I had a short twitter conversation with Brian Dunning* a short while ago, sparked by the following tweet:
The conversation went as follows - read upwards (sourced at bettween.com)
Now, I don't want this to turn into another, inevitable, "Brian Dunning is wrong" post. The web has enough of those already. I want to take this as a leaping point to explain what creative commons is, and why if you're a serious podcaster - or, in fact, a creative of any kind - you should consider CC for your own output.
We do, however, have to address a couple of problems with Brian's side of this discussion.
Firstly, the assertion that podcasters who use Creative Commons aren't taking their work seriously is demonstrably untrue. Even in our relatively small domain of skeptical podcasts, there are plenty that are CC-licenced. Quackcast, an award-winning skeptico-medical podcast, is CC, for instance, as is Kylie Sturgess's Token Skeptic podcast. Quite a few others can be found if you care to look, In Vino Veritas included.
Second, copyright claims under the DMCA are tricky to enforce, and DMCA claims are perceived among the internet community as a simple means to supression. It's also a US law and not useful everywhere as a result, and in most copyright courts, one must demonstrate a loss of revenue or other tangible harm to make a claim.
Skeptoid, as a free podcast, is going to have trouble demonstrating financial harm. Any financial harm is indirect and extraordinarily difficult to show. Indirect harm in loss of donations, perhaps, but very tough to tie to specific instances of violation.
A more likely outcome from sending a DMCA notice is that such action will do harm to goodwill. Many re-uses are likely to come from fans, who after receiving a takedown notice, may not be fans much longer. Had Brian asked for advice on this, I'd have told him to avoid any mention of the DMCA until friendly approaches had failed. To even use the acronym** raises hackles among internet users and conjures up spectres of heavy-handed legal threats. Not a great PR move.
Now, on to CC itself
So that's that. These two items out of the way, I'd like to just evangelise CC for a moment, and explain exactly why I think many podcasts should consider CC as their licence of choice.
Creative Commons is an innovative licence for creative output of any kind, allowing variable kinds of re-use under various restrictions. Creative Commons was developed in conjunction with a large cohort of copyright experts from around the world to ensure it is relevant, flexible and very importantly, enforcible.
But most importantly, is that Creative Commons embraces a core principle of social media, one which I called out in my recent talk to Victorian Skeptics:
Old media looks for eyeballs. New media hunts voiceboxes.
What does this mean? Well, this means that a social media paradigm does not merely rely on pushing its message out to a single level, but also allows that level to re-push the message to further levels. A tradional broadcast message reaches what I'd term "level one" - that is people who directly obtain the message at source. A new/social media message is viral, and can be sourced from anywhere, allowing access to level two and beyond without a direct push from source to receiver.
Let's consider an example.
- Podcast A, copyrighted with traditional copyright, does a very funny segment. It's hilarious and to-the-point.
- Podcast B, under creative commons, does a funny segment too. Also hilarious, also very much salient.
Other podcasters want to re-use these segments. They are that good. Some conference speakers would like to re-use them in presentations to illustrate a point. A video producer would like to animate them. A Radio show would dearly love to throw it into their morning segment tomorrow.
For Podcast A, the originator's permission must be sought. podcasters and conference delegates start emailing for permission, and wait. The radio show, unfortunately, doesn't get a reply before deadline, and it's too late.
Podcast B, however, has a creative commons with-attribution licence. The podcasters and conference delegates go ahead and grab the clip, adding an attribution, as does the radio show.
Both podcasts have gained new potential listeners from the conferences, video producer and other podcasts. Only podcast B, however, was able to get the radio exposure, due to missing out the permission step. Because that permission is explicitly stated in the licence.
But here's the kicker. Both podcasts have been used in violation of licence by a website. Podcast A was used without permission. Podcast B was used without attribution.
Both podcasts can use local copyright laws to cause a takedown, or to force compliance with licence, because both are enforcible across a wide range of jurisdictions, and CC has been tested in court.
Also, by this stage, Podcast A, with traditional copyright, only have the option of demanding settlement - most likely financial - or takedown. With CC, a friendlier action can be made. Keep using it if you want, but attribute it correctly. Else we'll move on to settlement/takedown.
So, here are a couple of questions.
One: What exactly implies that CC licensors "don't take what they're doing seriously" here?
CC is an enforcible licence. CC is tested, CC is flexible. CC is not a mere plaything for jokers and numpties. I can only assume Brian doesn't quite understand CC, which is, I suppose, no big sin.
Two: What reason is there to not use Creative Commons?
In the field of skepticism, which is an evangelical effort, why not allow re-use of material if properly licenced? We want to reach the maximum audience, don't we? Isn't our entire goal to educate the maximum number of people? CC allows us to spread our work beyond our own reach, and on to a potentially exponential audience.
Creative Commons is ideally crafted for the next generation of socially-disseminable media, in which the free*** re-broadcasting of content is a key factor. I think you should embrace it.
It may not be for everyone, and there may be reasons not to use CC. I'd love to have a chat about it in the comments, so fire away.
* from Skeptoid.com
** technically, an initialism.
*** as in libre