July 5, 2005  ·  Lessig


Just back from the launch of Creative Commons, Chile, which was in many ways a surprisingly moving few days.

Senator Fernando Flores was the first surprise. Flores was one of the youngest members of the Allende government. He was with Allende on Chile’s September 11th (1973), when Pinochet executed his (American supported) coup. Flores has since had an extraordinary career — prison, exiled to America, time as a scholar studying philosophy and computer science, fantastically successful career in business, exploiting the insights he drew from academics, and now as a Senator (and one time candidate for President). He’s well published and written well about.

I rehearse his career not to compete with Wikipedia, but to set up what was to me most significant about what he said: As he explained to the 400 or so IP-activists assembled at the conference, “Any solution will include America.”

“America.” I admire deeply those who surprise in their perspective. This was a surprise. One might think it very easy for one who had suffered in part because of America never to link “solution” and “America” again. Flores, however, is a wise and careful thinker. In the days after this talk, I got to hear him describe in some depth a conception of progress that depended upon just such wisdom. The right answer in these struggles will include America. It will embrace what is called “IP.” And it was clear to him, if more could acknowledge both, we would make more progress more quickly.

Flores was particularly concerned about how our “movement” would develop. He rightly fears its being captured by any extreme position. Though our allies include the extremes (remember this video from the launch of CC) (and as it is my job to disagree with Mr. Valenti: No, it was not my idea, nor is it my “compact,” but otherwise, exactly right), it is critical that we develop this platform in a way that can include the widest range of creators. All of us have lives independent of CC; some of those lives push political views that would scare others within CC. But it is important that we distinguish these roles, not as a compromise on what is most important, but as a way to emphasize the important fact that those who disagree fundamentally can at least agree about CC.

Flores was particularly concerned that the leaders of CC within Chile might not share this view. And if his fears proved correct, that would have made things very difficult. It was therefore with some concern that I attended the launch of CC in Santiago. But quickly, my concern melted, as the organizers framed the CC launch in terms I’m sure the Senator would have endorsed.

There were of course moments when strong views had the floor. That, I thought, was important to remind everyone that there were important issues at stake. But those views were balanced with an amazing mix of artists — musicians, dancers, film, and DJ — as well as leaders from museums and the academy — all of whom seemed to recognize well the importance of building understanding across a wide range of interests.

This was confirmed at a meeting after the launch. The core group – who had obviously devoted an immense amount of effort in launching CC, and more importantly, in spreading the code and practices they developed to others within Latin America – asked about our direction. I showed them the Barlow-Valenti video. They immediately asked for a copy to help them. they said, explain to others just how they conceived of their own work. The key for them, to borrow a phrase, was rough consensus and running code: consensus on how to proceed, running legal and technical code, to help others build the infrastructure necessary to support a wide range of free culture related projects, of which CC was just one part. And though Senator Flores could not attend this meeting, I trust he would have been reassured by both the commitment of everyone at the table, and the ideal: to get things done.

We at CC launched a small idea; these people have made it something very big. And as is rarely the case, they have launched its with appropriate humility, and a commitment to making it work well, and soon. Chile has become a new favorite.

  • http://orcmid.com/blog/ orcmid


    I’ve been an admirer of Flores’ work for some time. I am strolling my way through the Robert C. Solomon and Fernando Flores book, Building Trust in Business, Politics, Relationships, and Life (Oxford, 2001). I’m on page 122 of 154 + notes, thanks to Caterina Fake. I heartily recommend the book.

    I think your opportunity to meet him is remarkable because you and the others at the source of Creative Commons are creating history. I would see him as supportive of that enterprise. I’m envious and I can give that up.

    PS: I love that my recently-arrived CC T-shirt says “Commoner 2005.” I was wearing it when Ottmar Liebert announced that he is going to be making new work available under a CC license (SA-NC, I fancy).

  • http://colonnello.org/ Paolo Colonnello

    Professor Lessig, Thanks a lot for your visit to Chile, Im working with Fernando Flores promoting creative commons to our country in a social movement named Atina Chile! created last year by Flores. Fernando has promote creative common a lot on his (very popular) blog at http://www.fernandoflores.cl/ it is in spanish but i think you can translate it with google in a very nice way. I can ensure you than we will take the job you initiate here and spread it in a wide way, you can also check the video of your presentation at http://www.atinachile.cl/ I hope we can have you here another time,

    Paolo Colonnello

  • Marcos Sol�s

    Thank you so much Professor Lessig for your words about Senator Fernando Flores and Chile.

    I�m so sorry. I could�t attend your conference in the UC.

    Marcos Sol�s
    Collaborator Atina Chile

  • http://www.leoprieto.com leo prieto

    “Chile has become a new favorite.” (w00t!)

    I’ve had the privilige of meeting Mr. Flores and working him in the past few months and the experience has been amazing. The best way to summarize him, is precisely the way you did: “Flores is a wise and careful thinker”. Among other things, he’s made me rethink the way I talk (I’d never given that much attention to language!). I’m currently reading his book Disclosing New Worlds: Entrepreneurship, Democratic Action, and the Cultivation of Solidarity.

    It was also a privilige to see your speeches twice (I went to the Universidad Católica and the breakfast at Fundación Telefónica). I’d seen pretty much all your past speeches (or heard some of them) through the Internet, so it was great to finnally see you live! (I was the bearded freak who approached you at the end of both conferences!).

    It was amazing how your quick visit created such big waves in Chile. One of my blogs (about technology), which usually never gets comments from lawyers, endend up with a (very interesting) 55 comment debate about your visit and copyright in Chile! I’ve talked to people over the weekend, and they all heard about you and your visit. THANKS FOR EVERYTHING YOU’RE DOING!

    Like Paolo points out, there’s a 1 hour video of your conference at Universidad Católica (including Fernando Flores’ introduction), here:

  • http://periodismoglobal.blogspot.com Fernando Meza

    Link to Fernando Flores.

  • http://www.pehuen.org Flavio Candia

    Hi, Mr lessig
    I had the opportunity to watch (in my pc) your presentation, It was cool!!!. Why I say this? Because most of the international companies are working pretty hard in to cope these “strategic commercial areas” and, they have the resources and power to carry out that, but with such powerful tools as CC, it is possible to stop this avalanche. Just one example, the Netherlands every year is increasing its international patents instead of local innovation (local patents)..it is crazy, isn’t it? This country is taking advantage of “weak countries” with “weak law”, and “weak knowledge”. For sure my fellows will take “notes” about this relevant situation.

    Good for me to discover (still a bit) a new world of possibilities.

    Flavio Candia , Amsterdam.

  • http://vladomirosevic.blogspot.com Vlado Mirosevic

    Thank you very much professor Lessig to visit Chile. Their presentations were really powerful. I want to thank for the words towards professor Flores, who is a great mentor for youth in Chile.
    A hug from Santiago

  • http://www.bootlog.cl tom�s pollak

    Well, Mr. Lessig, I would first like to congratulate you for your excellent presentation at the Universidad Catolica. It’s been a time since I presenced such a good live Keynote such as yours.

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know that there’s a lot of people here in Chile who really admire what Creative Commons have become (even though some of them don’t even know you’re the man behind it!). As always, there’s people sceptic about it, so it’s gonna take some time. Just wanted you to know that I “released” a “record” through the Creative Commons license. The apostrophies go because I’m just an amateur musician. :)

    Anyway, you can listen to my work over here:


    Professor Lessig, thanks for visiting Chile. By the way, I was the guy who asked you why you weren’t using Linux in your laptop. I’m still searching for the singing presidents’ video that you showed us on your presentation. Good one!