Copyright and Licensing Terms
This page is to clarify the copyright status and licensing terms of materials on the Lunatics! Project and associated websites.
Lunatics! Episodes, Excerpts, and Behind-the-Scenes Videos
Our published output is released under the terms of the following license:
If incorporated as a whole work (e.g. if broadcast on local TV stations, included in a video magazine, or otherwise shown as entire episodes), the Attribution requirement is to roll the episode’s credits with the show.
In cases where excerpts or stills are used, it will be sufficient to simply identify the project:
Please make this a link if the medium allows hyperlinking (as I have done with the line above). This encourages people to check our page for more information.
Preferred practices (not required, but doing us a favor):
- Link to the episode release page for the correct episode if possible, rather than simply the top page of the site.
- Credit artists whose work is featured in the excerpt if you can determine it.
Note that these same license terms and attribution can be used for almost all stills, models, concept art, and other original Lunatics! Project work, as well as most hosted “passive collaboration” works on the site. However some hosted works may be shared under even less restrictive terms by themselves. Such cases will be identified in captions or other related labels.
This also applies to project-related documentation, blog posts, and other content on the website.
Older CC Licenses and the Upgrade
We started with and still release some content under CC By-SA 3.0 (i.e. the previous version of the license). We retain this, partially to avoid forcing license upgrades on combined works when it isn’t necessary. However, you may of course re-release these under the newer 4.0 terms. This generally applies to our original visual content.
Other than just keeping up with the times, the reason for the switch to 4.0 is that it’s the first CC license to formalize compatibility with the License Art Libre / Free Art License (LAL/FAL) license.
This is an older license, popular in France and throughout Europe for musical tracks. Compatibility with LAL enlarges the catalog of tracks we can use without special permissions.
Included Works Under Special Permissions
There are a few cases where you may be surprised to find that the upstream work does not have the same free CC license on it.
We acquired permission directly from artists on certain music tracks to release these tracks under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. This includes the following tracks featured in the pilot story:
- “Space Zine” by Elaine Walker (Performed by Zia). Previously “All Rights Reserved”.
- “New World” by Elaine Walker (Performed by Zia). Previously “All Rights Reserved”.
- “Bellatrix” by J.T. Bruce. Previously under CC By-NC-ND.
- “Magic of Freedom” by Distemper. Previously under FAL (The change to the CC 4.0 license makes this permission redundant).
To be included in the show, our minimum requirement is that the segment of the song as edited for production (“TV size”) be re-licensed to our CC By-SA 4.0 license in its “dry” form (that is, before mixing with other sounds). We prefer to have the right to release the entire original track, but this will depend on what the artist is willing to license. I recommend checking if you need the latter. Strictly speaking, this only applies if you download the track from our site, as the artist is free to release under other licenses elsewhere.
There are also a few tracks in our library in which the author has chosen to change the currently published license sometime after we downloaded it under the original CC By-SA terms to something non-free. This includes the Piano tracks from Yunus’ “Running Against Time”, which are used in our pilot episodes (at minimum, these were posted by the artist on Jamendo from 2009 to 2013 under the CC By-SA, although they now appear under CC By-NC-SA — the non-commercial term did not apply when we acquired the tracks in 2012 and so does not apply to us now).
I’m frankly not very comfortable with this practice and regard it as poor-form. Legally, this has no effect on us, since the Creative Commons licenses are irrevocable explicitly and by design. However, it is perfectly legal to re-release content under a different license at a different time.
What this means legally is that you are allowed to download, share, and redistribute these tracks if you acquire them from us, but perhaps not if you downloaded them from the site where they are now offered under non-free terms.
What bothers me is that it suggests the artist isn’t aware of these legal details and might try to challenge our use or distribution of the music. Such a case might have to go to court to prove that our copy is legal, and I’d hate to go there.
We have also received challenges from commercial music publishers, claiming to have rights on works which were previously published under the CC By-SA or FAL licenses (often prior to publication on their label). For example, this has happened twice on YouTube videos containing “Magic of Freedom” by Distemper.
This is also pretty awkward. I don’t generally inquire into the why in these cases, but one possibility is that the publisher’s contract requires exclusive rights and therefore the artist who previously published under an irrevocable free public license may have signed that contract under false pretenses, either knowingly or not. I would not like to be the cause of the artist getting into legal trouble with their publisher.
From a legal liability standpoint, it might be safer to pull these pieces from our work, but we have already invested time and energy to incorporate them under a solemn promise of an irrevocable free public license, whose terms we take pains to honor. We’ve held up our side of that bargain, and have no obligation to change. The whole point of using free public license is to avoid this sort of complication.
Public Domain and Fair Use
Creative Commons licenses never restrict “fair use” terms.
As far as I am concerned, a screen-capture of our website represented as such, particularly when used to refer to our site, falls under “fair use” so that we couldn’t restrict your right to use it if we wanted to (and I don’t anyway). Such uses are effectively public domain.
But as the site disclaimer says: “No Phishin’“. Don’t use our content to pretend you are us. That would be fraud, and is a serious crime, in addition to annoying us.
Public Relations Photos and Personality Rights
We have photos of contributors on our sites whose purpose is to illustrate the depicted person’s involvement with our project (if you feel we are using your image improperly, please tell us). The issue here isn’t copyright, but personality rights, trademarks, and fraud laws. You must not untruthfully use these photos to indicate endorsement of other works unless you acquire permission from the person depicted. You may use them to indicate the depicted person’s involvement in our project.
Copyright-Free US Government Works (NASA)
Works produced by government employees of the United States, in the normal course of their work, are free of copyright (they go straight into the public domain). This often applies to commissioned concept artwork as well. Being a space-related project, we have quite a few of these.
NASA’s own Media Usage Guidelines are informative, although kind of scary reading (it’s not at all obvious that these works are in fact public domain, from reading this document).
Again, the issue with these isn’t the copyright, it’s the disclaimer about personality rights and fraudulent implication of endorsement. Most of the time that’s a non-issue with space imagery, but it could be important with photos including astronauts, depending on how you use them.
If a work was previously published under what I regard as a “more free” license (CC By, CC 0, or Public Domain), then we generally try to host that content in its original form under that license. Note that these licenses are compatible with our default CC By-SA 4.0 license, so if you have any doubt and that is sufficient for your needs, you are free to use it. Generally in these cases, you should attribute the original author rather than us (we will provide attribution along with these works).
Non-Free Reference Material
There are also a few cases where we have hosted non-free material in our asset repository for reference use only (typically, photographs of things we want to model). We try to make sure these are clearly marked, and we avoid it as much as possible. Generally, we do not host such content if the terms are too restrictive to allow it, which unfortunately means some reference material can only be seen privately by our production team and not made visible on the public website.
Our software projects are usually hosted on other sites, and will have explicit license statements included. In most cases, we will use the Gnu GPL or LGPL, although we may occasionally use a more permissive (non-copyleft) license, such as the MIT license in cases where inclusion in proprietary software would be to our advantage (such as plugins or reference code where avoidance of licensing conflicts will help adoption).
As a rule of thumb: if something on our site is not attributed and marked with a license, it is under CC By-SA 4.0 and may be attributed to “Lunatics!” Project | lunatics.tv (or if space is limited, just to “lunatics.tv”). It may be under a less restrictive license, but this will be safe.