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

Greg London email at greglondon.com
Thu Aug 10 08:52:27 EDT 2006

> It's a pity Magnatune is obviously wildly unsuccessful: do we draw
> any conclusions here?

Yeah, I conclude your sampling method may
be biased.

I think there are some companies that have made
money using copyleft licenses. I notice you don't
draw any conclusions from them.

> Or: is anybody else using CC licenses at the heart of a business model
> and actually making a go of it? A flip round the CC website suggests not.

The thing I'm left wondering about is why
are you even thinking about using a CC license?
Nothing you've actually mentioned so far is
any different than CC-BY-NC. The only thing
"new" is that you're proposing having people
assign their copyrights to you, so you can make
money off of them. Split it 50-50, whatever.

While Maganatune operates like an actual record company,
filtering out bad music, signing good bands, and a
non-exclusive contract that means they only make money
if they do some work, an assignment of copyright to you
by all contributers means you don't have to do anything
other than the initial idea and maintain the website,
and wait for your contributers to give you something
that's worth money.

Which is why I'm wondering why you even bother with
a CC license. It isn't a community project, because
you're not using a community license. While Magnatune
uses NC, they also aren't portraying themselves as a
community project or a gift economy.

You seem to believe what you're doing is a community
project. It isn't. It's fine that it isn't, but it
isn't fine if you were to advertise your project as
if it is. You could just as easily implement your project
releasing the works under All Rights Reserved. And still
have contributers reassign their copyrights to you in
exchange for a 50-50 split.

Which also brings up another problem. While Magnatune
uses a 50-50 split, that works because they work one-on-one
with artists. Each contract is for a different work.
You want everyone to contribute to "Robot George", which
means you can't contract a 50-50 split with every contributer
because if you get a hundred bucks for a commercial
sale, you'll end up owing 10 or 20 people a fifty-dollar bill.

Instead, you'll have to figure out a way to
split the profit among everyone, which also means
people will have no way of knowing what they'll
end up getting if you make a sale, because they
have no way of knowing how many more people will
contribute before the sale, and deserve a piece
of the action.

What you're proposing is sounding more and more like
the intellectual work equivalent of a pyramid scheme,
with you at the top. The CC license doesn't do anything
other than maybe give contributers a "feel good" message,
but you may as well use All Rights Reserved and be clear
that this is not about benefiting the community.

Wikipedia and the Great Sneetches War

More information about the cc-licenses mailing list