April 25, 2007  ·  Lessig


iCommons is an entity Creative Commons helped incubate. Its purpose is to enable a platform for commons-related projects from around the world to interact — including A2K, Wikipedia, Free Software, Free Culture Movement and Creative Commons.

One core project of iCommons is an annual summit. The first year was Boston. Last year was Rio. This year is Dubrovnik.

Tomorrow, CC will be launching a special fund-raising drive to raise money to sponsor scholarships to the Summit. Click here to help.

July 12, 2006  ·  Elaine Adolfo

Join us for the July CC Salon, taking place in San Francisco on Wednesday, July 12 from 6pm-9pm at Shine. CC Salon is a casual get-together focused on conversation and community-building with 2-3 brief presentations from individuals and groups developing projects with relationship to Creative Commons. We look forward to seeing you there!

CC Salon – San Francisco
Wednesday, July 12, 6-9 PM
1337 Mission Street (between 9th and 10th)
San Francisco

July 12, 2006  ·  Elaine Adolfo

Bay Area CC friends: You are invited to a party on July 14 at the 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco, hosted by GOOD Magazine! Join us for a night of art, music (provided by Odd Nosdam of Anticon), and an open bar. Admission is free if you purchase a year subscription to GOOD Magazine.

GOOD is a new publication focusing on people, ideas, and institutions that are affecting the world in innovative and positive ways. One very cool thing about GOOD is its Choose GOOD campaign, where you can subscribe to a year of the magazine for $20 and choose a partnering non-profit organization that you want 100% of your subscription fee to go towards helping. That means for $20, you can subscribe to a year of GOOD, make a contribution to CC, and gain admission to a night of great fun.

GOOD Magazine comes to San Francisco!
Friday, July 14; 9pm-2am
111 Minna Gallery (111 Minna St.)
Art, music (provided by Odd Nosdam), and open bar all night.
Magazine subscription required for entry. 100% of your subscription fee can go towards helping CC! Subscribe here.

To RSVP: (1) go to www.goodmagazine.com, (2) subscribe (all $20 goes to the organization you choose) and (3) email your name and confirmation number to RSVP@goodmagazine.com.

October 31, 2005  ·  Lessig

becomeacommoner.png fundraiserbutton.png supportthecommons.png becomeacommoner.png fundraiserbutton.png supportthecommons.png becomeacommoner.png fundraiserbutton.png supportthecommons.png becomeacommoner.png fundraiserbutton.png supportthecommons.png becomeacommoner.png fundraiserbutton.png supportthecommons.png becomeacommoner.png fundraiserbutton.png supportthecommons.png becomeacommoner.png fundraiserbutton.png supportthecommons.png becomeacommoner.png fundraiserbutton.png supportthecommons.png

So some smart folks suggested we start passing out buttons for the CC fundraising campaign. We like smart folks (or at least some smart folks), and so we did. Go here to get a button. Please. Pretty please. Or whatever form of please will get you to go.

February 26, 2005  ·  Lessig

Bill Thompson calls himself a critical friend of Creative Commons, which in my world, is the only kind of friend one wants. But I can’t escape thinking we’re having an argument when there’s nothing to argue about (again, a common feature of the very best of friends).

Bill believes in moral rights. He thinks Creative Commons doesn’t. Or more precisely, he thinks Creative Commons the collective, or me the individual, doesn’t “care” or “understand” moral rights. Instead, he thinks we think copyright “is simply an economic matter.” That is “US hegemony,” Bill insists (please put that word on the list of eliminated words when the revolution comes), which neither he, nor anyone, should “accept.”

As someone who has been strongly criticized for strongly criticizing the US (even on foreign soil no less!) I’m all for eliminating US “hegemony.” But there’s just a simple misunderstanding here that we (CC) needs to do a better job addressing.

Creative Commons offers free copyright licenses to artists and creators. The purpose of the license is to enable the artist or creator to mark his or her copyrighted work with the freedom he or she intends the work to carry. Those “freedoms” are the exclusive rights that copyright grants the copyright holder which the law permits the copyright holder to waive. The design of the system is to be automatic. No contract, or meeting of the minds, is intended. It is simply a license that says “if you use my copyrighted work in ways that would otherwise infringe my exclusive rights, I won’t sue you if you have abided by this license.” (The law makes everything ugly, but anyway, that’s what it does.)

Moral rights — which are not “European” but in fact common to the US/UK tradition and the European tradition (in our tradition, they are called “author’s rights,” and the great text on this is Lyman Ray Patterson’s Copyright in Historical Perspective) — don’t admit of such easy manipulation. In many jurisdictions that protect moral rights, you can’t just automatically give away the moral right, without knowing something about how, or in what context, the work is to be used. For those jurisdictions then, a Creative Commons-like mechanism just wouldn’t work. Such a mechanism couldn’t succeed, in other words, in effecting an agreement about such moral rights. Creative Commons is a hammer. This is glass blowing.

So our response to these jurisdictions is simple: we don’t purport to affect the moral rights at all. They are left as they would be, because our tool can’t effectively do anything about them. Thus, it is not because we don’t “understand” moral rights that we don’t do anything about them. It is instead because we precisely understand that our tool, given the law, can’t do anything about them.

Thus, to say that we think there’s only one tool in the area of copyright and moral rights is, I think, to have it backwards. Those who would criticize Creative Commons for not “solving” the “moral rights problem” are the ones who think there is only one tool. We’re the first to admit that we have a hammer, and you need a glass blower, so please don’t consider our tool to be the tool you need if negotiating, or respecting, or understanding, moral rights is your objective.

Now this isn’t the case in every jurisdiction that protects moral rights. The contours of the law are different in different countries. Thus in some countries, we have been able to craft the license to give the author the power to grant both copyrights and moral rights. But in strong moral rights jurisdictions, that simple is not possible using the device we have crafted.

So again, I don’t see how this is us “dismissing” moral rights. (Does aspirin dismiss cancer just because it can’t cure it?) And I don’t see how narrowing our focus means we don’t “care” about moral rights, if indeed you believe that a tool such as ours can’t, in some jurisdictions at least, do anything about moral rights.

And finally, I don’t see where I’ve ever said anything against moral rights. No doubt, they restrict the freedom of authors — at least those authors who would like a simple way to alienate the rights. So too does the ban on slavery restrict the freedom of workers — but you wouldn’t think I support slavery just because I remark this obvious fact, would you? Indeed, in many contexts where I’ve been asked, I’ve said that the moral rights tradition has actually proven to be an important check on the power of publishers — something we’ve forgotten in our own tradition. But none of that is to criticize, or to advise that countries change their law.

So yes, Creative Commons will not, at least in some jurisdictions, deal with moral rights. Nor will it cure cancer or end poverty. But if it is unclear to anyone, let’s be clear about it: We don’t therefore not “care” about cancer or poverty. We don’t therefore “dismiss” those problems. We just understand — as everyone should — that the tools we’re spreading can only do so much.

Finally, about Bill’s claim that I think that copyright, as distinct from moral rights, “is simply an economic matter.” I’m sure Bill got this from one of our conversations. He’s a careful journalist (unlike the journalists he associates with). But I must not have made my point clearly, because the sense in which he offers the statement is different from what I mean. I do believe that “copyright” is “simply an economic matter” — meaning that the rights originally protected by copyright were protected for economic reasons. That again does not deny that there are other rights — read Patterson to see the rich set of “author rights” that existed at the time of our Founding. I wouldn’t say that were simply “an economic matter.”

But I do believe that copyright was about economics. And I continue to believe copyright is important, primarily for economic reasons. But that again is precisely why we wanted to create a simpler copyright, for the many many creators who either are not creating for economic ends, or who believe that control over their creativity is not a necessary means to their economic success.

Free law is the tool we created. A tool to enable people to achieve something at the legal layer, just as iChat enables people to achieve something at the application layer. But as iChat isn’t for everyone, or at least, for everyone for any end, neither is CC. I would not advise Britney to put her music under a CC license. I would advise Gilberto Gil to. Tell me what you’re trying to do, and I’ll tell you whether we’ve got a tool for you. (That’s of course, rhetorical. Please don’t tell me. There are briefs, and filings, and classes, and family that demand the time that answering questions would take.)

February 25, 2005  ·  Lessig

From a friend who is on the Harvard faculty:

i take a car service to the airport this morning. driver is an older irish boston type, very talkative; do i know the history of cambridge, the reason behind the establishment clause (“[another Harvard professor] didn’t…”), etc. as we’re hitting the airport, he hands me his self-published tract on the crisis in public education and how to solve it by canceling the Simpsons.

“you should put it on the web,” i say, which is what i usually say when handed a self-published tract by a cab driver. “i did,” he said, “and it’s under a creative commons license.” (and, he adds disapprovingly, [the other prominent Harvard professor] hadn’t even heard of creative commons.”)

i had to tell him to put it in a wiki just to retain my sense of being anywhere near the cutting edge.

Here‘s the book.

February 25, 2005  ·  Lessig

Attention to Mr. Orlowski has apparently waned, so his trash is back. You might not get this from his article, but even though he states “[t]his week Trudeau has turned his attention to the ‘Creative Commons’ project,” in fact, Trudeau does not mention “Creative Commons” at all. Indeed, for anyone who knows anything about what Creative Commons is trying to do, no doubt Thudpucker is a funny character but his views have little to do with mine, or CC‘s.

And as for the project that has “failed to gain much traction,” we were surprised (and pleased) to see this week that the Yahoo linkback search to Creative Commons licenses is now over 10,000,000. If that’s right, then we were at 1,000,000 link backs in a year, 5,000,000 in two, and now over 10,000,000 in 2 1/2. Imagine what we could have done had we only gotten some “traction.”

But the best part of reading this article is that it advertises at the bottom “related articles,” including this. I am astonished that The Register continues to carry this trash (or, for that matter, its author). As I told them then, the article is a lie. Not mistaken, but a lie: a knowing falsehood, published, and published still. Such is the nature of the writer, and apparently the publication.

October 1, 2004  ·  Lessig

STADSchromosomen (City Chromosomes) is a project from Antwerp, in which the people of Antwerp were invited to write a biography of the City. They’ve published the book under a CC license — perhaps the first in Belgium.