Get A Life

Lars Porsena larsporsena at gmail.com
Tue Aug 8 07:21:57 EDT 2006

> Yes. Attribution is cumulative.

okay, that makes sense.

> I'm trusting that artists and contributors
> > trust me not to be a dick: in essence, to promote them professionally,
> > reward them fairly and even to a certain extent maintain a brand.
> Ah, trust. Trust may work for you. But hypothetically, I could
> release a work all rights reserved and rely on people ot trust me
> that if they send derivatives to me, I'll send them a token of
> gratitude. But for some reason, systems like that never seem to
> get a lot of contributers.

hmmm. I would always bet on trust but then, I'm an optimist. More
concretely here's a seemingly really bad non-CC license structure


which is worth examining in this context. Hit up 'legal terms' to see
the full banana.

In essence, you create an image, upload it and in doing so give
Threadless exclusive (yup) commercial usage and the option for them to
become co-owner of copyright and register your design for their
exclusive commercial use under conventional copyright law. Or not, if
they don't feel like it.

Moziju.com is another parallel artist-community driven site with a
50/50 revenue split, usage handover opt-out clause, and 3-year expiry

Kind of short-term 'copyloan' which seems like an interesting model.


Sounds like nobody would go for these heinous terms, right? Wrong. The
power of the org. is more useful to the creator, and the org in
question has a responsible and financially viable attitude to
creators, creations and consumers.

Everybody wins a bit.

On paper, if you figured you were a design genius in either instance
you'd run a mile. But participatory culture and cash prizes for
excellence are not mutually exclusive. So one hopes.

> What you need to do is have people assign copyright to you of all
> their contributions, then you release the works CC-BY-NC while
> you take the really good bits to Cafe Press and sell T-shirts.

yup, that's the sum of it, with fair recompense. See my examples above

> And people will have to trust that you don't forget them as you
> run off to the bank.

As above, they don't have to trust me I wantt to be explicit.
And it's more a case of *if* we run off to the bank, mind you.  If we
were pros we'd be working for Disney. In the trust game, context is

> Of course you wouldn't forget them, but how do they know you wont?
> More importantly, how would they know that you'll give them
> a fair cut of the action after the fact? Imagine submitting
> artwork to a magazine for possible publication, but you don't
> know how much you'll get paid until after they accept, and if
> they accept, you cannot withdraw, you simply must agree to it.

It's entirely symmetrical: I don't know how much I (hence we) will get paid.

My terms will be always an explictly stated license in favour of
creators (50% or more, which is well over five times more than your
average rock band/novelist/comic artist actually sees) eg it's a
non-abstract comitment to mutual rewards here, one that I think the CC
community needs.

> This is basically the system you've proposed. It requires
> that the magazine (or you) act fairly after the fact, when
> it (or you) holds all the cards. If you're a fairminded person,
> fine, you'll get fair results. But if you're not fairminded,
> or if someone else takes over the project who isn't fairminded,
> then the project will take advantage of its contributers until
> they realize that they're not getting treated fairly.

If the project lifespan exceeds my tenure, then by definition it's
been a success both on and under my fair-minded terms ;) and one would
hope future evil successors would be able to causally relate geese and
golden eggs, but sure, you're right.

> You won't be managing this project forever, and how will you
> know that the third or fourth generation of heirs wont simply
> be out to exploit this project, rather than to foster it and
> the community?  You'll have to *trust* that they will do the
> right thing. But then it becomes a little more obvious the
> problems inherent in a system that requires trust.

as above, but ditto. Or a 50-50 button.

> Rather than trust, the solution is to -commit-. Commit to
> some binding agreement, probably in the form of a license,
> that will protect the works and protect contributers equally.

yes that's why I was drawn to the solidity/ transparency of the
CC model in the first place, but confused that something as obvious
as making money to everyone's benefit is incompatible with any CC

Trust alone = not so good, as you say. But far be it from me to use
a convoluted afterlicensing semi- CC arrangement as a kind of Verisign
logo, mind you. But we will presumably see a lot of people doing this
in future.

> The problem, I believe is in your perspective revealed above
> where you say that "In order to have a business going here,"
> that you must be the only person who can make money off the
> project. This is a faulty premise.

Ah, no. See above. **We all need to win a bit to keep it going**

This is the problem, I can't find a CC license that embodies this idea.

> A project that requires trusting the central project manager
> isn't a good scenario. It will open up contributers to bad
> feelings if you don't treat them in the way -they- feel is fair.
> (independent of whether you think its fair). And if this is
> done while you use a CC license and some contracts to move
> copyright ownership to you, then that might give CC licenses
> in general a bum rap they didn't deserve.

Well why spoil a beautiful thing? As above

> Put another way: Greetings. My name is Trustworthy Trent. I am the
> grandson of the late General George of Nigeria. If you'll just send
> me your bank information, I can transfer 15 million dollars ....

Er... steady son, I say steady there now.

> > I was thinking for me by-nc-sa, but there's no (?) provision for me to
> > make a buck or two here by cherrypicking the best derivatives for
> > commercial ends.
> >
> > Or is there?
> No, there is no CC license that will let you do this.


> You would need to use licenses in conjunction with
> a contract between you and all the contributers assigning
> copyright on all contributions to you. You would then
> release the works CC-BY-NC while you maintain the exclusive
> right to use those contributions commercially.

interesting idea

>> Another way to think of this question is what would (let's say) a
>> clueful Disney exec do to promote Mickey Mouse after (let's also say)
>> the copyright finally expires on the character? Her aim will be to
>> foster, promote excellence and continue commercial exploitation in a
>> weirder world of multiple mice. As, to a certain extent is mine.

> Well, the US government already answered the question of how Mickey
> Mouse will continue to be promoted after its copyright finally
> expires (assuming that ever happens): It will enter the public domain
> and anyone will be able to work on it and make money from it.

> Your question (and Disney's question) is more like "how can I maintain
> control of the work and continue to make money?" The answer being keep
> it under copyright which gives you the exclusive right ot make money
> and extend the terms of those rights for as long as the public will
> let you get away with it.

Note I said 'clueful executive.' I'm asking for an intelligent
response to a post-copyright Mickey (yes, one day it will come,
although of course the symbolism outweighs any tangible interest) eg
an equitable, and loosely held CC-ish licensing model is one I wish to
establish in the Robot George example.

> I would suggest re-examining the idea that the only way
> to make money is to have exclusive commercial rights
> If you are going to use a community oriented project and
> want the community to have an incentive to contribute, then
> treat the community fairly in advance by committing to a
> license that works for everyone. And then figure out a way
> to make money from there.

Yes, good advice, I think.

Thanks for your knowlegeable help on this, Greg. Now to check your site!



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