There is an interesting debate on an Intellectual Property issue going on in France at the moment and although it is centered around a novel (La Carte et Le Territoire by Michel Houellebecq) the outcome of the debate can have an impact on the world of music as the heart of the issue focuses on if and how Creative Commons licenses are transmitted from one work to another. I figured that since many of us here are involved in one way or the other in the creation of works (music but also software) that then circulate under a variety of different licenses, this subject could be of interest.
For those that can read French, this site is a good starting point to learn more about the issue:
For those that do not read French, Google does a reasonable job of translating the page:
http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Ffgallai re.flext.net%2Fhouellebecq-creative-commons%2F&sl=fr&tl=en&h l=&ie=UTF-8
I will try to make a quick and dirty summary of the situation here:
A well-known, modern, French author (Michel Houellebecq) incorporates text from three Wikipedia articles in his book. These are not used as citations, they are integrated into the text along with the author's original words. To put this in a musical sense, the author has "sampled" Wikipedia. The book is published by a traditional publishing house, sold commercially and does very well. It is recently awarded one of the most prestigious literary prizes in France (The Goncourt prize, somewhat similar to a Pulitzer Prize in the USA). Wikipedia content is licensed under CC-BY-SA. Neither the author nor the publisher cited references to the Wikipedia material. The author has publicly admitted to the sampling of Wikipedia (videotaped admissions are around the internet).
French IP commentators and IP lawyers start thinking about the implications. Several come to the opinion that the use of the Wikipedia material makes the novel a composite derivative work which is thus subject to the CC-BY-SA license. In essence, they argue that by integrating the Wikipedia text into the work, unless other private arrangements have been made (and they have not), the author and publisher are accepting the terms of the CC-BY-SA license and thus the derivative work, the novel, inherits the CC-BY-SA license. To test this reasoning, a PDF version of the book, amended with the proper references to Wikipedia and the explicit mention of the CC-BY-SA license has been made available for free downloading. So far neither the publisher nor the author have taken action against this posting, but one would imagine that it is only a matter of time until that happens.
While this particular case involves a novel, the outcome will probably also have an effect on software, music ... anything else to which a CC license applies.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out and could have implications for the way that some of us here will work.
music located at http://luridcactus.com/MusicPage.html
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