Author Archives: Victor

Help Beta Test ccHost

Ever wanted to host your own ccMixter?

The source code for ccMixer (project name ccHost) has been released under beta and we’re looking for testers so if you have a web server and you are now or plan to host:

  • a remix community
  • remix contests
  • media blog

or any combination, then come on down.

As of this writing there are about half a dozen test sites worldwide up and running on the beta and we’re always looking for more. (Pleeeeeeze.)

There are lots of new cool features in this version that are not on the ccMixter site yet, but the most important one is that uploads not limited to music files. You can safely upload video, flash and image files all with the same ‘I Sampled This’ tracking between uploads.

In addition the audio files are no longer limited to MP3, this version of code accepts just about every known beast including ogg, wmv, rm, etc.

The project is hosted at SourceForge and there’s a (very lame) Wiki page with all the links to bug reporting, mailing list (essential) and other stuff.

ccHost is part of the broader ccTools project.

Download ccHost here

Taming the Web

That cool breeze turned out to be a chill wind.

Here’s what the Internet will look like in 20 years: three companies will own the entire thing. I’m serious. We’re all going to look back at the days where a schmuck like me could run a site for $100 a year (for a 1gig, unlimited email, every scripting language I can dream of, etc.) and put anything I want on it… is coming to an end. As the New York cop said “Show’s over, keep moving.”

The Internet will be the home for very, very rich people. What costs $100 today will cost $10,000 maybe $100,000 maybe more in 20 years (in adjusted dollars).

And whatever is affordable will be sued into oblivion.

Users will be users and publishers will be anybody not you.

All under the very watchful eye of three companies. I don’t know which companies and it really doesn’t matter but Google will probably be one of them. Yea and fuck Google. Google is the new Disney. For a long time they will be the darling of this generation. Then this generation will grow up, move to Oregon watch their kids go to high school and while Google turns out the Web’s equivalent to “Herbie Gets Loaded” and say “man, these guys turned out to be evil after all.”

Getting on the Internet (as a user) will be easier and safer than ever. It will be exactly as pervasive as the integrated circuit is today. Each chip will require your online code which is emanating from a plastic card in your wallet. (This is how my computerized Prius starts today.)

The monthly fee to keep that card pumping out your login and password will be just enough for you to complain about — but not much more. Portions of that fee will go directly to the entertainment companies that were behind the SCOTUS Grokster decision today. Just like HBO. The Internet is the new HBO.

And getting your music and video played on HBO? Yea, well, not after today.

What Licenses Make Sense (To Me)

The ccMixter experience has been interesting in terms of CC licensing. What follows is a summation of my personal views, even though I am under contract with CC these views do not represent anything remotely like official statements from CC.

Background

There are two reasons to put music in the Commons: (1) it’s good for culture and (2) it’s good for your career.

(2) doesn’t matter that much if you’re already some kind of big famous celebrity, but if no one knows who you are you need a reason for people to listen to your music. Giving your music away in as many different contexts as possible is key to that. Besides showing a very basic respect for your (potential) audience, you simply can’t afford to mute the sound on your non-existent career before it gets started.

If your music is worth stealing then it’s already stolen. Get over it. If your music isn’t worth stealing then what harm, exactly, is there in giving it away?

CC Licenses

I am officially off the Sampling family of licenses. Maybe if you’re a rock star like the Beasties or Chuck D and you’re really nervous about releasing tracks into the Commons this is a good baby step. But if you’re up and coming and you want to get your music out there these licenses are just too restrictive, especially when it comes to syncing the music to film and getting your tunes into advertising. It’s also highly questionable if straight-up mash-ups are even covered in this license because the remix has to be ‘highly transformative.’ Club mixes are completely forbidden. Personally I’m going to ignore the Sampling licenses for my own use.

I have grave reservations about ShareAlike. While promoters of this license claim it forces open licensing into more places I would claim anything that prevents someone from using my music is having the opposite effect. I don’t ever want to hear “I’d play/remix/sync your song but I don’t want to re-license my work as foo-bar-ShareAlike.” As I stated recently, SA does not affect podcasters, broadcasters and other collections but as a remixer it could have (and has in the case of Mixter) chilling effect on what licenses can be mixed together in sampled/remixed works. That’s enough for me to take a pass on SA.

The only place SA makes total sense (am I’m being at least half serious) is when an RIAA/MPAA entity is interested in your work. Then I would stick it to them and make them go with a SA. Someday, I should be in this situation.

NonDerivs means people can’t remix my material without asking permission. This seems counter to the larger point of putting music in the Commons in both the cultural sense (if all art is built on some thing else, why prevent that?) and in the “good for my career” sense (you want to get your music OUT THERE, no? why allow file sharing and not remixing?)

That leaves NonCommercial. Despite some recent hand wringing about the meaning of the term “non commercial” this means what common sense tells you: “money in exchange for music.”

NC does not mean “a piece of donations received at my church picnic where copies of my CD were handed out” or “a cut of the Amazon partner program take because you have a link to Amazon and my MP3 on your site.”

No. Stop that.

It means “money in exchange for music” and new license verbiage is going to make that explicit. In which case I kind of like this license. It accepts the reality of people who steal music without persecuting people who honestly can’t afford it; all the while encouraging film makers, art installations and remixers who have zero budget and who would otherwise pass on my music completely.

If you’re really making money selling my music then yea, I’d like a cut. If you refuse I’ll probably say OK anyway but either way, I guess I’d like to be notified you’re doing it. So NC works for me where I might give a shit about money.

Finally Attribution (aka BY) has actually been tricky because if I license a sample pack to remixers am I really asking for attribution because you used my open hi-hat sample? This is especially hideous on a sites like Mixter, OpSound, FreeSound where there are 1000s of samples. Do I really have to attribute each artist for each stupid micron of reverb coming off the synth patch? The answer is: the version 2.5 of BY allows for simple collective attribution. That means I just say ‘samples from ccMixter.org’ some where near my remix or collection of remixes. I can live with that.

So the answer for me is:

Attribution (2.5) in all cases, Attribution-NonCommercial (2.5) where I’m feeling full of myself.

This Minutes’s Podcast Safe Resources

This has to be the definitive podcast safe resource list (you know, while this millisecond lasts) over at the invaluable Dave’s Imaginary Sound Space.

On a related note I wanted to clear something up that I’ve run into recently: I have been told by at least one popular podcaster that they will not play CC licensed music that is marked “ShareAlike” because they don’t want to re-license their podcast as “ShareAlike.” This would mean, for example, the entire Magnatune catalog is technically not podcast safe. After checking, explicitly with the head lawyer at CC I can happily tell you that this is simply not the case, the ShareAlike clause does not apply to dropping a song into a collection (including a broadcast). The portion of the show that features song is SA, but not the whole show.

“You Don’t Believe in Your Music”

I don’t know if there’s anything new in this fuck the RIAA tome by self proclaimed former copyright apologist Glenn McDonald. but I can’t think of a more cogent dissertation on what it’s like to be a music fan in 2005.

There are so many well stated points I don’t know where to begin:

If I decide it’s mind-expanding genius, I’ll happily pay for it. If I decide it’s stochastic crap my old parameters justifiably excluded, I’ll delete it. If you believed in your music, and in me, you’d take that deal in an instant. My patience costs me dearly, after all, and yours costs you nothing. But you don’t believe in your music. Most of the time you don’t even know what it is. And you certainly don’t know me, or where my curiosity leads or misleads me. So you invest nothing, and you shouldn’t be surprised by your returns.

Quite frankly I don’t care who leads the revolution, the fans, Magnatune, podcasters, Creative Commons, Downhill Battle — but it does drive me nuts that musicians, collectively three times more screwed than fans like Glenn, seems to be trailing the pack.