The Hidden Value of Creative Commons April 16, 2009Posted by lborodkin in : Uncategorized , trackback
On Avvo.com, I recently answered this question on music sampling:
“What are the laws on sampling music for a beat?”
Here is my answer:
“Sampling” music sound recordings is taking a portion of a sound recording and reusing it as a portion of a distinctly altered musical work. Under the copyright law, this reuse and transformation creates what is called a “derivative” work.
In the absence of any other agreement or license, the creator of the original musical sound recording has a copyright in the musical sound recording when it is released commercially. This is regardless of whether the work is registered with the Copyright Office.
It is actionable copyright infringement to incorporate portions of a musical sound recording that has been commercially released into a new work unless (a) the copyright holder grants a license allowing both copying and the creation of derivative works or (b) the owner of the sound recording has made the music available for public use under a gratis Creative Commons license that permits derivative works.
You can search for musical sound recordings that have been made available to the public for beat sampling under a Creative Commons license at creativecommons.org. You must heed the Creative Commons-published guidelines for any particular work. Only works licensed for “remix,” that is, derivative uses, may be used for beat sampling. Some owners also restrict Creative Commons license to non-commercial uses, and/or a reciprocal “share alike” license. Most Creative Commons licenses require attribution, or credit, in lieu of a license fee. Any use that falls outside the Creative Commons guidelines for a particular work would be actionable copyright infringement.
That is the lawyer’s answer. But there is another side to using Creative Commons work that reveals the flip side of my previous post on why attribution matters in copyright law. Attribution is a way of finding and linking to people that you want to work with and who want to work with you. I discovered this for myself about a year ago by putting the photos in my free Flickr account into Creative Commons under a non-commercial, attribution, no derivatives license.
I had surprising and wonderful results. Every so often, I get a little Google news vanity alert about a photo that’s been credited on the Internet. One of my faves is the remix of Lawrence Lessig at the top of this post. It is actually a collage that was created by Andy on the fly for a G33k dinner. More profoundly, it has brought some wonderful people into my life.
Tag up your photos and try it yourself. If they’re on a free hosting service, what do you have to lose?