Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Tue 23rd Jan, 2007

The mixes at last

On Monday[1], I completed the first of two mixes that I'd been wanting to mix for Linux.Conf.Au 2007. In hospital, I completed the second, slightly shorter, harder and faster mix. I call them the Flashing Google Badge Mix and the Wired Kernel Hacker Mix. You can call then "free to download and remix".

I've taken this time to post them because I wanted to check the actual status of that. This year I bought a bunch of music from Magnatunes - $125.04AUD worth, to be precise - because their music is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Sharealike license. That link is taken directly from their site, and under the 'license' link of any CD it allows you to select from a bewildering array of other licensing possibilities for film, podcast, sampling and a huge range of other uses. I read up a bit on their 'student' license (which is what they call the non-commercial use license) and it said that I could get free access to the audio tracks by emailing their licensing person. So I did. I explained that I was an amateur DJ mixing music at one of the premier open-source and open culture events on the planet, and that I wouldn't receive any money from them and would keep within the terms of their by-nc-sa license.

Almost immediately, the conversation took a tangent I didn't understand. She replied saying that they'd be happy for me to distribute any one of the Magnatune compilation albums, which are premixed and prepackaged. I explained that I worked from raw source material, and she understood that but didn't offer anything but the compilation CDs again. I elaborated that I really wanted access to a large part of their entire electronica catalogue, but that I would buy the music (seeing as it sounded like they weren't prepared to give it away in the quantities I needed). I also confirmed that my mix would be under the by-nc-sa license.

And here's where we definitely took a turn into complete incomprehensibility. She replied saying:

If you are want to use various artists from our catalog, instead of the Magnatune Compilations, for the giveaways, our 'Compilation' music license is required.

The one-time fee for this license runs at about $60 per song, or $600 per album, for 100 units. This license would allow you to redistribute or sell the mixes and keep the profit. I understand you are on a limited budget and would be happy to work out a custom agreement.

$60 per song was way above my head, and suddenly we were talking about selling the mixes? How had this come into the conversation? Afraid of rousing the sleeping demons, I snuck away, bought the music, and investigated the license. Which, sure enough, says that I can remix it and create derivative works from it as long as I:

  1. Say who made it and where it came from.
  2. Don't charge for it.
  3. Allow the same thing to be done to my mix.

All of which are fine by me. So if anyone can explain how I and the licensing from Magnatune got so tangled up, I'd be happy to understand it.

You can find the track listings at here for the Flashing Google Badge Mix and here for the Wired Kernel Hacker Mix - when I've finally got the templating engine working. Always one more thing to do, you know?

[1] - while I was waiting for my appendix to be too painful to bear.

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