Public Domain vs Creative Commons

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Post by lisabeeren » April 14th, 2006, 4:46 pm


I've just been wondering why you opted for Public Domain over Creative Commons. I found your entry in the FAQ about it, but it didn't really cite any reasons.

Surely creative commons (certain licenses) meets the goals of librivox just as well as public domain.
If the goal of librivox is to put books out there in the hands of the public for all to enjoy, then surely the license should suffice.

It has the added advantage that:

a) other sites can't come along rip all the 'made for' introductions, and then sell them to people unwittingly not realising that they can get them for free.
b) the readers have a chance of making a quid (rights or royalties). It won't be long now before ebay is flooded with CD-R's of all this stuff (if it isn't already)

All of this, and still people can download them, share them with their friends, etc. etc. (Maintaining the freedom that librivox stands for)

CC sounds absolutely ideal to me. What are your thoughts?

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Post by kri » April 14th, 2006, 5:04 pm

I wasn't part of the discussion to choose public domain or not for LibriVox recordings, but I think I have an idea as to why it was decided. I think part of it had something to do with the fact that all the works that we are allowed legally to record have to be in the public domain. Also, many of us here at LibriVox believe information should be more freely available to the public, rather than have restrictions on it. Hugh, the founder of LibriVox, has said many times that he greatly admires the open source movement, and projects such as Project Gutenberg and Wikipedia.

I think everyone here at LibriVox wishes that ALL published works were up for grabs for us to record, but unfortunately we're limited to non-copyrighted. Far be it from us to be hypocrites on that matter!

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Post by Fox in the Stars » April 14th, 2006, 6:28 pm

I think I'd be less passionate about LibriVox if it wasn't fully Public Domain. I think our culture gets into an attitude that intellectual property should always be owned and hoarded, that you should never yield your stake. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally for artists standing up for their rights, but for me it's such a breath of fresh air and such a wonderful act of benificent rebellion to say "That's not the only way! I'm willing to give my time and talent to something and set it free as air!"

Also being a fanfiction writer, I have a long background of copyright critique---Larry Lessig's books on the subject are good, although my favorite I think is Siva Vaidyanathan's "Copyrights and Copywrongs." This is my own little dig at the foundations of a "permission society"---

"And although it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe it has done me good and will do me good, and I say God bless it!" :D
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...and [url=]LibriVixen. >^-~<[/url]

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Post by lisabeeren » April 14th, 2006, 7:43 pm

Also, many of us here at LibriVox believe information should be more freely available to the public, rather than have restrictions on it.
And this is precisely my point. Creative Commons is available to the public. Everyone can download and share the recordings, people can give them to their friends, people can make derivative works, people can do all this stuff. I would love people to download my works, and this is what I've done with my contributions to gutenberg, openclipart, and open source in general. But what would be good, not just for me, but for the free books movement on the whole, is that if a big company wants to sell your stuff, they have to negotiate with you. Everyone still has access, except for commercial enterprises. All of a sudden, there can become a real economic incentive for people to record books and make them available for all.
Hugh, the founder of LibriVox, has said many times that he greatly admires the open source movement,
And it is in this way, that CC for audiobooks [with specific options] is equivalent to the GPL (main open source license) for software. The GPL stipulates that if you take an open source product, and make a derivative from it, you must release the changes to the community under the same license. This is exactly the same as some of the CC options.

Like to hear your thoughts.

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Post by hugh » April 14th, 2006, 7:59 pm

hi lisa,

here's an old thread from WAAAAY back in october 2005 when we first discussed this on the forum:

I think my thoughts on this have evolved a fair bit since then and I can tell you my personal opinion, which is only relevant as such, but it goes something like this: vibrant societies are made up of a mix of everything, art, commerce, public, private etc. I believe that by having a vibrant public domain it creates the foundation for all sorts of wonderful stuff - some of it commercial, some of it not. look at public education & libraries (two of the spiritual ancestors of librivox). no one would imagine saying you may use the books in the library, as long as you don;t use them for any commercial purposes! instead you say: this is for the public - use it as you see fit.

there's nothing inherently evil about commercial things - they are just a different means of exchange than, say, librivox (of course some of it IS evil ... but lots of non-commercial things are too). Still, some of my own favourite daily interactions are commercial - coffee at the coffee shop, my amazing hungarian butcher, the fishmonger's near me, the grouchy portuguese vegetable shop, my friend's bar up the way. hell i use the internet all day - and pay my ISP for the service (not that i like my ISP, but who does?) ... anyway, i wouldn't want to restrict the owner of my cafe from playing librivox recordings at his cafe - which could be considered commercial, and technically (if not practically) ruled out by a CC-NC license.

But really it seems to me that the fact that these texts are public domain is somehow much more wonderful than if they were non-commercial use only. the possibilities are endless. and it's nice to think that the possibilities are endless too with librivox.

someone might find a way to make millions off of librivox - but i doubt it.l i expect instead if someone does make some dough off of librivox it will be some literature lover who has a smart business idea for a to use LV recordings as a way to support him/herself, and maybe a small - maybe a big - business ... well, that would be wonderful i think, and wouldn't take anything away from what we are doing, in fact it would add to it ... to give everything to the public domain, to all the public, and not just a subsection, seems to be a more exciting mission.

if you ploughed through all this and want some more, here's more of my ramblings on public domain as it relates to public parks, public space, and the internet:

oh also, we don't want any royalties, any money or any payment for LV recordings ... that would totally change the project into something it's not ... namely a commercial project!

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Post by Fox in the Stars » April 14th, 2006, 8:09 pm

I'm really not that worried about people taking our stuff and selling it. Everyone is equally able to do so, so it would be hard to stay competitive in such an enterprise.

When I say "permission society" as a bad thing, it isn't just issues of cost and availability, but of strings generally. I've been in any number of communities that rely on intellectual property (digital art, craft patterns of various kinds), and it can be a huge onus just to keep track of who owns what, who requires what, etc. Even without any money changing hands, one gets to the point where enough is enough!

I treasure this opportunity to just say to heck with every last string.

So if all we get is a "no" for ConHugeCo, whom we (at least I) don't feel threatened by anyway, why be picayunish and make it 99% free when it could be 100% free? That last one percent, for me, comes with a lot of personal satisfaction and, I think, sociopolitical punch, more than worth it.

And I'd say the rewards we offer already seem to be sufficient, what with, oh, 1200 registered members now? How many completed books...?

If other people don't like our model and would record for CC but not for PD, I'd love to visit their website, but Librivox is (in some small I-am-one-of-many way) mine.

(Sorry if I come across as rude but I feel very strongly about this sort of thing.)
Laura "Fox in the Stars": fan-author, puppyshipper.
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Post by lisabeeren » April 14th, 2006, 8:22 pm

Yeah, I see your point, though I think the pros outway the cons (for CC)

The difference between gutenberg and librivox, is that gutenberg is putting public domain stuff in an accessible place. Librivox is actually creating new works. But anyhow.

What if, as a bare maximum, we went with CC no rights reserved except for attribution. So, everyone who distributes librivox recordings has to say where they came from. (Or leave that introduction about librivox in)

One problem with gutenberg, is that there are all these people taking books (including one's that I contributed) and selling them (online download, just like gutenberg), thus pretending that you can't get them for free.

And there are heaps of these sites, and they're obviously decieving a lot of people, because otherwise it wouldn't be worth their while to sell them. In forcing attribution, people must find out about librivox, and the more people who know about librivox and the freedom it offers, the freeer society is!

That said, I would advocate a more liberal CC license. All the people who are contributing Public Domain stuff, could still contribute public domain stuff if they liked. But Bill, could contribute something that was CC'd, and then a company might approach bill, and offer him money (there are thousands of company's selling ebooks) All of a sudden, bill thinks, I can make money doing this, i might do this full time, and bang, bill will put heaps of books into the hands of the public.

The tiny loss of freedom to commercial enterprises, will be more than compensated for by the potential increase in books coming into the hands of the public.

of course, that may not be realistic, perhaps it won't result in many more works.

And yes, I know about parks, and I own copies of Stallman's and Lessig's books, etc.

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Post by Fox in the Stars » April 14th, 2006, 8:51 pm

I think I've given most of the rational arguments I can, and I can't unilaterally say this one with surety but... Maybe the PD thing is just one of our founding principles, a pretty idea and/or crackpot experiment that we stand for, even if it's not the most practical stance, a bit of blessed lunacy that makes it all beautiful and compelling.

If we didn't go with PD, I probably would never have found this place---I got here via a link from Gutenberg, who I don't think would be so interested in working with us if we hadn't taken that bold last step. I don't know if NPR would have done their reports on us if we weren't blessed lunatics.

I know that my kindness will be abused, but I give it freely anyway because I love this kindness. That, to me, is priceless and beautiful. I know I'm among likeminded people here, and listeners know everything they get here is the output of people like that. If that pretty principle were compromised, I might seriously consider leaving this place. Who knows how people like me would balance against ones like Bill?

But I've put down some roots here already, and I like my blessed lunacy.
Laura "Fox in the Stars": fan-author, puppyshipper.
...and [url=]LibriVixen. >^-~<[/url]

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Post by kayray » April 14th, 2006, 9:01 pm

Fox in the Stars wrote: But I've put down some roots here already, and I like my blessed lunacy.
And we like it too, Laura. *hugs*!!!

I'm pretty sure the point is not up for debate, Lisa. Librivox is PD and we're staying PD :)

But feel free to start a CC project of your own, and we'll visit you and listen to your recordings and be proud that we inspired another great resource for humanity!
"Mary wished to say something very sensible into her Zoom H2 Handy Recorder, but knew not how." -- Jane Austen (& Kara)

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Post by marlodianne » April 14th, 2006, 9:26 pm

Here's the thing about copyright. It's like good manners: no one can enforce it.

I've been a writer since I could form thoughts in words, and an artist...well, probably since I could see. I believe in copyright. I believe that my work is my soul, as sacred as my body, and that no one should have the right to taint it.

But the reality is people will borrow, people will trade, people will out right steal...and nothing will ever stop them. Copyright is like freedom in that, sure, you have it, you always have it, but in practice, it means nothing. It will only stand as long as others don't push. Good luck with that.

Copyright itself is broken into key parts: credit, modification, distribution and profit. I list those by my own sense of sacredness of the rights.

I believe absolutely in credit and forbidding modification of works. I have had my work stolen. I have had my work modified without my permission, and its a truly horrible violation, a sick feeling that never goes away.

Distribution and profit are, by nature, much harder to control, and also rather difficult to define.

Generally speaking, once something is out there, out of your brain in any form, it's free range, and that's actually a very cool thing, provided credit and zero-mods are respected.

Profit is important, in that creating is my dayjob, and I need to eat. However, the fluidness of distrubition also makes a strange beast of profit. If my book is in a library, am I angry? No. If a friend loans another friend my book, should I spit on somebody? No.
The reality is you're not losing profit. This is an audience who would not have paid for your work. But they could support you next time, so attempts to cut them off aren't just futile, they're self-defeating.

So, how does this all apply to LibriVox?

We credit and we don't modify. We are technically creating a new work, because we're releasing in a new medium, but we're not changing the text itself. To me, that's an enormous distinction.

We recognise distributiion and profit as something we cannot control. Truly, I'd be appalled if someone was selling my recordings, even more skeeved if they were modifiying them, but you can't stop it, and it takes a lot of resources to even try to stomp those cockroaches.

Our recordings for LibriVox are donations, that means stuff freely given. I don't drop off my donations to the Humane Society and give them a list of how they may use the bleach. :P

If someone contacts me and wants to pay me to read books, I will happy dance until I cramp, but my donations are donations. The fact is, changing the words 'public domain' to 'creative commons' will not change the way anyone behaves.
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Post by hugh » April 14th, 2006, 9:27 pm

actually there ARE a couple of CC-ish audiolit projects that DO pay royalties to their readers (in some cases anyway):
* (related to the above)

there's no shortage of public domain books to read, and there's room for all sorts of projects...we've communicated with these guys- at first we were worried about duplicating efforts, but in the end, it doesn't really matter. the more free versions the better!

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Post by LibraryLady » April 14th, 2006, 10:30 pm

Perhaps we are all idealists but I think we believe in the basic good faith of people. I think if people make commercial use of our recordings, they will likely give us credit. And if they don't, I honestly don't care.

I'm not looking for fame or fortune, I just want to get the audiobooks out there. If someone decides to rip off my recordings and sell them on eBay, honestly I think I'd be rather flattered! And in the end, if someone sells my recordings, that is still getting the recordings out there and that is the primary goal.

Laura's right: I think in a way we must all have a bit of "blessed lunacy" in us to take part in this. I think it is crazy to believe in something so beautiful as LibriVox, to put our time and effort and love into a project which gives us no material returns in a highly capitalist society, and yet we do it. LibriVox is a beautiful, faithful, idealistic dream - and if that constitutes lunacy then I'm content in my own insanity. :wink:
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Post by harvey » April 15th, 2006, 7:17 am

Not "lunacy" at all: It is more blessed to give than to receive.

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Post by pberinstein » April 16th, 2006, 8:51 am

Just to discuss whether this project should be public domain or not keeps the idea of public domain alive. Can you imagine what the world would be like if there were no such concept? I shudder to think.

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Post by vee » April 17th, 2006, 7:44 am

Well if EU and US lawmakers have their way nothing else will ever fall into PD ever again. Darn Disney...
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