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Subject: Development of Creative Commons licenses

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  • From: Terry Hancock <hancock AT>
  • To: Discussion on the Creative Commons license drafts <cc-licenses AT>
  • Subject: [cc-licenses] Copyleft business models, was Re: Founders as a module?
  • Date: Thu, 25 May 2006 09:08:46 +0000

drew Roberts wrote:
On Wednesday 24 May 2006 07:14 pm, Terry Hancock wrote:
> drew Roberts wrote:
>> On Tuesday 23 May 2006 10:48 pm, Terry Hancock wrote:

I think we're mostly in agreement on the point I was originally making.

The "business models for copyleft art" thread is separate, and I've
mostly deflected that.

However, it's an interesting subject in itself, and I'm very supportive
of the things you've been saying. You've suggested some ideas that
I haven't thought of, and I haven't given them enough thought.

> I have noted a lack of evidence of successful proofs-of-principle
> of strong models of copyleft-art monetization.

And I face the same problem that you do above. It seems to me there
is no great effort on the part of many to create enough copyleft-art
to make the necessary experiments.

Yes, and that's always a problem. ISTM that any way to encourage
By-SA material to be made is good for this goal.

The thing is, some get paid to work on the Free ones as a result of
these "free-samples."

True of software, but I can't think of any free aesthetic examples off

> I understand that you have a vested interest in finding successful
> copyleft-based business models for art.

I think my real vested interest is in preserving my freedoms for the
future. I think most people have the same interest but most don't see
it. (Obviously, it could just as easily be me who sees things

The public good of copyleft works is easy to see, but the good for the
creator is harder -- so I've spent more effort on that part.

> [regarding copyleft business models]
For instance, what about an NC on sales except physical copies at
retail only on a BY-SA license. Any thoughts on the effects?

I am baffled by what this means. You want a By-NC-SA that exempts
sale of physical copies? But you want the By-SA to apply to copies
thus sold?

>> An artist can insist on being paid every time they "sing" and
>> still release all of their work as copyleft.
> Service model. The artist gets paid for their time performing.

Nothing wrong with the service model. That said, I think it is more
than that. After enough copyleft mass has been built up, those making
use of this have an advantage over those that don't If your band can
go to the club and explain that you only perform BY and BY-SA work
and so the club will not have to pay PRS, ASCAP, BMI for your
performances, that is a selling point for the gig. Etc.

Yeah, that's the value proposition of copyleft, but the monetization
is still based on the service model.

>> Income streams that don't go away when your creative works are
>> copyleft...
>> Gig and concert for musicians. (Plus endorsements, action figures
>> (had to put that in for fun) and merchandise and the like.
> Same: service model.

Just to be clear. Merchandise is not the service model.

Yeah, there's actually a few different things included there. Merchandising
is selling material stuff related to the work. The free software analog
is selling (e.g.) video cards with free-licensed drivers.

>> For painters, they can still sell their originals. They can also
>> still sell numbered and signed prints. As a matter of fact,
>> couldn't they reserve their signature as a part of a trademark
>> and not allow free use of that (sort of like what Red Hat does
>> with their trademarks?)
> True, of course.
> Every one of these is pretty marginal as a business plan, though.
> They make a lot less money than direct sale of copies of a work,
> and when they do work well, they do so by promoting the values of
> patrons (corporations, for the most part, but also rich
> individuals), and so are not exactly populist solutions.

I don't see where selling originals and numbered prints is a marginal
business for painters. Where do you think they make the bulk of their

You have a point there.

I've always been baffled by this, though. The idea of paying for totally
artificial scarcity (i.e. numbered prints) always struck me as twisted,
though. Also the whole concept of "real" works versus indistinguishable
copies (e.g. *this* toy astronaut has been in space, but that one hasn't).

I guess I'm just too utilitarian at heart.

> IOW, they would promote artistic works that favor upper class
> values.

Not if hte upper class can see a way to make a buck promoting other

> (Not that upper class values shouldn't be represented, but my point
> is that biases are introduced because of the model)

True, but in the big money models under "all rights reserved" isn't
this the case already?

To a degree, but this relates to the "making a buck promoting other
people's values" argument. Selling copies of something does that: the
distributor can accumulate enough sales to offset the cost and make
a profit.

But in the patronage model, the patron doesn't make direct income
off of the work from lower class consumers, so he has little motivation
to pay for something to their taste.

> The thing is, copyright monopoly rules undeniably *have* benefited
> creative works during the time they have been in force. There are
> many, many writers, musicians, singers, artists, and illustrators
> who are gainfully employed because of the ability to excercise
> monopoly control over the sales of copies of their work -- the
> "masquerade of information as matter". So it's pretty hard for me
> to scoff at this model: it's a proven reality.

We can see the benefits, but we can't see what we may have missed.
This goes back to the issue brought up very early in this post.

Sure. And there probably was a cost.

But do you really believe that, without copyright protection that we
would have the vast collection of literature, music, and art that we
do today?

One difference between the public domain and the copyleft-commons is
that there still exists the dual-license monetisation option for
works original to the author.

Of course, I meant that the non-copyleft free-license commons is
conceptually equivalent to public domain. Copyleft is conceptually
distinct, although related, and some different aspects apply.

> As such, I would argue that the benefits of a time-release are
> similar to those gained by sharealike licenses. But they work for
> different business models, which may incorporated better, more
> optimized coverage of artists' endeavors. Both aspects are meant
> to be means of restoring the original balances of copyright law.
> Convincing artists of the value to them of these balances is
> tricky, but that's precisely what CC's mission is (as I understand
> it).

Can we start a copyleft "art" registry? How about here for a start:

That's a lonely looking page.

Actually, I've been going through my old artwork, and I have decided
that as soon as I can figure out how to scan it (it's oversize), I'm going
to probably release my 1980-1990 work under By-SA. I did a number of
science fiction illustration series back then for concepts I was working
on, but never finished. It's not a huge body of work, and I'm not actively
drawing anymore, but it's something I'd like to make available so it
doesn't go to waste.

Oh, but it might. we will not really know until there have been large
scale experiments to see what happens.

I see synergies between copyleft code and copyleft art where we can
offer things that regular players might fear to compete with.

Clearly computer games are a cross-over point.

> I'm not opposed to that, but it doesn't excite me that much.
[to clarify 'it' means 'loss-leader/free-sample strategies using
a copylefted work as the freebie']

Are you a big user of Free Software?

You could say that, yeah. ;-)
I actually don't use anything else -- at least w.r.t to everyday

This is not what I am advocating. I am advocating running a real
experiment with copyleft works. See if you can't come up wtih
profitable avenues that would be unavailable to you with other

Hmm. Well, there are a few, and you've raised some ideas for models
I haven't considered.

It is how you might be able to make money off of the work of tens of
thousands of other like minded creative people that I find

Well that's what the big recording labels are interested in, isn't it. ;-)

The point is, though, can the 10,000 make money off of the 10,000's

Another thought, the infrastructure of freedom still has to develop.
It is hard to find works by license along with type.

This is a MAJOR problem, I agree 100% on this one.

For instance, if someone knows of a good way to find BY-SA music with
a high signal to noise ration on the searches, I would be very
interested in hearing of it.

I have no reliable mechanism, but I have certainly tried. So far, I find
that there are "knots" created by individual registry sites (BTW, there's
some useful starting points in the LinuxUser & Developer (#62) that
should be hitting newstands just about now. I believe the article is
titled "Music on the Lam".

Again though, a major problem is the "a Creative Commons license"
problem -- CC-By-NC comingles with CC-By-SA. It's the primary source
of the noise you refer to, in my experience.

it is early days yet and I am in it for the long haul. I would be
very happy for early successes, but they are not expected at this

Hmm. I guess for CC it is still "early days". My first copyleft art
project was under the Design Science License, because CC hadn't
been invented yet. That was 2000. The overall project has not yet
succeeded, but we got some very interesting contributions. I'm
trying to kick it off again with a GPL license on the code and a
combined GPL2+ + CC-By-SA license on the aesthetics (for piecewise
distribution, the CC-By-SA is superior, but for inclusion in Linux
distributions, it's desireable to be compatible with GPL).
(I'm refering to ).

I was not able to contact everybody, though, so there is still stuff
stuck in the copyleft-conflict limbo, which is why I'm sort of sensitive
to the problems it creates (and disjoint "commonses" in general).


Terry Hancock (hancock AT
Anansi Spaceworks

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