Do you use Creative Commons service to protect work on your site? Do you protect just audio (samples, SFX, recording...) or your texts as well? I just start using it and I would like to know what you thing about Creative Commons.

4 Answers 4


IMO creative commons works remarkably well for distribution of full length music cuts and video clips to enhance one's personal library, but falls apart once one wants to use them in even a non-commercial edit of a project because of the no derivative works clause.

It's also really not a good way to protect sfx because of the nature of how those get used in projects and how projects get credited out, not to mention the work-for-hire nature of sound design and sound design elements.

I think the sfx and music community need some alternative to creative commons with a diff name that allows for derivative work usage with or without credit, but restricts end users from collecting and offering collections for sale.

The legal part of The Sound Collectors Club website offers something that's pretty descriptive of what the alternative needs to be:

If you upload audio to the Sound Collectors’ Club your audio still remains your property but you are agreeing to other people, who have contributed to the same set, downloading and using that audio howsoever they please, whether commercially or non-commercially, domestically or internationally and as many times as they like – except they are not permitted to distribute or sell the audio on as the audio itself (except for the audio that they originally contributed), whether individually or as a sound fx library.

The only thing that's missing is some sort of certification that the sounds you post to the group actually originated from you and that you have full authority to put it out there (though that's addressed elsewhere for the purposes of TSCC).

  • @Rene It's a great point you've raised. I totally agree that the non-derivative aspect of CC licenses kind of defeats the point of sound effects - they will almost always be manipulated when they are used in some other work. And I love the ideas behind the Sound Collectors' Club and Tim Prebble's Hiss and Roar Collaboration libraries. To reward those who input to the libraries by offering the use of the library as a whole is a concept that is fare to all who participate and encourages community involvement. Nov 19, 2010 at 20:32
  • I'm clearly missing something. Where does it say "No derivative works"? The one on Freesound clearly allows for derivative works. Perahps I'm misreading something.freesound.org/legal.php Nov 22, 2010 at 4:44
  • The derivative works clause can kind of be turned on or off depending on the specific item. Most CC music has a no derivative works clause intact, meaning you can't edit it or sync it to picture. For your own SFX you can stipulate that derivative works are allowed, but again that is an aspect of the liscense that can vary by work. for more see this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_licenses
    – Rene
    Nov 22, 2010 at 5:09

I like it in some regards as it does give some form of protection for your work.

However, I wouldn't use sounds with CC licence in any commercial work. As far as I understand if I did the company I work for would have to reference the use in the end credits. There isn't enough room in the credits for every single person who has worked on a show as it is let alone adding dozens of references for sound effects use. This problem renders and CC SFX useless to me personally.

On the flip side I appreciate that any sounds I have put on Sound Cloud come with this protection which makes me more comfortable having my own work online.



Copyright is a tricky one as there are different laws around the world. In the UK, as soon as you create something, be it a sound recording or piece of sound design, you immediately own the the copyright on that creation. This means anyone who wishes to use it will need to obtain a license to use it. Therefore, anything that I create is automatically protected under UK copyright law. A creative commons license allows anyone to use your work free of charge as long as they give you credit. As Ian said, most commercial projects avoid using assets that carry a CC license due to this issue.

From a personal point of view, if someone approached me about using one of my creations under a creative commons license I'd consider it, but it would be entirely dependent on the way it would be used. If it was for a commercial project then I would not grant a CC license, unless there were some clear benefits. However, I would grant a CC license to a worthy cause. I guess it comes down to judging how something will be used by the end user.

  • @Colin I currently use the strictest CC license for my work so people can link to my work and copy it but not change it or use it commercially. If I decide to use those sounds within a commercial release after time, what happens if people have already copied my work for personal use? Do the users have to delete all my files as the files are now "All Rights Reserved"? Sorry for the long reply and thanks in advance. Nov 19, 2010 at 19:23
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    @Ade Even Creative Commons licenses can get very complicated as there are many different possibilities on which license you use. But all Creative Commons licenses, no matter which type you use, are non-exclusive. This means you, the owner, are free to negotiate another non-exclusive license with someone else (say a commercial company who will pay you). The license agreement between you and the commercial company will not affect the Creative Commons license and the people who are already using your work under the CC license. Nov 19, 2010 at 20:05
  • @Colin Thanks for helping to clear that subject up a bit for me. Selling the recording commercially, I still own the recording unless there is something in the contract? Just clearing it up :) Nov 19, 2010 at 21:43
  • @Ade When you sell the recording commercially, you actually sell a license for it's use, not the recording itself. You still own the recording. Whether the license is exclusive or non-exclusive defines whether or not you can then sell different licenses to other companies. However, if you are employed by someone to create sounds for their project, that's a whole different can of worms... Nov 20, 2010 at 8:31
  • @Colin Right got the selling my sounds :). Yeah there has been threads on whether you own the sounds you record for a project but I would guess that depends on the contract, I will begin reading them all. Thanks for your help Colin. Nov 20, 2010 at 12:33

Creative Commons is a form of Copyright license. The nice thing about is that it allows versions under other licenses (say for an edited part of the piece) to coexist alongside the main body of work+license ("Waiver — Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder"). It does freak out some legal people but is also great for independent producers who seek this kind of flexibility that allows them to spread their work without heavy-handed restrictions like full Copyright.

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