Case Studies/Andrew Garton

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Andrew Garton is a prominent Australian-based writer, producer and digital media adviser who widely employs and advocates the use of Creative Commons licences.

I feel tools such as Creative Commons are part of the discussion we should be having about our lives, how we live, how and what we learn and the mechanisms required to support innovation and creativity, that which sustains life, gives it meaning and purpose - a lifetime of learning rather than a lifetime of uncertainty. — Andrew Garton, ‘Are We Insane?’


Andrew Garton is a prominent Australian-based writer, producer and digital media advisor who sits at the forefront of new media practice and community cultural development. A passionate advocate for Creative Commons and open content licensing, Garton works across a number of projects which express the aims of inclusivity, sustainability, and respect for local context. As the current Managing Director of the online and community media group, the Association for Progressive Communications Australia,, Garton places focus on building sustainable IT infrastructure and community-based media based initiatives in Australia, South East Asia, and the Pacific Islands. For example, consults on delivery platforms to the Melbourne City Council supported Home Lands project. Home Lands intends to assist young refugees to reconnect with their dispersed communities through an innovative Internet television programme. In addition, Andrew serves as Secretary of the Executive Board of the international Association for Progressive Communications, is a member of the Arts Law Consortium of Victoria and a founding member of Open Spectrum Australia.

Garton commenced his career at age 14, participating in community and public access media and contributing to the experimental music scene(s) in Sydney, Australia. Performing and producing as synthesist, saxophonist, and spoken-word performer from the late 1970s, he played with punk/soul band Private Lives (1979-1983) and fusion/improvisation outfit Lingo Babel (1985-1987). In the late 1980s he formed the acoustic-based White Punks on Hope and the jazz/punk trio, Return from Nowhere. For The Listening Room (now off-air), Garton performed the first generative sound piece for Australian radio and Internet in 1997, in collaboration with performance artist Stelarc. Composer of numerous documentary soundtracks, interactive installations both online and offline, and publisher of articles on independent media, generative music and radio art, Garton’s composition and performance has been characterised by employment of streaming technologies, generative sound works and collaborative, cross-disciplinary approaches, exploring broader interpretations of screen culture and the moving image. Andrew releases his various projects through the Secession label (a site licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic licence).

Under the auspices of Toy Satellite, Andrew has produced several of the earliest audiovisual streaming projects in Australia, contributing to internationally-acclaimed and award-winning sound works and generative compositions commissioned by both the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and ORF/KunstRadio (Austria). In 2001 he produced Undercurrents, which launched the Taipei International Arts Festival. This piece was subsequently commissioned for performance at the first multimedia event to be hosted by the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) in 2001. It was further performed, in part, for the Fringe Fashion Awards (Melbourne), Multimedia Arts Asia Pacific (Brisbane), the Melbourne International Arts Festival and the Electrofringe (Newcastle, NSW). Furthermore, in 2003, Andrew was commissioned to produce a situationist-inspired interactive work, D3, for the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), where he spent two years as interactive media consultant.

In 2005, Garton accepted the role as OPEN CHANNEL’s inaugural Program Director, effectively relaunching the 35-year-old organisation. The new programme of activities included the Creative Commons-inspired VIDEO SLAM, the Certificate III in Screen course, Producing for Community TV, the FRAMED lunchtime seminar series and the community mobile movies initiative, Talking Docklands: Video Quilt.

The significant scope and scale of his current projects are illustrated on the wiki.

License Usage

Andrew is a strong supporter of Creative Commons. His initial website and blog were licensed under a BY-NC-SA 1.0 licence, now BY-NC-SA 2.5 Australia, and his photographs on Flickr are licensed BY NC-SA 2.0.

For Melbourne Arts Law Week 2007, Garton created the OPEN CHANNEL VIDEO SLAM, ‘a unique event in that it not only provides a forum for the open content philosophy, it’s host to a hybrid form of production where people from across many arts disciplines can meet, network and make something… together!’ As a collaboration with the Creative Commons Clinic and EngageMedia, the Victorian Arts Law Consortium and Melbourne’s Horse Bazaar, its focus rested on flexible licences for the creation of new works that are given back to the community from which the material came. The second VIDEO SLAM, ‘Appropriate Original’ saw the creation of four unique shorts, two of which were produced with no copyright restrictions what so ever, all four being launched at the innovative Remix Forum, also conceived and produced by Andrew.

Andrew performed at the inaugural 2006 Creative Commons Australia Salon, incorporating content from across the Australian Creative Commons, such as images from the CCau Flickr pool established for the event. Garton chronicled this event in his Reprise.


On 30 March 2007, Andrew addressed the Queensland University of Technology’s Creative Commons Clinic with a provocative presentation titled ‘Are We Insane?’. In this, he expounded on humanity’s tendency under the effects of globalisation to mass-produce items so they appear as mirror images, being ‘manifestations of our liberal economies… which at the extreme… ensure a McDonald’s in every capital city, the same clothing labels on every back, brands on every t-shirt and Big Brother haircuts in every pub across the country – what I’m talking about is homogeneity.’

In vociferous response, Andrew perceives flexible licensing as challenging such overarching concepts of ownership – By allowing copies of their work to be made in perpetuity under OCL, an artist kicks at the core of globalisation’s founding beliefs.

When asked why he chooses flexible licences such as Creative Commons, and how he is able to make money via the initiative, Andrew responds that:

‘Just as we have to think of different ways of living, so too do we need to think of different ways of earning an income. I do not think it is possible to earn the kind of money we have come to expect from creative industries by merely posting our content online. In addition, we can no longer afford to live as we have done so, as our forefathers have done… we just do not have the resources to support this. As such, I feel tools such as Creative Commons are part of the discussion we should be having about our lives, how we live, how and what we learn and the mechanisms required to support innovation and creativity, that which sustains life, gives it meaning and purpose - a lifetime of learning rather than a lifetime of uncertainty.’

Ultimately, Andrew sees the CC movement as doing more than offering cool sampling licences: ‘They are contributing to a revitalization of creativity and cultural development as a collective effort. It ensures diversity, sustains it and keeps our fans free of fines and some of them even out of jail.’


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