[advocacy] Open/Free/Personal music licenses

Moritz Grimm gtgbr at gmx.net
Sat Nov 3 05:17:16 PST 2001


Since there've been a lot of discussions about GPL like licenses for
music, I'm posting this here. I hope it's a little on-topic ... :P

I read through a couple of licenses already, and I couldn't find one
that sounded appropriate for me - it appears that all these licenses are
either written by programmers that try to transfer the open-source
ideology to music or by internet users that don't care about much except
for the legality of redistributing the music.

I have a couple of questions, which I hope can be answered by some/one
of the supporters of such licenses.

I am sure that it is a Bad Thing To Do to change the license after a
song has been released under it. Fictional example: 2 years ago, I
released a tune under some open-music license, which allows free
redistribution, etc. Since I desperately need some money to pay my
bills, I run from one label to the next - eventually, I am lucky and one
of them wants to release the tune on vinyl or whatever. The least they
want from me is a 2-years-exclusive right on the tune, though. What now?
It's already released under this open music license, where I gave away
rights for free. The label wants ALL rights. I'd give it to them for 2
years, but I can't, or can I? How do I explain the world that it is
illegal to get my tune through the internet during the following two
years while this was allowed until now?

In the end, it's all about money, or even the mere possibility of
eventually making money with music. It's possible to make money with
support for open-source software, and with a BSD license it's even
possible to make money with the software itself. With music released
under a open music license, the only monetary income (the end-user) is
no more. That's why for an artists it's not the music that is valuable,
but the rights he has about his works. It's rights what he sells, and
that's the way it works. Common artists don't have the ressources to
distribute their music to enough end-users to make a living from it,
which is the reason why it's so easy for labels to rip off artists.
Artists become dependent as soon as they want to live from their art.

OGG Vorbis eases the cost of distributing music on the Internet, so this
might end up in a little higher monetary compensation for the artists or
smaller prices for the end-users that pay for the content, not also for
the packaging. That, and it's good quality, are the main points why I
believe that OGG Vorbis is needed as a free internet standard.

I don't need copy protections that piss off honest users and that are no
obstacle for those who crack and swap my music illegaly. The only
problem I see is the conflict between free redistribution on the
Internet and being able to make money on CDs. This wouldn't be a problem
if I had an own label and kept all my rights in-house, but as soon as
3rd parties get involved it's an issue.

The conclusion is that my terms and conditions of use are totally
restricted. I reserve ALL rights, all I allow is that people download my
tunes from my website and nowhere else, don't redistribute it, etc. I am
sure my listeners don't care much about those restrictions and give my
tunes to their friends or share it otherwise when they like it. I don't
care about that either, to be honest, but at least I keep my
opportunities and I can be relatively sure that nobody makes money with
my music without giving me a share. If you want to read my "license" or
want to check out my music, visit my temporary website on
www.kolabore.com (this URL currently points to my gateway ;P ).

I'd appreciate any comments, especially some explanations why the
alternatives to my restrictive license work (or don't work...). Thanks
in advance!


"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security,
deserve   neither   liberty   or   security"  -  Benjamin   Franklin

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