Psy

1709blog has a breakdown of Psy's revenues from Gangnam Style, which they fisk to disprove TechDirt's point that copyright is unnecessary for exploiting global successes like Gangnam Style.

They break it down to about $4.6 million that doesn’t depend on copyright, $3.5 million that does. Clearly the part that does depend on copyright is enough to care about, but if you had to choose one or the other, it would be the no-copyright part.

But then again, do you really have to choose? Psy’s approach to copyright was similar to CC-NC. He didn’t grant anybody anything, he just took a laissez-faire approach to unauthorized distribution. If there was a chance to reap he took it, and otherwise he let things grow wild.

Private individuals infringe freely, without a second thought. Companies which are sue-able avoid content that they wouldn’t be able to defend in court. Together they are an engine for creating and monetizing demand. Psy just went with it.


Bemuso has a thoughtful piece against Creative Commons, entitled Creative Commons isn’t magic:

I’m not pro- or anti-Creative Commons, I just don’t see a use for it.

CC is not an alternative to copyright and it is not anti-copyright, although many people think it is. Creators (authors, writers, composers, performers, etc.) who oppose copyright should simply make their work public domain. Creative Commons is not for them.

CC is a set of boilerplate copyright licenses (no different in principle to other blanket copyright licenses) and it does only one thing the rights holder in the street cannot do—it provides legal wording for certain fixed licensing circumstances.

For creators like me, the cottage industry if you like, legalese is something of a shrug. I can read licenses and contracts, and I have successfully advised artists against record labels, but I don’t use any technical wording myself. I have never needed it. Independent artists I know online exploit their copyrights the same way (including sharing) without legalese and without Creative Commons.

Plain English is easy and copyright law is not hard to understand.

I don’t think it’s true that a musician who is reasonably skilled in copyright can write their own license.

But it hardly matters because humans are either going to use the music without asking, infringing or not, or they are going to ask, license or not. Sites that I upload to give me an unreadably long onerous one-sided contract, take it or leave it. I take it, whatever it might be, and then I choose the least restrictive licensing terms available.

For Creative Commons to reach its potential, there need to be commercial services adding value. For example, I don’t want to have to upload my MP3s to every single possible destination, and this would not be a problem if those destinations simply spidered and mirrored anything on the web under a CC license.

These services don’t exist. Music in the wild is probably infringing. Music under a Creative Commons license is usually under a non-commercial license, so there isn’t enough available to make a commercial service useful. It’s not feasible to auto-validate licenses on audio files.

Bemuso has an interesting observation on a decentralized, CC-free, algorithm for change:

What I see happening at grass roots level is that musicians retain their rights and implement the change they want to see in the way they work. I don’t know a single artist working on the Internet who doesn’t encourage sharing for example. At the liberal extreme they apply no rules at all.

The key bit is elegantly simple: musicians implement the change they want to see in the way they work. Like Psy.

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One Response to “Psy”

  1. Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture – Luis Villa

    [...] either – at least some sharing musicians are deliberately spurning Creative Commons (via Lucas) and Nina Paley has been obliquely making the same point about the licensing of her art as [...]

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