Two cheers for the Creative Commons in 2007

1. Two cheers, not three.

We will leave the third cheer in suspense, in honour of the critics who think that the CC licenses are insufficient, or even more radically, that it should be opposed because it distracts from the fight against the very notion of intellectual property. I have asked some other associates, to discuss such critique, most lately evident in this essay here, and hope to publish some extra comments from our associates in the near future.

2. Why I support the CC initiative

There are 3 arguments that I see in favour of the CC Licenses.

The first is that it leaves the sovereignity with the individual, it does not expropriate him, but recognizes authorship and offers a range of options for sharing. I think that, yes the commons is a reality which ought to be supported, but at the same time, individual contribution is important as well.

The second is that it is important to be constructive, not just to reform or to be transgressive. What CC allows is to create a working cultural commons, which co-exists with the sphere of private intellectual property. In this sense, CC is already creating, right now, the more sharing-oriented world that we want to construct.

Finally, there is the argument of realism, that points to the lack of any majority desire to abolish intellectual property altogether, so that we must find pluralist solutions.

We conclude by refracting Lessig’s own arguments, recently written for the New Year’s wishes to the Creative Commons supporters.

3. Lawrence Lessig’s wishes for the future of CC

“I’m famous for a certain sort of pessimism. But about this, I’m optimistic that it is the second sort of change that we’re most likely to see. The creative energy of the next generation will not be stopped. The technologies of creativity are not going to become insanely expensive again. And thus, in my view, the most likely future is one in which this potential for creativity will be reconciled with a copyright system that offers protection where that’s necessary to create great new works, without burdening the world of creativity that doesn’t depend upon copyright to flourish.

Creative Commons’ most important contribution will be to help transition to this more sensible world. As I’ve described in these past weeks, we have already built the infrastructure to help the “sharing economy” flourish. The tools we’ve begun to demonstrate at ccLabs will also help support the inevitable growth of a hybrid creative economy, where works are available freely in some contexts, but commercially exploited in others. Both bits of legal infrastructure will encourage creativity, while respecting authors’ rights. Both suggest a different balance the law might strike, when politicians begin to recognize why this difference is important.

But until the day when this point is obvious, it is critical that we all continue to push this voluntary, private effort to get artists and creators to signal to the world the freedoms they believe their work should carry. We need that signal not just in hundreds of millions of licensed objects, but in billions of licensed objects. We need it built into the infrastructure where every creative work gets made. And we need this as a signal and a practice: as an effort every creator makes to encourage a certain ecology of creativity.

Over the next year, working with our new Chairman, Joichi Ito, we will push the program of interoperability that we started last fall. We will push as well the project of integration into many more applications of creativity. And most importantly, we will launch an endowment of the Creative Commons core to guarantee that the central project of CC will forever survive. Or at least if not forever, until the point is so obvious that we all can move on.”

1 Comment Two cheers for the Creative Commons in 2007

  1. AvatarScott Carpenter

    Hi, Michel. Thanks for the link to the article — I’m just starting it and it looks to be very good.

    I agree on CC. I think the non-commercial (NC) clause is used much too much — it rules out almost any kind of reuse since so many things can be considered commercial, but I like how the Share-Alike (SA) clause serves to promote copyleft. I like it as a way of making a statement of what I believe in. And if we must live in a world with copyright laws, I like having a tool that is easy to use in identifying the rights available with work that I create.

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