Some Rights Reserved

Running counter to the music industry's paranoia concerning the perils of modern digital technology, some musicians want you to share their music—within limits., which bills itself as "the world's largest musician community," announced June 7 that it now offers the Creative Commons Music Sharing License as an optional tag for all songs uploaded to its website.

Creative Commons (, a non-profit advocacy group dedicated to the "creative reuse of intellectual works—whether owned or in the public domain," has drafted a license that not only allows fans to download music files, but also copy and share them, as long as they don't make commercial use of the files or alter the works. This, says the organization, "allows musicians to harness the power of the Net for maximum promotion while retaining rights to their work." was created in 1999 and has become the largest community of independent musicians on the web. It recently announced that it would resurrect the former's archive of 1.7 million songs, making it potentially the largest source of free legal downloads on the Internet.

"The innovative Creative Commons license [allows us to] offer musicians a powerful new option to enable the spread of their music," said GarageBand CEO Ali Partovi. "By expanding beyond the traditional boundaries of copyright law, this is an important step towards our vision of a fairer, more efficient, and more creative music industry."

The Creative Commons "deed" comes in three forms:
1) a plain language version ("human readable," in CC jargon)
2) in legal terms ("lawyer readable nitty gritty")
3) HTML encoded to facilitate Web searches ("machine readable")

The human readable version of the deed says, "You are free to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and to make derivative works under the following conditions:
Attribution. You must give the original author credit.
Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
Share Alike. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.

For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work.

Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above."

Lawrence Lessig, chairman of Creative Commons and the author of Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity, called's adoption of the Commons license "a huge step for the world of independent music."