from the it's-still-yours-isn't-it dept
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Jun 8th 2011 2:42pm
Youtube (finally) introduced a Creative Commons licensing option for uploaders on June 2nd, allowing users to make their original works freely available to others to remix and build upon without worrying about infringement charges down the road. At this point it's only implemented a CC-BY option, but it expects to introduce others further down the road. The key to this license is that it allows others to use these licensed videos commercially, which has proven to be a sticking point for certain parties with a vested interest in keeping uploaded contributions licensed solely to the creator.
Two dissenting opinions appeared nearly immediately. The first argument against the CC-BY license appeared at the Viralfier blog, where Scott Burke has decided that CC licensing is the worst thing ever (or "evar"), running down 6 reasons why you shouldn't use this new option:
Take another example. MasterCard wants to use your sweet snowboarding video in a worldwide advertising campaign. Great! Except you already gave the rights away, when you tagged it with a Creative Commons license. You might get a brief attribution at the bottom of the ad — but wouldn’t you also want a licensing fee?
Well sure, Scott. Who wouldn't? But it's not as if the video was doing much on its own, all locked down and whatnot. And hindsight, while having perfect 20/20 vision, is hardly what one would call a "business model." There's also exposure and the fact that the original video still belongs to you.
His next point deals specifically with the "exposure" aspect, showing how that doesn't work either:
klaatu42‘s recent hit viral video, Ultimate Dog Tease (you know, “The maple kind?”), has received 35 million views to date, and his channel has 385,000 subscribers. The source video that it’s based off of, is by IcePrincessXXIV. klaatu42 gives her about as prominent a link as you can get in the video.
How many subscribers did that translate into for IcePrincessXXIV? 600. A full 0.15% of the action.
Those are admittedly terrible numbers, but is counting subscriptions really a viable measurement? I watch tons of videos (and see tons of overlaid ads) on Youtube and I think I'm subscribed to maybe two channels. (And that's just me. Add in my family and everything goes exponential.) Does this mean that someone's successful use of your video instantly translates to jacksquat on your end? I hardly think so.
Points 3 and 4 deal with two familiar "arguments," the first being that if you give something away for free, you obviously think your artwork is worth nothing. This fallacy is hardly worth arguing but can anyone out there think of anything valuable that's being given away for free as part of a hugely successful business model? (Try Googling it.) The other has to do with your limited legal recourse in cases where your video has been misused or infringed upon. Good point. Regular copyright holders never have these problems and their legal battles run very smoothly because of that fact!
The real reason for this post emerges in point 5, where Scott encourages readers to join Viralfier's closed beta. Because Viralfier is "a startup which is developing a 'game-changing toolkit for creating and marketing viral videos.'" Hmmm. Suddenly, this advice seems a tad off. (Point 6 seems to have something to do with making an 8-bit cat "cry." Double-hmmm.)
The second opinion is more of the same, but much briefer: Won't work. Too crowded. Not interested. I ingested several grains of salt (80% of my RDA for sodium) when greeted with "ReelSEO: The Online Video Marketing Guide" upon opening this link.
Of course, anti-CC sloganeering and misinformation-spreading is old news at this point. Another conflicted and interested party, ASCAP, spent part of last year trying to build a warchest to fight Creative Commons. The Portuguese Socialist Party attempted to outlaw CC licensing, thus making it illegal for artists to give their work away for free. Several others have also stepped up to the plate to take a swing at Creative Commons, claiming that it is "anti-artist" and that Creative Commons licensing "has put a large number of creatives out of business."
Why do they care? Or, more realistically, why do they pretend to care?
1. In their minds, art is always zero-sum. If someone takes your artwork and builds on it successfully, then it must logically follow that no one but this "someone" will ever be able to make money from that particular piece of art. Apparently, artwork can be "used up."
2. The gatekeepers and artists tied to these systems can't compete with free. This isn't necessarily the kept artists' fault. They often have no say in the matter. But because the industries aren't interested in competing with free, then the free option needs to be removed.
It gets uglier when you, as an artist, go head-to-head with this mindset. The accustations will fly. "You obviously feel your artwork is worth nothing." "Don't you care what happens to something you created?" "There's no legal recourse with Creative Commons." "You must be an idiot/untalented hack if you don't do things the way they've always been done."
I wonder why they just can't let artists distribute their art the way they want to, rather than using hyperbolic statements to FUD-up the debate or humiliate underinformed artists into doing things their way. Is creative work inherently "worthless" if you can't immediately apply a price tag to it? Why does it all boil down to "price" and "control"?
But the most irritating aspect of this so-called "debate" is the hypocrisy. All this effort on "behalf" of artists is nothing more than a completely condescending effort to save "ignorant" artists from themselves. And for what? A chance to play ball with a bunch of gatekeepers who care more for their profit margins and quarterly sales than they do about 99% of the artists they "represent?" It's one thing to run your own industry into the ground. It's quite another when you disparage other options solely to benefit your own system.
That goes for you, too, Viralifier and ReelSEO.