License Time

I’m not sure how I’ve discussed it on this blog (and, at present, have no interest in looking), but in case I’ve been as coy as I intended, I’m working on a live-action, filmed web series.  If everything goes even close to plan it should debut in October.

Oh, and it’s called Speak for Yourself.

Anyway, I’ll talk more about the project creatively at another time.  For now, I want to talk licenses.  I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, and I think that since this project is going to be experimental in a number of ways, I intend to release this series under a far more open license than I’d normally consider.

My first thought is to use Creative Commons.  But I want your opinion.  I’ve copied the license information I generated below.  Do you think this is my best option?  I would like it to be:

  • Free to share
  • Free to be sampled, sliced or mutated into another project (thought I doubt this will ever happen)
  • Not make anyone who isn’t me money unless I’m also making money off of it
  • Not used without proper credit and linking being given back to me and my site
  • Not used in a work that is distributed in a less free fashion than the license of the show itself.

This license seems to do that, but is there a better one?  Sound off.  Please.  I want to know what your thoughts on the wild world of more open content are.

Anyway, here’s that license:

Creative Commons License
Speak for Yourself by DSP Films is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at

UPDATE 2: I’ve changed this to a license that allows commercial use, provided proper attribution is given and it’s released under the same license. I’ll let this sit and see how it feels.

UPDATE: In looking for music for Speak for Yourself, I’m seeing a lot of music that uses the same license, but without the Non-Commercial bit. Using this music in soundtrack would require the identical license without individual permission being given by the artist to use my license.

Here’s my secondary question: What do you think the downsides of not restricting commercial use would be. Am I opening myself up to, in the absolute, unrealistic, worst case scenario, it getting popular and someone selling it on a DVD and me getting cut out of the loop? Is this something I should even be concerned about?

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5 Responses to License Time

  1. brennen says:

    CC is useful in that it offers a bunch of fine-grained distinctions, has pretty good mindshare, and comes with a quick-and-easy graphic. Seems like a fine idea to me.

    Re: allowing commercial use, I kind of expect that you would not have any reason to regret it for this kind of project and that there might even be a few minor upsides. In practical terms, I’ll put it this way: What kind of gain in exposure is any kind of likely that wouldn’t benefit you and your actors?

    That’s not to say there couldn’t be any negative outcomes, but they strike me as unlikely.

  2. saalon says:

    That’s how I’m starting to feel, actually. I may edit this post and plop in the one that allows commercial works.

  3. Brent says:

    People don’t steal and sell unpopular, unknown stuff.

    If someone rips you off, by that point you’ll already be popular (for some understandable value of “popular”). At which point you can make a high-profile stink about it, and make their lives hell.

    With current social media, you can blow the whistle within *hours* of discovering something like this, and your fans–the ones actually buying your stuff–will know about it.

    (License stuff seems fine to me; I generally license things as openly as possible now.)

  4. brennen says:

    I’d second Brent on the whole “your fans will buy from you” thing. If I get merch from somebody online (webcomic, music, whatever), I always buy straight from the artist or their designated intermediary – and come to think of it, I’ve hardly ever encountered the option to do anything else. Ripped off t-shirt designs, probably. But in general, if anyone is misrepresenting themselves as you, well, they’re committing fraud or something similar, and in this case probably plain old copyright violation as well, since the license requires attribution…

  5. saalon says:

    Yeah, I was trying to consider the worst case scenario (i.e., somehow it’s a hit, but I’ve given up the protection of someone not being able to sell my work without giving me royalties) even if it was highly unlikely. Which it is.

    But even if that’s the case, what’s the effect? I need to make something that I can charge for exclusively, which would be the whole point of getting something popular in the first place. In all likely scenarios, I’m only helped by someone selling my stuff if they attribute it properly. And in the unlikely scenarios, I’m still helped on some level, and barely hurt.

    If nothing else, the GPL-ish “Share Alike” clause is a worthwhile inoculation against people misappropriating it for commercial reasons. The kind of person who would try and profit off of someone else’s work unfairly is the same kind of person who would chafe at releasing his work under a fully open license as well.

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