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Getting Paid under CC licenses

By Christopher Moore | October 20, 2006

Can’t remember being in agreement with hard-edge publishers’ guy Andrew Martin on many things. But I was amused by his comment in a Law Times article (not in their online edition it seems) on Michael Geist’s 2005 book In the Public Interest. Geist explains what a brilliant move it was to make the whole book available as a Creative Commons license and suggests publishers need to get with that strategy.

Martin: “It is perhaps an important development for academic authors with no expectation of payment.”

I discussed much the same issue with Mike Linksvayer of Creative Commons USA at Copycamp last month. Nice guy, full of enthusiasm for the technology. But we never could clarify just how the “commercial rights reserved” part of a CC licence would actually work. It’s not practical for a user wanting to license commercial uses of perhaps dozens of CC items to chase down each author and try to negotiate a fee. But since CC does not have a collective licensing arm, there seems to be no convenient mechanism for users who want to comply. Making compliance hard leads to non-compliance, doesn’t it?

I mean this seriously. I think CC has many useful applications for making things freely available. But is there anyone out there who has ever reserved commercial rights under a CC license and then actually received payment for those rights? Or is CC mostly copyright for rich kids? I’d be glad to hear details.

Geist’s book, a collection of academic articles on public-interest aspects of copyright law, is available here.

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