In recent years remix culture has become mainstream. This phenomenon that allows people to draw on the creative works of others, and incorporate them into their own body of expression is widely adopted. It is within this context that Lawrence Lessig refers to the remix culture as a “platform that invites people from around the world to participate.” (Lessig, 2005:90)
This reality of a collaborative web culture where people build on the ideas of others and redistribute them as their own has created hazy lines surrounding the laws of copyright and personal freedom. It is in this way that Creative Commons has emerged as a necessary advance in licensing systems.With Creative Commons there are no infringements to the traditional copyright laws, yet there are more varied and open choices for producers when considering how they want their ideas to be used by others.
Accordingly, Creative Commons fulfils a vital role within a culture of amateur remixing and appropriation. In allowing creators of content to choose and mix between different levels of freedom and protection, people are able to safety share their music and texts yet retain some rights. As such, producers of content are able to select the license that protects their ideas and reflects their personal views about remixing content
The following video encapsulates Lessig’s view that CC fulfils a vital role in our online community, by ensuring that individuals maintain control over the extent to which their work is shared and remixed by others. Lessig was a key player in the copy right reforms, which he believes limit the ability of copyright owners to maintain vast control over people’s creativity.
Lawrence Lessig featured, video taken by Steven Johnson for Flora TV
I chose Creative Common’s Attribution-Share Alike license, which allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon my work, even for commercial purposes. It is important to me that my work be part of an open and inclusive forum, whilst still being able to gain the appropriate credibility for ideas that I have worked on. This license provides for an equilibrium between encouraging people to build on my ideas whilst still recognizing that they have emanated from my initiatives.
Firstly, I believe it is important to collaborate and share ideas online so that the web can continue to grow and develop. In order to advance as a society it is imperative that we work with one another to propel change and this is more easily achieved if we have access to one another’s ideas. I would want my work to contribute to this diversity of information so that people can draw on my ideas to further enhance social problem solving tactics. It appears to me a futile task to publish ideas on a blog, yet limit people’s ability to expand on them. By allowing my work to be free and open this means that people are encouraged to think critically about what they read and use it as a springboard from which to launch their own ideas.
Specifically, as a Media and Communications student I am constantly drawing inspiration from the citizenry journalism on the web in the form of other people’s blogs, opinion pieces and interviews. For example, I am constantly researching interesting ideas on the Crikey blogs site, using their alternative stories as ideas to build upon when having to submit environment and travel blogs for my Writing Journalism folio. It is in this way that people are constantly drawing on the ideas of others as a basis for building their own theories, and I would want my blog to be facilitate this sharing, just as I have gained ideas from others.
Secondly, there is no gain in disallowing someone from profiting from work that was based on my initial ideas. The feeling of accomplishment in having facilitated someone else’s success and knowing that my intellectual ideas stimulated their profit, is the highest sort of benefit. Someone else’s profit does not detract form the depth of my ideas as I myself am not blogging for financial gain. Medosch affirms this belief expressing “money does not induce me to write a text, I write anyway” (Medosch 2008:316). It is within this context that Lawrence Lessig affirms that “there is no loss for me if I divulge my work, I will not be ‘lessening mine; as he who lights the taper at mine receives light without darkening me.” (Lessig, 2005: 302)
Thirdly, this open license still ensures that accompanying work will be attached to my name. This means that my hard work will not go unrecognized but rather will be known as the foundation upon which other developments are based. I see this as a positive thing, whereby in allowing people to build on my ideas I am getting more circulation and gaining a helping hand in dispersing my agenda. Further, this license ensures that all people who build on my ideas must also attach open licenses to their works. It feels good knowing that I am contributing to a larger chain of free-flowing information by preventing people from attaching limiting licenses to ideas drawn from my initial work.
Some people argue that the Web 2.0 paradigm distorts the value of a free net culture by enclosing user-generated content into propriety platforms. CC is helping to placate this issue by allowing producers to signal the rights they are happy to give away and those they want to keep so that we can have “a more balanced and rational copyright system.” (Lessig, 2005:81). As my blog allows my ideas to be copied, distributed, edited, remixed and built upon my Creative Commons license does not discard the concrete laws of copyright, but rather tweaks it to a level I am comfortable with. I believe that attaching an open information license to my blog allows me to contribute to the online society, just as I as an aspiring journalist have gained inspiration from the ideas of others on the web. Essentially, attaching this CC license to my blog makes me feel part of “a utopian society in which all information could be shared among people who communicated as equals.” (Berners-Lee 1999:30)
The power of my blog is in my hands.
Berners-Lee, Tim, 1999, Weaving the Web, Oxford, Oxford University Press
Lawrence Lessing, ‘Open Code and Open Societies’; Perspectives on free and open source software. London, Cambridge Press, 2005
Armin Medosch, ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural production,’ London, Deptforth, 2008
Cartoon taken from MasterNewMedia.org Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)