June 21, 2006 · Lessig
Just got off the plane to Rio where we’re holding the second iCommons iSummit, so this is a bit delayed. But today, Microsoft has released a free Office plug-in that enables you to mark Office documents (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) with Creative Commons licenses. This has been in the works for a while, and is an extremely cool development. The plug-in will modify the FILE menu, adding an item “Creative Commons” and then when selected, link the user out to the CC site to select a license to be inserted into the license. The first document licensed with the tool is a speech by Brazil’s Culture Minister and supercool musician, Gilberto Gil, about tropicalism. (en) (pt).
Before I got on the plane yesterday, I was on some press calls about the announcement. Many were surprised CC and Microsoft would work together. Ever the naive law professor, that surprise surprises me. Office is a tool for creating. Giving the creator more control over that creativity is a way to make the Office platform more valuable to creators. And by incorporating CC licenses, more valuable to the public.
“But isn’t it strange for MSFT and Lessig to team-up?” I was asked. Well, I have yet gotten the team jersey, but no, it isn’t. Microsoft has been on the right side of a number of important issues — spectrum, net neutrality, identity — and I’m very glad they’re on the right side of this issue too. Giving creators the tools to mark their creativity with the freedoms they intend it to carry is a fantastically good thing to do.
“But it’s just for the Windows platform, isn’t it?” True enough. Now we need some enterprising sort to make a plug-in for Office on the Mac, as well as Garageband, OpenOffice, and many others. Let the competition begin.