All posts in copyfight

NIN: Tops music charts, earns Grammy nomination

Significant news for the future of the music biz, and a clearly persuasive case study for openly licensed content:


NIN’s Creative Commons licensed Ghosts I-IV has been making lots of headlines these days. First, there’s the critical acclaim and two Grammy nominations, which testify to the work’s strength as a musical piece. But what has got us really excited is how well the album has done with music fans. Aside from generating over $1.6 million in revenue for NIN in its first week, and hitting #1 on Billboard’s Electronic charts, has the album ranked as the 4th-most-listened to album of the year, with over 5,222,525 scrobbles. Even more exciting, however, is that Ghosts I-IV is ranked the best selling MP3 album of 2008 on Amazon’s MP3 store. Take a moment and think about that. NIN fans could have gone to any file sharing network to download the entire CC-BY-NC-SA album legally. Many did, and thousands will continue to do so. So why would fans bother buying files that were identical to the ones on the file sharing networks? One explanation is the convenience and ease of use of NIN and Amazon’s MP3 stores. But another is that fans understood that purchasing MP3s would directly support the music and career of a musician they liked. The next time someone tries to convince you that releasing music under CC will cannibalize digital sales, remember that Ghosts I-IV broke that rule, and point them here.

Repost from “NIN’s CC-Licensed Best-Selling MP3 Album” by Fred Benenson, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

(via Lessig)

The Obama-Biden Transition Team website,, is now licensed under the most permissive CC license, CC Attribution 3.0.


This is excellent news and a great step towards openness and transparency in the government. (For those of you wondering, apparently the creative works of the transition team are not automatically in the public domain as is the case for a number of government-generated material [citation needed]).

Plus, all user submissions to the website are also under the same license. Nice!

My only question: why is Obama using the Unported license? If the national, ported licenses offer more legal certainty, why isn’t the website under the U.S. BY 3.0?

Image: Screenshot from The Obama-Biden Transition Team, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

Global Creative Commons Case Studies Launched

When all is said and done, case studies are a rather modern method of information sampling. It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century during the Golden Age of the Social Sciences that case studies became accepted as a major research methodology. It took the clout of academic trendsetters like Freud to give this type of qualitative research its standing of The Empirical Method of Modern Day.

Nowadays conducting case studies is standard fare. Harvard Business School latched onto the idea of building its curriculum based almost exclusively on case study analysis. Since then, the method has become a staple for academics, psychologists, and MBAs alike. Interestingly, Harvard Business School now refers to its case studies method as “participant-centered learning,” which hopefully alludes to the active role students take in the learning process, rather than Harvard’s aspirations to score high in Business Buzzword Bingo.

In any event, Harvard BS aside, I am quite thrilled to be part of participant-centered initiative myself, namely the global Creative Commons Case Studies Project. This wiki-based collaboration was incubated by Creative Commons Australia, who methodically collected the first iteration of data (pdf) and presented it last January at ACIA, the international workshop on Asia and Commons. Since then, Creative Commons (the org) and other CC jurisdictions have joined the collaboration, and the CC Case Studies project has grown to over 100 entries. Currently its features a superb sampling of exemplary CC licensing in a range of fields and formats.

Some of the most impressive studies out so far are Global Voices Online, Blender Foundation, Architecture for Humanity, and A Swarm of Angels. All the studies can be sorted and searched by a variety of terms, such as country, language, profession, and media. And in true wiki fashion, anyone can edit and add to the database.

You can get your hands on a copy of the most recent edition of the Case Studies here [coming soon], which was announced at the recent conference by CC Australia, Building an Australasian Commons.

If you or your friends have got a CC story to share, come pick up a shovel and dig it! We’d love to hear about it.

Other folks talking about the case studies project:

images: Screenshot from Creative Commons; CC BY 3.0 Unported. Big Buck Bunny Poster by Blender Foundation. CC BY 3.0 Unported.

Spread Firefox: Download Day!

Download Day

Today’s the day to download the newest version of Mozilla Firefox, the fast and free browser.

Firefox 3 has a number of cool features, which you can read about in this field guide. There is also the revamped ccSearch in the browser’s toolbar. This search function identifes CC-licensed works from a range of sources by indexing works tagged with ccREL, the metadata specification developed by Creative Commons to express its licensing elements.

As for the celebrated Download Day, Spread Firefox has always been a stellar example of how to evangelize a good cause and generate community interest. Their past projects have been impressive and effectual: campus reps, Mozilla On the Street Interviews, globally-synchronized parties, CD distributions, T-shirt contests, and plenty more.

A key aspect of Spread Firefox’s campaign success is its openness. Rather than a central bottleneck stopping up ideas, the Spread Firefox community is organized by nodes and decentralized fora. Their members are open to new strategies, new themes, new structures. If you thinks it’s a brilliant idea to plow the Firefox logo corn field so that it can be seen by Google Maps, then more power to you. If you want to print giant stickers and post them around town, then do it.

Having an online platform solely dedicated to community-driven marketing is incredibly powerful. Open up your organization and let waves of ideas pore in from your membership. It is a brilliant way to harness the long tail of activism and community outreach.The good stuff will stick and, well, the lesser plans will go back to the drawing board.

So yeah, here’s a good idea: DOWNLOAD FIREFOX 3 TODAY and be part of an attempt for the Guinness Book of World Records.

Map of global downloads on June 18 at 1412 UTC+2

Image: Screenshot from June 18, 12:12 UTC. Wow, 6 million downloads so far!

Why Free Music?

I just received a lovely piano compilation by Michael Crawford, Geometric Visions: The Rough Draft. His music is released under CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported, and enclosed in the CD cover is this beautiful message:

Why Free Music? I don’t charge money for my music — recordings or scores — and have placed it under the “Free-as-in-Freedom” Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License so more people can get to know my music than would be possible if I sold it, or restricted copying. I actually give a Free compact disc to everyone I meet! Music makes us human: in its creation, we can laugh, cry, celebrate and mourn. We can love and hate. We can allow our souls to soar. Music speaks to the very core of our sense of Freedom. Furthermore, setting my music Free is The Right Thing to Do. I am inspired by Richard Stallman and his Free Software movement; my music is “Free” as in “Free Speech” rather than “free beer.” It’s a matter of liberty and not price. It’s risky. Musicians have to eat. I plan to earn my keep by selling tickets to my shows, as well as T-shirts, posters, and other tokens of our mutual love of music. I hope that by making my music available to you for Free, you can learn to love it as I do, and will be there to attend my performances when the time comes: I have studied piano intensively for several years, preparing to enroll in music school to study musical composition. I want to write symphonies! The Recording Industry Association of America has threatened thousands with lawsuits for sharing music over the Internet. But it’s important to understand that, in America anyway, our Founding Fathers created copyright to benefit all of society, not merely copyright holders. The framers of the US Constitution intended “to promote the progress of science and useful arts” by granting creative people temporary monopolies. But I feel that the power of computers and the Internet to send digital works, created in love, completely and faithfully anywhere on Earth, at near-zero cost, outweighs by far the benefit to society of work created in order to gain copyright’s monopoly. So enjoy this music, and pass it along to your friends. I love my music, so I set it Free. If music loves me it will return, all the greater for its freedom. — Why Free Music? by Michael David Crawford is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons Newsletter #6: Int’l Edition

I’ve been working with CC Philippines and CCHQ’s Alex Roberts to publish a 50-page image-laden, info-rich Creative Commons Newsletter, which highlights the remarkable work carried out over the last year by volunteer CC project leads around the world. It is very much worth its weight in electrons

Cover: “Airborne.” © 2008. Berne Guerrero. Some Rights Reserved. Except when otherwise noted, this work is licensed under This remixed image includes images from glutnix / Brett Taylor. “Cooing Commons” CC BY 2.0 and paparutzi / Christina Rutz. “hot air balloon.” CC BY 2.0.

slide rulz: a librarian’s best friend?

The Slider in action

For anyone that mourning the death of slide rulers rules, dry your eyes because the OITP Copyright Slider is alive and on the market!

While the slider vaguely recalls the horrendous Mathland modules I suffered through in Department of Defense Dependents Schools, it does indeed seem like a useful tool for establishing the year in which copyrighted works (in the US) enter the public domain.

I personally am often befuddled by all these term extensions and multiple international harmonization treaties, so this copyright geek tool from the Office for Information Technology Policy might indeed be worth the $5 investment.

Words from the Man: This single, sturdy product provides instant access to copyright laws and guidelines. Simply align the arrows by date of publication and determine a work’s copyright status and term. And the “Permission Needed?” box provides a quick answer to this very important question.