The htmltimes recently attended a panel at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School titled "The Commons: Celebrating Accomplishments, Discerning Futures." Panelists included the Lawrence Lessig, James Boyle, Joi Ito, and Molly S. Van Houweling, and the event was moderated by Jonathan Zittrain of the Berkman Center. In celebration of Creative Common's sixth anniversary, the panel brought together some of the great minds that were critical in taking Creative Commons from a concept to a reality. You can watch the panel here, and you can learn more about Creative Commons here. The panelists discussed the conception and history of Creative Commons as well as the obstacles that must still be overcome. During the approximately hour-long presentation, the panelists touched on some topics that were of particular interest to the htmltimes.
Molly S. Van Houweling, Creative Common's first executive director and assistant professor of law at Berkley Law at University of California, spoke on the concept of "my" copyright and the problem with the "atomization of IP." She urges us that "my" copyright is not the answer. Just like the Internet, copyright needs standards. If individual creators, who are not satisfied with current copyright laws, decide to create their own, independent copyright, we will find ourselves in even worse condition, with several hand-crafted and widely varying copyrights littering the way. Creating "my" copyright contributes to the problem of "failed sharing," another concept discussed at length by panelists. Many creators want to share their work, but the current legal barriers prevent this from happening. One of the missions of Creative Commons is to prevent this "failed sharing" by providing a model of copyrights that can be modified and adapted to fit each creator's unique needs. As James Boyle eagerly exclaimed, "It's fun to share!" and of course, the htmltimes agrees.
As the htmltimes has already learned, it is often a hard sell to convince creators that sharing their work would actually be more beneficial for them (and everyone!) than locking it down under copyrights and restrictions. And while this battle is difficult with individuals, it is only magnified when it comes to "big media" like the RIAA. When posed the question of how to deal with these difficulties, Joi Ito said that he's found it is easier to show the positives rather than push the idea on an uninterested party. Once individuals see that you can be even more commercially successful by loosening restrictions to their work, we will see an change in attitude toward copyright. He encourages us to lead by positive example and to showcase the success of those that do share.
It's difficult to project when Creative Commons will become "mainstream" enough to make the great strides it seeks to make. The first step, however, is to continue to educate the public. Creative Commons is confident that we will eventually reach the point where enough people know about, understand, and implement Creative Commons. James Boyle said, "People understand when Creative Commons lets them do something they already want to do." Many people (educators, artists, scientists--you name it) want to share their work and collaborate with their colleagues, but they are prevented from doing so because of this lack of knowledge. Joi Ito goes on to say that Creative Commons must be easy to implement to make the breakthrough. Yet Lawrence Lessig points out that it takes more than education: We also need legislative and judicial change.
After six years, Creative Commons is seeing more smaller donations from individuals than ever before. But they cannot grow without continued support. This editor picked up a donation card and will be mailing her first check to Creative Commons on Saturday (hey, gotta wait until payday...). And on that note, if you support Creative Commons and believe in their mission, you can make a donation as well. It takes individuals to build the infrastructure. Be a part of a big mission and a big idea by making you donation today.
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