A year in the life of Creative Commons
In our last episode you met Creative Commons, a young project with big plans, plans to bring some sense to the copyright debate, plans to partner with the big C, to clarify the rules of creativity. To help authors and artists build a body of free culture they can draw from in return. So where have Creative Commons' adventures led?
It all began with our copyright licenses, tools that help you mark your work as free to share or build upon with only some rights reserved. And you did just that, with an enthusiasm that surprised even us. First came the early adopters: writers, like Campbell Award winning Cory Doctorow, who offered fans his first novel for free download, and for sale in hard copy; educators, like MIT and Rice University, who made their courseware available online, for free, to the world; also, community builders like Sal Randolph of Opsound, who collects hundreds of licensed songs for people to remix and share; and there are thousands of modern day Thomas Paines, the grassroots journalists known as Webloggers, plus photographers, illustrators, filmmakers, and more. Only a couple of months into Creative Commons' life, and more than 100,000 pioneers like these had joined the movement.
And then things got really interesting. Because before long, YOU put this commons into practice, just as we had dreamed but could never have done alone. Guitarist Colin Mutchler contributed a track to Opsound and a young violinist named Cora Beth recorded a duet with him without ever meeting him. An academic program in Vietnam began translating and teaching MIT's course materials. Cory Doctorow's novel sold a whole print run. It saw hundreds of thousands of downloads. Even Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com recommended it to his customers. All of this, across the net, with no middleman, no legal doubt, no friction, just free culture created in real-time.
All the while you built the commons out in whole new directions, in ways we never anticipated. High-tech publisher Tim O'Reilly helped us create the Founder's Copyright; that's fourteen years in the care of Big C, and then works move onto public pastures. Software developers started incorporating our tools, helping people free their works at the point of creation. Common Content and the Internet Archive began to register and host Creative Commons works, for free. The iCommons opened, and experts around the world began porting our licenses to many legal systems, so that your expression can travel freely across borders.
And suddenly, what had been only an idea only eight months earlier was a global movement, more than 700,000 licensed works strong, and still you helped us realize that more could be done. The legendary musician Gilberto Gil, along with the digital collage artists Negativland, inspired us to build Creative Commons latest and most exciting tool, one that encourages a kind of creativity that children with scissors and glue, and scientists who cure with genes, and lawyers who cite precedent understand as second nature, to take a bit and make it new. Some from here, some from there, to make a mosaic of the old, but not to copy -- to remix culture. Introducing: the Creative Commons Sampling Licenses. New tools to help you invite others to get creative with a part of your work, even for profit, but not to copy the whole thing. The legendary Mr. Gil will introduce the first wave of sample friendly tunes from Brazil, leaving you free to jam with him across the net, with more artists soon to follow.
And so, Creative Commons carries on, twelve months since hitting the scene, more than one million licensed works, one million artifacts of culture, free to reuse. And we've got bigger plans still: plans to help authors republish books out of print; plans to explore a science commons; plans to weave our philosophy and our tools into the fabric of the net; plans to knock down the wall between reader and author, or listener and composer, between audience and artists, between community and citizen, or culture and creator; plans to bring creativity back to its senses, and with your help, to keep growing, just as big as the old Big C.
Creative Commons: the rules have changed, and it's just the beginning.