3.6 CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE
The Creative Commons license system evolved as a response to the restrictive system of copyright that many felt was stifling creativity instead of fostering it. Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization that functions across the world to provide licensing tools to authors of creative works. What is unique about the licensing system is that it empowers the authors themselves to decide what kind of a license they want. This flexible copyright system was meant to enable a kind of internet culture that embraces rather than detracts from sharing, remixing, developing and parodying another person’s work, as a form of creativity than disrespect. The system was conceptualized by a number of individuals at the helm of the copyleft movement, of whom the most prominent is Professor Lawrence Lessig. The idea behind this new license system is to give back to the commons. It is conceptualized in a manner that is cognizant of the importance of the commons to creative output. Finally, it is also aware of the distinction between the commons of yore and the digital commons. The digital commons has content that can be worked upon to create new content. Licensing systems need to allow for this kind of creativity subject to the consent of the author and the ‘vast and growing digital commons’ can then be a fount of innovation in the digital marketplace of ideas. A creative commons license is a large step away from the ‘All Rights Reserved’ model of the contemporary. In the current system, any creative work (say a book), will have all rights pertaining to the book reserved to either the author or the publisher. What this means that if any third party wants to do anything related to the book, prior permission will have to be sought. This struck many as unnecessarily tedious, if not impossible at times. Therefore, the Creative Commons system stands for ‘Some Rights Reserved’. As to what those some rights are, that varies from license to license that creative commons has on offer. The CC system is not against copyright in any way but offers a middle path between overarching copyright laws and no IP laws at all. This system allows the creator to choose what kind of use she is comfortable with and will allow. Very often, creators are fine with the community using their work to build on other creative projects or as an instructional tool for educational or research purposes but uncomfortable with the commercial use of their work. CC licenses are tailored to these concerns. Another aspect to CC licenses is that they are a part of the transition from a read -only culture of the pre-internet era to the read-write culture of today. Today, as we surf the web, the conversation we have with the internet community is a robust two-way dialogue. For example, ever remix of a YouTube video is a part of the creative dialogue and most creators are comfortable with and even encourage such uses of their work. Chunyan Wang16 writes about George Lucas ‘Lucas the Litigator’, creator of the Star Wars series, who would earlier aggressively pursue anyone who attempted to use any of the songs/stills from the movies. In the course of time, the Star Wars team realized that they’re missing out on a great deal of popularity on the internet by adopting this attitude. Today, the Star Wars website has become the go-to place not just for fans of the series but also for the internet’s creative community since it allows for the non-commercial use of its works. Although this might be counter-intuitive to some, parodies and remixed of the original very often increase the popularity of the original. The example of Gangnam Style or – and the umpteen remixes on YouTube bear testimony to this fact of the digital era. This read-write culture, in expanding the contours of and participation in the conversation, made intellectual discourse much more informed. It is difficult to extrapolate enhanced quality of intellectual discourse from the mere remixing of Gangnam Style but the example is simply illustrative of a transformed internet culture. Consider, for a moment, the Twitter feed of Professor Kyu Ho Youm17that has been recognized as one of the best media and law resources. Imagine the kind of dialogue such a feed would engender and we catch a glimpse of the transformative power of this read-write culture. CC network exists actively in over 70 jurisdictions conducting a spectrum of activities to promote open content licensing and encouraging governments to bring their often archaic copyright laws in consonance with this emerging global standard.