November 28, 2007  ·  Lessig

virgin.jpg

We received this happy missive in the mail yesterday: The plaintiffs in the lawsuit about Virgin using a CC-licensed photo have dismissed CC from the case. This is not a settlement. It is not the product of negotiation. It is the recognition by plaintiffs counsel that the laws of Texas and the United States give the plaintiffs no cause to sue Creative Commons.

As I said when I announced the lawsuit here, the fact that the laws of the United States don’t make us liable for the misuse in this context doesn’t mean that we’re not working extremely hard to make sure misuse doesn’t happen. It is always a problem (even if not a legal problem) when someone doesn’t understand what our licenses do, or how they work. We need to work harder to make that clear. But the news today lets us go back to the work of Creative Commons, without the burden of this lawsuit hanging above us.

So how can you celebrate with us? Well, help us recover some of the costs (probably $15k) that we have to eat because of this suit (deductibles with our insurance company, etc) by supporting CC. Or help us by joining as just a friend of CC. Or help us by spreading the news that the lawsuit is over.

And as one final word to the plaintiffs here — a word I can utter because neither required nor asked: As CEO of Creative Commons, I apologize for any trouble that confusion about our licenses might have created. We thought the meaning was clear. We work hard to make this as clear as we can. We will work harder.

  • http://johnsmentaldetritus.blogspot.com/ John J.

    Congratulations.

    And thank you also for showing class by apologizing when it wasn’t asked for or, in my opinion, even necessary. It is rare in a CYA society like the one we are in these days to get even a cashier to apologize for overcharging you; to see the CEO of an organization do as you have done is refreshing.

  • Paul

    $15,000, my god. There is a reason big companies can bully the little guy with frivolous lawsuits.

  • http://www.negativesoundinstitute.com gurdonark

    I’m glad that the plaintiffs issued a voluntary dismissal of CC.

  • http://joeclark.org/weblogs/ Joe Clark

    I’m having a hard time working up a lot of sympathy for your position, actually.

  • http://gnuosphere.wordpress.com Peter Rock

    Why isn’t Cravath told to pay the $15k? Especially considering CC is a not-for-profit corporation? That’s double unhappiness.

    Paul says:

    $15,000, my god. There is a reason big companies can bully the little guy with frivolous lawsuits

    Was this the case? Or was it Susan and Justin innocently suggesting (as non-lawyers of copyright) that perhaps, CC might be at fault and a careless lawyer didn’t advise them properly? If so, that lawyer’s firm should pay the attorney fees for CC. It would be interesting to know more.

    On a totally unrelated note:

    Larry, your captcha just asked me to type “$500″ and “narcotics”. Does a “deal go down” when I click “Post”? :)

  • http://davidgerard.co.uk/notes/ David Gerard

    The Virgin case is why I added a note to the Wikimedia Commons Reuse FAQ that having pre-cleared copyright doesn’t clear you for moral rights, personality rights or model release … hopefully the warning will be clear enough.

  • lee g

    You and your creative commons are moronic. I’m astounded you have risen to the role of “educator” with a twisted brain such as you have.

    Just to make it completely clear for you: the US copyright laws give everyone who creates intellectual property all they need to protect that intellectual property that they own. Anyone who is working in intellectual property — creating it and using it — has a responsibility to learn those laws and understand their rights. And people such as yourself who fancy themselves as educators have a moral obligation to support our system and help people utilize what is available by clarifying and demystifying it.

    Instead, your idiotic creative commons “options” just mucks it all up making it all that much more difficult for the masses to understand. It’s so ridiculous because something so simple as this premise which is granted to every US citizen by law: *you own and control what you create UNLESS you grant specific uses (in exchange for money or not) and, by the way, those grants should be made in clearly stated writing to protect both parties (creator and licensess)* — is completely muddied up when you come along, decide you are the new “creative rights god” and create 6 licensing options that have nothing to do with anything except to stroke your overbloated ego because they are part of “your new and improved” system.

    The creation of this kind of alternative crap does more harm than good – proof is that this Wong kid hadn’t a clue about what your idiotic CC license meant. You, the educator, failed to teach him a thing with all your fancy posturing, systematizing and rhetoric. He just thought it was “cool” being associated with the “latest” that was embraced by the “latest” popular photo sharing site, flickr.

    If you really want to educate people about their rights under US copyright law and how they can choose to control their work -how it’s used, how it’s displayed, how it’s modified and how they can actually earn something in exchange for their creative effort, or even how they can give it away if they choose – you could just educate on how to use the very excellent copyright laws we have in place instead of trying to become a “leader and innovator”, seeking to grow rich and famous from your shameless self promotion as a cutting edge intellectual. You are the farthest thing from intellectual and leader I have ever seen. In fact, your effort reminds me very much of a leader of senseless sheep such as the cult leader Jim Jones – the only difference here is that you apparently haven’t brought God into your little crusade. Yet.

    It’s a shame you don’t have the dignity to do more than apologize for not being clear and do the right thing: get with the program and quit trying to reinvent the wheel , drop creative commons and embrace and teach the reality of our very good copyright laws. We have all been doing just fine for decades without your meddling and I suspect the world could continue to spin just perfectly if you chose to just disappear into the sunset and take your nonsense with you. Isn’t it time for you to retire yet?

  • Ryan

    lee g, you seem to be angry and confused. First, you should understand that the Creative Commons licenses do not create a new copyright law – they work within our present system of laws. Then, if you want to understand the Creative Commons’ mission, you should read some of Mr. Lessig’s work and become familiar with the cultural implications of these licenses. I doubt anyone will deny that Creative Commons branding is trendy, but it does not follow that the Creative Commons is using some sort of leverage to part people from their money. The Creative Commons does not make any money off of Creative Commons-licensed media – it is owned and controlled by the owners. The CC licenses simply enable owners to give certain explicit freedoms and restrictions to their creative works. The Creative Commons is funded by contributions, not by the market. If people were dissatisfied with the service that the CC is providing, not only would their licenses stop proliferating but the donations would cease. Let the fact that neither of those things is happening serve as evidence that you are entirely misguided on this subject.

  • lee g

    Actually, Ryan, there is no need for creative commons. As you point out, cc are within the scope of existing copyright laws. CC just muddies the water for the sheeple who 1.) don’t understand copyright law and are only further confused with these cc options; 2.) don’t want to exert their brains enough to learn the copyright laws so they can figure out on their own what rights they have, what they wish to grant and how much money they should make, if any, from their licenses; 3.) prefer to be taken by the hand and led down the garden path because they can’t reason their way out of a paper bag and because they refuse to educate themselves on their rights. Instead Lessig apparently prefers to become a self declared iconic proselytizer of moral and ethical rights pertaining to the structure and content of laws that were enacted for a good purpose — to promote ongoing creative efforts by allowing creators to control their works and use the free market to leverage their good works for good reward for as long at they own it..

    Lessig COULD choose to EDUCATE people on exising law instead of inventing some system he presents like a “cure” and trying to set himself up as savior to the ignorant masses. Instead of helping people understand, he finds it more rewarding to become the figurehead of a movement to encourage people to skip education on our laws and to instead choose an easy preformatted template (that even he now admits is unclear and confusing) to give away most of their rights. Nice guy, hey?

    Granted not all cc licenses promote this but let’s not kid ourselves, Lessig endorses “free” everything and would like nothing more than to force massive changes in copyright law to allow anyone to steal whatever they wish from creators. Why? Because he’d like to have access to all that information and data and content, citing intellectual necessity as a piss poor reason. And he doesn’t want to have to pay for it and he’d like all his fellow thieves to have this benefit too! Well, I’d like to own his house and his cars and have a monthly portion of his salary– just because I’d like to have those things. They belong to him but, hey, I feel entitled to have my portion!

    Doesn’t it sound ridiculous in this frame? Well, his propositions sound just as ridiculous to those of us who make our living creating and licensing our work, controlling the work to ensure we have resources for the future. If we can’t hold and control copyright of our work throughout our lives and pass something on to our heirs, we can’t bank on the fruits of our labor helping us through college for our kids or retirement for ourselves or a legacy to leave behind to family. Since we aren’t all vested or tenured employees of the system like he is, we don’t have guaranteed pensions and medical and so on. We have to take care of ourselves and controlling our own creative works is how we do that. Lessig would like nothing more than to strip us of the ability to do that and to make sure we cannot make continuing returns off work we do now into the future. Nice guy, hey? So, yes, many do see cc as a very nasty little plot to remove money making ability from creatives. And Lessig’s stupid mostly rights give-away templates for rights use only enhance and further that goal of his.

    As for someone making money off cc, don’t fool yourself. By posturing as a leader, Lessig is upping his “credibility” with the sheeple and the sheeple leaders which will net him higher speaking fees, better book deals and other media involved deals where he provides his “service”. Purely conjecture but I bet Lessig’s speaking fees in the 5 years before cc were less than 10% of what they are now, over the past couple of years. And I bet Lessig won’t ever share those facts because of course it wouldn’t look good. Also, don’t kid yourself — cc may be non-profit but I’d bet my eyeteeth Lessig is getting a handsome salary or stipend or even just reimbursed expenses (plumped up) from cc. I’d bet the cc executive committee or board are all getting paid — people just don’t do good work for free! Which is the point of most creatives objections to the ridiculous cc licensing scheme in the first place! If you did not know, almost all non-profits have well paid executives and admin – that’s a fact of life.

    Regarding people being happy with cc and funding the group, well, remember when I said it reminded me of a cult? It’s also a fact of life that people under the influence of relentless ego driven self appointed leaders do some very weird things….whether they’re actually in a cult or just in a group that sometimes looks like one.

  • tde

    I read this blog from time to time and I have read some of the links that purport to explain CC.

    I am a lawyer but I honestly don’t understand the system or its purposes, particularly in the context of the suit which was just dismissed.

    I guess there are two possible explanations for my confusion: 1) I am not very bright (always a possibility) or 2) the CC concept is either ill-conceived or poorly explained.

    As evidence fo #2, I’d offer the fact that this person read the description re CC and on Flickr and made a choice based on that information but the choice was the opposite of the one he apparently wanted to make.

  • RDD

    Before I put anything out there under CC licenses, I read some basic information about CC, and it was pretty clear to me what I was getting into. Since then, I’ve offered dozens of my works under CC licenses, and I am very pleased with the results. I’m able to share my works of art with minimal hassle, in ways that benefit me (exposure, community, collaboration opportunities) and that benefit the people who utilize the privileges I’ve granted (material to use in their own art or just listening/viewing enjoyment).

    I sense what may have happened in this case is the same thing that happens everyday when people agree to terms and conditions online without taking the time to understand them well. With time short and T’s and C’s long, almost all of us do this sometimes, and we take a risk everytime we do. Thank you to the CC folks for committing to make the licenses and their explanations even clearer.

    Guys like lee g are to CC as J Jonah Jameson is to Spiderman, in my opinion, when they rabidly villify people who are actually the heroes. I imagine lee pumping a rolled up newspaper in the air as he barks about the supposed evils of CC, and I think the future will prove the barking is in vain. CC licenses are a great way for artists to share with some rights reserved but without requiring that people ask permission. For every misunderstanding there are thousands of people pleased with what the licenses do for them.

  • lee g

    Well RDD, the last time I checked, Spiderman was a comic book, not real life! You really should quit all that smoking and give the brain a chance to recoup.

    Lessig a hero? I think not. It’s a ludicrous idea actually. Well, perhaps he has achieved that inflated position in your addled brain along with the other sheeple but certainly not with the rest of the world.

    How on earth could you idolize one who encourages everyone to give away their property? Property that many times has value and can provide the creator with an income stream so they are even further removed from sucking at the societal teat? How is that helping society? It isn’t and it’s a shame you and the rest of the sheeple can’t see that.

    Why should any creator allow big deep pocket corporations to use their work for free? That’s exactly what you’re doing when you put some of these cc Crap licenses on your work and send it out into the world. Sure you may have only INTENDED to share with some guy who does a blog in Taiwan – a noble idea, I can agree with that. But when Nike or American Express finds your stuff and uses it, you’ve just lost thousands of dollars that they can certainly afford to pay you and that you can certainly benefit from now and over the long term. How hard is that to comprehend? Or maybe you like supporting the big corporations by giving them stuff for free that they are used to paying for and certainly well heeled enough to pay for. Astounding that the cc geniuses replying here don’t get this point.

    If you hadn’t noticed we live in a free market capitialstic society. That’s right – every one for themselves to make a buck in order to survive so we don’t have to be dependent on society to care for us. There’s no virtue in supporting big business personally by giving directly to them – they do not support us and do all in their power to evade taxes and make profit for their execs and sharefholders. See, our society is not a form of communism which is what your ridiculous cc propositions resemble on some levels.

    But if you want to give away all your possessions including your creations freely, go join a commune, share with them and seclude you selves from the rest of us who are just trying to survive by our talents and wits in the society structure that currently exists. Actually many of us tried to “change the world” decades ago and found it was just a plain stupid idea. Maybe you and Lessig just need to go back and review history a bit to see how that all worked out. If communism and communalism was so wonderful, why hasn’t it flourished?

    As for your “free arts for sampling and creative inspiration” argument (I can hear it coming now) well, just create something wonderful and original all by YOURSELF. You really don’t have to steal the concept and tone and execution method from others in order to be an artist. That’s IF you have any true talent. Sampling and revising someone else’s work is not artistic creativity – it’s just plagerism. People who’d like to have free access to use other people’s work just reek of being plagerists — it’s not something you should aspire to and it’s not something you should encourage others to do. There’s that reason Lessig is a jerk again – for encouraging this crap.

    Is asking for permission to use copyright protected work so difficult? No, it isn’t. But it does carry the risk you won’t be allowed to have what you want for free. Bummer for you because I’m sure you’d just like to be able to get your grubby paws on as much as possible with as little effort as possible and of course to have it all for free. I’m constantly amazed to think that all you cc groupies just don’t care that you are disrupting the livelihoods of established creatives who rely upon income streams from their works to support themselves and their familes. It’s very clear that cc is a movement to strip as many copyright rights from creators as possible so their valuable works will be ripe for free picking by users like yourselves. “Me, me, me”, we hear you screaming, all the while you preach that you care about the “world” and want to enrich it with our free content because “it’s fair” and yet none of you gives a hoot about how your nonsensical licenses are duping young and not so bright creators as well as helping devalue and dilute the market for all creatives.

    I have a news flash for you: the “thousands” of pleased cc users are the sheeple, uneducated and unable to reason out all the aspects of this market and how copyrights affect it on all llevels (not just the level of the wannabe/wanna free content whiners) and who are, sadly, oh so sadly, being taken down the garden path by the overblown ego of your hero, Lessig, who promises to give you access to your freebies and make your life easier. In the meantime, he and all of you sheeple embracing this nonsense, are harming the real artists and creatives in this world by making it harder for them to license their work, be profitable and maintain their creative output.

    Some day, when Lessig fulfills his mission, we’ll be down to just reworked comic strip “art”, digitized art photos that someone else took, books that are compilations of previous publications, overly sampled “songs” and movies that are just revisions of old ones. Art as we know it will have hit the skids because the only ones still able to produce it will be hobbyists and wannabes with no real creative talent and certainly no motivation to maintain their output or to improve their skills since they will be mostly giiving it away. Oh and we’ll likely have lots of “cool” art cum advertising forced on us relentlessly by the big brother corporations that have been saving all that licensing money by not having to pay for creative content. Sure it’ll be subpar quality given that they’re scooping up all the free content but, hey, you’ll finally be published/broadcast! Time for communal celebration complete with inebration and rejoincing.on your new fame!Think advertising is pervasive and annoying now? Just wait….Maybe you’ll be happy then. I know I won’t..

  • RDD

    The point of the comic book comparison, Jonah, was to illustrate how comically one-sided your arguments are. That said, you have completely swayed me to your way of thinking. How could I have been such a fool? I mean, I was enjoying my life that included artistic sharing via CC licenses when I should have been a grumpy, arrogant, insulting artist who hates CC licenses, sample-based art, and communes! Oh crap, I forgot about hating sheeple and their sheepley ways! Thank you for showing me the light.
    A few points:
    - Regarding corporations using my work without paying me, they can’t if I use a By-Non-commercial license, and I generally do. When I use a By license, I do so intentionally (yeh, I’m choosing to give it away in that case, even to corporations if they want it – usually sound samples, like sheep sounds maybe).
    - Comments about sample-based art being invalid and other comments about free market are in conflict. Currently, the market demands sample based (or at least sample-inclusive) music perhaps more than all other forms, yet it’s invalid? Every artistic revolution has had its naysayers, including whatever kind of art you make, probably. This is very small-minded thinking on your part – a sheep could do better.
    - I agree with you that there are trends in the world making it increasingly hard for some kinds of artists to make a living, but I don’t think the CC licenses have much if anything to do with it. My hunch is you’re bitter about the trends in general and their impact on you or your friends, and CC is something for you to lash out at. You’re obviously free to do that. You do it well. ;)

  • http://www.bloodspell.com Hugh “Nomad” Hancock

    *wanders under the bridge to feed the troll*

    I know I don’t have to use Creative Commons work to be an artist. But it gives me more options, and lets me answer less emails.

    Sure, I could contact the musicians who wrote the pieces I want to use in a soundtrack, and ask their permission – I’ve done so plenty of times. But if they’ve released their work under the appropriate Creative Commons license, perhaps because they know it’s an excellent promotional tool, it saves both of us time. I know they’re cool with their work being used, and they don’t have to answer an email or carefully sift through an individual contract. And because of that, they’ve got a much higher chance of my using their work on a film, which gives them exposure.

    (Lee g – you know that there are some artforms which only work by collaboration, right? Like, you know, the film and TV industries, theatre, opera, music… I’d be fascinated to hear how you’d propose that Ridley Scott or Sir Ian McKellen “just create something wonderful and original all by YOURSELF”. Or maybe you don’t feel that directors, screenwriters, and actors are artists?)

    Likewise, I don’t have to release my work under Creative Commons (interesting that your only argument against releasing under CC is “Why should any creator allow big deep pocket corporations to use their work for free?”. Uh, I recommend that you read the Creative Commons site for the answer to that one, expressed in the form “NC”). But it’s easier.

    I want people to share my work (and the work of all my collaborators) with their friends. Sure, I could ask them to all individually email me for permission, or have a lawyer draft a custom contract allowing people to give my work to their friends. But the first one would be a hell of a lot of hard work answering emails, not to mention a lot of work for my fans, and the second would cost money.

    If only there was a third option, like a well-respected, well-drafted license that I could just attach by default…

    (P.S. – thanks for referring to, ooh, everyone but you as “sheeple”.It means everyone else has to do less work, because you already look like a prat just by your choice of vocabulary.)

  • http://www.bloodspell.com Hugh Hancock

    tde – hopefully my comments help address your rather more constructive post too. In short, as a creative, CC gives me an easy, well-drafted way to authorise my viewers to share, mash up, and use in collaborative works my own work (all of which is very good publicity), without giving away rights I want to avoid giving away (for example, like RDD, I tend to use “Non-commercial” on my CC licensing.).

  • Gagarin M.

    The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

    - Allan Keith

  • lee g

    *** “I was enjoying my life that included artistic sharing via CC licenses when I should have been a grumpy, arrogant, insulting artist who hates CC licenses, sample-based art, and communes!” ****

    For RDD: Hates cc licenses? Yes, as long as they are promoted as part of a plan to strip rights from copyright owners, to make it more difficult for creators to own, control and profit from their works. Lessig promotes “free“ art for all and that is why ccs were created – to achieve that goal. It is in direct opposition to creatives‘ pursuit of a living off their work. It‘s sickening that so many people are being swayed to this ridiculous idea that giving it for free will get them “exposure“ or “notice“. Does exposure pay your rent? No, but how many happy cc users are thinking about this? Much easier to follow the leader….

    Hates sampled works? No, not really, there are many great works that rely upon notions and nods to past works – that is the true nature of art. We are all “reinventing the wheel“ to some extent when we create our works. The point being that it takes a lot more skill to create something from nothing, something that was just inspired by past works rather than to take existing works, modify them a bit and call them your own. I’m sorry I just don’t buy that your (not yours, the collective yours) regurgitation of a slightly modified/mixed song or a collaged painting or photo or a remade film takes just as much talent as it took the original creator of the reference piece. That is not small minded – it’s just the plain honest truth! If you truly believe that the skill required to recreate something someone else already conceived and executed, well, there isn’t much hope of you ever being able to reason through concepts like licensing and its market which may be the real crux of this problem. You can say all you want that “the market demands sampled works” and that doesn’t change a thing. This push via cc for allowing more free access to others creative works has and will continue to degrade the quality of works we will get from our artists.

    How can you not clearly see this and how it works out? If working professional artists cannot get enough money out of their work (because they are competing against FREE works) to support themselves, what incentive to they have to continue their work? If the market is flooded with free this and that and the $ sign rules the reasoning behind “creative” choices in the market (which it has to some extent, witness the Virgin Mobile incident) resulting in more and more freebies being chosen instead of relying upon professional working artists to meet those artistic needs, how can you not see that this cc program is indeed helping push artists out of business? And also flooding our cultural outlets with subpar work (and yes, I’ll grant you sometimes even great works which should be licensed for $$ for their creators who are giving them away)? This is done by amateurs, hobbyists, beginners who are apparently too thick to see that they are cheating themselves of licensing fees (if their work is good enough) and that they are adversely impacting people who have devoted their lives for their art? I am appalled that people who say they care so much about the “world” conveniently seem to forget about the professional artists they are hurting while they bleat on and on about how “free” art is good for everyone, we “must reform copyright“, blah, blah, blah.. It’s not good for everyone. Period. You can’t pretend that it is. Artists are hurt and as a whole, society is hurt as the level of art quality goes down and as the dedicated artists have to give up and we end up with hobbyists and amateurs as the artists of our time. Sad, truly sad, but that is what is happening and will continue with this focus on making art “free”.

    Think about this: if you needed an open heart surgery or an architect to design a safe building or an attorney to save your butt from prison for a charge you are not guilty of, how would you choose your heart surgeon/architect/attorney? Would you select the highly paid professional who has spent years learning and honing their craft, educating themselves, keeping current with the latest developments and in the process spending thousands on education and tools, giving up other life opportunities in order to specialize and become an expert and to provide unique high quality services? Or would you select the hobbyist, the part timer, the weekender, who always wanted to be a heart surgeon/architect/attorney and has spent some time dappling in the field, learning just enough to appear legit, sometimes even making results that could pass for a “real” pro’s effort – someone who still works a 9-5 “regular” job and moonlights for free or for very low cost to appease their ego that they too “could have been a surgeon/architect/attorney”? Certainly there will be a big difference in what you’ll pay for these services but isn’t it obvious a specialist dedicated to their craft is a better choice in the long run? This is what we are talking about here – how the push for a free creative market is impacting professional artists. Ask one how it is affecting them – they’ll tell you themselves, you don’t have to believe me. Sure, the antidote is to be better, deliver more, fire your bad clients but that only goes so far — eventually there isn’t enough market to support the suppliers in it. CC is fostering this and yet they trumpet this as some kind of societal improvement. Not.

    Hates communes? Well, no, anyone who wants to live in one should be free to do so and I wish them well on their journey into alternative lifestyles. But please don’t try to force me to live in a world where I am expected to give it away for free for the benefit of my society. Communes don’t work well because they are inherently based on faulty logic — you can‘t save the world by giving it all away to your fellow residents/the world. If you don’t believe me, go read up on how they fared in the 60s and find the stats to tell you how many of them are long term survivors. They don’t stay cohesive because it’s not in human nature to live like that long term. They’re great for young idealists but soon lose their appeal as the young ones grow pragmatic with age. Some people call it wisdom… Of course there are a few who never grow up, so…..

  • lee g

    For Hugh: Exposure is the lie all amateurs want to tell themselves. Exposure doesn’t buy doodley. Ever ask your mortgage holder if they’ll take exposure for payment? How about the grocer or doctor? Grow up and admit it – you want free work and you’ll use any enticement, even a lie like “exposure” to get it.

    Ah, must be a director or actor, I’ve found the soft spot! Certainly collaborative arts are art – what a moronic assumption to make, that I find no value in them by citing one sentence of my post. The truth is that at the top of the food chain are the producers and promotersw who want to own everything BECAUSE IT MAKES THEM MORE MONEY. And since they are top of the chain, they have more money and more power to try to force all the rest to give in to their demands for total ownership. Next come the contributors to a project who * if they have any brains * insist upon a cut of the whole because WITHOUT THEM, THERE WOULD BE NO PROJECT! Granted some of this is not so clearly cut and dried as for solo artists like a painter who truly owns his creation from first brush stroke (as long as he is not copying someone else’s photograph or painting!).

    You’re missing the point on cc – I know that a few of the licenses reserve many or most rights. But MOST of the cc licenses are formulated to allow people to GIVE IT AWAY – that was the whole reason for ccs in the first place, to make it easy to give away your rights! If you don’t see what’s wrong with that idea, read my notes above to RDD about how the professional artists are impacted and reflect on how “free” exposure is 99% worthless for 99% of all artists! I’m not speaking of bartering for free advertising, real advertising that is effective – that would be fine (value for value) – I’m referring to a credit buried that will never be seen which is worthless in promotional value.

    Too much work to answer some emails? Wow, so we’re lazy, can’t take the time to talk to fellow artists before cannibalizing their work as well as being greedy by wanting it for free? Amazing and disgusting. What do you think people did before emails? Maybe pick up the phone, write a letter, actually make a lunch date to meet the sucker they wanted to persuade into giving them free work? I’ve heard stories about artists who were so passionate to collaborate with someone, they respected them so much, they changed their lives by moving across the country or the world tfor just a chance to try to make contact so they might work together with an artist they respect. But for you at least, it’s too much of a burden to have to communicate via email now to initiate an artistic collaboration. Astounding. I’m sorry but the bleating all sounds so much like laziness and entitlement. Not a pretty picture at all…

    As for the prat, that would be you and your ilk, who bleat on and on about how they are too busy to communicate, too entitled to have to pay for valuable works. And for those who are too talented to have to exercise their own creative muscle and can just magically transform others work into their own genius creative works, who are too superior and too righteous in their misguided socialism to support and nurture rather than discourage and destroy working professional artists who make their living from their works and devote their lives to it.

    As for troll, well, I didn’t come here to incite argument or revel in your upset over my words which is what the troll wishes for. I came here hoping against hope that someone who is presently on the misguided path to “free” art via cc and Lessig worship would read my words and consider the points made which obviously have not been adequately addressed in the fever to convert more “artists” to the giveaway schemes. If I can reach just one, I will have made a small difference and maybe they will tell their friends. Why? For all the working professionals that have given up in the past few years or who will have to give up their life’s work as a result of this nonsense in the future. It’s the least I can do because no one here is thinking about them, least of all Lessig and his copyright decimation mission. Funny how he has no comment about these casualties he endorses and encourages… funny how they are just swept under the carpet. Easier to feel good about “changing the world” when you can block out any memory of the victims of your activism. It’s unconscionable..

  • http://gnuosphere.wordpress.com Peter Rock

    lee g says:

    “It’s the least I can do because no one here is thinking about [authors]“

    I disagree for two reasons:

    1) Because attribution is basically a sacred trait of CC licenses.

    2) Because CC identifies other key rights/privileges the artist can choose to adopt or not.

    The way I see it, CC thinks of both the authors (“If you find that your license is being violated, you may have grounds to sue under copyright infringement.”) and the public (file-sharing).

  • Ryan

    I’ve just got a simple comment to make after reading the last couple tirades. If educated, experienced, trained artists cannot provide something compelling enough to compete with the work of amateurs, then fuck them.

  • http://www.bloodspell.com Hugh “Nomad” Hancock

    I posted a comment in reply to the prolific Lee G here (what, no full names, Lee?), but it disappeared or didn’t post for some reason – not sure why.

    So, in short:

    “Exposure is the lie all amateurs want to tell themselves.”

    Amateurs like Charles Stross, the Baen Free Library, Bruce Sterling, Nine Inch Nails, Broken Saints, the producers of Four Eyed Monsters, and Radiohead, just off the top of my head? Not to mention every successful web/web-promoting artist or writer- Penny Arcade, XKCD, Johnathan Coulton, Tim Ferriss, Tom Peters, and I’m pretty much still at the tip of the iceberg here.

    Look, this is fairly simple. You are an artist. You create stuff. Now let’s say for the sake of argument you want to sell some of that stuff. Thus, you need to attract the attention of people who might want to buy that stuff. That’s hard. If it wasn’t, Madison Avenue wouldn’t be full of people who specialise in doing just that.

    Fortunately, there’s a simple way to get people to give you some attention, which gives you the chance to persuade them to buy your stuff. Give them stuff they might be interested in for free. Then, if they like that stuff, there’s a good chance that they’ll pay money for either more of that stuff, or that stuff in a more usable format.

    Data from most of the above sources shows this works. Slightly counter-intuitively, it even shows that if you give the stuff you want to sell away, people will still pay for it anyway. (See Cory, Charlie and Baen’s results from releasing books under Creative Commons, which show substantial sales spikes from CC releases.).

    And of course I’m completely skipping the entire thing where most artists – I don’t presume to speak for you, but most of us – create what they create so that other people can enjoy it. And a Creative Commons release means more people get to enjoy our work. Which is, you know, nice.

    “Wow, so we’re lazy, can’t take the time to talk to fellow artists”

    I don’t much like washing clothes by hand. I don’t know anyone else who much enjoys it either. Hence, I own a washing machine. You could argue that that’s lazy, I suppose.

    In the same vein, I don’t much enjoy sending out pro-forma emails or negotiating pro-forma contracts. I don’t know anyone else who does either, at least who isn’t a lawyer, and I don’t know anyone who enjoys reading them. Creative Commons licenses allow me and the other party, whether I’m licensing my stuff or using other stuff that is CC-licensed, to skip a big chunk of work that neither of us will enjoy – “Can I use this?” “Sure.” “Under what terms?” “Well… *lots of legal nonsense that no-one finds much fun*” – and do more productive things instead that mean more art gets created faster in a way that’s more fun for everyone.

    I’m sure you can find a downside in that, but I’m having trouble.

    “you want free work and you’ll use any enticement, even a lie like “exposure” to get it.”

    Yes. Absolutely, you’ve got me bang to rights. I entice myself to release my work under Creative Commons so that I can, er, download my own work. For free. Because otherwise I’d have to pay, erm, myself.

    What?!?

  • lee g

    Hugh,

    Your work is only as valuable as you believe it is. If you place zero value on it (monetarily), that is what people are going to expect they should pay for it. Once you set yourself up as a source of free or super low cost work, you have made your reputation and dug your own hole. You will have a hell of a hard time raising your rates once you’ve shown the world how far down the price scale you believe your work belongs. Why would anyone take what you offer for free – which makes it look completely without value – and then come back for more of your work and be willing to pay you a market rate? That is not normal behavior for a purchaser.

    Based on what you write, I think you need to take some business classes. Being an artist is about sharing your creative vision and your gift with the world but it’s also about being a businessman so you can profitably work as an artist and cover your living expenses. You can’t be a successful businessman by giving away your product — you have to sell it and with the proceeds, you have to cover your costs of doing business. That’s basic business 101– all that gear and all the office expenses and the hours and expense you incur researching, educating, traveling for your work — those costs of doing business must be recouped with a margin of profit to spare to pay yourself a wage for your everyday living expenses. If you are scooping money for your arts from the trust fund or a spouse or the full time 9-5 job to cover this stuff, you are just kidding yourself about being a successful artist – you are instead a hobbyist.That profit accountability is the real world of business, even the business of art. If you think otherwise, you are living in a dream world. And giving your work away is most definitely no way to generate income to begin paying those considerable costs of doing business. I am not talking about bartering for valuable product or service here – that’s a clear way to receive something of true value in exchange for your work.

    Sure you may not enjoy the business aspects of art — that’s part of the greater problem, people who are destroying the markets because they don’t have common and basic business sense to go along with their artistic talent. And that comes back to the thrust behind cc, a formulated contract option mostly designed to help people give it away in exchange for credit or attibution. As I wrote, attribution WILL NOT pay your rent or put gas in your car or food in your mouth. Don’t believe me? Go ask your banker if he will grant you a small biz loan and assure him that because you have given away X hundred pieces of your art and you now have so much exposure that you are sure to become rich and famous very soon – he’ll laugh in your face.

    Now since you are apparently on the other side of the equation — you want the free work from others — this may not apply to you completely. For all we know you may like to gather up lots of free material, use it to create your own project and then sell your project profitably. If that’s so, the entitlement admonishment stands — shame on you for using fellow creatives in such an abusive way – if their work is good enough to be included in your project, it has value to you and you should be willing to pay your fellow creatives for your use of it. OTOH if you are gathering free work but also giving your own away, well, shame on you for that too. You should have more pride in your work than to value it so little. And you should be cognizant of the world community of artists who all need to make a living just like you. Your giving it away doesn’t help you and it also hurts all the rest of your fellows when consumers in your market begin to think all of the work in your category should be “free” because you have helped train them into such a stupid erroneous belief, especially egregious because history has placed high values on excellent work in just about every segment of the arts and you just totally ignored that fact in order to blindly jump right on the cc/giveaway bandwagon.

    See the problem is: you can’t have it both ways. You can’t give it away and then expect to sometime later be famous, successful and rich off your works because magically people will reward you for giving it away. You’ll either go broke giving it away or get tired of going broke on that path or lose your creative mojo and give up before actually going fully broke or give up when you finally realize you’ve crapped on your own dinner table with your poor business choices as manifest in your inability to make enough sale$ to survive due to a jaded brainwashed market rife with free art entitlement beliefs. None of those sound good, eh?

  • http://www.bloodspell.com Hugh “Nomad” Hancock

    “You can’t give it away and then expect to sometime later be famous, successful and rich off your works because magically people will reward you for giving it away.”

    I think you’re labouring under a misunderstanding here, Lee.

    I’ve been running a film production company professionally for over a decade, using the tactics I’ve mentioned already – making as much work as possible available for free viewing. I’ve attracted multiple six-figure contracts, lived very comfortably off my work, become about as rich and famous as I want to be, and been able to do the work of my dreams for ten years now. Feel free to Google me or check the Wikipedia entry on me if you want more information on that.

    And I’m far from the most successful person to employ Creative Commons or free-to-share media. You may also want to Google Hugo winning author Charles Stross, 55-million-viewer-per-day comic artists Penny Arcade, Brit Award winning band Arctic Monkeys or publishing house Baen. And that’s without even touching the computer software examples: you might want to look up MySQL, for example.

    I have no doubt that you fervently believe “You can’t give it away”, and I sympathise with your worries for artists based on that belief. But fervent belief doesn’t make a theory true, and there are plenty of counter-examples to that particular theory. Of which I am one.

    (Oh, and I love the business aspects of art. Great fun.)