I am a new author. I’ve just written a book called Unbounded Freedom for the British Council and have chosen to publish it under a Creative Commons licence.
Unbounded Freedom is a guide to current thinking on intellectual property rights and cultural commons and can be downloaded for free from www.counterpoint-online.org. The licence I’ve chosen allows people to access my work for free, to share it, change and build on it for non-commercial purposes, as long as they share it with others on the same basis.
So why did I choose to licence my work in this way? In writing this book I was primarily concerned to give people access to the current arguments around this new way of thinking, so that we can see how our pooled ideas contribute to this important debate. Despite the fact that the uptake of Creative Commons licences increased to 45 million in 2005, there still seems to be a huge lack of knowledge about the copyright debate across a range of sectors including arts, publishing, creative industries, academia, law and science. This needs to be addressed so that everyone involved in each step of the creative process can make an informed decision about the best way to licence their work.
As a Contributing Editor to openDemocracy, I have been impressed by their decision to publish the majority of their articles under Creative Commons licences, thereby giving their authors more control over the role their works will play in the digital world, exploring the potential for a much wider, global conversation and making an important statement about the importance of openness and the dangers of a culture of excessive ownership.
I believe that unchecked distribution of creative work may be very good for artists and culture too. Some authors seem to hold the Creative Commons licences themselves responsible for the much broader challenge coming from an emergent ‘sharing economy’ which is affecting everything from software development to genomics and pharmaceuticals, as well as arts and culture. I don’t think anyone can remain untouched by or neutral to these developments. But there are powerful counter-arguments. We need to hear from all sides: from people who have more experience of working with these licences; people who feel strongly that their moral rights and livelihoods are compromised by such arrangements; from existing ‘gatekeepers’ and guardians of excellence, and future creatives who want to shed those constraints.
In particular, we need to arrive at a more considered decision about the public interest in the intellectual property regimes of the future
If we continue down the road we are taking, we threaten the global chain of creativity and innovation on which we and future generations depend.
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