Re: [linux-audio-user] Free Music licenses: which to choose?

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Subject: Re: [linux-audio-user] Free Music licenses: which to choose?
From: Graham Percival (
Date: Sat Sep 28 2002 - 23:53:22 EEST

On Sat, 28 Sep 2002 11:43:52 +0200
Christian Schoenebeck <> wrote:
> Es geschah am Samstag, 28. September 2002 02:01 als Graham Percival
> schrieb:> I'd like to allow people to copy, modify, and distribute my
> > music, provided that they allow other people to do the same to their
> > material. I definately want the "viral" nature of GPL -- if I
> > release(sheet) music as public domain or a BSD-like license, then a
> > company could (theoretically) hire some musicians to record it, make
> > a CD, and then sue anybody who distributes that over the 'net (a la
> > RIAA). I'm certainly not opposed to commercial use of my music, but
> > I want to get royalties when that happens.
> What about this license:
> You can use, copy and (re)distribute my work as long as you do
> not make money out of it. The latter is only permitted by my
> prior written authorization. Contact me on any ambiguities
> regarding this license.
> I don't see the need for hundred of sides full license agreements.
> Leave that for boring lawyers without hobbies. It hink the above
> should catch all important cases.

No, the license agreement *is* important. Look at GPL -- the basic idea
is "I'll share my stuff with you if you agree to share it with others".
But there's a reason why the full text is something like 8k. Give a
lawyer a centimeter of wiggle room and he'll take a kilometer. Or
something like that. :)

I'd like to have a good license agreement, which I'd summarise in one or
two lines. What you posted is a good summary, but it wouldn't work as
the actual license.

Here's a few loopholes in your license:
- if I (speaking now as a laywer) don't try to make money off of
Graham's music, then I can copy and modify it and claim that _I_ wrote
- I can copy it, modify it, and then release it with a very
restrictive license.
- I can copy it and place it in a "members only"
portion of my business partner's website. *I'm* not making money out of

- that license is not Free because it doesn't allow others to modify the
work. That's easily fixed by adding `modify' near the beginning: "you
can use, modify, copy, and (re)distribute..."

My other concern, that many of the Free licenses can't work together, is
still valid. For as long as I live, somebody can ask me "is it ok if I
use your work in my Design Science-licenesed project" and I can reply
"yes, I give you permission for that", but if I die -- and a few
contributers to Free software have unfortunately done so already -- then
that option is lost.

Writing a good Free license that can't be exploited isn't all that easy,
which is one reason why it might be good to have one or two "main" free
music licenses.

- Graham

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