The latest Nine Inch Nails album has been released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license (via Lessig). While the license isn’t quite free as in freedom, it’s a huge step forward; it allows sharing (copying, distribution, performance) and remixing, though only for non-commercial purposes.
Reznor, now label-free, released the album online offering it in a variety of packages, including a $300 deluxe edition option which sold out in two days.
The Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license really differentiates this from other similar offerings, even Radiohead’s In Rainbows which involved tracks available at no cost (if you wished) but with all rights still technically reserved. DRM-free does not mean copyright-free; you are still legally forbidden from copying, distributing, performing and remixing it without the consent of the copyright holder, even if it isn’t (attempted to be) enforced by technological protection measures. By releasing his music under such a license, Reznor has protected and guaranteed the ability for people to share and remix his music (though only for non-commercial purposes). Kudos to him!
I release my music under a Creative Commons license as well, though I’ve had a lot of confusion over which license to release it under. Currently, I’ve been using a Creative Commons Music Sharing License, which is rather restrictive (BY-NC-ND). Upon recently discovering the Freedom Defined project, I’ve been seriously considering turning to a license that meets the definition of free cultural works, namely the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license, but I have some reservations about allowing commercial use and need to do some more research.
In the meantime, I’ll probably be sampling the new NIN album with the free download, and then maybe purchasing the NIN $5 option (with all 36 tracks in a variety of digital formats). Kudos to Trent Reznor!