The emergence of an Asian creative Commons

One of the unsung heroes of the Asian internet, is Frederick Noronha, who has been tirelessly reporting for years about the Asian scene from his base in Goa. Here he is reviewing how Asian artists are taking up the sharing ethos and practices that have been largely enabled by the Creative Commons. The excerpt we choose does not cover the Arab Commons and the developments in Australia and New Zealand. The booklet on which the story is based also describes the activities of the P2P Foundation, which is ‘physically’ based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Frederick Noronha:

“They come from diverse backgrounds. They come from different parts of Asia and the Pacific. But they all share a belief in going beyond copyright and seeing how sharing their work can make sense.

Remix artists, performers, open-source software programmers, filmmakers, collecting institutions and publishing houses focused on democracy and change, are among those building the ‘commons’ in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a new booklet focussing on the subject.

They have a “diverse set of motivations to engage with the shared ideals of openness and community collaboration” while producing work of their own in various fields, says The Asia and the Commons case study project. This series of case studies was recently released in the form of a booklet.

This booklet was produced in the lead up to ACIA: Asia and the Commons in the Information Age international workshop which was held in Taiwan on 19-20 January, 2008.

The booklet showcases individuals and organisations working in the commons in the Asia-Pacific region. It looks at work being done across nine countries, broader regions like the Arab nations, and creative ways of participating in the commons.

Unlike copyright, which blocks the free sharing of knowledge and creative work, the commons approach follows a different goal. ‘Commons’ licenses enable copyright holders to grant some or all of their rights to the public while retaining others.

This is done through a variety of licensing and contract schemes including dedication to the public domain or open content licensing terms. The intention is to avoid the problems current copyright laws create for the sharing of information.

“The Asia and the Commons case study project represents an effort to uncover exemplary individuals and organisations engaged in the commons in the Asia-Pacific region,” said a note put out by Rachel Cobcroft, Research Officer, Creative Commons Clinic at the Queensland University of Technology (email: [email protected])

Take a look at what’s happening here — a few cases have been listed, but their work is both interesting and impressive.

In Asia:

Strange Symphonies is the blog of of Aizat Faiz, a Malaysian free culture advocate working with FLOSS, free content, and open standards.

Aizat is an undergraduate student, and chronicles the effects which free culture and FLOSS has had on his education and employment. Says he: “As can be seen, the freedom to let me just take code online, read it, study it, remix it, hack it, has been extremely beneficial to me in terms of my education.”

Yueh-hsin Chu is an independent musician and producer in Taiwan, and leads the band Jesus Rocks! The band released an album of the same name in October 2004 under a Creative Commons Licence.

Chu is quoted saying in this booklet: “I see CC licences as a way for one to express goodwill in exchange for goodwill from others. It is like: Here are my works and I am CC-licensing them so you can use them. But please return your goodwill by respecting my rights.”

He notes: “Before CC licences, my works were either protected by record labels to a ridiculous extent, or I was doing it all for free, as a charity. CC is a smart charity in interesting ways. Creative Commons means a lot to creators. I know of many indie film makers (some of whom are just Mom-and-Pop organisations). They are so glad that they can now use music from for background music in their works. Before that, it would cost them a lot to get those kinds of music usage rights.”

“The paperwork alone would kill you,” he says.

The Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica, supports Creative Commons Taiwan.

Since May 2006, Creative Commons Taiwan has published a monthly e-mail newsletter. It provides regular updates on the usage of Creative Commons Licences in Taiwan and around the world.

MoShang is the Chinese moniker of Jean Marais, who relocated from South Africa to Taichung, Taiwan, in 2003. MoShang calls
himself a sound jeweller.

Says this booklet: “He collects rough audio diamonds from the streets of Taiwan (be they overheard conversations, street-ads blared from the ubiquitous blue-trucks, street processions or funeral chants) and fuses them with traditional Chinese instruments and laid-back beats to create a unique blend of downtempo electronica he likes to call Chinese Chill.”

More Information:

This booklet can be downloaded for free from:

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