Uncopyrighting ourselves: The Informations wants to be free

Creative Commons License

Just a little announcement here. We’re formally embracing Creative Commons licensing and “uncopyrighting” all of our work (with one caveat, see below). So you can consider everything we’ve done so far in video or even written on this blog to be fair game for you to do whatever you like with. You can incorporate parts of our videos into yours, you can screen them, put them on a dvd like we did and sell them on your own. You can even put any of our catch-phrases on a t-shirt which you could then sell to the friends of the IC’s on facebook if you like. That would be totally cool and you’d have our blessing.

If you want to give us attribution with a link back to us that’s appreciated. If our work helps you make money somehow and you want to kick some back to us that’s extra appreciated. But neither of these are required for you to have permission to take any of the videos and do what you like with them.

Caveat: We still submit our new videos to film festivals from time to time, and some of them have funny preferences about screening exclusivity so this Creative Commons license will go into effect one year after each video premieres on YouTube unless we specifically state otherwise or put the videos in the copyleft directory before this one year period is up.

If you are unsure whether a video is free to use, or you don’t see what you’re looking for in the copyleft directory, just ask.

Why we’re doing this

In 2007 when MySpace still “mattered”, our video Ghetto Big Mac went up on the social network’s homepage. This caught us off guard because we hadn’t uploaded the video there. Some fan of the GBM had grabbed it, presumably from YouTube but possibly from somewhere else, and posted it to their account. Were we mad that this guy had uploaded the video to MySpace without our permission? Hell no. We were overjoyed that a few hundred thousand people were seeing our work.

Now the flipside of that tale. About six months after that MySpace thing we were again surprised, this time to be contacted by some nice people from the Mayor’s office here in NYC. They wanted to use our video Bodega as part of their “Healthy Bodega Initiative” to educate and advocate for those in the low-income areas our video focused on. They were hoping to license the video and wanted us to do some edits to it first to clean up some of the language and especially some of the political trash-talking at the end. They asked us to name our price, warning us that they were on a limited budget. We deliberated and came back to them with a number we thought was fair. We waited for them to hear back from whoever they had to hear from for budget approval. Eventually, a while later we heard that they wouldn’t be using Bodega.

In hindsight, I still kick myself for that. It would have been great for our video to have been part of that program. A little bit of money from the city wouldn’t have done all that much for us but being part of something that actually changed policy or reached out to people in the community is priceless. I don’t think we were being greedy either, particularly since they had asked for a new edit of the video. But it’s just that money causes friction. Even having to contact people causes friction.

Imagine if instead of having to reach out to us for the rights to the video, the video was just available for them to grab and they could have edited it themselves. Now imagine it’s not just the mayor’s office but anyone who could do that. There’s three of us (but we’re not the beatles) and we can only do so much on our own. So we’re opening up our videos to you and we view anything you do with them – especially if you profit from it – as helping us out.

I’ve written about my problems with copyright double standards in the past. At the same time, I’ve been upset on several occasions when people have appropriated my work or my friends’ work as their own. I’m not saying those people were in the right but I am feeling more Zen about the whole thing. And yes after this announcement anyone who takes IC material from the copyleft folder to do whatever they want with will be in the right.

We have no idea whether any of you are inclined to use our material. Maybe not. But we wanted it out there that you can if you want to and we’re more than happy to offer it for that purpose.

Peace Internets.

5 Responses to Uncopyrighting ourselves: The Informations wants to be free
  1. Paul Laroquod

    What's the reposting/remixing permission situation before the year is up? That's really the important thing here, isn't it?

  2. Rafi Kam

    Good question. Really our only concern with the year window is screenings. The videos are fair game for anything else especially anything online.

    I wonder if CC is flexible enough to say just not for theater screenings for the first year. I will look into it tonight.

  3. Jay Solis

    Great, now I'm finally free to roll out my line of IC toilet paper for use after consumption of my ghetto big mac!

  4. TomPier

    great post as usual!

  5. eric:p

    King of Rock line FTW.