Bullet points? The kids love bullet points.
Let’s talk for a minute about what you don’t own.
That’s possibly one of the most intimidating sentences there can be, right up there with, “Let’s see some I.D.” Every day we are assaulted with ideas of what we don’t really own. Most of us don’t own our homes; we rent a place to live. When we buy a book or a piece of music, we don’t own the contents... and frequently, we’re told we don’t even own the right to make a copy of the work for our own private purposes. In City of Heroes, the owning company of NCSoft technically owns my character and all of my intellectual property surrounding it because of a court case in which they were nearly owned by Marvel, who also claim to own the word “superhero”. The word “own” is mutated and used to indicate skillful superiority of one over another. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche once wrote, "No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” Granted, he wrote it in German, but the point is that he felt the need to say it in the late nineteenth century to put a stake down in defence of the independent moral self because even then, few people really genuinely felt that they possessed themselves. What breadth of meaning in one word, and what madness!
Now, I come to my point. I spent some time considering how I wanted to protect all the work I’ve put into this site and everything on it. Well, to be honest, the site’s nothing spectacular, but the music and fonts and stories and whatnot are a bit more dear to me. I considered just how much I wanted to own them. Did I want them to slip completely through my fingers, consumed by the masses and reappropriated and completely liberated of any label of their original creator? Did I want them to be available and identified but malleable, remixable, mutatable, a sort of virus named Electric Keet? Did I want them locked down in stark defiance of digital freedom, listenable and readable and viewable from this place only but never owned or borrowed by any but myself (as fluid as self can be?)
Here’s what I want, put as simply as I can manage. I want that which I create to inspire others, to act as a catalyst for their own creations. It’d be great if they gave credit to me as an inspiration, but being an exceedingly forgetful individual I know how difficult it can be to keep track of such stuff. If pieces of my work are used directly, quoted or collaged or sampled, then I don’t want to stop that from happening; I simply want an opportunity to see what I’ve helped, even indirectly, to bring into the world, just as a grandmother has a real interest in knowing her kids’ kids. I also want to prevent people who would only own from owning without reason or contribution; such theft may be brazen, such as the house thief, or legally accepted, such as Marvel’s pet word, caged in a way that no word should ever be.
To this end, I turned to the Creative Commons. They have gone to great lengths to make ownership as understandable and flexible as possible in, if I may loosely quote a popular game, “an environment of extreme pessimism”. The catch is, I really wanted to say to people, “I want you to have a blast with my stuff, redistribute and remix and revel, but if you’re making money from it I feel entitled to negotiate my share (because I didn’t charge you up front) and if you’re creating stuff with it I want to see my grandkids.” To this end, I slapped the most restrictive licence on everything with a large disclaimer; I’ll be glad to waive any and all parts of the licence for anything here, simply for the asking, if contacted so I know where I can see the result. In short, most rights are reserved but highly negotiable.
I may choose to loosen the default license on some things here, and some of them are already pretty much out of my hands because they have bits taken from licenced sources and I’m not quite sure where they stand. This will all clear up in time. If you have an opinion about where I go with this or believe you have a claim to any of it, I’m just as easily contactable.
Truth be told, except where labelled otherwise, I own the works here. I also want to share them, and for others to share them. I’d really like to know where they end up. Most of all, I would never pretend to own anyone else’s ideas, especially not the creative ones. Nobody should have to pay to own themselves.