[Cc-uk] RE: Cc-uk Digest, Vol 17, Issue 6

David M. Berry d.berry at sussex.ac.uk
Tue Jun 21 13:07:58 EDT 2005


I am rather concerned that more careful and nuanced understanding is  
being lost in comments like this. I am sure that the 'creative  
industries', as they call themselves, would like us to understand  
that the things they sell are a form of property, but in actual fact  
what they have is in reality a limited term monopoly granted by  
Parliament which is part of a public bargain. This means that it  
*does not* equate with physical property, and I think that teaching  
this in schools is exactly the kind of backwards step away from  
creativity that we should be against.

Creativity requires that we can reuse culture, and in the production  
of new cultural works it is generally understood that a limited  
monopoly right may be in the best interests of the creator to allow  
them to have an income (but see theorists such as Terry Fisher for  
alternatives). But this is a balance between a public good and a  
private interest that has to be carefully managed and that we need to  
always keep alert to. This monopoly right is extremely tempting (as  
are all monopolies) as it can bring in untold riches by the simple  
extension of ownership of a copyright or patent. Put multinational  
corporations into the equation and it begins to make a great deal of  
sense for them to attempt to extend copyright indefinitely in order  
to make the monopoly last as long as possible and the profit to roll in.

I fear that rather than making people more knowledgeable, the current  
creative industry support for this pseudo-education in schools is to  
confuse the issue enough so that the difference between physical and  
intellectual property becomes lost. They are distinct types of legal  
right and they should remain distinct. We should be educating  
children into understanding why this legal and ethical distinction is  
important and why it is crucial for our democratic culture that a  
vibrant cultural commons is needed so that people can use, reuse,  
transform and remake culture with every new generation. Rather than,  
as Lessig has said, allowing the past (or multinationals) to control  
the future.

Lastly I would like to add that you are correct in your diagnosis  
linking the 'consumption' of intellectual property with the copyright  
regime. This is because owners seeks to restrict and emasculate the  
consumer so that it would be a crime for them to make new meanings or  
cultural works with copyrighted material. Creative commons and other  
similar movements like open-source and libre culture seek to make the  
consumer active and creative through giving them the ability to use  
the works in new ways. This is a productive relationship that is  
extremely important in creativity and the creative act.

– David

On 21 Jun 2005, at 17:41, RAFFERTY DAMIAN wrote:

> I hope you can share the 'copyright for kids' learning as this is a  
> very interesting area. The creative industries are very keen that  
> children understand that the things they make and consume are a  
> form of property and those more inclined to CC probably agree that  
> we should all be more knowledgeable.
> In general, the most important thing is safety. Making sure the  
> children can not be traced back to where they live, or go to  
> school, if their pictures are used for instance is critical.
> I suspect also that children cannot assign conditions to their  
> copyright meaningfully without adult or most probably parental  
> advice. Interestingly, if the content that the children remixed was  
> already on a share-alike agreement, then this would stand. Perhaps  
> the answer is to educate the children and parents into why you are  
> doing this and explain that you will be using a share-alike agreement?
> Damian

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