I’ve written before about how Thingiverse is awesome, and it still is… but there’s this discussion going on which I thought I’d mention…

First of all, if you use Thingiverse, I’m sure you’ve read the Terms of Services page, right? And if you’ve uploaded something, you’ve probably seen these rules:

  • Designs must represent a real, physical object that can be made.
  • Please only upload designs you’ve created or participated closely in creating.
  • You may upload open-source/copyleft designs if you provide attribution.
  • No pornographic or sexually explicit designs.
  • Please don’t upload weapons. The world has plenty of weapons already.

Now those seem reasonable and… WAIT A MINUTE!!! What’s that “Please don’t upload weapons” bit?

And oh how the debate has raged… I think you need a Google account, but you can see some of the discussion on the Thingiverse list. I’m not worried about my highlighting this, because the big guys already mentioned it over on Boing Boing. (Their readership is slightly larger than mine I assume.) Luckily, there are many experts, and each one left a comment!

I’m not going to choose one side or the other, but I just wanted to point out that the magic of Thingiverse isn’t in allowing you to upload and download files, or in the ability to leave comments or type up a description… The magic of Thingiverse is in the community. It’s in the users. From a technology standpoint, I don’t see anything that would prevent another site from doing pretty much the exact same thing.

So here’s my ideas: Weaponiverse

Tip: As of my writing this, is still available! Update: is live!

Don’t take this as my siding with the anti-weapons people. Or as siding with the weapons people. I’m siding with the DIY people. If Thingiverse isn’t doing what you want (allowing you to publish weapons, or being unclear about it) start your own damn site. Or post the files on your own blog, or put them on USB drives and hand them out. Remember, Thingiverse is run by people. (I assume it’s these two people.) At the end of the day, it’s their site. Just like Facebook is controlled by Facebook, Twitter is controlled by Twitter, etc. Thingiverse is their ball, and they can print it out and take it home if they want to…

But don’t let that stop you. If you want to share files (legally) go for it. That’s what the Internet is for, right?


Creative Commons Expert

The thing about posting things on the web is that you’re publishing to a world-wide audience of everyone you know, and everyone you don’t know, and if you happen to include in your slides a photo of someone, there’s a chance that someone who knows that person will see it, and they will probably mention it to that person…


nickhacks alerted me that he saw one of my photos… I asked if the presentation he saw it in was available online somewhere, as I wanted to see it as well.


He gave me a link, which wasn’t the actual presentation, but gave me enough info to find presentations by the speaker…


And there it is. Slide 108. A photo I created, and published on Flickr with a Creative Commons Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike License. It’s a pretty liberal license. It allows people to copy, share, and adapt the work, but it does require that you attribute the work to the creator… you know, give credit to the person who created it. It’s really simple. I even have a nice explanation on my Flickr profile page. So for instance, if you used my photo in a presentation, you might list the attribution part on a “credits” page at the end. This is pretty common in presentations nowadays…


Skip to the end of this specific presentation and the last page presents credits. The only attribution I could find was a blanket “all from whom I borrowed material” which was a little disappointing. But even more disappointing is that right there, on the last slide, on the bottom, is a Creative Commons logo, which licenses the slides under the “Creative Commons Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike” license… the very same license my photo was released under.

Did this person provide attribution when using my photo? Not that I could find. Is the photo being used for commercial purposes? Determining Noncommercial use is the most frustrating part of Creative Commons licensing. The presentation the photo is used in is not being sold, and is freely available (under the same license, even!) but does this presentation highlight the presenter as an “expert” in their field (even though it claims not to) which in turn may result in the furthering of this person’s career? Is that “commercial” use in any way? Probably not, but without a lawyer, I’m never quite sure about this… Sadly, it’s probably something only the courts could decide. (At least the Share Alike requirement was met.)

So now the question is… What do I do?


Musings on publishing and copyrights

I’m never sure if I think about these issues more because I’ve been involved in publishing for over 20 years, or if it’s because I’m a big fan of Creative Commons, or because I create music and images… or maybe it’s a combination of all those things…

Chances are, if you are reading this blog, that you are a publisher too. Most us are nowadays… If you have a blog, or a Flickr account, or upload videos to the web, you are a publisher. So my question to you is, do you think about the rights of others when you publish something you created, and incorporate their work?

I’ve seen it too many times in videos… someone puts together the visuals, the part they created, and then grabs some artist’s song to drop on top of it. Often it will be a song from a well known artist, used without permission. People often say “I’m not making money from it” or “It’s just for fun, no one is really going to see it” but saying those things dismisses the value of the artist’s work, and missed the fact that by publishing, you are showing it to the world.

Worse yet, is when people do this and re-license the work. Sorry, but you can’t just grab some Foo Fighter’s song, use it in your video, and put it under a Creative Commons license… or can you?

This is where I think things get a little gray. I mean, my old pal Dave Slusher of the Evil Genius Chronicles often uses material in his shows that have different licenses, and makes note of it in the show. So while the portions of his show he creates are under a specific license of his choosing, other parts (often songs) are not.

So the question is, can you create a work, put it under a license, and use material from different licenses in it? We start to see that whole “infection” thing they talk about in the software world.

I don’t have the answer to this, and it’s one of the continually nagging parts of licensing, and copyright, and Creative Commons I think about.


Your Rights (You gave them away!)

I came across this post today, from a guy who posted his video on YouTube, then saw it on VH1, and took the VH1 video, showing his video, and tried to show it, and… Well, go read the post….

I’ll only deal with the first part in which his video was used by VH1. When first saw one of those “web video” shows on TV months back, I knew something would go wrong. I was hoping they’d show a video that was under a non-commercial license (which would not include anything on YouTube obviously.) Well, this isn’t exactly how I saw it happening, but it’s close. Sort of. It is my belief that Christopher Knight surrendered his rights to his video when he uploaded it to YouTube. Well, more precisely, I should say that I think he granted YouTube a very liberal license do to whatever the hell they wanted to do with his videos… Below is just a snippet from the YouTube Terms of Service:

“For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions. However, by submitting User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.”

I’m definitely not a lawyer, but read it over, and do you see the “royalty-free… transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute… display… affiliates… business…. in any media formats and through any media channels” In other words, “You hereby grant YouTube the rights to do whatever the %$@&! they want with your content.” I mean, I can’t read that any other way.

How much do you want to bet that Viacom is an affiliate of Google/YouTube, and if they aren’t now, they will be tomorrow. Honestly, I caught a lot of crap from people because I kept saying that YouTube was bad/evil/thieves, etc. Sure, I’ve been known to promote rival services like Ourmedia and which, you know, actually let you control your creations, and maintain your rights.

You have choices people! I’m amazed by those who get all outraged about accounts and videos being deleted. It’s a service, someone else runs it, deal with it. Get your own account, post the videos there, or on a service that is friendly to what you do. Argh…..

We may have to hold a Creative Commons Salon in Milwaukee sooner than we thought.


Creative Commons + Milwaukee?

Milwaukee area artists, musicians, writers, photographers… Are you using Creative Commons licenses for things you create? Are you interested in learning about why you might want to use a Creative Commons license?

We are looking for people who think Creative Commons is a good thing, to share their experiences and opinions (and their work!) If we can find some folks interested in this, we might hold a Creative Commons Salon in Milwaukee.

We teach our kids to share… why shouldn’t we?