Free Music License?

Alex Hudson home at
Sun Aug 14 16:56:50 UTC 2005

On Sun, 2005-08-14 at 18:40 +1000, Ben Finney wrote:
> The GPL talks about "program" and "source code"; so long as you make
> it clear what you consider those terms to apply to, the GPL should not
> be problematic to apply to any copyrighted work if you want.

I'm afraid I think the GPL would be a terrible licence to apply to
music. I can't think of a sensible definition of "source" and "program"
that would apply to music without trying to fudge things (i.e., trying
to treat a performance the same as compilation). The GPL also doesn't
recognise the separate, severable copyrights that subsist in most music
- all of which must be licensed. Trying to licence all those copyrights
simultaneously under the GPL would result in a dog's breakfast, in my
opinion - I don't know how you could define what was "source" with
regards a performance, for example, in a way that made sense wrt. the
obligations of the GPL.

Music is a special case - the law treats it very differently (i.e.,
having several copyrights subsist in a single work - you don't usually
have different rights to the same thing) and I think that demands a
different licensing scheme.



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