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).


blover wrote on September 7th, 2009 at 7:13 PM PST:

can we just state it under the video so we don’t have to re-edit it? Also, just because some stupid 8 year old kid says “creative commons” in his video doesn’t mean you can use it either, so by telling all your blog readers isn’t going to benefit humanity in the slightest.

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Eugenia wrote on September 7th, 2009 at 7:51 PM PST:

>can we just state it under the video so we don’t have to re-edit it?

You can, but it’s better to either re-edit, or do it for your future videos.

>because some stupid 8 year old kid says “creative commons” in his video doesn’t mean you can use it either

That’s the case with everything in life. You will have to use some common sense.

>so by telling all your blog readers isn’t going to benefit humanity in the slightest.

I disagree. If no one blogs about it, fewer people will learn about it. Even yourself commented, and thought about it. So it’s working.

Yanni wrote on September 7th, 2009 at 10:23 PM PST:

Thanks Eugenia,

I know of the Creative Commons license but was a little unsure of the best way to use and or how to use it. The articles help a lot.

Fabricio C Zuardi wrote on September 8th, 2009 at 12:23 AM PST:

Both Vimeo and Youtube(their CC options are currently only available for a few selected VIP) should follow on Flickr footsteps and present the users with a better interface to flag their videos, I know that people can use the description, the tags or even include it in the credits, but it is suboptimal IMHO.

Anyways, nice post! That was a good reminder for a guy like me that uses CC-BY by default on Flickr, but usually forget to mark the footage on other websites (or in the works page of my creativecommons.net profile) just for laziness and the lack of a decent UIs.

As for Public Domain, I think the CCZero license is a good solution for generic unused footage we want to dedicate to the commons, I even started a group on Vimeo for that sometime ago http://vimeo.com/channels/publicdomain, but it is kind of abandoned now since I am currently working on a new website just for that purpose 🙂

memson wrote on September 8th, 2009 at 2:37 AM PST:

I’m guessing that many people would like to keep the rights to their videos because they might have aspirations to one day make money out of their videography. It’s hard to build a business case for buying a piece of stock footage if it is also available for free – no matter what the licensing restrictions are.

I don’t make a lot of videos (and I’m a total lo-fi nut anyway), but for me, I want to retain complete control. I will give permission for re-use if requested (and terms are followed), but I’m not interested in a free for all approach. Same with software. Monetizing my art is the only incentive I have for allowing re-use. Otherwise, it is free to view on my chosen medium.

Brad Brizendine wrote on September 8th, 2009 at 8:04 AM PST:

Here are a couple more resources for thinking about releasing your content in Creative Commons: 1, 2

It’s a difficult decision, but worth considering. I’m still conflicted about it … I’ve released some of my work as CC, and am considering the rest.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 8th, 2009 at 10:53 AM PST:

>I’m guessing that many people would like to keep the rights to their videos because they might have aspirations to one day make money out of their videography.

While SOME of them are capable of producing good enough footage for stock usage, the rest of them aren’t, or just will never bother signing up and uploading GBs of footage to a stock site. 99% of the Vimeo users will never be able to make any real money out of it, so I don’t see why they shouldn’t release their videos under a CC license.

>It’s hard to build a business case for buying a piece of stock footage if it is also available for free – no matter what the licensing restrictions are.

Actually, if you license it with anything other than CC-BY, it wouldn’t be possible to use it for non-commercial projects, and that’s already a pretty clear message. The only people who would use it would be just kids wanting to remix something, not corporations.

Think of the following scenario:
A tourist shoots some video from the best sites in Florence and Venice during his vacations there. Most of the footage is just shot handheld on “auto”, therefore it’s somewhat shaky and over-exposed most of the time.

What if a school wants to use that footage during a geography class? Why not offer that useless-otherwise footage under the liberal CC-BY so some people can at least benefit from it one way or another. That footage would never make it in a commercial documentary since it wasn’t shot properly, but it’s good enough for amateur docs, remixes, schools, and why not, Florence’s and Venice’s own video reels.

>I want to retain complete control

And I don’t understand why. I am pretty sure you make no real money out of it, since you are working as a developer. And I don’t think you will ever make any money out of it. Not because your art is not good, but because there’s enough saturation in that market right now to guarantee financial failure for all of us aspiring artists. So why not just give it for free then? Why retain “control”? You retain the copyright, but why retain full control too?

Unless it is your bread and butter, give it away! Someone, somewhere, might find it useful. And that someone somewhere might not have the money to pay for it. So let it go! Give something back to the world!

blover wrote on September 8th, 2009 at 3:22 PM PST:

I think we all agree we’d never make any money on our stuff, but how is it fair that people with the means can? A lot of big time documentaries, like from Michael Moore, have pretty terrible production worth but he makes hundreds of millions on his films. I wouldn’t want him using even a 1 second clip of anything of mine. I don’t care if my name is mentioned in the credits… nobody reads the credits.

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Eugenia wrote on September 8th, 2009 at 3:55 PM PST:

Whereas I would be honored if he used my footage.

If your footage has no financial value to you, you should be happy if other people are using it. It would mean that you created something to help others. It’s a good feeling.

And let me tell you something else.

A LOT of people are reading my blog. I get thousands of hits from Google **DAILY** from people trying to find solutions to their video problems. Heck, my two pulldown removal tutorials has helped about 125,000 people with Canon camcorders. I also get emails daily from people asking questions. You, yourself, is reading this blog and you are looking out for hints and tips.

What if I didn’t want to spend my time writing in this blog, just because no one is paying me to do so? How many people do you think that would leave without help? I can tell you right now: A LOT. Very few professionals or other enthusiasts write down their knowledge and share it with the world for free.

And not only I don’t charge for my tutorials, not only I have DENIED requests of people to pay me on Paypal “as a thanks”, but I don’t even run ads on this blog (whereas other blogs, less useful than mine, are full of ads)!

So when you tell me that you would be pissed if someone else uses your otherwise useless footage, you are coming out as a selfish prick with too much self-importance.

Finally, it’s no secret that I have no social skills. But I do my part helping society my way.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 8th, 2009 at 4:09 PM PST:

Blover, after your *other* comment today in my “film look” blog post where your mouth was bigger than your head, I have banned you from my site. I have noticed in the last 2 months or so that your tone, and many of your replies, were trollish. Please, stop visiting my blog, you are not welcome here.

I would have emailed you directly btw instead of writing publicly about it here, but your email address was fake.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on September 8th, 2009 at 4:43 PM PST:

Blover, regarding your other comment where you asked why my blog has so few comments. This is because of two things:

1. I close down comments for stories older than 10 days, so I can keep track of them easier.

2. Only about 100-150 readers of the thousands of people who visit my blog every month (stats: 65,000 pageviews per month) are actually regulars here. Everyone else is coming from Google, trying to find solutions to their video problems on older blog posts of mine (which their comment’s section is closed). Very few of these people actually are coming back to read the rest of my blog, since they only cared about a specific solution rather than my daily rants. Heck, even some of my regulars only follow the “filmmaking” category, not the whole blog.

That’s why.

But this doesn’t make my blog less useful, because the vast majority of my readers are these one-off visitors who must find a solution to a specific video problem. And they usually do find that solution. And that’s where the value of my blog is.

I offer all that for free. And all I got at the end from you, was a “you are a dumb whore” comment. So stay banned, and kiss my ass.

Aaron Grech wrote on September 11th, 2009 at 7:10 AM PST:

Thanks for a great article, I’ll certainly add the Creative Commons waiver to all my YouTube videos. However, I suspect 99% of those who plunder other videos do so regardless of what license they fall under. The comparison you’ve drawn with your blog (and your numerous forum posts might be added too) have thought be a great deal on Video, both from an artistic and technical point of view. A big, heartfelt, Thank You!

Ossi Ojutkanga wrote on September 15th, 2009 at 2:56 AM PST:

I completely agree with you on this issue. However, I started to wonder how can I mark my videos in Vimeo in order to show people their licence? Are you talking about putting “creative commons” as one of the tags or is there some another way to categorize?

All my videos in Vimeo are with CC licence, but they’re millions of light years away from any lists. Still, I feel a bit stupid if there is some kind of CC community there that I haven’t been aware of at all.

Oh, and if you want to check out my videos, they’re here:




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Eugenia wrote on September 15th, 2009 at 11:31 AM PST:

Yes, tag them as Creative Commons, mention it in the description, and for your future videos make sure you say it in the credits too.

Ryan V. wrote on September 15th, 2009 at 10:27 PM PST:

The Non-Revocable nature of Creative Commons licensing is something that makes me hesitate because it takes away *my* rights instead of just giving more rights to others.

However, I’ve been thinking about it more, and this is somewhat balanced by the Non-exclusive nature of the CC licenses. So I could license the work with a very restrictive CC license, like BY-NC-ND or BY-NC-SA, but this would still leave me the opportunity to separately license it for commercial use and make money off it if I so desired.

Another possibility would be to license just say, the vimeo version (the vimeo-transcoded file) as CC, while leaving the original version as All Rights Reserved. Would this be sufficient for you, or would you rather that ALL versions be CC? (kind of an FSF vs OSI argument)

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Eugenia wrote on September 15th, 2009 at 10:39 PM PST:

You could, but it’s not very useful to have the very low quality as CC only, because CC is also nice for remixing (instead of just viewing as a regular user). And to do remixing, by re-editing, it’s best to have a good source.

Juan wrote on September 17th, 2009 at 5:32 PM PST:

Eugenia, I film a car accident while filming for a local cable show, and the local tv station ask for the video. They send it to every single news agency as their video, charge for it, and they not even thank me. And I work very hard to earn every dollar. Having a 3ccd camera is really difficult here in Argentina, its 4 times more expensive than in the US. Can you imagine how I felt when the tv station do that?
Sorry for my engrish.

Reply by Eugenia:
“You should have never given that video to them for free. This is a completely different case. Besides, you could have licensed it under the CC-BY-NC, which would require a separate license on their part to use it for commercial purposes, AND at the same time it’s free for normal people.”

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