[cc-lessigletter] CC Values
lessig at pobox.com
Wed Oct 25 13:49:36 EDT 2006
In the four years since we launched CC, the Internet, and the world's
understanding of the Internet, have changed dramatically. In 2002,
the media was obsessed by something called "piracy." Today, they call
it "user-generated content." Just around the time we launched,
Wikipedia crossed 100,000 articles; today it is the most important
testament to the Internet's potential to enable something different
When we started, none of us had any real idea about what the Internet
would become. But we all had dreams. Mine was that the Internet would
offer something different from the world of analog culture. While
many were obsessed with how new technologies would radically change
old businesses, I was eager to see the new ways of creating and
interacting that would develop. iTunes does better what Tower Records
did pretty well. But what would the Internet create in 2010 that
didn't exist (in any significant sense) in 1990?
One dream was what Andy Raskin called in his 2004 "Business 2.0"
article about Creative Commons [http://money.cnn.com/magazines/
"sharing economy." The "sharing economy" is different from a
traditional commercial economy. It is not simply people working for
free. Instead, this is the economy that supports Wikipedia (and free
and open source software before that). It is the economy that drives
much of the creativity in YouTube and blip.tv. It is the world of
"amateur" creators, meaning again, not those whose work is
amateurish, but those who do what they do for the love of what they
do, and not for the money.
This sharing economy is not meant to displace the commercial economy.
Its purpose is not to force Madonna to sing for free. Its aim instead
is to enable the millions of other people around the world who are
also creative, but who want to create in a different kind of
community. The editors who make Wikipedia sing are not people who
couldn't get a job at Encyclopedia Britannica. They instead create
for a different reason, within a very different community of creators.
At its core, Creative Commons is designed to support this sharing
economy. Our free tools give creators a simple way to signal the
rules under which they want to create. And, perhaps more importantly,
by signaling clearly and reliably these freedoms, they encourage
others who otherwise might hesitate to share and build upon that
work. Thus, for example, the Public Library of Science [http://
plos.org] publishes all of its articles under a CC license that gives
users the freedom to share those articles broadly. Libraries and
institutions around the world can now archive these works and make
them available locally. Without the confidence of the CC licenses, no
doubt lawyers within these different institutions would have
panicked. The CC licenses let that panic be avoided, and invite many
(who otherwise would not) to help share and build upon work.
The next challenge is to figure out how this sharing economy
interacts with a traditional commercial economy. What happens when
Time wants to use a fantastic CC-licensed Flickr photo? Or how does a
hit on ccMixter move into the commercial space?
CC will never become a part of that commercial economy. But it is
important, I believe, that we play a role in enabling this crossover.
The alternative is a world we're seeing too much of all ready: large
entities that create sandboxes for "sharing," but then effectively
claim ownership over everything built within that sandbox. This is,
in my view, not a sharing economy. It is instead simple sharecropping.
The key is to build alternatives that creators on the Internet can
use to both create as they wish and keep control of their creativity.
That's the challenge I see over the next four years. And as we review
over the next few weeks some of the best of CC from around the world,
you'll begin to see how this challenge might be met.
This email is part of a weekly series written by Lawrence Lessig If
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Week 1 - A Report on the Commons
Week 1 - A Report on the Commons - Spanish version
(Thanks to Maria Cristinia Alvite for translation)
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