Friday, April 4, 2008

Charles Manson Knows His Copyright

Creative Commons is a special license that allows anyone to download, share and mix other people's music as long as they give proper credit. Recently, Nine Inch Nails released their album under a Creative Commons license.

All these efforts, and more, are done to counter the effects of what Creative Commons considers to be a dominant and increasingly restrictive permission culture. In the words of Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons and former Chairman of the Board, it is "a culture in which creators get to create only with the permission of the powerful, or of creators from the past." Lessig maintains that modern culture is dominated by traditional content distributors in order to maintain and strengthen their monopolies on cultural products such as popular music and popular cinema, and that Creative Commons can provide alternatives to these restrictions.

Oddly enough, Charles Manson is up on his copyright. His recent album, "One Mind," is licensed in a way that allows anyone to share it with others, remix it and use it for non-commercial uses. The exact legal details are here.


aev said...

does creative commons apply to using such lyrics and titles in works of literature, as well? i've been looking into this lately and haven't found any definitive answers. however, it seems that song titles might be able to be used without paying copyright fees, but lyrics are a no-go without astronomical cost.

jfinnell said...

Creative Commons (cc) is a type of license the creator can apply to his/her work. If the artist put a cc tag on his/her work, then you would be able to use it within the parameters that the creator set.

You can use a song title without without having to pay the artist.

As for the's complicated. When in doubt (and assuming the music is American), you can contact American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) to find out how to secure the rights to print the lyrics. ASCAP is who you will pay the fee to in order to properly print the lyrics in your book with integrity.

jfinnell said...

Here is a great site, created by the folks at UNC, to look at for a general overview of when a work passes into the public domain.