Sunday, January 29, 2012

Remixes, Attribution, Creative Alchemies: The Long Tail in Acts of Kindness (part 1)

Here's a few recent videos that used my songs from my uploads.

Remixed with: Beyond Jupiter III

Remixed with: Dreaming of the Ocean

Remixed with: Island Journey Reprise

Typically, my songs are used in "hobbyist videos". Not surprising, as the need and demand for royalty-free works generally come from hobbyists. I think it's also the increasingly popularity of as the source for CC-licensed music.

I love how people are crediting my music, in full, in their video descriptions. By "full", I mean describing the title, indicating my name, and including the relevant URL to link back to the source.

This wasn't necessarily the case a few years back, at least for those remixes that use my music. My impression, at least. I don't have hard evidence to prove that the level of attribution has improved. Unless I trace back all the remixes and compile the way they have been cited (... hmm).

Anyway, about two years ago, most remixes tend to unwittingly omitted the credits entirely. People email me to thank me for sharing the music, and to let me know how they have used my music. For those cases where I find that credits were not made, I ask nicely that they include my name and the relevant URL. If they have already uploaded a video, I ask that the credit is included in the description, which was easily done rather than asking them to include in the video and re-upload again.

I would add that the attribution requirement was the stated condition for using the work:
"For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the licence terms of this work"

I didn't want them to think I was asking for something extra. In all cases, they happily made the change. Some went the extra step of amending their video and re-uploading it. Which was very gracious on their part.

How do I properly attribute a work offered under a Creative Commons license?
All CC licenses require users to attribute the original creator(s) of a work, unless the creator has waived that requirement or asked that her name be removed from an adaptation or collection.

CC licenses have a sophisticated and flexible attribution requirement, so there is not necessarily one correct way to provide attribution. The proper method for giving credit will depend on the medium and means you are using, and may be implemented in any reasonable manner, although in the case of an adaptation or collection the credit needs to be as prominent as credits for other contributors.

The CC website offers some best practices to help you attribute works, and the CC Australia team has developed a helpful guide to attributing works in different formats.

Source: Creative Commons FAQ

Rather than say that Creative Commons "does not provide clarity on the proper way to cite", it's more accurate to say that Creative Commons allows flexibility in how attribution can be presented. The manner of attribution depends on the medium. For instance, a "live" hyperlink is only possible for an online media, whereas for a print media the URL is obviously not "live".

It's more important that people -- users and creators -- understand the spirit and philosophy of Creative Commons. But that's not to say there cannot be clarity in how to attribute properly when making use of Creative Commons licensed materials.

I highly recommend this PDF guide to attributing works by CC Australia. It's both comprehensive and concise:
What to include when attributingAll Creative Commons (CC) licences require that users of the work attribute the creator... ...The same principles apply to providing attribution across all CC licences. You should:
  • credit the creator;
  • provide the title of the work;
  • provide the URL where the work is hosted;
  • indicate the type of licence it is available under and provide a link to the licence (so others can find out the licence terms); and
  • keep intact any copyright notice associated with the work

It's not so much about "proper citation" but more of crediting the source adequately and equitably. If I'm using a CC-licensed work, I try to put myself in the other person's shoes and ask how I would want to be credited. Also, I believe that "payment" can be the form of reciprocity. Any one who uses my work, and provides equitable attribution, is my publicist.

In the digital economy, a "live" hyperlink is currency.

Admittedly, I don't always follow the last two points, i.e. indicating the CC license type and copyright notice. But I always state the creator's name and provide a "live" link back to the CC-licensed works. I try to adhere to this when listing the credits in my videos, but if it's not possible to do so fully, the "live" links are definitely in the description section.

That said, if the creator indicates very clearly how they would like to be attributed, I will always adhere to it. It helps if creators state their preferences upfront and/ or in an obvious location next to the work.

My own practice, in licensing my own work, is to state how I would like to be credited. I state this near or just below the download link. Basically in a way that others won't miss it.
2011 Simpler Times : urmymuse & Ivan Chew : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

I didn't always do that in the beginning. I used to assume others knew how to properly cite my work.

As creators, we can help others help us, by providing clear, simple/ hassle-free instructions and requirements. Most people will respect and adhere to that.

To be continued: Part 2.


  1. Just posted this video using your "Beyond Jupiter" as the sound track. Many thanks for releasing so much good music with CC Attribution license. Here's the video link:

    1. Hello Mardon, thanks for letting me know. I loved the origin of the video. Awww, too bad Nixon wasn't able to record his soundtrack portion :)

    2. Hi Ivan, I've added a URL link back to your page for the song. Thans again. Mardon

    3. Thanks! Appreciate that.


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