A new way of thinking about copyright

Creative Commons spectrum of rights

This cartoon, courtesy of Creative Commons, gets to the heart of an alternative to full copyright. Artists, musicians, photographers, writers, bloggers, educators, filmmakers, photographers and others are using the Creative Commons licence to allow people to legitimately redistribute or re-use their work under licence.I have seen the CC logo around the place but I hadn’t really understood its real importance until I heard an interview about it on the latest Digital Life programme. Simon Morton, producer of the weekly show broadcast on Radio NZ, interviewed Stanford University Professor and Creative Commons Chairman Laurence Lessig in London. Lessig was in London talking with the BBC about using Creative Commons licences. The BBC want to make it as easy for people to license and upload it’s entire archive (coming online soon).

The sample cartoon above is just one of the many ways you can learn about the Creative Commons concept. A five minute video and case studies are also available on the website. And subscribers to Wired Magazine will find in their November issue a CD with songs by major artists such as David Byrne, the Beastie Boys and Gilberto Gil. Readers are being encouraged to share, copy, and make new art from the songs, without being haunted by legal threats.

Already four million people have created licences. It’s a concept that people working in community organisations and NGOs should look to support: making content available for adaption and re-use fits well with the values of the sector. It would be good see the community sector leading its uptake here.