Enforcing Creative Commons

by Clint on January 23rd 2011

Inspired by recent threads on the Ableton forums, I have been wondering how to improve the terms and policies of maxforlive.com to protect the applied licenses of the devices posted there. (Read about the Creative Commons Licenses here)

Currently, I do not have the time to open every device posted and diff it with the rest of the library. MOST of the devices allow code reuse so long as the original author is credited. I allow people to post mods so long as it doesn't violate the original authors license and they credit them. As a community it works quite well. People are driven by pride and respect for the most part that contribute to maxforlive.com.

If a device creator does come to me with a complaint that their code was used without credit, I contact the person in question and ask them to either remove the device or simply add mention of the original author. EVERY time this has happened it's just been a simple quick thing "oh yeah, sorry i forgot" and they add credit where it is due.

But this doesn't address violations of licenses for "for pay" or commercial devices. With devices in the library, I can compare the code and make a judgement. But for commercial devices, I would have to BUY every device that someone sells to compare it to see if a license was violated, and even then, what can I do about it? If the person has a maxforlive.com account, I can warn them, disable the account, or delete it. But they can just create a new account...

So the question is, how SHOULD this work? Maybe I should make the license more obvious on the device page? Make the library searchable by license type so you can find "all lfo's that can have code shared for commercial use"?

One idea I have is to recommend to device authors who apply the "noncommercial" license that they watermark their code. It's not fullproof, but you change fonts and font sizes and add text strings to object properties in the inspector that are unique to your work. A malicious developer could just remove all this when they reuse their code, but this WOULD help detect accidental violations where someone just didn't realize they should have credited you or shouldn't have used it the way they did.

What does the community think? How is this sort of thing handled in the Reaktor library?

Ultimately these are bigger questions than for maxforlive.com as many of us also actually give away our own music under CC. What would you do if you found someone violating the terms of a "free release"? Would you even bother? If not, is the value of the CC license suspect?

Feel free to comment here, or email me at info-at-maxforlive.com, and/or respond on the associated Ableton thread here: http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=157637

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