A Creative Commons Dilemma

I love Creative Commons. I love its goals, its implementation and its simplicity. From the moment I first learned of it, I decided to grant a Creative Commons license for IT Conversations programs. Now, however, I find myself having to reconsider that decision. Here’s the problem…

In my quest to fund IT Conversations and at the same time keep the content free for all listeners, I need corporate sponsors and underwriters to help pay the expenses. (Those tip-jar donations are great, but they’ll likely never be enough on their own.) Advertisers need to know what they’re getting for their money. They need to know how many people are hearing their promotional announcements, and for that reason I need statistics: counts of the number of listeners.

I’m happy when anyone links to IT Conversations recordings, and I want everyone to be able to hear them. All I ask is that I be able to count those listens so I can report them to advertisers. But if you copy an IT Conversations recording and host it on your own web site (as currently allowed by our Creative Commons license), we won’t be able to include your listener counts in our totals.

But what’s the point of copying and re-hosting IT Conversations shows anyway? Why would someone want or need to do that? You don’t let others just copy and re-host your complete web pages; you want readers to come to your site to read what you’ve written. Google page ranks and all that. It’s no different with audio programming. So long as the shows are available on our site via a permanent URL, what’s to be gained by offering the same files at a second URL? One could even argue that it’s bad design (in the global sense) to have two permalinks for the same object.

So is there any reason I shouldn’t replace the CC license with one that doesn’t allow for copying the files to another server? I look forward to your feedback and recommendations, but don’t forget that fundamental need to keep the site alive by attracting sponsors.

9 thoughts on “A Creative Commons Dilemma

  1. Doug we are now referring IT conversations from our site. I strongly support referrals rather than reloads – Your contributions to ongong education in the sector are without parallel.


  2. I think you can easily build in the hosting restriction into your license without breaking the “sharing ideas” aspect of IT Conversations.

    Why not simply state that since traffic to the site is part of the business model to make further recordings possible, conversations may not be posted on other sites without prior authorisation. Deep linking is encouraged.


  3. I see your dilemma. I would try to get a handle on how many sites are redistributing your content. If it is big, change the license. If it is small keep the CC license and the good will that comes from supporting CC.


  4. As an interesting alternative, you could create your own derivation of the CC license and attribute it back to their license as a base (their content is mostly under the by-2.0 version of the CC license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).

    I know this is a little more work, and that you can’t call it a CC license at that point, but you can do what they do, satisfy your needs, and give them a little “link-juice” besides.


  5. As an avid listener, I can certainly support you in your need to “know your numbers”. In truth, I would rather you adapt a posture that allows you to make money so that your valued services can continue (surely enlightened self-interest).

    On the other hand, might there be other venues, perhaps offline, that are enabled by the CC. These doors may be closed by a more restrictive license. Suppose I’m a teacher wanting to provide these “conservations” for study to my students, for example.

    Might there be a third (technical) alternative. If its other “servers” that mask your numbers then what about the idea of offering free downloadable html snippets that “make it easy” to do “the right thing”. They could, perhaps, link to a badge pulled from your site that would let you count views and/or downloads (even from other sites).

    You could fall back on the standard copyright and require this badging or you could rely upon and encourage the good will of others by making the “reuse” just a bit easier while supporting your underlying objectives.


  6. I think one of the reasons people copy the shows and offer them on their own servers is that they fear that those permalinks won’t be there anymore, someday in the future. The Web is so volatile and some shows are just too good to be lost.
    So the best way to get people use your permalinks IMHO would be to give them the safety that this site won’t go away…


  7. Other people significantly redistributing your shows is probably not going to put a dent in your numbers. Bandwidth costs money, and you can ask people specifically not to do that. When I hear a fantastic show, and I’ve got it on my hard drive, I’m inclined to give it to people to listen to. This should be allowed and encouraged, as it will bring you more avid listeners such as myself. The advertising model iteself is what should change here, and maybe the Creative Commons license. You are an important figure in this community, and if you turn away from Creative Commons, other people will follow your lead. Please consider this before making any rash decisions, and KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!


  8. The purpose of the Creative Commons licenses is to provide creators with an easy way to distribute their creations with “Some rights reserved” or even “No rights reserved” as opposed to the typical “All rights reserved.” By changing your license so that distributing your content is no longer allowed, won’t you be going back to an “All rights reserved” model? Continuing to allow individuals to copy and distribute your content will, I believe, only strengthen and better promote your service in the long run. After all, your CC license requires that people distributing your work attribute it to you, which means that they will be advertising your site and your service. I totally agree with Steve Warren’s previous comments; please don’t make any rash decisions. And please do keep up the great work. Thank you so much!


  9. Excellent points; removing the attribution of the file to you would be copyright infringement, so the file’s going to point to you (at least indirectly) anyway. And it’s not like you don’t mention the name of your site! Also…I just simply don’t believe this is that big an issue. Do you have stats to back up the assertion that some other site(s) are “stealing” a portion of your downloads?

    And finally, and most importantly to me, doing that would make me unable to share the files with others; sometimes I *shudder* forward it along to someone else, or *horrors* burn them to CD and give them to someone, and say “listen, and go check this place out”. I’d be in violation of your copyright if I did that w/o the CC license. (And if you’re going to try to rig up some Frankenstein license that allows emailing [occasionally,whatever THAT would mean] and burning, but not serving, then I maintain you’re just trying to make things complicated!)

    Part of your problem is the inherent problem of trying to fit the old-world advertising model to the Web. Go read podcastalley.org for an example; Free Talk Live is now the “#2 most popular podcast” (and was actually #1 for awhile this morning, by my eye), due to the concerted efforts of a bunch of people who want (among other things) to be able to “show” advertisers (other other Old World media types) how popular they are. I have never HEARD of those yahoos, and it’s apparent they’re just gaming the system. Likewise, one could game any “listener count by download” system; one could game it either way, in fact…to deflate or inflate your numbers. Metrics seem great at first glance…but if they don’t mean what you think they mean, they’re really worse than useless.

    Don’t take this the wrong way, Doug; but I can say that I’ll start REMOVING my links to IT Conversations if you restrict the licenses to non-CC. And I’m willing to be that some others will, and that you may even lose some shows. (I’m emailing one of your hosts immediately, in fact, to let him know.) PLEASE try to not make a decision rashly.

    Thanks for everything. Please don’t take this ramblefest the wrong way, but I’d hate to see you bolt a buggy-whip holder to the side of your brand new car for the sake of a bunch of clueless advertisers. I realize they have power…but try to give them what they WANT, not what they’re ASKING FOR.

    Thanks again!


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