A while ago there was this product that came out on the Belgian market that allowed shopkeepers, barbers and anyone who was having a business to bypass the Belgian version of RIAA called SABAM by offering royalty free music in a box. You just had to hook up the little box to an audio system and it would play hours of music that SABAM could not claim any royalty fees for.
Since that little device isn’t cheap I figured the home-made way would be cheaper. You could use an old PC or a laptop and hook that up to your audio system. After all there’s tons of free music out there on archive.org and other sites right? Yes there is. But when I started digging around for some examples it turned out that even though that music is licensed under a Creative Commons license, most of it is restricted from commercial use.
The thing is that this “no commercial use” clause seems to make perfect sense when you publish something online at first. You don’t want someone use your music or pictures just like that and get filthy rich off it, without effort? But the thing is that this clause also prevents all sorts of indirect commercial use that’s not meant to make money off the sweat of your back. Someone might want to use that awesome photo in a business presentation. No can do. Someone might want to play your music in his bar. Nope, can’t do that either. That person might even be a DJ playing at a paid gig. In theory he can’t play any tunes licensed under the non-commercial clause, but you might want that promotion right? Non-commercial turns out to be a bit of a grey area it seems, and it’s clear that the Creative Commons lads are struggling with it as well.
So the question is: what’s the risk of putting your stuff out there under a Creative Commons license that does allow commercial use? Are you going to be ripped off? Maybe. But people are ripping off copyrighted material every day. So it doesn’t matter what kind of license you slap on it? If someone wants to violate it, they will, no matter what. Publishing material under a more liberal license just opens more possibilities for people to use it for all the right reasons. Isn’t that what we are aiming for in the first place? Look at the Open Source movement as an example. There’s no clause in the popular licenses that prevents commercial use. In fact, that’s one of the reasons that Open Source Software is so mature and widely used this day.
I know that software and finished products like music, photo’s, video’s and text are not the same. Software is never really a finished product as it continuously evolves, but the idea is the same.
Paniq does it for all his music for example. He does it for the above mentioned reasons and services like Jamendo sell his music to shopkeepers, barbers and bartenders so they can play this royalty free music without having to pay fees to a silly copyright organisation like SABAM. They pay the artist a percentage of the sales afterwards, so it’s good karma all around.
So I thought I’d go commercial too where I can. My Flickr pictures can now be used commercially, and these awesome wallpapers (if I may say so myself) as well.
Just think about it, the next time you pick a cc-license.