[rumori] Re: on licensing...

From: Steev Hise (steevATdetritus.net)
Date: Tue Jul 09 2002 - 10:11:35 PDT

on Tue, 9 Jul 2002 iriXx told me:

>but what do you all think about using GNU-style 'copyleft' licenses such
>as the GPL (see www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html) for music?


i think it's a great idea.
the EFF's Open Audio License is basically doing this.
see http://www.eff.org/IP/Open_licenses/

I've been putting 'copyleft' or copyleft-style notices on my
releases for a few years now. i remember when Etoy was putting
out the Toywar comp, I had a little debate with etoy.zai and
peter (of negativland) about what the copyright notice should be.
they wanted simply "no copyright" (the N(C) symbol) while I
wanted "copyleft". they ended up prevailing for the disc as a
whole, tho i insisted on my track being separately denoted.

instead of no-copyright or anti-copyright, which basically says
"take this and do whatever you want, go ahead, you can even
exploit me and get rich by calling my work yours," it's just so
much smarter to go with a copyleft sort of license, which says
"use this to make new works but don't take it whole."

the analogy with the GNU license isn't quite perfect, since
software has some characteristics that music doesn't share (for
example what is the "source code" of music? there's also the
viral nature of the GNU license, which sounds really wonderful
for us subversive art types but a lot of people would be worried
about). but the basic conceptual link is there, and i like saying
"copyleft" since it's catchy, and obvious to the uninitiated that
it means something pretty different than copyright.

the issue (of alternative licenses versus total abolition of
copyright) is really the sort of thing that comes up often when
thinking about big ideas to make the world a better place. it's
easy to posit a utopia that contains the negation of whatever
evil you are considering at the moment. but to be more realistic
you have to think about what would happen in the real world if
you went through with that negation. usually, you'd make things

similar situation: there's the position that some simple-minded
anarchists take that all we need to do is "smash the state."
unfortunately if we took away governments and left everything
else the same, corporations would eat us all alive.

okay i'm rambling. stop.

>i'm currently writing a book which proposes this idea as a solution, and
>i would be very interested in talking to anyone who has comments, both
>for and against the idea of 'copyleft'-ing music. you may read more at

great site. tho i'm suprised you don't have links to the EFF's
OAL already. anyway, i'll look forward to yr book. (and if you
have any further questions for me let me know).

>best wishes
>miriam rainsford


Steev Hise, Infoserf
steevATdetritus.net http://detritus.net/steev
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