Self Serving


Those folks following my Twitter stream know that I’ve been recording chapters of Thuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs for the LibriVox project. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to works produced by LibriVox and decided that it was high time that I contribute something back for others to (hopefully!) enjoy. People have often remarked to me over the years that I have a good voice, so I’m glad to be able to finally put it to some use.

It’s been fun recording, and the twins have both expressed an interest in trying their hand. Tayler learned pretty quickly that it’s substantially harder than she anticipated, but hopefully she hasn’t given up entirely on the idea: I’d love to have both of them record something for submission to LibriVox!

It’s also been a lot of fun getting into the LibriVox community. I’m only taking baby steps, keeping in mind my limited free time, but I’m looking forward to participating more in the future, and also to recording more books. I intend to read The Chessmen of Mars as soon as I finish this current project.

All recordings submitted to LibriVox are in the public domain. This means that anyone, anywhere, can take my work and use it for pretty much any purpose. This sometimes causes consternation to some folks in the forums, as they seek to protect their work from creating financial gain for someone else. This doesn’t bother me at all; in fact, I’m happy to contribute something to the body of public domain works. If my narrations provide a useful foundation to someone else’s cool project, that’s just fine by me! I have neither the time nor talent to produce much more than these simple recordings.

I’m not a professional speaker, nor a professional voice actor (though I’m not opposed to exploring either as a long-term career!), so it does little good to me to horde the rights to my recordings. If someone can use my recordings to provide narration to a movie they produce, for example, that’s cool! Something better than either of us could have made on our own is now available for the world to enjoy! If someone wants to use my recordings as part of a mashup, I say go for it! I am 100% okay with people using my works as a springboard to something better.

In a similar vein, I release (almost) all of my photos on Flickr under a liberal CreativeCommons license, specifically permitting folks to use my photos in derivative works. The only stipulations I enforce are that you must credit me as the creator of the original photo and that you must make your derivative work available to others for modification in the same way that I made my photo available to you. (You may contact me privately to negotiate a specific license if you’d like to use my photos without being bound by these requirements.) Over the years, I’ve been approached by several people asking for permission to use my photos in small projects. One fellow wanted to use a photo for a holiday greeting card for a client of his; another woman wanted to use one of my photos as part of the cover illustration for a sci-fi romance novel she was writing. Several folks have used my photos on their websites – including a Yahoo! news page. I think this is all perfectly wonderful: I’m not a professional photographer, so it does me no good to horde the rights to my photos. By making them available under a CC license, I make my photos available for others to use in creative, often useful ways. Schmap is using several of my photos in their map products, for example. This is a tremendous example of the benefit of CC licensing: I get photo credit for the photos I took, and tourists get the benefit of my photos in these maps to provide real-world photos of historical places. Schmap gets to focus on producing quality original content without worrying about exorbitant photo licensing fees. Everyone wins!

Another benefit, one which is entirely unexpected, is the sheer delight I experience when I discover one of my photos being used. I was floored when I found that my photo of Henry Rollins was used on the Henry Rollins Wikipedia entry. While preparing for my presentation to middle schoolers about Ukrainian culture, I was similarly stunned to see a photo from Ann’s wedding being used to illustrate the Ukranian wedding traditions entry at Wikipedia! I’m amazed that someone, somewhere, found my photos and put them to such a good use. I earnestly hope that I can continue to create and share things that prove useful to folks far outside my own limited sphere of influence.

It’s really neat to me, on a personal level, to have so many of my things being used in this way. I suppose, were I so inclined, it would provide a foundation for more professional endeavours; but I’m not particularly interested in going that route any time soon. Of course, if anyone from Pixar is reading this, please do not hesitate to contact me about openings for the John Carter of Mars film(s) being produced!

It’s entirely self-serving of me to release my creations under liberal (or no!) licensing: it makes me feel good.

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