Thursday, July 31, 2008

Important for the Layman! Explaination of Creative Commons License for Singapore online music works

Hey guys,

my recent blog post mentioned abt locally ported Singaporean Creative Commons licenses event in Singapore. For those who have missed the event, don't worry. The following article abt Creative Commons is quoted from Ivan and Jeremy Yew of Songwriting Circle (a non-profit musical group to promote songwriting in Singapore). As such, my greatest appreciation to both of them and I give my credits to both of them for writing this article to let us understand better on Creative Commons. Below is the article:

To fully appreciate Creative Commons, I'll start from current copyright law & practice

1) First, Creative Commons is not a law, let alone a "new" law. Copyright Law still holds. Think of Creative Commons as another way to apply current copyright law.

2) Under current copyright law, the creator is deemed to have copyright over his/ her own works (subject to conditions like it has to be in written orrecorded form etc).

3) Let's say Ivan uploads his music on the Internet. Under current copyright law, it's presumed that if you wish to use Ivan's music in your school project or to modify it, you have to obtain Ivan's explicit permission. Ivan doesn't have to indicate stuff like "All Rights Reserved" or "Copyright IvanChew 2008" because all this is presumed as default.

4) Let's say you are a rule-abiding sort of person. You write to Ivan for permission. Problem is that Ivan may not respond to your email in time for your project. If he even responds at all. Or Ivan may not even leave acontact email. So you either wait for Ivan to respond, or you don't use the music. Or you decide to risk it and use it anyway. Even if Ivan is OK with you using it, you may not attribute it to him or you don't know how. Eitherway, this is inefficient. But it's how the current Copyright system works. Now here's where Creative Commons comes in:

5) When Ivan uploads his music on the Internet, he decides to make it easy for people who wish to use his music under certain conditions he specifies. At the same time, he wish to make it clear what are the conditions he will allow his works to be used SO THAT HIS RIGHTS ARE PROTECTED (as much as theInternet allows). E.g. Ivan wants you to know that you have to link back to him/ cite his blog; you can't use it commercially etc. (there are several variations)

6) Ivan isn't a lawyer and doesn't know how to draft it in legal words. No problem. Ivan goes to this page: He answers a few questions using the DIY online form. The appropriate HTML code is generated for Ivan. Ivan copies the HTML code provided at the Creative Commons site. He pastes this code on his website/ blog. His blog shows the necessary logo and legalese. If you visit his blog, you will know what are the conditions for using Ivan's music.

7) What Creative Commons has provided for Ivan are:

i) a "human-readable" code, i.e. plain simple English of what you have to do if you wish to use Ivan's music. Without complicated legal terms. Like thisexample:

ii) a "machine-readable" code, i.e. Ivan doesn't need to know HTML to knowhow to display the code, text & graphics on his blog. The HTML code generated by Creative Commons does this for Ivan.

iii) a "legal" code, i.e. if Ivan ever a need to let the lawyers go through the specific terms in a court of law, they can check out the full legalterminologies:

8) All the above is done in a flash, the moment Ivan generates the code, andpastes the code he chooses, in his blog.

9) So then you hear about "Creative Commons being ported to Singapore". Basically, every country may interpret the Copyright Law in different ways. Singapore follows US copyright law closely. Still, there may be some areas that is not defined so clearly. Someone has has ensured that the specific legal terms in the various Creative Commons license is WORDED in a way that Singapore courts will interpret it in favour of the person who adopts the Creative Commons license. This is what "ported over" means. See -

9) How does Ivan benefit from Creative Commons again? The truth is Ivan won't really know who has used his music. He can't tell whether there's anycopyright violation.

10) But think about it -- the only way for Ivan to protect his works 100% is NOT TO SHARE IT on the Internet. The moment Ivan shares stuff on theinternet, there's always a risk of violation of his copyright.

11) But Ivan doesn't believe in that. Ivan weighs the pros and cons and decides he is better off sharing his music than keeping it to himself. Atthe same time, he has greater peace of mind using the Creative Commonslicense, knowing he has made the terms clear.

12) Let's say Ivan does find out that someone called Jeremy has used his music in a video, but didn't follow the Creative Commons terms specified, Ivan has a better case if he brings to court. Because Jeremy cannot claim that he doesn't know or that terms are not clear.

13) When Jeremy discovers Ivan's music. Jeremy sees the Creative Commons terms of use. It's clearly worded who is the owner, what permission isgranted, what can or cannot be done. Jeremy doesn't have to waste timewriting to Ivan or trying to figure out how to contact Ivan.

14) Jeremy knows he could just use the music without attributing to Ivan(doesn't matter if Jeremy doesn't intend to make money out of it). But Jeremy is a nice fella. He credits Ivan as the creator (that's what attribution means). He links back to Ivan, since the link is clearly stated under the CC license (which is a plus for Ivan). Jeremy also writes to Ivan to say thanks (even though Jeremy doesn't have to do that, it's a nice gesture).

15) So overall, let's compare the practice of MAKING ORIGINAL MUSIC ONLINE under current Copyright, and under Creative Commons. Nothing has changed in essence. But Ivan is better off since his position is made clear. And Jeremy is better off since Ivan's position is made clear.

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