♡License to Love

Thanks everyone for your comments on Driving Without a License. Crosbie Fitch’s last comment inspired me to make this notice:

♡ Copying art is an act of love. Please copy.

What’s great about it is it’s plain old text – you can copy and paste that heart. There is no webding for the copyleft symbol. You could also use the filled-in heart instead of the outline:

♥ copying art is an act of love. please copy.

It could be shortened:

♡ Copying is an act of love. Please copy.

and varied:

♡ Copying art is an act of love. Love is not subject to law.

The ♡ could graphically substitute for a ©. For example:

♡ 2010 by Nina Paley. Please copy.

Don’t care about attribution? Keep it simple and mysterious:

♡ 2010

The ♡ can’t be trademarked (I hope), which means it can’t be controlled. That’s fine with me. Other people can, and do, use ♡ to mean all sorts of things. But it has a shared cultural meaning that transcends any use one person could put it to. Its power is that it’s not a license, not a trademark. It’s not subject to law.
Love is not subject to law.

What do you think?


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

20 thoughts on “♡License to Love”

  1. Funnily enough I expanded on that in a tweet 10 hours ago: “To copy is an act of love, not a crime. To copy me is to love me. To copy my art is to love my art. I love being copied and all who copy me.”

    And that was just because suggestion 4 didn’t fit in a single 140 char tweet: “I do not sue my potential customers for freely promoting me or my work, nor other artists who find it inspiring or worthy of building upon. To copy art is an act of love – not a crime.”

    So, I chopped the end off and made it a longer, extended tweet. 🙂

  2. I think the idea is good. To make it great, you need to be sure that:

    1) the heart symbol is positive in all cultures (I’m sure about western, and most S. America, but what’s about middle east, asia?)

    2) the character does appear as a heart in all reasonable fonts

    3) the character cannot be misinterpreted as a Chinese ideogram or some other character in a non-latin cultures/fonts.

  3. I love this solution! “Copying is an act of love. Please copy.” is my favorite, because it’s simple and contains an imperative — it tells the viewer what they can do.

    The heart symbol is not a Chinese ideogram, so no need to worry about that at least.

  4. “Please copy” should also be legally recognisable as an implied license. Righthaven is helping to demonstrate this given that “Please share” is held as tantamount to “Please copy” rather than “Please link”.

    Incidentally, I’d use icons rather than special characters as not all computers have the necessary fonts installed. Or be sure that the special characters are found on most platforms/browsers. When I use Ubuntu there are love hearts everywhere. Whereas on Windows XP there are mostly squares.

    You must be on the right track because there’s a saying that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. It’s only when dishonesty or malicious deceit comes into play that a flattering imitation or promotional copy becomes a counterfeit or forgery. Even love can be feigned.

    It is honesty that separates love from deceit and betrayal, and honesty that separates fair copying from plagiarism and loss of integrity.

    As love is assumed to be true, so an artist should assume their audience to be honest.

    Perhaps copyright then is comparable to state instituted prostitution – forbidding acts of love unless the copyright holding pimp is paid/permits?

    Free culture is synonymous with free love?

    Let’s make beautiful music together.

    If music be the food of love, play on.

  5. The mathematical formula (parametric) for a heart is:
    x = 16sin^3(t)
    y = 13cos(t)-5cos(2t)-2cos(3t)-cos(4t)


    gnuplot> set parametric

    dummy variable is t for curves, u/v for surfaces
    gnuplot> set size square
    gnuplot> plot 16*sin(t)**3,13*cos(t)-5*cos(2*t) – 2 * cos(3*t) – cos(4*t)

    Free Culture

  6. What about “Copying art is an act of love. Please copy, remix and let the love spread” or something better (sorry, I’m not a native English speaker ;), so that the full copyleft love is in ?

  7. I love it. I like that it sidesteps policy, philosophy, and marketing questions (which remain valid discussion topics in another context) and just says what you the artist want for your work. And it actually encapsulates your policy/philosophy very effectively.

    My personal choice for presentation:
    ♡ 2010 by Nina Paley.
    Copying is an act of love. Please copy.

    Because the first line clearly mimics a standard copyright notice, making sure the reader gets the point, and the second tells readers what you want, personally and without non-human, official-ese, sign-speak like “entry forbidden” or “slow children.”

  8. I really quite like “♡ Copying is an act of love. Please copy.” Especially because it is open to things beyond art. I’d like to keep the “share alike” principle in the equation as well though.

    Hope I’m not using it too quickly but I was compelled to include it in a play I just put up — but it looks sort of sloppy w/ the cc license as well. I changed the font type and that seemed to help a bit. Could they be used in tandem? Would that be meaningful or counterproductive?

    At any rate, thanks for this. It’s so simple and so much less confusing (at least in intent) than the cc licenses.

    (Thoughts on layout? http://kylerconway.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/the-constellation-minuet.pdf )

  9. Hello Kyle,

    IMHO you should emphasize the love and put the CC-BY-SA-License in a footnote in a smaller font. I agree with Rich Bailey: A mimiced standard copyright notice with the heart looks really cool.

    You can include some explainations in the footnote:
    “The law should not allow anyone to reserve a copyright on art. Until then your right to sell this work and all derived works is protected by the following license: CC-BY-SA Version XY”

  10. So… How does it work ? I’m asked to copy for love’s sake ♡
    But can I remix ? Can I include it in commercial work ? Can I remix it and then change the license ? Is it equivalent to public domain ? Are you giving up on the copyleft case ?

    I find the simple wording nice and catchy, but I don’t think it solves the licensing issue, and it won’t prevent people from putting a CC-BY-NC tag on modified versions…

    (BTW, I don’t think people necessarily associate Creative Commons licenses with NC terms. Look at , there are millions of images in each specific category. People know what they do.)

  11. Computers do copying all the time, without love. It’s just how they work. They copy your keystrokes to your window, then to your hard drive, then to your network adapter, then to your ISP, then to another ISP, then to your website’s hard drive, then to your friends’ computers, etc. Some of those happen because of “intentional” love by you, some do not. Unfortunately, all of these copies are (or claim to be) regulated by copyright law.

    I’m a big fan of love – and I ♡ Nina – but let’s not mix love and copying. And let’s not throw recycling into the mix either (though I really love how a friend got the recycling logo tattooed on her shoulder!). Recycling the hard drive is not the same as recycling the contents of the drive. I think “please recycle” will just confuse people into thinking you’re a lame cutesy environmentalist, rather than enlighten them about your disdain for copyright licenses.

    We’re all free to not mention what permission we give people to copy our work. The problem is that if we don’t, their default permission is limited by what Hollywood bought from Congress. Writing aphorisms about love can distract us from that problem, but doesn’t solve it. Copyrights are ignored (at their minor peril) by the inattentive; but using a CC-SA logo/link rather than a ♡ informs the attentive that you and they form a posse who are building a subculture unconstrained by and in opposition to Hollywood’s copyright maximalism.

  12. @john

    I think the copyheart iconography is very useful (though it might be better with a little “c” inside). We can’t limit ourselves to the attentive: the best way to get people out of one story is to give them another story to be in. Copyheart does that. It’s visually memorable, it’s easy to pronounce, it’s easy to draw, and it doesn’t replace your formal copyright license notice — it just gives people a shorthand by which to say “If you love it, copy it”. Artists need something short and easy by which to associate themselves with the copying-is-good movement. CC notices are not that thing: the fact that many artists cannot even remember which CC license they’re using (I’m not making that up — test it, it’s true), and the fact that the CC brand itself conveys only minimal information about the artist’s desires w.r.t. copying, renders CC a problematic tool for changing minds, although it’s a wonderful tool for offering license choices.

    (I don’t mean that as a backhanded compliment: I use CC-BY and CC-BY-SA licenses, and I love CC. It’s just that as a brand, it’s not well-suited to activism, due to its legalism and inherent complexity.)

    I think the technical fact that computers copy all the time is irrelevant to most people’s conception of this issue. Humans mainly have opinions about the copies that humans make & are conscious of; that’s where we should focus.

  13. @nina – Thanks for letting me know. For some reason I forgot to return to this site (was mid-qualifying exams). Not sure how to edit that particular link. Just a general link should do (as I’ll likely be implementing some of the suggestions here). http://kylerconway.wordpress.com/plays/

    @Thomas – Thanks for those ideas. Really like that. The SA is an important component for me. Minimizing the CC to a footnote will provide the info that anyone needs (if they’re even looking for it) while prominently and clearly (hopefully visually) doing the copyheart thing. Excellent.

    @Karl Fogel – Thanks for explaining this via IRC this past week. I didn’t know this had already been somewhat discussed here.

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