Creative Commons Launch

December 16, 2002

The day after the Creative Commons Launch, I wrote an email to a friend at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who wasn't able to make it, and summarized the event for her. After I sent the email, I realized that my description might be of interest to others as well, so I've added it here as a blog entry.

Dear { },

I expect that you've probably heard details about the Creative Commons event from more authoritative sources than I, but thought I'd pass along a couple of my own impressions about the event onto you, since you weren't able to be there last night.

After an introduction by Glenn Brown, Executive Director of the Creative Commons, Lawrence Lessig gave an excellent, inspiring, and informative speech introducing the concept of the Creative Commons to the audience. Several hundred people were in attendance (including Craig Newmark and Eric Eldred, plaintiff in the recent Supreme Court case, Eldred vs. Ashcroft).

Midway through his speech, Lessig presented two video messages. The first, from John Perry Barlow, was well recieved. His presence was missed by all in attendance, and I'm sure he would have been delighted by the enthusiatic response that his wholehearted support of the Commons recieved.

Then, Jack Valenti appeared on the screen behind Lessig. There was a shocked silence, as for a moment, everyone wondered whether Lessig was playing some sort of practical joke upon the assembled Commoners. As Valenti spoke, there were hushed boos and laughter from the audience, but the vast majority of the audience was hanging on every word, their attention split evenly between trying to find the slightest fault in what was being said, and utter surprise that the most unpopular figure in the room was supporting -- supporting! the concept of the Creative Commons.

Having listened to Valenti's speech, I'm torn. On the one hand, I still maintain an intense philosophical dislike for motives and actions of the Motion Picture Association of America, and the man himself. On the other, I'm surprised that he supports the concept of a Creative Commons, and given his uncompromisingly complimentary remarks about the project, can't find fault with his position. He even got a grudging round of applause.

Lessig's presentation also included showing "Get Creative", a short animated film explaining the high level concepts behind the Creative Commons licensing scheme. The film also provided examples of how CC license usage had the potential to vastly streamline creative collaboration across the 'Net.

"Get Creative" was the response from the US Copyright Office, contacted in the early stages of forming the Creative Commons, when asked whether a legal precedent existed within the USCO for what the Creative Commons was proposing to implement.

Brewster Kahle spoke shortly after Lawrence Lessig. The founder of Alexa Internet, and the cofounder of the Internet Archive, Brewster has a long standing precedent for supporting free information initiatives on the 'Net. His Internet Bookmobile , which provides free editions of over 20,000 public domain texts, was present in the hall behind the audience, and printed a large number of books during the course of the evening.

The Internet Archive, in cooperation with Alexa Internet, announced that it would be providing free storage and hosting for works placed in the Creative Commons for those who desired it. In the words of Brewster Kahle,

"...Hundreds of terabytes don't bother us. We have gigabit connections onto the Internet..."

"...the larger your content is, the happier we'll be..."

The round of applause was deafening. Having witnessed the sheer scale of data that Alexa and the Internet Archive jointly collect and manage, it's clear that Brewster and the Archive are able to easily support this endeavour.

Aaron Swartz, Volunteer Metadata Advisor to the Commons, gave a hands on demonstration of the process for selecting and using a Creative Commons license via the CC website. Despite a few video projection problems, everyone gained a good sense of how easy the license selection and metadata tagging process was.

The evening concluded with video and music presentations by several artists who'll be making their work available under the Creative Commons, in addition to incorporating public domain and freely available works into the work that they do.

DJ Spooky presented a video remix of D.W. Griffith's 1915 film, "Birth of a Nation". Well recieved, but the volume was about 10 dB too loud, and the soundtrack was a little jarring at times. Thankfully, since the film is under the Creative Commons, I may well have a go at making the effort a little more pleasing to the ear!

I hope this summary has been of interest. It was a very exciting and interesting evening, and the Creative Commons looks to be the start of a very promising move in the right direction for all who value fair use and balanced interpretations of intellectual property rights.

Happy Holidays,

--- Rupert





Rupert Scammell
Last updated Tue Dec 17 19:47:01 PST 2002

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