Creative Commons 101

Finally, time to post.  Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Austin Creative Commons Salon. First time participant and relatively unaware of the movement, thought it would be a good learning experience. Low and behold, I was right. 

A small bit on CC:

“Creative Commons is a an easy licensing method used by artists, musicians and writers worldwide to allow others to use their work according to a set of guidelines you select, including control over any profits. It increases the creativity and profile of those who share in the licenses.”

It was a small gathering of folks ranging from developers to musicians to the “I need a job” kind. The meeting featured three sites:; Jamendo; ccMixter – Launched during SXSWi and developed by David Neff and company for the American Cancer Society, the site provides a unique community for those touched by cancer. According to the American Cancer Society:

  • Cancer accounts for nearly one-quarter of deaths in the United States, exceeded only by heart diseases
  • Lung cancer is, by far, the most common fatal cancer in men (31%), followed by prostate (10%), and colon & rectum (8%).
  • In women, lung (26%), breast (15%), and colon & rectum (9%) are the leading sites of cancer death.
  • It is estimated that about 1.4 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2008.  Cancers of the prostate and breast will be the most frequently diagnosed cancers in men and women, respectively, followed by lung and colorectal cancers in both men and in women.

Had the opportunity to check out a video or two and think this is an amazing site – inspiring and touching.  

Jamendo – Admittedly not a huge music-aficionado, this site features a ton of European artists. Obviously, each leverages CC licensing. Like the idea of providing a suggested retail price for each song/album.  

ccMixter – This is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music in whatever way you want. AWESOME concept. Will definitely play around on this site. 

Must be the journalism training in me, but as great as CC sounds in theory, I was curious to know what the obstacles/criticisms for the movement are. Granted there is a bunch of legal jargon – still think it’s good practice to know both sides of the story:


  • A political position – Where the object is to critically analyze the foundations of the Creative Commons movement and offer an eminent critique (e.g. Berry & Moss 2005, Geert Lovink, Free Culture movements). One of the more notable concerns to be found in this vein of criticism is on the role the Creative Commons plays as an unconcerned corporate filter. As mentioned in Martin Hardie and “Creative License Fetishism”, “When one examines closely just exactly what sort of ‘freedom’ is ultimately to be had within these licenses, one is quick to discover that they are primarily set up as tools meant to feed directly into corporate co-option.” Matteo Pasquinelli (2008) describes two fronts of criticism: “those who claim the institution of a real commonality against Creative Commons restrictions (non-commercial, share-alike, etc.) and those who point out Creative Commons complicity with global capitalism”. Pasquinelli specifically criticises CC for not establishing “productive commons”.  
  • A common sense position – These usually fall into the category of “it is not needed” or “it takes away user rights” (see Toth 2005 or Dvorak 2005).
  • A pro-copyright position – These are usually marshalled by the content industry and argue either that Creative Commons is not useful, or that it undermines copyright (Nimmer 2005).
  • Another criticism is that it worsens license proliferation, by providing multiple licenses that are incompatible. Most notably, ‘attribution-sharealike’ and ‘attribution-noncommercial-sharealike’ are incompatible, meaning that works under these licenses cannot be combined in a derivative work without obtaining permission from the license-holder. 

CITATION: (7/29/05)

“At the core of most CC licenses are a hodge-podge of pick-and-choose (and often incompatible) features that can include prohibitions on commercial use, the requirement to release and redistribute derivative works freely, the requirement to retain attribution, and a blanket ban on derivative versions altogether. The only quality common to all of these licenses was that verbatim copies would always be distributable non-commercially. In other words, while works under CC licenses may be licensed under any number of terms, all works allowed the non-commercial copying of unmodified versions without permission.”

Obviously, I’m just scratching the surface here for both ends.  Would love to talk to someone who uses/opposes CC! Holla if you fall in either category….    


One Response

  1. Awesome! Thanks so much for posting about SharingHope.TV. We think CC is the way our users want to be treated so that’s why we do it. Nice and simple!

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