Creative Commons for filmmakers

I am a member of the D-Word community for documentary-makers. A special forum about all sorts of copyright issue always has my attention mainly because all the issues with Fair Use for documentairies are easily solved when using Creative Commons licenses for these works.

Things are changing right now, not as fast as I would have wanted, but since video on the Internet is growing so fast, I see a very healthy future for Creative Commons licenses to be used for video/film. The Elephants Dream is a great (and Dutch) example. Over 500.000 copies downloaded in a few weeks time and a DVD which seems to be selling well.

So today I posted a long post on the D-Word community, but since it is a closed community for professional filmmakers and composers I wanted to share this post. Hopefully some new ideas will be brought up by other filmmakers as well. I will continue to write about this subject, because it is one of the things which needs attention right now, at least for me and DiSfish. Video on the Internet is booming right now and Creative Commons adds some very unique ways to help to distribute these works while offering full legal protection at the same time.

Is any of you considering Creative Commons licenses? I think it solves many issues because:
– the film is free to be used by anyone for non-commercial purposes, which is a great promotion feature
– the film can be archived and there are no special deals needed for reuse, except for commercial uses
– the film can be remixed, reused for other non-commercial project, like education projects. Cutting a few seconds and reuse it in a new work is possible if the maker allows it (there’s a non-derivatives attribute in Creative Commons license which can be used, but that’s not usable for reuse, so I never use it)

Three interesting licenses for film are these Creative Commons licenses:
– BY-NC: Attribution/credit the author and the works is for non-commercial use only
– BY-NC-SA: Attribution/credit the author and the works is for non-commercial use only. Anyone who reuses the work needs to use the same BY-NC-SA license for the reuse
– BY-SA: Attribution/credit the author and reuse is only allowed when released under the same BY-SA license. Commercial use is allowed.

At the moment I am working on a DVD for Creative Commons Netherlands. Only works published under Creative Commons licenses are used. Hopefully this will show filmmakers and composers in The Netherlands the power of Creative Commons.

In The Netherlands we have national cable. This can be considered as a non-commercial purpose. Only commercials are allowed to be put between programs. The programs don’t have commercial breaks and don’t have a direct relationship with sponsors or commercial companies. The main source of income is tax money. So national TV and radio in The Netherlands is payed by tax money, from the Dutch citizens. For this kind of use Creative Commons would be extremely powerful. In a way these works would fall in the public domain again, any Dutch citizen would be able to reuse the work. There have been discussions with the publishers of national cable and they are interested in these licenses.

I believe in Creative Commons licenses and am using those myself since 2003 for my music. Please add your comments or suggestions to this post. I would love to find out ways to get the message out and connect to people with the same ideas as mine. At the moment I am trying to find a group of people who are willing to try a few new ways to release documentaries under Creative Commons licenses. It is about to happen soon I guess.

And by the way with Creative Commons you can still make money. I do payed project and am using CC all the time. The only thing is that you won’t make money on free, non-commercial, distribution. Using the Internet for example. But I guess that’s good, because it will help a lot of films by finding an audience. I guess a lot of films simply die after they are made mainly because the old distribution model like TV and filmhouses lack the capacity to host all films which are availble. This is not the case with the Internet. So a filmmakers is able to find his fans using the web and using Open Content licenses like those of Creative Commons. One cool recent example, and Dutch made, is Elephants Dream ( a short animation film licenses under a Creative Commons BY-license. It is already downloaded over 500.000 times with a DVD which seems to selling great. Things are changing…

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