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Old 06-12-2019, 02:00 PM   #1
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change copyright to creative commons non-commercial?

I was wondering, is it possible to downgrade an existing copyright to Creative Commons Non-commercial?

I was thinking that it would be a great marketing and public relations move if, for example, Amazon were to advertise that they'll work with the copyright holders of books where the author is deceased (or even alive maybe) to change the copyrights to Creative Commons Non-commercial as well as work with the various project Gutenbergs, archive.org, and other e-book sites and submit these "re-copyrighted" books to them. Of course Amazon would also have in their store the ebooks in Kindle format for free.

The advantage to the copyright holders (e.g., descendants of the authors) being that I suspect that the reason they're maintaining and renewing the copyrights is not for any money they get from book sales but from potential money from rights for making movies, tv shows, etc. from the books and short stories. So the books would get a wider distribution and increased public awareness and the copyright holders could potentially still make money from the studios, and maybe the increased public awareness would increase the likelihood of them being licensed by the studios.
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Old 06-12-2019, 02:35 PM   #2
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I was wondering, is it possible to downgrade an existing copyright to Creative Commons Non-commercial?
Yes, it's possible, if you own the copyright. You can always progress to a less restrictive license, but you can't go the other way. It might end up triggering a lawsuit, though, depending on who thinks they're losing something. CC hasn't been tested very widely in court, yet. Where it has, it has always held up, though. I can't speak to the other stuff.

Is there any reason you chose CC-NC rather than SA?
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Old 06-12-2019, 02:58 PM   #3
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Is there any reason you chose CC-NC rather than SA?
No, no reason. I have no idea what the differences are, I just said NC because it sounds like what I was thinking.
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Old 06-12-2019, 03:00 PM   #4
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Yes, it's possible, if you own the copyright. You can always progress to a less restrictive license, but you can't go the other way. It might end up triggering a lawsuit, though, depending on who thinks they're losing something. CC hasn't been tested very widely in court, yet. Where it has, it has always held up, though. I can't speak to the other stuff.
Ok, thanks. I was thinking about it because there are times when you can see a descendant renewing copyrights when the books are unlikely to still be popular, and I was thinking that perhaps it's because the stories might be useful for the studios. So make the ebooks free but the studios still have to pay to use the stories.

Last edited by lumpynose; 06-12-2019 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 06-12-2019, 07:04 PM   #5
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Ok, thanks. I was thinking about it because there are times when you can see a descendant renewing copyrights when the books are unlikely to still be popular, and I was thinking that perhaps it's because the stories might be useful for the studios. So make the ebooks free but the studios still have to pay to use the stories.
Okay, gotcha.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:38 PM   #6
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Ok, thanks. I was thinking about it because there are times when you can see a descendant renewing copyrights when the books are unlikely to still be popular, and I was thinking that perhaps it's because the stories might be useful for the studios. So make the ebooks free but the studios still have to pay to use the stories.
I suspect that some people think that holding a copyright is a potential gold mine. They are thinking they are going to get Tolkien or Rowling type money rather than make it available for free. Of course, with orphaned works, the copyright holders likely don't even know that they hold the copyright, they just vaguely remember that Great Uncle John was a writer especially if Great Uncle John was a mid tier author who didn't make a mint.

I don't know if you have ever had to work through an estate, but it can be really tough to even figure out what sort of bank accounts and investment accounts someone has. Maybe if the book is in print and they are getting some sort of statement from the publisher, but something that is out of print?
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:59 PM   #7
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I suspect that some people think that holding a copyright is a potential gold mine. They are thinking they are going to get Tolkien or Rowling type money rather than make it available for free.
...
Maybe if the book is in print and they are getting some sort of statement from the publisher, but something that is out of print?
Yep. For the one I'm thinking of, her father's writings did get used for tv and maybe some movie scripts as well.

And my idea of Amazon doing what I outlined is pie in the sky; why would they spend the time and money on free books? Even if they did I doubt that they'd bother to share the raw text with anyone else. Maybe if someone donated millions to Project Gutenberg they could mount a campaign to get the word out about the potential advantages of CC-SA, but I'm not holding my breath.
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Old 06-13-2019, 01:17 AM   #8
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Of course, with orphaned works, the copyright holders likely don't even know that they hold the copyright, they just vaguely remember that Great Uncle John was a writer especially if Great Uncle John was a mid tier author who didn't make a mint.


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I was thinking about it because there are times when you can see a descendant renewing copyrights when the books are unlikely to still be popular, and I was thinking that perhaps it's because the stories might be useful for the studios.
Copyrights aren't renewed (anymore). Ever since the Berne Convention, in nearly all countries they're automatically applied until Life+50/70:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...yright_lengths

In reality, this lasts more than 100+ years.

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Maybe if someone donated millions to Project Gutenberg they could mount a campaign to get the word out about the potential advantages of CC-SA, but I'm not holding my breath.
Note: Project Gutenberg works on and releases Public Domain material... not Creative Commons.

Side Note: I'm a huge proponent of CC licensing and getting books as open as possible. (Most of the Non-Fiction books I work on are variants of CC-BY.)

Back in 2017, we also had a large CC/Public Domain/Copyright discussion:

"How to Incorporate Pic Attribute for CC lic"

with links to other articles as well. Even linking to articles discussing the potential unenforceability of the more open variants, like CC0.
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Old 06-13-2019, 01:32 AM   #9
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Ok, thanks. I was thinking about it because there are times when you can see a descendant renewing copyrights when the books are unlikely to still be popular, and I was thinking that perhaps it's because the stories might be useful for the studios. So make the ebooks free but the studios still have to pay to use the stories.
What do you mean by "renewing copyright"? Copyright cannot be renewed; it exists automatically and vanishes 70 years after the death of the author.
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Old 06-13-2019, 03:15 AM   #10
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What do you mean by "renewing copyright"? Copyright cannot be renewed; it exists automatically and vanishes 70 years after the death of the author.
Yes, even in the USA. Copyright renewal hasn't been a thing in the US since the 1992 Copyright Act, which removed the need to renew copyright.

Any work copyrighted in the USA from 1964 onwards didn't need to have copyright renewed.
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Old 06-13-2019, 11:05 AM   #11
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Yes, even in the USA. Copyright renewal hasn't been a thing in the US since the 1992 Copyright Act, which removed the need to renew copyright.
Thanks, nice to know.
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Old 06-13-2019, 02:40 PM   #12
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I was wondering, is it possible to downgrade an existing copyright to Creative Commons Non-commercial?
[...]
The advantage to the copyright holders (e.g., descendants of the authors) being that I suspect that the reason they're maintaining and renewing the copyrights is not for any money they get from book sales but from potential money from rights for making movies, tv shows, etc. from the books and short stories.
By far the biggest reason that nothing is being done with the many, many out-of-print but still-in-copright books is because the author's heirs aren't interested, or may be unaware of the books, or may not exist (i.e. the author doesn't have any heirs).


But anyone who does own the copyright of something is free at any time to issue it under a creative commons licence.
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