[cc-licenses] choosing a new license at freesound, please help

Terry Hancock hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Wed Oct 25 11:50:51 EDT 2006

Hi Bram,

Bram @ Freesound wrote:
>  We know Sampling+ is no good for samples/soundfx/field-recordings etc
>  so we are looking into choosing a new set of license(s).
>  Now there is one big problem: none of the legal code in either
>  sampling+, by or by-nc is particularly well suited for sound effects.
>  A sound-effect is almost invariably used as a "whole work" in the
>  derived work. Hence the definition of "derived work" is a bit strange
>  when talking about "samples".

"NC" is reviled by a lot of "free culture" / "free software" people. 
Some of us feel that Creative Commons should deprecate it entirely.  In 
any case, I think it's a disaster for your project.  I think you should 
seriously reconsider the implications of using any "non-commercial" 
license, because such restrictions are "non-free" and severely limit any 
practical applications of the content on your site (for example, an NC 
clause prohibits their use in any GPL-licensed or By-SA-licensed 
free-software game).

NC is a loose-cannon, because it is so broadly-defined.  NC means you 
can't include a work using the samples on a website that has Google 
ad-sense ads to pay for the bandwidth. NC means, no way it'll ever be 
included in any Linux or free software distribution. NC means it's just 
"non-free" as far as most "free culture" advocates are concerned.

I also think that, because of the limits imposed on copyright by "fair 
use"/"fair dealing", and the limits due to "derivation" and "collection" 
of the works, such licenses may offer a false-promise to contributors 
(make them think they can control uses which they can't -- and possibly 
which no license can control).

ShareAlike is a far better option if you want to preserve the "freeness" 
of the work.

"Sampling" or "Sampling Plus" is a problem primarily because these 
aren't licenses *for samples* but for *work from which samples can be 
taken*.  (The "Sampling" licenses are quite restrictive as regards the 
original work used as a whole, and probably rule out any use you'd 
likely be interested in).

Presumeably your fear of "By" is that it might lead to "exploitation" of 
some kind, though I think that for sound samples, this is perhaps a bit 
misguided.  In fact, "By" is probably a very good option.

"By-SA" (that is, "Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike") is probably 
the best bet for many people.

This license would mean that modified samples derived from samples on 
FreeSound would also have to be licensed "By-SA", as would the original 
samples when included in some work.  (This is a Good Thing in terms of 
collaborative leverage).

IMHO, it would have little to no effect on what sorts of works the 
samples could be used in, which is a Good Thing (consistent with 
intuitive concept of "freedom").

 >What are the
>  repercussions of using these various licenses for derived work (and
>  what exactly does one call derived work of a 50 millisecond 'bass
>  drum hit' sample?)

My (not a lawyer) opinion is that a remix of the 'bass drum hit' sample, 
to alter its sound (say move it up an octave, stretch it out, add echo, 
or etc) is a "derivative".

A musical performance made up of these samples (and probably others) is 
a "collective work" in the terms used in the CC licenses.

IMHO, this is still ambiguous, though. Other free licenses (e.g. the 
GPL) might well extend the copyleft to the "collective work" created 
with the samples.

I had a look at the thread.  One thing I find disturbing is the number 
of people who appear to want to use their copyright as a means to 
*suppress expression* with which they disagree.  IMHO, this is an 
improper use of copyright in fundamental conflict with the very idea of 
freedom, and I find it highly unethical.  At some level, copyright is 
always in conflict with the ideal of the freedom of speech, but this is 
a case of people expressly setting out to impede the freedom of speech 
through the use of copyright law (we're more likely to appreciate the 
unethicality of this practice when someone powerful like Microsoft or 
Sony is the one handing out the gag orders, but it remains unethical 
even when it's a "counter-culture little-guy" doing it).

Also, in terms of implementation, if you intend to support content with 
multiple licensing, make sure the search and contribution interfaces 
make it easy to select by license. If you had both By and By-NC content 
on your site, for example, I would routinely want to search *only* By 
licensed works, because I won't use NC content.


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

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