December 17, 2002

The Creative in the Commons

Category: Other — Biella @ 4:37 pm

creativecommons unveiled their new licenses last night at a party they hosted in SF Soma’s district. It was a pretty glitzy affair with some big names (at least in the geek and legal-geek world)and a pretty clever presentation with a stark but potent speech by Lessig, a veido juxtaposition of Barlow and Valenti which was hilarious, a short technical roundup by Aaron Swartz and some music by DJ Spooky. Not a bad way to usher in these new licenses that I hope will take hold on the wider artistic community.

But if there is one thing that was a shame in the presentation was that the world of free and open source software (and especially their licenses) was never acknowledged as a key source of inspiration although it is on their website. Though it was not their role to pay tribute in any significant way to the FSF or the copyleft, Lessig had a rare opportunity to make a point about “the creative” in the commons by referring to the domain that is free and open source software. In many ways, it is the condition of possibility for projects like Creative Commons because it is a real “live” social example of alternative legal schemes already in use. It speaks to the fact that it can be done. Free and open source software production and licenses have served to inspire hundreds of others including the creative commons which is exactly what and how a commons is supposed to function. So not to acknowledge the “non-individual” (that is more social) sources of the cc during their opening event was a missed opportunity to highlight the very power of a commons.

But that is my only (small) rant and it is exciting to see such a project kick off. Their innovation in the world of alternative licenses is significant and from the looks of it, it seems like it is pretty easy to apply their licenses to one’s work.

It was also good to finally meet Chris Kelty an Anthropology professor at Rice University who does really great work on technology and society, including open source stuff, and I found out some important information: one my favorite cafe in SFAtlas Cafe has wireless where I am now blogging :-)

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