Taking a Free Culture Approach to Music

When I tell someone that all of my recordings are downloadable for free, I’m often asked, “but… how will you make money?

“Well,” I’ll respond, “since it doesn’t cost me anything, I may as well let people share and listen to my music so that they might connect with it and become interested in the associated scarcities—physical goods, the creation of new music, authenticity, personalization, live performances, etc… It makes more sense to charge for the scarce things than for the abundant. People need to hear and like music before they’re willing to buy, so I want people to download it.”

“Okay,” a musician might respond, “and you still have royalties and licensing.”

The fun begins: “Er… no, actually, my music is available royalty-free, even for commercial use.”


“Yep,” I’ll continue. “There are only two requirements: attribution, and that derivative works remain under the same licence. Otherwise, people are free to do what they want.”

At this point, the person I’m talking to is either incredibly curious, or convinced that I’m certifiably insane.

Why on earth would I do this?

Copyright Conundrum

Copyright is supposed to provide an incentive for authors to create because we, as a society, see a benefit in more works being created. However, it’s been radically expanded in both depth and breadth. Unlike the original 14-year terms, copyright now extends well beyond the author’s death; works used to enter the public domain within a few decades, but now it takes a few generations. Also, it used to be that copyright only regulated large corporations—you needed a printing press or a broadcast tower to trigger the law—but now it affects the everyday activities of anyone with a computer.

It’s become an astonishingly unprecedented restriction on our culture. Can you imagine if Shakespeare had to negotiate licensing agreements for each of the stories he repurposed? Yet, some seek to criminalize sharing and we must hire lawyers to get permission just to build on the culture around us. We must pay [PDF] for the privilege of dancing to copyrighted music. James Boyle, author of The Public Domain, said that “we are the first generation to deny our own culture to ourselves.” Society has become too focused on the unnatural notion of “intellectual property.”

20th-century culture was largely passive and read-only—a broadcast culture. But it’s wonderful and natural that we seek to reinterpret and build upon the culture we find around us, and it’s exciting that digital technology makes it easier. Creation is a fundamentally social act—not a solitary one—and its social dimension is something to be celebrated; it’s a beautiful expression of our humanity. I embrace an active culture with which we all have the freedom to engage… but current copyright law makes that illegal. James Boyle also points out that “no work created during your lifetime will, without conscious action by its creator, become available for you to build upon.”

As a creator, I’ve taken that conscious action to set my work free.

Free Culture

I use a Creative Commons (CC) Attribution-Share Alike (BY-SA) licence for all of my music and writing (including this post). CC BY-SA is a free licence—not free as in price, but free as in freedom. A free culture is the opposite of a permission culture: anyone has the freedom to use, share, remix, cover, rewrite or adapt my music.

Now, “remix” can be a funny word for songwriters. For some, the immediate word association is “techno,” but derivative works can include music videos, films, new songs, covers, as well as recordings that are “remixed” in the strict technical sense. I can also take freely licensed photos from Flickr to use as artwork for my songs. “Free culture” isn’t about quirky viral videos and the responses they inspire, but the broad spectrum of possibilities when freedom and collaboration can scale. Using a free licence opens up new potential for creating art and connecting with fans by removing the legal barriers to artistic freedom and widespread collaboration.

Commercial Use

Free licences allow commercial use: my music can be sold—by me, or anyone else—and I’ve waived the right to collect royalties. This was by far the biggest hurdle.

Most CC licences aren’t free. I initially used a Noncommercial (NC) licence with my band back in 2005—that seemed like a no-brainer at the time—but I later became convinced of the problems with NC restrictions. For example, NC restrictions limit derivative works to the realm of the hobbyist; once money enters the equation, NC licences still present a permission culture (hence their non-free status). Plus, NC restrictions rule out many basic uses you might want to allow: a blog with ads or a non-profit fundraiser could both qualify as commercial, and a remix of your own NC music by someone else is off-limits to you commercially. NC restrictions don’t allow a free culture to flourish… but, they do leave the door open for music licensing opportunities.

Giving up the prospect of royalties and licensing was hard. Ultimately, I decided that free culture and new media were more important for me. Copyright restrictions apply to bloggers and webcasters as well as radio stations, and SOCAN collects from large corporate radio, but also from kids’ gymnastic clubs and buskers. I’d rather focus on free culture and the Internet as a passion and competitive edge than be confined by a read-only, broadcast-based permission model. Royalties make as much sense on the Internet as they would in a conversation; it’s not broadcast, it’s a communications medium. I’ve decided to go the free culture route with the Internet in mind, even if it means no royalties from traditional mediums.


CC BY-SA is a “copyleft” licence—meaning, all rights reversed; it imposes a copyright restriction against restricting people: all derivative works must be released under the same licence. Someone is free to include my music in a video and sell it, but the derivative work must also be BY-SA, so I’d be able to profit from the derivative in the same way that people can profit from my original. It’s mutually beneficial. (If someone wanted to use my work without “sharing alike,” e.g. a TV show, with many other rights holders involved, that’s one case where traditional licensing is still an option.)

In terms of someone else just selling my stuff (e.g. CDs with my music), I’ve come to view that as an opportunity rather than a liability. If Sony wanted to distribute my music, with no cost or contract on my part… who am I to complain? They’d be helping me. CC BY-SA filmmaker, Nina Paley, argues that when others make money off your content, it’s free market research. “If any [competitors] do exceptionally well, I’ll know what merch I should be selling,” she says. Paley uses the Creator-Endorsed Mark to signal to consumers which distributors are actually sharing profits with her. Brad Sucks, a Canadian BY-SA musician, has also found ways to profit while allowing commercial use.

If you’re focused on innovating and monetizing real scarcities, allowing commercial use simply presents new opportunities.

Moving Forward

Licensing my music freely was a huge decision, and I’ve only scratched the surface of my reasoning here. I may have closed many doors, but I’m excited about the doors I’ve opened. This approach isn’t going to work for everyone, but with artists like Nina Paley and Brad Sucks paving the way, I’m committed to exploring how it can work for my music.

Blaise Alleyne is a musician, programmer, writer, and free software/culture advocate. He writes and performs as a solo singer/songwriter as well as with his folk rock band, Fishkiss. He also records and performs with other artists as a violinist and arranger.

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a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada Licence.

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  1. avatar
    John Zytaruk 23 December, 2009 at 09:39

    The times they are indeed a-changing and if you want to know where things are going-listen to this guy! His approach might not be for everyone but Blaise has thought long and hard about these issues and is very well informed. I’m inspired by his commitment to putting his beliefs into action.

  2. avatar
    David Newland 23 December, 2009 at 11:09

    Blaise’s ability to outline his position in a non-threatening manner, and his decision to “put his money where his mouth is” are an inspiration.

    I’ve considered for years what to do with “ownership” of my songs. At the deepest level I simply don’t believe it’s possible to “own” creative work.

    Kudos to Blaise for taking that gut-level reaction and translating it into a meaningful artistic and business decision with positive implications for culture in general.

  3. avatar
    artin menderlein 23 December, 2009 at 21:10

    as a free music enthusiast i can’t agree with your statement that CC-NC non-commercial music is “non-free” or that it is only limited to hobby-musicians and the likes.
    what is “free” and what is “non free” is a matter of definition, as i’m not “free to kill” people i don’t like…
    so why for example did the nineinchnails release their latest albums under CC-NC-SA and made more than a million $ with it [http://ghosts.nin.com/main/order_options > just multiply the 2500 copies of the ultra-deluxe-version with 300$]?
    all your argueing is great but inconsistent on this specific point of view.
    the so called “the problems with NC restrictions” mentioned in the article linked are not problems for the musicians at all but for everybody who wants to make money with other peoples works.
    NC just forces everybody else to not charge others to pay for your work, nothing more and nothing less.

    and btw. NC has nothing to do with derivative works…
    just read the full license-texts, ok?

  4. avatar
    Michael MacLeod 24 December, 2009 at 10:36

    This is an extremely thought provoking position. I believe that I agree with it, though I have a few doubts that need exploring.

    It doesn’t do anything about the Socan issue, whereby even buskers are being pursued in various parts of the country.

  5. avatar
    drew Roberts 24 December, 2009 at 15:11

    cc NC and ND works are non-Free according to this definition:


    Just as NC and ND type licenses for software would not be considered Free Software licenses according to this definition:


    There is a long history of using Free (as in Freedom) or libre in this way. By all means, I have never heard of anyone taking issue with such works being considered gratis if that are indeed gratis.

    Some seem to use Free to mean libre and free (or freeware in the software world) to mean gratis. Or the phrase “free as in beer”…

    “NC just forces everybody else to not charge others to pay for your work, nothing more and nothing less.”

    No, NC does way more than that. If you would sell a binding promise to to make any money yourself off of your own NC works you might get close. There is a little problem with compulsory licenses and possibly with collection societies that might get in the way of even that though.

    all the best,



  6. avatar
    Blaise Alleyne 24 December, 2009 at 15:24

    Artin: I sympathize with your position. Sorry for the length of my comment, but I think this is a really important issue. I know I was forceful in the post, and I will be again here. I think that NC music is a huge step in the right direction, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think a free culture can be built on NC restrictions.

    It’s absolutely vital for there to be clarity on the definition of free cultural works. There is no real debate — even the Creative Commons recognizes the definition of free cultural works. Check out their CC0, CC BY, and CC BY-SA licences—they use the Freedom Defined badge, NC/ND licences don’t.

    The real question isn’t, is noncommercial non-free?—because it absolutely is (there are so many things that you can’t do with NC works). The real question is, does it matter?

    There are those who don’t think it’s necessary that cultural works be free. Richard Stallman, founder of the free software movement (inspiration for the Creative Commons and participant in Freedom Defined), argues tooth and nail that all software should be free, but he doesn’t think it’s necessary for cultural works to be free. He thinks that copyright is acceptable in that realm.

    I think that it could be acceptable. I’d be more open to NC restrictions if they were for a decade or so. But, when left with the choice between NC restrictions for my life plus 50 years, or free culture, I’ve chosen free culture.

    the so called “the problems with NC restrictions” mentioned in the article linked are not problems for the musicians at all but for everybody who wants to make money with other peoples works.

    People who want to make money of musical works include musicians. This is exactly what I mean about relegating derivative works to the realm of the hobbyist. Sure, I can remix/cover/etc Nine Inch Nails, or Girl Talk, but I can’t make a living from that. At least, not without falling back onto the permission culture model, and licensing the works.

    That doesn’t scale. Girl Talk sampled hundreds of artists on his last album. The licensing fees would have been ridiculously expensive. The permission culture model doesn’t scale.

    NIN and Girl Talk offered free as in price music. There’s no free culture model there. Who’s remixing or repurposing their works?

    I want other musicians to make money from my music. I want a viable ecosystem of business to develop. It’s vital for the answer to the “how will we make money?” question. If you slap NC restrictions on anyone who touches your work, it’s a lot harder for anyone to make money.

    If an artist puts their time and effort into building something based on the music I’ve made freely available, I think they should have the freedom to profit from their work. Otherwise, it’s saying, “yeah, you can play with this stuff for fun, if you want to do it professionally, let’s go back to the old model.” I want professionals to have the incentive to use my works, because they’ll be able to profit from it. I want an artist to be able to include a derivative work in a song, and sell it on their album. And I want to be able to sell their derivative of my music on my albums.

    I’ll cover Brad Sucks and Nathan Simpson because I don’t have to handle my work with kid gloves, to be afraid of putting it on my website (is my website commercial? it’s for my music, which I intend to profit from), or on a blog with ads, or to sell alongside my other tracks, without first negotiating some sort of agreement with them. I won’t remix Nine Inch Nails or Girl Talk, because I’d need to get in touch with their lawyers before I could make any professional use of the songs safely. Thanks, but no thanks—it’s not a free culture when you need to negotiate permission. And it can’t scale.

    NC just forces everybody else to not charge others to pay for your work, nothing more and nothing less.

    That’s not true. The licence text says: “You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.” The private monetary compensation part would limit charging others to pay for your work, but “directed toward commercial advantage” is much, much more broad.

    That’s where it becomes a grey area to display an NC work on a blog with ads, or for a non-profit to use NC works as part of a fundraiser, for someone to charge only to recoup their costs (i.e. selling CDs, but just to cover the plastic and ink), or for a commercial organization to use a work at all. Is my blog directed toward commercial advantage? I do have a couple ads on old posts, and I’ve gotten work from my writing there. I also use it to promote my music, and I’ll use it to promote things that I’m selling.

    It’s an incredibly blurry distinction, hence the massive confusion and giant CC studies on the topic (did you participate in the study? It took half an hour to answer grey-area question after grey-area question after grey-area question…).

    It doesn’t just stop people from selling your stuff. It also might stop people from using your stuff in a way that might involve money or commerce, which—I believe—harms the free culture ecosystem.

    and btw. NC has nothing to do with derivative works… just read the full license-texts, ok?

    I know that NC has nothing to do directly with derivative works, but what I mean is that it affects derivative works too, and that its effects are especially problematic when you consider derivative works. If you’re only thinking about your own music and what people can do with it, NC is a free-as-in-price approach, not free-as-in-freedom. Free culture depends on the freedom to make derivative works. NC restrictions stifle the professional potential for derivative works, the scale of free culture products, and the ability for artists to make a living while building off CC-licensed works.

    I’m conflicted when a see someone using an NC licence. In once sense, I’m disappointed, because it limits the potential for a free culture ecosystem to emerge and support itself, but in another sense, I’m quite encouraged, because it’s a big step in the right direction… and, imho, a useful stepping stone.

  7. avatar
    Blaise Alleyne 24 December, 2009 at 15:35

    Michael MacLeod: thanks for the comment!

    It doesn’t do anything about the Socan issue, whereby even buskers are being pursued in various parts of the country.

    It doesn’t solve it, but I think it does do something. SOCAN (and other PROs) can collect from everyone for everything because they say, “well, we don’t know for sure whether or not you’re using copyrighted music [assuming that if it’s under copyright its theirs], so you need a licence just in case.”

    CC BY-SA provides an assurance that a licence is not required for public performance. Then, companies like Jamendo can put together collections of CC BY-SA music, so that a business can say, “no, actually, I’m not using any SOCAN music, I’m using only music that is freely licensed.”

    That still doesn’t help buskers much, but it sets up the potential for alternative music collections where licensing isn’t required. *shrugs*

  8. avatar
    beadmaze 25 December, 2009 at 14:46

    @drew Roberts: as I said, it depends on which defintion you refer to…
    so if in your defintion “money is (for) free”, you’re definition is right – definately 🙂
    but if i myself consider money to be “non-free”, a non-commercial license is more “free” than another license that allows commercial use, you know?
    well, all this is more a philosophical question [“propositional calculus”] than a pragmatic.

    @Blaise Alleyne: there are many good arguments for choosing a NC-license and you can imagine a few of them yourself when you think about WHY the NIN have chosen NC (and made very much money with it, but nobody else).
    just one hint: it’s not about preventing professional musicians from remixing the NIN-music…

    all the arguments you bring in are ok for your specific perspective, but you know the music “market” is big and there are many different views – yours is just one. and you can bet many others perspectives are very interesting, too.
    what i do not understand is the contrast between “proffesionals” and “hobbyists” that you’re making, because this contrast is obsolete nowadays.
    you have lots of professional musicians releasing their music under creative commons (NC) and loads of music in the charts that sounds like it’s made by hobbyists… 🙂
    just check out netlabels like http://www.shskh.com and ask yourself if the musicians are professionals or not and why they conciously (probably) choose NC.
    i think what many CC-critics do not see is that in primeval times of the normal copyright (“all rights reversed”) musicians only had the choice to make their music “public domain” or fully copyrighted. but nowadays (and with CC) there are many ways of protecting your music for various purposes and i think most musicians do know very well what they’re doing when they choose NC.

  9. avatar
    artin "beadmaze" menderlein 25 December, 2009 at 18:21

    i know it’s exhausting if i’m making multi-postings here but there are too many thoughts that come to my mind the longer i think about it…

    1. the famous “how will we make money?” question lead the music industry into an amazing crisis. and it’s the foundation of an ecosystem that mainly makes money of others peoples work.
    musicians should only ask “how do i get music to the people who might like it?” and they’ll see that those people are willing to pay for what they like.

    2. what about the definition of “free” if the website i’m downloading the music from [or comment about “free music”] uses google-analytics? is that the freedom we’re talking about? is anyone asking me if it’s ok to send my data to mountain view, ca.?
    so i’d consider a site which uses ads to be more free than a site which uses analytics…
    btw. i’m a registered linux user #!497874

  10. avatar
    Blaise Alleyne 29 December, 2009 at 21:26

    Hey Artin,

    Sorry for the delayed response. Christmas and all.

    I don’t think the definition of free culture is an abstract philosophical question. On the contrary, it’s the foundation of a free culture, it’s the principles from which a free culture can be built. We can identify the problems with a permission culture that copyright brings about, but what’s the solution? What’s the alternative? Simply saying “some rights reserved” is vague and baseless. Which rights? Why?

    The opposite of a free culture is a permission culture. That’s what we see with copyright. NC restrictions retain that permission culture for a wide variety of uses. It’s not free as in “money is (for) free”, but free as in freedom, as in not needing someone else’s permission to do share or built on the culture around you.

    What’s your idea of “free music?” Are ND restrictions okay? Why are NC restrictions alright? I’m content, personally, to join the likes of the Creative Commons, Wikipedia, and a number of individuals whom I respect in recognizing the Definition of Free Cultural Works.

    If you have a better definition than the Creative Commons or Wikipedia, I’m curious to hear it!

    what i do not understand is the contrast between “proffesionals” and “hobbyists” that you’re making, because this contrast is obsolete nowadays… i think you should primarily make & license your music especially for your listeners and not for other musicians to make money from it.”

    I agree that any distinctions between amateurs and professionals are less and less meaningful, but NC licences imply that notion. They say, “you can play with this stuff, but you can’t use it professionally (as in, to make a living) without falling back onto the old model.”

    NC restrictions on cultural works prevent people from making a living building off them. They prevent you from profiting from your own creative work if you’re incorporating on repurposing other NC-licensed works.

    Who says your listeners aren’t musicians? Most music listeners may not be musicians, but I’m willing to bet that most musicians are music listeners. I don’t see a reason to treat my audience as passive or non-musical. I want to open up my works so that other musicians who become fans are able to use and build upon them. I think that’s one of the most important ways in which they can be used.

    I’m really interested to hear what you mean by “free music,” because you seem to be very focused on the freedom to share and distribute (which is important!), but you tend to gloss over the freedom to change and adapt cultural works, which is essential.

    “the famous “how will we make money?” question lead the music industry into an amazing crisis. and it’s the foundation of an ecosystem that mainly makes money of others peoples work. musicians should only ask “how do i get music to the people who might like it?” and they’ll see that those people are willing to pay for what they like.”

    I tend to agree (though, I think you need to connect with fans and give them a reason to buy)… but, why the NC restrictions then?

    “what about the definition of “free” if the website i’m downloading the music from [or comment about “free music”] uses google-analytics?”

    That’s an important but separate question. What if CC BY-SA music is created using Logic on an Apple computer (i.e. using non-free software)? Privacy, data portability, and software freedom are all important questions, but I wouldn’t confuse them with free culture. If a CC BY-SA was made using non-free software, that doesn’t matter in terms of how free the resulting cultural work is. The question is, do I have the freedom to use, share, distribute, and build upon it or not? The other questions are important, but separate. (btw, I don’t see Google Analytics as a violation of privacy.)

    For what it’s worth, I’m trying to take a fully free software approach to free culture (I’ve been using Ardour, Rosegarden, Hydrogen, JACK and a few other applications in 64 Studio GNU/Linux, I make my music available in Ogg Vorbis format, and I’ve been releasing some of the custom code on blaise.ca).

    Anyways, I’d be curious to hear what your standard is for free music. I’m still convinced that NC licences are useful as a stepping stone, but they get in the way of a truly free culture.

  11. avatar
    Richard Flohil 4 January, 2010 at 09:19

    Sorry, but I think Blaise’s position is such egregious nonsense that I don’t know where to begin – so I won’t! I seriously hope the guy doesn’t ever get a hit song (a highly unlikely scenario), ’cause if he does he will earn nothing for his creativity. Looks good on him!

  12. avatar
    Artin "Beadmaze" Menderlein 4 January, 2010 at 12:05

    Hey Blaise,
    this time it was me who’s late with replying – hope you had a nice transition into 2010!

    Let me answer you as the (“normal”) music-listener that i am. And let me honest first:
    In the last year (2009) i exactly bought 3 records [3 Vinyls, no CDs] and 1 digital download, on the one hand…
    on the other hand i downloaded 3 (!) or maybe even 4 albums illegally via whatever/googleyourtorrents, honestly.
    then i got 15 or 20 albums as digital files or CDr from my friends.
    and last but not least i downloaded estimated 300 or 400 albums under creative commons (mostly by-nc-sa) from various netlabels.
    last year i decided to only put “free music” on my ipod [it’s not really an ipod, but something similar 🙂 ].
    so for me as a listener “free music” means music that i can get for “free” and most importantly: without hurting anyones copyrights.
    please, ask any other listener what they think about the meaning of “free music” and they will all tell you nearly the same.
    for me as a listener it doesn’t matter what other musicians can do with your works or if anyone can sell them as long as i get them for free…
    sorry if this sounds a bit ignorant, but that’s how we listeners are 🙁

    i think it’s great if professional artists like the NIN let me download their albums for free and i don’t give a damn if they only allow non-commercial remixes, you know?
    they should get the money if i want to buy their vinyls.
    it would be strange for me as a listener to buy their music in a ultra-deluxe-set for 300$ from somebody else whom from they get nothing[!], not just some poor bits: nothing!

    that’s my point.

  13. avatar
    artin 4 January, 2010 at 19:02

    seems i have to add some things here about my view on the relationship between listeners & artists, to relpy properly to your last posting.
    i think everybody, wether he’s a listener or an other artist, should respect the basic right of every artist to decide what shall happen to his creation and to determine other things not to happen.
    so if it’s the will of an artist that there shall be no “adaption” [ND = remixing, using for musicvideos …] of his creation, i think that’s something everybody should respect.
    releasing a piece of art can’t automatically mean it’s free now to get “fucked-up” [monetarily / artistically].
    i believe there’s a difference between a work of art and a technical work [like any OS/software] and that’s why the definition of free software cannot work for art [3rd sentence at the cc-weblog/entry/8051] – ordinary people are doing very different things with pieces of art than with tools [normally].
    the only problem i have with “the definition of free cultural works” is that it does not fit the commercialized world [capitalism] we’re living in – this just makes no sense.
    for me as a listener it doesn’t matter at all if the work is free in the meaning of “the definition …”, it just has to be “free”. there’s no different quality for me as a listener if it’s free [public domain] or free [cc-by-nc-nd], you know?
    if your work of art is worth something and not protected in any way, there will be someone out there who sells it, especially if your not selling it yourself, you know?
    if you can make your living from something else than your artistic work, you’re not “professional”. but if you want to make living from your artistic work you have to sell it, right? but if someone else sells it instead of you… if your just a good artist but no good salesman?

    maybe i just didn’t got your sales model.

    copyrights should be limited to maybe 50 years and absolutly end with the death of the artist, but they are useful for the artist nowadays [as long as there’s money in this world…].

    ps. in my opinion/definition your “free license” is “non-free” because it doesn’t allow me to release my remix of your song as cc-by-nc-nd… 🙂

  14. avatar
    drew Roberts 13 January, 2010 at 14:14

    @Artin “Beadmaze” Menderlein

    This could be just a problem with the English language then.

    Take libre and gratis. Or should I say, take free and free.

    See. We have one word but two concepts here.

    When some of us talk Free Music, we are talking Freedom and not price. It might even be possible that there exists some Free music somewhere that you cannot currently get unless you pay for it. It would still be Free music with respect to the concept of free being used here.

    all the best,


  15. avatar
    beadmaze 17 January, 2010 at 15:18

    yes, that’s exactly what i mean.
    for me as a listener it’s ridiculous that there’s so defined “free” music which i “possibly cannot get unless i pay for it” and other’s that i can legally get without paying for it [& without hurting anyones copyrights] which shall be “non-free” when it comes to the holy definition.
    this is totally absurd, you know?
    you can’t tell this to the folks out there because it won’t help to spread free music [free by & without whatever defintion] – this kind of thinking makes the creative commons movement dubious and unintelligible for normal people.
    and this is not a matter of the semantical specification of the english language.

    please rethink this defintion.

  16. avatar
    beadmaze 17 January, 2010 at 17:28

    then call [the defintion of] your music “open, unoccupied, liberal” or whatever, but don’t call it “free”, ok?

    i think it’s up to you to make your aim unequivocally

  17. avatar
    beadmaze 17 January, 2010 at 17:30

    in my opinion/definition your so called “free” license is very “non-free” because it doesn’t allow me to release my remix of your song as cc-by-nc-nd…

  18. avatar
    Blaise Alleyne 11 February, 2010 at 12:21

    Hi artin,

    Sorry for letting the conversation die, but your point needs a response.

    “in my opinion/definition your so called “free” license is very “non-free” because it doesn’t allow me to release my remix of your song as cc-by-nc-nd…”

    That is like saying, I don’t think the constitution guarantees freedom of speech because it doesn’t let me silence someone else, or that it doesn’t guaranteed security of the person because I can’t put my fist through your face.

    The one thing that true freedom doesn’t allow is for you to remove that freedom from someone else. That’s why Share-Alike or copyleft provisions are the only acceptable limitations on free culture (or free software).

    BY-SA is a free license, even though it doesn’t let you use BY-NC-ND for derivative works, because you would be removing freedom from the works. The Share-Alike doesn’t make something non-free, it stops the freedom from being removed.

    “then call [the defintion of] your music “open, unoccupied, liberal” or whatever, but don’t call it “free”, ok?”

    Don’t tell Drew and I that! Tell the Wikimedia Foundation and the Creative Commons!

    And it’s absolutely a matter of semantics in English. French or Spanish speakers simply doesn’t have this confusion with separate words for free as in price vs free as in freedom. Minus the grammatical awkwardness, it would be more like saying Freedom Music in some ways in these other languages.

    “i think everybody, wether he’s a listener or an other artist, should respect the basic right of every artist to decide what shall happen to his creation and to determine other things not to happen.”

    I don’t accept that, outside of a respect for the rule of law. That’s a major restriction on artistic freedom. If you want to cover a song, you pay a collective licensing fee and you’re done with it. But if you want to modify the lyrics, you’ve got to negotiate an often expensive licensing fee, or you could simply be told no. I don’t think artists have any inherent right to determine how their work is interpreted and built upon.

    Anyways, I’m not sure that we’ll agree here, but I hope you’ll at least recognize the widespread agreement on the meaning of free (libre) culture, whether or not you agree that culture ought to be free.

  19. avatar
    artin 23 February, 2010 at 15:20

    “The one thing that true freedom doesn’t allow is for you to remove that freedom from someone else.”
    > that’s like getting my pants pulled off in a nudist camp

    don’t get me wrong, blaise, but i cannot accept this definition of your license being “free” if it restricts me in a very special way [NC], even if it’s about to restrict me from removing any “freedom” – that’s definately not “free” nor is that unoccupied or liberal, sorry.
    maybe it’s less restricted than other “licenses”, but a license itself is a kind of restriction – it’s nonsense / contradictory to create a “free license”.
    so if you really want to be free make your work public domain and stop talking about free licenses, ok?
    as i stated somewhere above: in my opinion a BY-NC-license provides more free [as in freedom] than your BY-SA-license because it removes the main/primary non-free element in this world, which is called “money”, from the licensing process.

  20. avatar
    Blaise Alleyne 23 February, 2010 at 15:32

    I don’t think we’re going to agree here, but I just want to be clear: it’s not my definition, and it’s the definition accepted by the organization that authors the BY-NC licences (i.e. Creative Commons implicitly acknowledges NC is non-free). Just be aware that you’re disagreeing with the stewards of the BY-NC licences, not just me.

    And I do use CC0 to put some of my works in the public domain. I use BY-SA elsewhere to ensure that anyone who encounters my works will have the same freedoms, that no one can take them away from anyone else.

    I think we agree on a lot of things, but we’re not going to agree on this.

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