Creative Commons

Posted: August 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 9 Comments »

The GET LAMP works are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 with the exception of the Infocom documentary, which is licensed Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

For a lot of my audience, just writing all that extends into uninteresting territory, and I’m quite understanding of that. It can tire me too. Creative Commons, the branded idea, is relatively new (under 10 years) and it is one of many tools available to creators in the modern technological era related to ownership or distribution of their works.  I like a lot of what they’re trying to do, but not all of what the result has been. Obviously, I like enough of the approach to continue to license my works under it.

When the BBS Documentary came out, I licensed it Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike. After some interesting exchanges, I wrote a very long weblog entry about it, which has some small amount of profanity, as is my wont.

Here we are at the second film being released, a situation I am very delighted about, and I am seeing some of the same writing/discussion going on that inspired the first entry, so I thought I’d drop a condensed version of the same thoughts.

Essentially, I released and will continue to release films I make under Creative Commons because I do not like the draconian policies of copyright law as they currently stand. I am not comfortable releasing the work into the public domain, but I am similarly of the opinion that a lot of copyright, especially since 1998, has become so draconian and vicious that perfectly moral uses of the works have been removed. It breaks my heart when I get mail from schools and colleges asking if they have my permission to show my film to students.  Or from people running conventions to show it in a room at the convention. I am fine with this and it’s a sign of how things have gone that these questions are asked.

On the flip side, however, I have also seen a lot of examples, then and now, of assumptions being made of what I “want”.  For example, it’s been said that licensing my movies Creative Commons means I “want” it to be torrented, or duplications made of the DVDs and the rest of the materials that are easily duplicated and then spread as far as possible.

That is not what I “want”, any more than not locking down windows in a building means I “want” people to enter through the windows instead of the (unlocked) door. It can be done, and in the case of torrents and the rest, I’m not going to go all Harlan Ellison about the situation. I would prefer, all things equal, that people buy the work I made, and to do so not because they’re afraid of some application of law and legal threat, but because they want to buy it. There’s no middleman, here. You are buying specifically from the filmmaker/director, and the item that arrives at your house was in my house a short time before.

Creative Commons essentially restores some abilities and freedoms to do things with content that have existed for a long time, and does so by providing some basic licenses, easily applied, that are in simple language for all.  I am not convinced they’re 100% effective in a knock-down drag-out legal fight, but at that point all parties have lost anyway. What it does is lift an awful lot of unneeded stress for everyone, and lets people enjoy the product.

I’ll happily discuss this in more details in the comments, but that’s the basic statement I wanted out there.

Enjoy the movie.

9 Comments on “Creative Commons”

  1. 1 Peter Cooper said at 7:26 pm on August 8th, 2010:

    Seems reasonable to me. I have the same attitude to my work.

    You started your post shortly after I tweeted about this topic. I haven’t seen what other people have written but I was merely interested whether you were against it being shared rather than strongly encouraging it. It seems, then, you’re not against it – just you’d rather people buy it if practical, which seems fair and still true to CC.

    I’d quite like to pay for Get Lamp, but I’ve been looking for torrents for two reasons: 1) I don’t want more physical “stuff” clogging up my house, I buy e-books, digital music, I live in England with a baby in a house the size of a shoebox; 2) I learnt about Get Lamp yesterday and am keen to watch it now/very soon. I don’t order things that could take weeks to arrive because I’ll probably be interested in something else by then and I’d have a box sitting on the shelf for a few months till I get round to it.

    So, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for a torrent as long as the title’s still bouncing around in my head but once I forget, oh well, it’s bound to come to mind again someday.

    Nonetheless, congratulations on producing what looks to be an amazing piece of work and I hope I’ll get to see it one day (especially if it ends up on – as the BBS documentary did – or iTunes or similar distribution system).

  2. 2 Jon said at 3:51 am on August 9th, 2010:

    I don’t really want any more physical media either.
    Is there a way we can send you some money if we download the video files?


  3. 3 Mark Pilgrim said at 5:30 am on August 9th, 2010:

    For those of us who do NOT glaze over at the mention of licensing, could you expound a bit on why you chose this particular license? It’s an odd combination, not often seen, even in the Creative Commons orbit. “Non-commercial,” in particular, has seen a lot of confusion, especially in a day and age when even C-list bloggers have commercial advertising on their pages. And the combination of NC and SA makes it virally non-Free, which is weird no matter how you phrase it.

    OTOH, you’re the creator of (highly) original content, and you have absolute power to license it however you wish. I’ve already bought it (years ago — I’m in the Adventurer’s Club), and I’m sure it’s even more aewsome than your BBS documentary (which I also bought). Just wondering about your thought process that led to CC-BY-NC-SA.

  4. 4 Scott Blomquist said at 10:22 am on August 9th, 2010:

    Merely curious: why is the main doco NC and the Infocom doco isn’t?

  5. 5 l.m.orchard said at 10:31 am on August 9th, 2010:

    For the people looking for downloads / streaming, and wondering why there’s none beyond shady torrents, you might want to read Jason’s series of posts about that – starting with:

    TL;DR: The situation’s not pretty

  6. 6 Laroquod said at 1:21 pm on August 9th, 2010:

    I will pay for Get Lamp as soon as the two frickin’ weeks it takes for PayPal to transfer money from a Canadian bank account has expired. I believe there is about a week left on the clock.

  7. 7 doberlec said at 2:11 pm on August 9th, 2010:

    Thanks Jason, that actually made me buy the BBS box set 5 minutes ago. Although I also tend to buy digital only good nowadays, I’m still a big collector so take it as a big encouragement to carry on. Waiting patiently for my copy of Get Lamp on the other side of the pond :)

  8. 8 Jason Scott said at 2:16 pm on August 9th, 2010:

    Let me answer the shorter question first: The Infocom episode is BY-SA instead of NC-BY-SA because to be able to handle the mass of swings in music and my insistence in not recycling too much soundtrack from other episodes, I ran out of music and had to raid the BY-SA music fridge. And BY-SA is SA, and there you go.

    Actually, the more granular answer to why I added NC to the license isn’t much longer either. Essentially, I use creative commons to rollback copyright restrictions now afforded content creators that I think stifle legitimate use of the media/content. I expect people will burn copies for friends or put a rip up on their servers for others to play, or to sample the vocal soundtrack (it’s available separately on the DVD, after all) to use in songs or otherwise. And I certainly want absolutely no limits against screening it, even though the chances of that really being an issue are very small… or so you’d think. As mentioned, schools and libraries ask me for permission to screen all the time. I usually take that time to offer to come Q&A at the screening.

    And that leads into my use of NC – I would prefer to continue to be part of the process, even if that “slows things down” (read: makes a transaction go for a few days instead of instantaneous). If a person feels the NC requires them to check in with me for a use, then maybe it’s a good think they’re checking in with me. Nothing stops me from granting additional uses or versions of the movie on a one-off basis, and I do not feel I am really constricting uses of the DVD and content in any way that is injuring to innovation or dissemination.

    From there, of course, it can get ugly a dozen different ways, and bring some unpleasantness into the conversation, but I am mostly saying don’t profit off copies of the film without checking in with me. As for blogs with banner ads, I don’t see how they would be using more than a scene or two to illustrate a point – if they’re hosting the entire movie, they’re kind of not a blog anymore, are they?

  9. 9 Scott Blomquist said at 11:12 pm on August 12th, 2010:

    @doberlec, that’s hilarious. This article caused me to turn around and order a copy of the BBS documentary, too.

    I would never have known that Jason’s work was awesome enough to be worth buying without having first watched BBS via bittorrent.

    So I can say for sure that the torrent is earning you some business, Jason. Whether it’s earning you more than it cannibalizes, who can say?

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