What’s this Creative Commons thing?

You may have run across mentions here on my site of how my work is licensed under the “CC BY-NC-SA” license, or just “Creative Commons” in general, and could be wondering what the heck I’m talking about.

There are many of us who are, to say the least, disappointed with the direction that traditional “all rights reserved” copyright law has taken. We don’t think we should sue our fans for sharing our music (or art, writing, whatever) nor do we think that someone taking the time and effort to make a fan page, a YouTube video, or other such labors of love should be punished for same. Luckily a non-profit organization called Creative Commons has arisen to fill the gap between “you’re stealing my stuff” and “I don’t have any intellectual property rights whatsoever.”

They call it the “some rights reserved” paradigm.

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.

Creative Commons licenses provide simple, standardized alternatives to the “all rights reserved” paradigm of traditional copyright.

There are a number of licenses you can choose from with a Creative Commons license. The one I most often use is called a “BY-NC-SA” license, which stands for Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. This basically means that, unless you’re planning on selling a recording of my work, you can use it for free, providing you credit me as the originator and license your derivative work the same way. Click the BY-NC-SA link above for details, but that’s how it boils out.

Here’s the nitty-gritty legal code for the BY-NC-SA license for those who speak legalese.

So, if you want to play one of my tunes at your gig (even if you’re being paid for the gig itself) go ahead. You want to make a YouTube video of you covering one of my tunes? Do it! (In fact, I’d love that!) Want to re-mix one of my tunes into a techno-dance format? Well… that’d probably be kinda weird, but as long as you respect the license terms, go on and do that too! You want to include one of my tunes in your podcast? Just credit me properly and don’t charge to download the podcast. Pretty simple, eh?

If you want to include one of my tunes on your new CD, and you’re planning on selling it rather than giving it away, contact me and we’ll work out an equitable deal. Equally simple.

In any event, let me know where you’ve used my work, and I’ll be happy to show you a little link love here on my site and/or in my personal blog.