Archive for September 7th, 2009

Hey, videographer! Yes, I’m talking to you!

I checked out the state of Creative Commons videos on Vimeo today. Apparently, 25 out of the 36 “most liked” videos tagged with “Creative Commons”, are mine. If you do a search for the words instead of using the tagging system, 14 out of the 60 “most liked” are mine too (and this method doesn’t always yield *videos* licensed under CC).

And this is pathetic. There are so many other greater videos on Vimeo. It might satisfy my vanity, but it’s ultimately a testament to a sad state of affairs in the world.

What I gather from the situation is that not a lot of videographers license their videos under a free license. And many of these “vimeo people”, are yourselves, readers of this blog. Hence the intimidating title of this blog post.

So I ask you: why don’t you license your videos under a free license? As long as you don’t shoot commercial projects, or recognizable people (who haven’t signed an image release contract), why not specifically license your videos under a Creative Commons license? What keeps you from spending 2 more minutes to divulge the license in your video’s credits or description on its Youtube/Vimeo page? You see, if you don’t specifically license your work, it automatically falls under the “all rights reserved” law. Nobody will be able to reuse your video under these conditions. It’s locked.

Is this what you really want? To no one be able to re-use your work for remixing, or as stock footage? If yes, why? Why not share with the world? Why not make the life of others easier (including commercial entities if you choose to)? Is your video such a major masterpiece that you feel that you could financially benefit from it in the future? Honestly, the truth is that for 99% of you (and me), I doubt it.

Your artwork and your name can only live on if others re-use your art and give you credit for it. Not if you leave your videos rotten in a Vimeo or Youtube URL that no one is visiting anymore after a few years. Think wide-angle here.

Besides, Creative Commons is the only way to win the RIAA/MPAA war. It’s the Gandhi approach: if you don’t buy their stuff and use freely available art instead, RIAA/MPAA will eventually cease to exist. There is no way to win that war with the current copyright laws (that no one in DC seems eager to change), or knee-jerk reactions like with the Pirate Bay crap. The only way to win the war is for the consumer to choose a different provider. But for the consumer to do that, YOU must help. YOU must create ENOUGH ART licensed under a FREE license to TURN the boat around.

You see, even the independent scene is not enough to turn the boat around. Back in 1939, the previous RIAA-alike organization died because of the indies taking over their market when the royalty prices went up. Twenty years later that new organization, previously “indie”, had become the new tyrants of the market. History repeats itself, so it’s not *just* indie stuff we need to endorse this time, but art licensed in such a way that prevents the next RIAA or the next MPAA from getting reborn with another name. And Creative Commons is perfect for that. It’s even better than Public Domain in some cases, because PD works are not legal in some countries. CC licenses have been “ported” to many countries’ legal systems instead.

Please view the excellent presentation here to help you understand more about how this works. I have also written an article here that explains what CC means for videographers.

Think about the whole thing tonight, before you go to bed. Think about where you are situated in the world, and what you give back to it in the intellectual level (rather than just your cold hard cash via taxes).