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Lessig, Creative Commons, and My Life Changed
Tuesday, January 04 2005 @ 11:14 PM EST

You've got to hear this. I am listening to Larry Lessig on the radio on my laptop, talking about Creative Commons licenses on public radio. You can listen too, if you like.

Creative Commons makes it possible to choose a license that says, you can use my creative work in the following ways, without having to contact me first. There are 11 different license choices, and you can choose one that tells others: I will let you be creative too. If you use my creative work and stick to the freedoms I've attached to my work and honor the restrictions, you will never face a copyright attorney. When it comes to music, the result can be wondrous.

That is the word version. If you are a right-brain kind of person, or just like to visit, here is what he is saying, only in music.

One man, Colin Mutchler, played a guitar track he called "My Life" [ogg], and then he released it under a Creative Commons license, which let others change it any way they wanted. A seventeen-year-old violinist, named Cora Beth, found it on the Internet, downloaded it, and added her own violin track on top of it, then put it up on the Internet, calling her version, "My Life Changed" [ogg]. Just listen. It is the soundtrack of free culture.

Lessig: "The important point is there was no lawyer in between these two creators. They didn't have to secure permissions and find a record label to enable them to be able to share work, sign contracts. They were able to do it because the freedoms were already built into the content. Now, there are a lot of people who thought that's the way the internet was in the beginning. That it said you are free to do anything you want and a lot of us wish that was the basic rule about the internet. But the copyright war that the RIAA has been fighting for the last five years has basically changed the default of the internet into a regime that says you have to ask permission first and we think that is wrong."

You don't need the words, though. Just listen to the mp3s. You will understand Creative Commons licenses with the right side of your brain, which is the part the heart needs.

Your left brain will enjoy comparing Cora Beth with this music sampling ruling from the non Creative Commons world, in Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films, or if you wish, read about it in this article.


Lessig, Creative Commons, and My Life Changed | 167 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off-Topic Threads Here Please
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 04 2005 @ 11:59 PM EST
Keep Groklaw Clean... Thanks.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: inode_buddha on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 12:18 AM EST
Glad to see this. It takes both sides to make a whole, I must point out. Thanks
to PJ for the links.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Only one part missing here - the ogg vorbis format vs mp3
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 12:43 AM EST
Only one part missing here - the ogg vorbis format vs mp3!

I vote for ogg vorbis.

Match ogg vorbis up with what is being said about the licenses and you then have
the creative and performance power back in the hands of the artists (and out of
the board rooms)!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Official "The SCO Group" Positions
Authored by: fudisbad on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 01:20 AM EST
Main posts in this thread may only be made by senior managers or attorneys for
"The SCO Group". Main posts must use the name and position of the
poster at "The SCO Group". Main posters must post in their official
capacity at "The SCO Group".

Sub-posts will also be allowed from non-"The SCO Group" employees or
attorneys. Sub-posts from persons not connected with "The SCO Group"
must be very polite, address other posters and the main poster with the
honorific "Mr." or "Mrs." or "Ms.", as
appropriate, use correct surnames, not call names or suggest or imply unethical
or illegal conduct by "The SCO Group" or its employees or attorneys.

This thread requires an extremely high standard of conduct and even slightly
marginal posts will be deleted.

PJ says you must be on your very best behavior.

If you want to comment on this thread, please post under "OT"

FUD is not the answer.
FUD is the question.
The truth is the answer.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Relevance to SCO case
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 02:02 AM EST
It strikes me that there is much in the ruling which could potentially be
relevant to the SCO v IBM case, including late amendments to pleadings, suing
for copyright infringement of copyrights that you don't own, motion practice,
and discovery disputes, etc.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Just a Suggestion
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 02:37 AM EST
Try Listening to them with Kaffeine with the Audio
Visualization set on Goom, Nice.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The RIAA will regret this and so will the courts.
Authored by: Brian S. on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 03:45 AM EST

Do they do torture? it reminds me of the Inquisition when artistic and intellectual talents were under under the microscope to ensure "correctness".

I'll ask a question and admit I don't know the correct answer first hand. If I were to sit beside a David Hockney self portait and do my own version which I called "David Hockney as understood by Brian S.", would I be breaching his copyright? I bet he'd only take umbrage if he thought my version was artistically inept and ugly.

The more crazy decisions that are made like this, the sooner the general public will realise the RIAA and the legislature have lost their marbles.

By the way PJ, I'm a bit of a music buff, and your example has shown me the implications that open source has for that art.

Whatever peoples taste may be, the Beatles only made Beatles music bcause they lived close together and went to the same schools or college. We now have a situation where one musical genious can release their output only to have another genious improve it from the other side of the world. Just imagine their combined output when they find each other.

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nice try, but it won't work
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 04:23 AM EST
Understand this: the music business is about money. Thats why 99% of the bands
are in it. To make it to the bigtime. Record companies have some very good
reasons to keep music distributed the way its is, but DO NOT FORGET, musicians
also have the same reasons.

So .. its entirely possible a 'hobby' musician may well release an amount of
work under a creative-commons license, they'll never get rich doing it. A
mainstream group might release a track or two under creative commons licencing,
but the vast majority of the work will stay licensed the way it is.

The only way I can see it working commercially is for a performance group who
make their income from their live performances, for them, releasing under
creative commons would be fine. (perhaps a string quartet or a ceildh band).

The rest of the industry (both its publishers and its authors) are mainly in it
for the money, so dont expect any great changes.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Magnatune ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 05:54 AM EST
Magnatune is a record label that sells CC-licenced albums. You set the price, within limits, and 50% goes to the artist. See this USA Today article for more. Their automatic licensing system for commercial use is worth looking at, too.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Monopolies cannot stand freedom.
Authored by: Stumbles on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 08:35 AM EST
Here are some links from some peoples own personal experience in the music industry and the RIAA. This one is from Janis Ian and her thoughts about music downloads;

The debacle


And here is a link to an email with links contained within it with some thoughts by George Ziemann;

the email

Granted these are some what dated but I do beleive they are still valid. Like corporations chasing after that nebulous "IP" thingy and doing their best to, um shall we say conjole law makers to "see it their way". The music industry, ie, RIAA, MPAA and others will do anything they think needs to be done to make all your thoughts, ideas, activities belonging to us. Like all monopolies they have no regard for personal freedoms of any sort.

You can tune a piano but you can't tuna fish.

[ Reply to This | # ]

One example in printing
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 09:28 AM EST

Andy Hertzfeld of the original Macintosh team has a website called with a ton of stories about the early history of Apple and the Mac, all under a Creative Commons license.

O'Reilly is publishing a book of those stories.There's an interview about it and of course you can just decide whether to buy the book.

Clearly Tim O'Reilly thinks he can make money for himself and Hertzfeld selling books despite the fact that the stories are already available at zero cost.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lessig, Creative Commons, and My Life Changed
Authored by: Benanov on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 09:40 AM EST
A couple of others have made differences to My Life and My Life Changed. The
final version as I knew of it was called "Our Lives are Changing."

Search for the details.

That popping sound you hear is just a paradigm shifting without a clutch.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lessig, Creative Commons, and My Life Changed
Authored by: Freespirit on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 09:43 AM EST
I recently had the pleassure of hearing Lessig speak on this topic, at the anual
H. C. Andersen celebration lecture at Odense University, Denmark. Did not really
know what to exepect, but he does make some really good points. Not to mention
being really funny and having the entire audience lying on the floor laughing at

I think it will be interesting to see how many artists will indeed embrace the
Creative Commons License and how many think mainly in terms of $$$


[ Reply to This | # ]

Creative Commons and Compulsory Licensing?
Authored by: sholton on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 09:51 AM EST
Perhaps someone in the know can better explain to me the relationship between works (such as My Life) released under a Creative Commons License and the effects of compulsory licensing?

I was under the impression that the compulsory licensing laws for audio works removed the artist's right to choose thair own fee for a work in exchange for a guarantee of payment through the compulsory license.

It seems to me, if this is the case, then an artist who releases a work under a CC license must still accept the compulsory licensing payment, which means those who wish to use the work must still pay the compulsory licensing fee.

Can anyone help me understand this better>

[ Reply to This | # ]

Software -- what are you actually buying?
Authored by: belzecue on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 10:04 AM EST
Neal Stephenson summed it up rather well (thanks, /.)...

"Anyone who has ever bought a piece of software in a store has had the curiously deflating experience of taking the bright shrink-wrapped box home, tearing it open, finding that it's 95 percent air, throwing away all the little cards, party favors, and bits of trash, and loading the disk into the computer. The end result (after you've lost the disk) is nothing except some images on a computer screen, and some capabilities that weren't there before. Sometimes you don't even have that--you have a string of error messages instead. But your money is definitely gone. Now we are almost accustomed to this, but twenty years ago it was a very dicey business proposition. Bill Gates made it work anyway. He didn't make it work by selling the best software or offering the cheapest price. Instead he somehow got people to believe that they were receiving something in exchange for their money."

[ Reply to This | # ]

New Approach To Music
Authored by: rben13 on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 11:01 AM EST

Here's something I'd love to see, an Open Source approach to music building based on this example. Start with a composer, someone who will act as the coordinator for the project. The composer proposes a theme for a piece, maybe picks a time signature, key, provides a basic melody. Basically the same role as in Open Source software, provide something like My Life to build on.

Then accept and evaluate submissions of alternate notations, new tracks, etc. Once the basic composition is settled on and refined, allow any who wish to do mixes and submit them.

It would be interesting to see how such a piece of music would evolve and change.

Another intestesting project would be to take this approach and apply it to a classic that is not encumbered by IP restrictions. What might happen to Mozart with the world turned loose to riff on it?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Song: High Barratry
Authored by: ssavitzky on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 01:14 PM EST
This seems like the right place to mention a song I wrote back in May of last year, now that I've finally gotten around to making an ogg and made a link from the lyrics file to the appropriate CC license (by-sa-nc/2.0). High Barratry: lyrics ogg

(I'm in the process of putting all my songs under a CC license. Note that other songs on the site don't have proper CC notices yet, the ogg isn't properly tagged, and I haven't put in the XML yet. By the end of the month, hopefully...)

The SCO method: open mouth, insert foot, pull trigger.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Creative commons for Science
Authored by: PeteS on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 02:54 PM EST
There are a number of projects out there, but the latest (and has my interest) is Science Commons

For non-scientists, I must explain why this is such a huge deal.

In the past, to have a scientific paper published, you not only had to get the approval of a journal (and some might say that has stood in the way of science, others it has kept out a lot of hogwash), but then you often had to pay.

To add insult to injury, you could not read the article without a (usually expensive) subscription.

Reprints / reproductions were the money factory for these journals that considered themselves the 'gatekeepers of knowledge', although they produced no real knowledge themselves, and provided a (high priced) forum, where the views expressed, regardless of scientific virtue, were subject to the censorship of the journal based on their view of the science.

This is indeed a wonderful project.


Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Fixed link - Authored by: PeteS on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 04:06 PM EST
Scene music
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 03:32 PM EST
Reminds me of the mod scene. They use a modular music format instead of mp3/ogg/wav format. The format only contains wav samples and the "music sheet." It's easier to modify than plain mp3/ogg/wav provided that you can get the tracker software to run on your computer. It's kind of open source for music since the final sound is actually compiled when you listen to it. Because of the nature of the format, these music usually get remixed, modified and samples reused for other music.

Unfortunately these music usually don't contain copyright notices or licenses. Generally there's an unwritten code of ethics when it comes to use and modifications of these mod files.

Check out ModArchive and to listen to some scene music.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Scene music - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 10:06 PM EST
Baen Books
Authored by: Naive on Wednesday, January 05 2005 @ 08:43 PM EST
Not sure why no one has mentioned it (as far as I've seen), Baen Books free
library: here at . I know that it has little to do
with the CC license, but it is interesting to note that others are learning that
free access is sometimes key to sales.

More on topic, I use the CCL on my works, though I write more for myself than
anyone else. I like that people have access and that someone may use my works to
create something new and interesting that I might benifit from. I think that
inovation is like most things in life - a series of building blocks. Without the
original blocks nothing is ever created. So, as an artist (in the loosest sense
of the word), I find the CCL to be a great opportunity for artists and creative
thinkers. Sharing is part of the human experience. It makes life better.

To PJ, Linus, and all the others out there willing to share: here's to you!
People making the world better.


[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Baen Books - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 06 2005 @ 01:27 AM EST
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