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Lonely Island

Open Culture

Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer are the members of The Lonely Island, an LA-based comedy collective, who have released much of their music and video shorts online under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

Also known as “the dudes”, Andy, Jorma and Akiva soon found that they were developing a fan base, some of whom were remixing their music, so they posted these remixes to their site as well.

Earlier this year, “the dudes” shot a pilot for FOX called Awesometown but FOX rejected the pilot. Instead of letting the show wither on a shelf somewhere, the group posted the full video both cut and uncut to their CC-licensed site. The edgy, quirky short spread like wildfire online and eventually landed all three performers jobs on Saturday Night Live (SNL).

In SNL’s Fall 2005 season, Andy Samberg will join as a new cast member, while Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer will join the show as writers.

Creative Commons asked Andy, Jorma and Akiva to explain a little about what had led them down the Creative Commons route & their experience along the way.

Creative Commons (“CC”): How did you hear about Creative Commons?

The Lonely Island (“TLI”): We first started posting our comedy shorts, songs and music videos on the web in 2001. Some of our work involves parodies and remixing, so we were thrilled when our fans began sending us remixed versions of our songs. We even sent some of them the acapella vocal tracks to work with and posted the results. Akiva’s brother suggested we check out the Creative Commons project. Around the same time, our friend DJ Danger Mouse was stirring up a bunch of controversy with the Grey Album.

Ultimately we discovered that by continuing to do what we were already doing and then adding a Creative Commons deed to the page, we could protect ourselves, and our fans. That’s what sold us on it. It lets everyone know that they are free to share and remix our stuff, all the rules are right there – they don’t even need to ask permission. It’s really a win-win.

CC: What attracted the dudes to the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike or BY-NC-SA license?

TLI: The BY-NC-SA seemed like a safe and fair choice. It covers probably 99.99% of our audience’s needs, and anyone who would like to do more with something is free to contact us. Occasionally a commercial website or television network will ask for permission to use a video. We evaluate each offer and sometimes we’ll arrange for a nominal licensing fee.

CC: What were the kinds of reactions (both positive and negative) you experienced as a result of choosing to license the pilot under a Creative Commons license?

TLI: We’re really encouraged by the reaction so far. A lot of people heard about it through Defamer and BoingBoing and the response has been great. Still, many of our viewers don’t notice the Creative Commons license or understand what it is, so we’ve been thinking of some fun ways to get more of them involved. In the meantime, we’re really busy with our new jobs, so we’re grateful we got this opportunity to start spreading the word.

Posted 17 October 2005