Creative Commons vs Copyright

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Creative Commons and copyrightI remember when photocopiers became available for public use. There seemed to suddenly be a big hoopla about copyright. Suddenly there were going to be hordes of people photocopying entire books and reselling them. Schoolkids had to 'watch out' or else they'd get caught photocopying sections of books for studying, homework and school projects. And then sense prevailed and the concept of fair use caught on. Who on earth would photocopy an entire book anyway? It would usually cost more than buying it new and the quality would be rubbish.

There were tapes and then CD's. You weren't meant to copy using these either, but everyone did. And as long as it was for your own personal use and you weren't out selling the copies you made, no one knew or cared. Often you'd copy some music from a friend, take it home, listen to it over and over, and end up at the concert, buy a T shirt and some other albums and hey presto, the band has a new fan.

And now we have the internet which is a giant copying machine on steroids. I admit, it is insanely easy to get hold of anything you want online. But the paranoia over copyright is coked up and suffering hysteria. It's as if a revelation has occurred. People copy other people's work. Shit!

Why are people so paranoid over people copying their work? I mean, I totally understand being pissed at someone for sneakily copying and then profiting from your work. These slimy unimaginative rock dwellers deserve to be tied down and eaten alive by rats. Get your own damn thing to sell. FFS get permission to use someone else's work to generate cash.

But why is so little distinction made between sharing a creative piece with friends as a fan, spreading your obvious enthusiasm and respect for the work and artist to other people who you think will also be appreciative, versus slyly making money from someone else's creativity? I don't get it. Once it's in the world, it'll be copied. Fact. But there is a universe between these two scenarios.

And it appears that I'm not alone in these views.

Creative Commons has been put together for creators who want a middle ground between all rights reserved copy-any-of-this-and-you-die full draconian copyright, and nothing at all. Think of Creative Commons as 'some rights reserved'. It is a licence based on copyright that allows works to be legally available for sharing, on certain conditions.

I hold all the commercial rights to any work I produce, including royalties. So if you want to make a buck from my creative output, contact me. We may be able to set up a deal. But if I say no and/or catch someone deviously profiteering from my work, I'll first set the fleas from a thousand camels on their eyeballs, and then have my lawyers suck the financial life from them.

Otherwise (a la NIN),
please post it on your blog,
share it with your friends,
publish it in your zine,
include it in your video,

And some final thoughts by Cory Doctorow:

"My fans’ tireless evangelism for my work doesn’t just sell books — it sells me.

This is why I give away digital copies of my books and make money on the printed editions: I’m not going to stop people from copying the electronic editions, so I might as well treat them as an enticement to buy the printed objects.

Most people who download the book don’t end up buying it, but they wouldn’t have bought it in any event, so I haven’t lost any sales, I’ve just won an audience. A tiny minority of downloaders treat the free ebook as a substitute for the printed book — those are the lost sales. But a much larger minority treat the ebook as an enticement to buy the printed book. They’re gained sales. As long as gained sales outnumber lost sales, I’m ahead of the game."

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