R.E.M., by Dunechaser. And Lego.

There are some serious, high-profile indications that big artists are beginning to embrace alternative licensing for their content, whether it’s pay-what-you-wish distribution, “please remix this for us” marketing campaigns, or genuinely open content. Whether that’s just a brief fad or the sign of things to come, it’s too early to say. But R.E.M. have at least uploaded a full eleven videos, nicely encoded in MPEG4, under an open source license:

Supernatural Serious Album Page, with vids

R.E.M. Releases New Videos Under Open Source License [ReadWriteWeb, via vade]

R.E.M. aside, I wonder: will at least some VJs embrace open content, perhaps even exclusively?

Now, this isn’t without caveats:

First, curiously this isn’t a Creative Commons license, as ReadWriteWeb points out. Maybe R.E.M. need to get hip to their licensing options. Upshot: the band curiously says you can’t distribute your versions, but you can upload them to YouTube. (What, no Vimeo?)

Second, there’s the video themselves … you could probably get a friend with a guitar and shoot them yourself in Manhattan. Oh, and the question of whether you really want to be helping R.E.M. market their new album in your VJ sets, if creating remixed videos for them isn’t really up your alley.

But despite those reservations, I still have to applaud their initiative. And I wonder, as well, as options grow, should VJs start to go legit? VJs have always “liberated” content — and, unlike sampling musicians, haven’t ever really had to answer for that. That much I think is fine; it’s part of the aesthetic of the medium. But it’s also been done, and VJs now have an opportunity to promote open source content that’s legally licensed for the purpose, as well as, more than ever, the easy ability to generate unique stuff.

Without turning this into a major controversy, I’m curious what people think. The question of ownership gets into other issues — club owners would love to record a DVD of a VJ set and just run that ad infinitum, without paying a VJ. But, having extracted whatever statement we’re going to make by sampling content out in the world, could we make a new statement about original and open-licensed content? (Yeah, I know — the answer most probably does not hinge on R.E.M.)