Is Uncompensated Commercial Use Of An Artist's Content Really That Bad?

from the free-promotion dept

We've discussed a few times how the whole distinction between "commercial use" and "non-commercial use" can be somewhat arbitrary. Even though many Creative Commons supporters insist that a "non-commercial" license is the way to go, there are some good arguments as to why such a limitation isn't a good idea either.

Long-time Techdirt reader SteelWolf sent in a blog post he recently did on the subject, where he makes the argument that uncompensated commercial use of an artist's work isn't something to worry about. The idea that some company will come along and "profit" from your work without giving you a cent is misguided, because there are all sorts of opportunities for you to take advantage of such a use directly yourself:
A budding musical artist writes and records a song, putting it into the Public Domain/copyleft on his website for his fans to share and enjoy how they wish. Somebody from a major television network finds the song and use it in a new show without even giving credit. The show goes on to become a hit, making the network millions while the musician remains poor. How should he respond?

First of all one has to understand that it is highly unlikely that the show was successful solely because of the inclusion of the song. Commercial success does not suddenly mean money is owed. While it may have been nice to get free money (royalties and the like) from repeated airings of the show, it is not that but the lack of proper attribution that is the real cause for frustration.

Assuming the network will never deign to correct its mistake, I think one of the most important things to do is use the internet connect the song and show back to the artist. If the song really brought that many people to the show, they are likely to start searching for it online. Something like a post on the artist's website will show up clearly in search results, and it gives the artist an opportunity to direct new visitors to free downloads of the song, concert dates, and his other reasons to buy (perhaps tweaked to appeal to fans of the show). It's also a good idea to have a way for people to send donations.

Granted, these things aren't going to make you rich, but then neither are royalties. What it does do is save the artist tons of money in legal costs trying to fight the network, and help build his name as somebody who creates quality music and expand his fanbase -- all despite the network's "oversight" in crediting the person behind the work.
On top of that, we've seen over and over again, that when a company makes use of someone else's work for such uses without properly crediting the artist, it usually doesn't take much for that word to spread, and get more attention drawn to the artist. The artist can put up a blog post, noting that the TV show didn't credit him or her, and that even helps the story spread as well. It's yet another case where social mores work better than not just copyright, but non-commercial Creative Commons license as well.

And, with that, we'll leave the last word to Nina Paley:
non-commercial

Filed Under: commercial use, noncommercial use


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  1. identicon
    Qwerty, 19 Jul 2013 @ 6:08am

    Twig:
    1) To criticize others

    Only when they deserve criticism. This site is devoted to exposing scam writers/companies, after all.
    Twig:
    2) To make unsubstantiated claims

    Not at all. i substantiate my claims as much as possible, and clearly acknowledge when I am voicing suspicions rather than facts.
    Twig:
    3) To trade insults

    I'd rather not, and actually "insult" other posters a lot less than they attempt to insult me. The fact that you take criticism of your language skills as an insult does not mean that it was my intent to insult; it is more evidence of your emotional state than of mine.
    Twig:
    4) To write crap

    Like what, exactly? Is this the kind of lucid and well-thought-out statement you provide your clients with?
    Twig:
    5) To show off that you are the most talented writer in the world.

    Not even close. I have never claimed to be the most talented anything in the world, and am certainly not the most talented writer. I am very good at what I do and I take pride in that, but that isn't the same thing as arrogance. That's something a lot of the Kenyan writers that have appeared on this forum seem to have a problem with.
    Twig:
    Do they really help anyone?

    Yes. There are many customers that have thanked me quite openly on this forum and via PM for my information and assistance.
    craftywriter:
    never argue with a fool (pheelyks), he will lower you to his level, and then beat you with experience.

    Ahh, arguing with other people's words. What a crafty plagiarizing writer, indeed.

    Twig Jun 26, 11, 10:21AM | #15
    pheelyks:
    Wow. 20. They must all be really pleased at the barely passing grades you are able to earn with those ESL skills.

    Showing off as usual. Did you grade those papers?
    pheelyks:
    That's something a lot of the Kenyan writers that have appeared on this forum seem to have a problem with.

    Making unsubstantiated claim as usual. Are you always a fool or you simply repeat some mistakes to amuse us? Who told you I am a Kenyan Writer? Your degree of madness is extremely high.

    pheelyks Jun 26, 11, 10:59AM | #16
    Twig:
    Did you grade those papers?

    No. Did you?
    Twig:
    Making unsubstantiated claim as usual

    What unsubstantiated claim? There have been numerous posters on this site claiming to be from Kenya (something the mods occasionally verified using IP information) and insisting that other writers must recognize their superiority, that Kenyans are the kings of the world and we should bow down before them, etc. I do not know whether you're from Kenya or somewhere else, but your tone is similar to that of these Kenyan writers, if toned down somewhat. The fact that you misinterpreted a fairly simple sentence is still more evidence of your lack of English fluency.

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