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Pop stars to release tracks under Creative Commons license

15 October 2004

The Beastie Boys, David Byrne and Brazilian pop legend Gilberto Gil will appear on a new CD along with 13 other artists next month, with fans encouraged to copy, remix and swap the tunes online.

The CD, which will be attached to the November issue of Wired magazine, is the first to use the Creative Commons license, which allows the artist to stipulate exactly how much freedom a fan has with a given song, says Newsweek.

“The basic aim of Creative Commons is to get the law out of the way not by abolishing copyright, but by making it easier for people to negotiate it in a digital world,” says Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford Law School professor who developed the license and founded a nonprofit of the same name. “We want to mark content with the freedoms the authors intend as opposed to the default that the law presumes, which is no freedom without permission first.”

Lessig says by taking the rights of their tunes into their own hands, musicians can now draw a distinction between “all rights reserved” and “some rights reserved.” Three of the 16 artists on the Wired CD—the Beasties, indie pop rockers My Morning Jacket, and rapper Chuck D — have contributed songs under a license that permits noncommercial sharing and noncommercial sampling. The rest—from Byrne to Gil, to Spoon to Zap Mama—have decided to allow noncommercial and commercial sharing, while restricting advertising uses of their songs. “It appeals to me that somebody could possibly take a song and use parts of it to make it into something else,” says Spoon front man Britt Daniel, who lent a 1998 B-side to the compilation.

“It’s just creatively interesting to me . . . and I do think that eventually the reins that record labels currently hold will be cut. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be record labels, but I do think that artists should own their own recordings.”

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