[cc-sampling] OVERVIEW OF THE "WHY" behind the sampling license

Glenn Brown glenn at creativecommons.org
Fri May 23 06:53:41 EDT 2003

Here's a concise explanation, by Negativland, of the goal of building
this sampling/collage license, from our early discussion of the subject:

"The whole point in having this [sampling license] is to encourage the
creation of new works employing collage, and to make this kind of
appropriative work reasonably practical (not to mention legal) to do for
the first time."


And here's a more detailed explanation, also from Negativland -- a
must-read for participating on this discussion list:

"We, and other found sound artists, make new work that is, itself,
sometimes made out of bits and pieces of other people's stuff mixed in
with our own original sounds. We release this stuff occasionally for
free, but mostly for sale as CDs. People buy them and are free to
transformatively re-use bits and pieces of our releases to make their own
stuff. Their stuff might then be made of their own original stuff, as
well as stuff they appropriated themselves, and stuff they appropriated
from folks (like us) who have already appropriated  what they are now
appropriating. Make sense? . . . 

. . . We also don't care if they make this new derivative work for sale
or not. If they make a profit, that's fine with us. We want nothing from
their transformative re-use of our work. We are against it being
transformatively re-used in advertising -- we do not consider
advertising to be art or free speech. It is paid speech. This one niggly
point may be irrelevant to many found sounders, as I can't imagine any ad
campaign would take stuff without some lawyer poring over it all first to
make sure it was all cleared. But I could be wrong.

Also, other found sound artsists may not care about this point. I don't

Finally, we don't want this license to allow entire works to be used
commercially as-is. For that, permission and possibly fees would be

But . . . they could take an entire work as long as it was transformed in
some way. Listen to John Oslwald's THE GREAT PRETENDER for a great
example of this. He used an entire Dolly Parton track, but his use of it
starts out so fast it is a high pitched whine, and over the course of teh
entire track, it slowly slows down until it becomes leaden mud.

And finally, we want to word this so it comes across as what it is FOR as
opposed to what it is against. This sets a much better tone, and is
actually, I think, easier to understand.

P.S. A great thing to come out of this would be folks using this license
who themselves never actually appropriate, but see the value of this sort
of free flow of ideas in culture. I have been told that jazz musician
George Benson agrees with this, and I spoke recently with Todd Rundgren,
and he agrees as well. Years ago I also spoke positively with the Nine
Inch Nails guy Trent Reznor about this, and I have seen interviews with
Tricky, Eno, David Byrne, and the Beastie Boys that seem to mean they
would agree. 

Of course their labels would not want to allow them to use such licenses.
But if you want this thing to get big enough to really make a difference
and have an effect, you have to  eventually get some very big names on


Indeed. Let's invite them, too. Anyone have their email addresses? I'm

More background on each of these policy points soon.


Glenn Otis Brown
Executive Director
Creative Commons
glenn at creativecommons.org
+1.650.723.7572 (telephone)
+1.415.336.1433 (mobile)

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