[cc-licenses] Articulating the commons: a leaderful approach
hgmorris at sfu.ca
Tue Dec 20 23:42:27 EST 2011
Apologies for duplication - I think this belongs on both cc-licenses
and the cc-community list. I expect that I will only write a very few
messages where this makes sense.
Rather than having a few of us decide on what the commons is or should
be, why not invite everyone to participate in the discussion (open
source it), over at least the next few years? This would be a
leaderful approach (acknowledging the inspiration of Occupy).
From a technical standpoint, what I mean is that the box that says
"more permissions URL" should be expanded and renamed to something
like "more detail". Actively invite anyone who licenses material to
tell more about what this act means to them - kind of like a will.
Ideally, there needs to be a way to bring these comments together,
perhaps through data mining, and occasionally sharing some of what
people have come up with.
Some reasons to consider this approach:
1. Opening the conversation in this way may open up new understandings
about what sharing means, or could mean. Some examples of things that
people might want to say:
- free for the 99%
- free for anyone aiming for social and environmental justice
- free to anyone not lobbying for restrictive copyright laws
- free to anyone who has never sued a customer
- free to use with respect
These kinds of things may or may not fit specific legal requirements,
but I would suggest that building a commons is much more a cultural
shift than a legal one.
My vision here is that Creative Commons is a great start towards a
commons, but we all still have a great deal to learn. One reason is
that before we settle on what the commons is, I think we (meaning all
of humans around the world) need to consider other types of knowledge,
such as traditional knowledges. The purpose this is not just to
respect the traditions (important though that is). We need to learn
about these knowledges not just to respect traditional peoples, but to
address a gap in our own knowledge. That there is a gap is our wisdom,
I would submit, is substantiated by the fact that all of our science
and technology has brought us to global financial crisis and impending
environmental disaster through climate change. To address this, we
need to consider different ways of thinking. One example is a
traditional concept that knowledge / wisdom belongs to its
environment, not to us. . In Western science, we may like to take
things out of their environment and study them separately, but without
the ecosystem, the lifeforms we study would not exist.
2. It seems reasonable to assume that a commons that is collectively
built and protected by the largest possible number of people will be
much stronger than a smaller commons designed by a few experts. I
think the best way to do this is a welcoming, inclusive approach. When
we can commit things straight away to the public domain, that's great!
But let's not forget that free reading onscreen with absolutely no
either rights or privileges is still a lot better than no access at
all, or no access with paying a lot of money.
3. There are many different types of materials that can be shared
through the Internet, and communities who interact with these
materials in different ways. Even within scholarly communication,
there are the scholarly journal articles that scholars have
traditionally given away, books which cost much more to produce and
generally earn royalties for the writer, creative works which for some
academics generate real income, and research data. Data would be close
to useful if shared but not for re-use, while derivatives of the
writers of a top scholar would almost certainly be less valuable than
the original. In other words, the best and most useful openness in
scholarship might well be a strong imperative to allow derivatives in
some cases, and ND in other cases.
To take a non-scholarly example, I understand that some of the CC
legal cases have involved music in bars. Right now the options are to
allow commercial uses, or not. I wonder if it might make sense to
musicians and bar-owners to have another option, noncommercial -
except in bars, under the condition that the bar-owner provides
patrons with a way of purchasing the musician's CDs - perhaps by
distributing a flyer highlighting the night's music with websites for
the musicians featured? To figure out how to do things like this, we
need to facilitate conversations. This is what I mean to propose, a
leaderful approach to articulating the commons.
Heather Morrison, MLIS
Doctoral Candidate, Simon Fraser University School of Communication
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics
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