[cc-licenses] A Report on the Commons

Lawrence Lessig lessig at pobox.com
Thu Oct 19 02:59:53 EDT 2006

So, with this email, Creative Commons launches its second (now  
officially) annual fundraising campaign. Last year, through the  
course of that first campaign, I wrote a series of letters explaining  
a bit about where Creative Commons came from, and where it was going.  
Those letters (creatively labeled "Lessig Letters") are still  
available here. [ http://creativecommons.org/support/letters ]. This  
year, I'm going to talk a bit less, and in my place, we're going to  
tell the stories of some of the extraordinary Creative Commons  
projects that have been flourishing around the world.

But first, a bit of recap: Creative Commons is a nonprofit  
corporation, dedicated to making it simpler for people to share and  
build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of  
copyright. We provide free licenses that mark creative work with the  
freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share the work,  
or remix the work, or both share and remix the work, as the author  

We were motivated to begin this project about four years ago because  
we realized a point that's obvious once you see it: that however  
important the "all rights reserved" model of copyright is to some  
creators, it is not the model that works for many, maybe most.  
Scholars, scientists and educators, for example, are also creators,  
but they don't depend upon the perfect control of their work -  
deciding who can access it, or who can copy it, or who can build upon  
it - for them to have the incentive to create great works. Perhaps  
even more importantly, for the many who create for what our board  
member, Joi Ito, calls the "sharing economy," "all rights reserved"  
makes little sense. The millions of photos on Flickr [ http:// 
flickr.com/creativecommons ], for example, licensed under Creative  
Commons licenses are made available by people who want to make their  
creativity available to others without demanding payment upfront, or  
control over how their work gets used. These people are creators -  
some professional, but many amateur, where amateur doesn't mean  
"amateurish," but rather people who do what they do for the love of  
their work, and not for the money. Creative Commons provides free  
tools to help these creators create in the way that they think best.

Creative Commons launched the licensing project in December 2002.  
Within a year, there were more than 1,000,000 link-backs to our  
licenses (meaning at least a million places on the web where people  
were linking to our licenses, and presumptively licensing content  
under those licenses). Within two years, that number was 12,000,000.  
At the end of our last fundraising campaign, it had grown to about  
45,000,000 link-backs to our licenses. That was December, 2005. In  
the first six months of 2006, that number grew by almost 100,000,000  
licenses. In June, we reported about 140,000,000 link-backs to our  
licenses. We have hit a stride, and more and more of the net marks  
itself with the freedoms that Creative Commons helps secure.

This success has been primarily built by thousands of volunteers  
across the world  who have worked to launch Creative Commons projects  
locally, and worked to spread our movement to artists and educators  
internationally. But it is supported by the contributions of many  
more. Each year we ask more to join this movement in both ways. These  
letters are invitations to join in the support for Creative Commons.

The plea for support in these letters will be subtle. (We've  
perfected subliminal email.)
If you would like to continue receiving these letters click here
But if you'd like to opt out of these letters, just click here
Alternatively, if you know others who might enjoy this weekly  
missive, click here
and we'll invite them to join as well.
And if you'd like to just get it over, and donate, click here.

Next week, I'll talk a bit more about the values behind our movement.  
And the week following that, the first story from the front lines of CC.


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