Trying to oblige

Posted November 9, 2006 by unboundedfreedom
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Caroline Michel wants more answers to the challenge of compensation for creativity in the sharing economy. Here is a new partnership in the exchange of open business models that might interest her:

Honourable mention?

Posted November 8, 2006 by unboundedfreedom
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The Bookseller has a two-page feature devoted to creative commons licensing this week, entitled ‘Creative with copyright’.

In it, Unbounded Freedom, my guide to creative commons thinking for cultural organisations commissioned by the Counterpoint unit of the British Council, comes in for a certain amount of stick. Where my work is not the subject of discussion, the ‘flagship feature’ covers some very important topics in ways I don’t at all disagree with. Many interesting thinkers are cited – Tom Reynolds, Chris Anderson – author of The Long Tail, Cory Doctorow, Yochai Benkler – in fact I can recommend the rest of this introduction to CC unreservedly. It looks as if the debate is moving on.

But just to return to my small effort – a couple of thorough readings have left me uncertain about the content of the disagreement. In my first mention, I am described as ‘hold[ing] up CC licenses as a viable alternative to copyright’, and the following suggestion is attributed to me:

‘that existing copyright law stymies creativity in the digital age by restricting use and barring communication between creators and their audience.’

This is a pretty exact summary of my main argument, so it was initially rather disappointing to find that Paul Carr, editor-in-chief of The Friday Project – described as ‘the first UK publisher to have made an entire work available for free under a Creative Commons licence’ – thinks that my ‘thesis is “utter nonsense…”‘

Any dismay soon turns into confusion, as Paul Carr continues on the subject of Creative Commons licensing, ‘Publishers certainly shouldn’t be scared by it…’ he says. Apparently he ‘tends to disagree that giving away free content damages sales’ and concludes his argument, by ‘urging publishers to “give away as much as you can”, as he believes that the more online visibility an author’s work has, the more their audience will grow.’

Hang on – isn’t this to argue, as I do in Unbounded Freedom, that in the digital age the recognition of property not just as exclusive ownership, but also as distribution – which is a characteristic of cultural commons thinking as reflected, for example, in Creative Commons Licenses – lifts some significant barriers to ‘communication between creators and their audiences’.

What Carr seems to object to in Unbounded Freedom, and he is joined in this objection by Caroline Michel, m.d. for the William Morris Agency who so adroitly defended her side of the argument at the launch of my booklet – is that I am suggesting that people should give away their work for free – period. But this was not my argument and I went out of my way to emphasise the fact. Please see a few examples below if you wish – there could be many more. Forgive my self-indulgence, but it is hard to believe that people have actually read this rather short book…

The second reference to Unbounded Freedom is made by Caroline Michel: she refers to parts of what I have written as “completely astonishing”.

Well, I dare say, some parts of what I have to say do seem astonishing. But I think this is only a marker of how complacent people who rely on intellectual property rights have become as copyright term is extended and extended again, regardless of the wider public interest – and how far we have drifted away from the enabling balancing act that copyright law was originally intended to serve.

Read the rest of this post »

2.0 new ways of being and doing

Posted November 5, 2006 by unboundedfreedom
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Joi Ito(see below  in Bulgaria) – has been interviewed by The Japan Times Online. He has lots of interesting things to say about democracy and the net – also this on what he can learn about leadership from the video game, World of Warcraft ( WoW):

Video games have always been kind of stigmatized, and they are kind of a working-class entertainment. When I go to my WoW guild, my raid leader is a night-shift nurse. We have bartenders. We have unemployed people, lots of military folks, policemen — there is a community made up of a very diverse set of people. And what’s interesting is that every single MBA who has tried to take the leadership role in the guild has failed. Leadership in these kinds of situations is much more about listening, and leadership is not exclusive to people in the leading class. It kind of translates into, say, understanding how open-source projects work, or how Firefox might be managed. This may all sound like a very long, elaborated excuse for playing lots of World of Warcraft. (Laugh) But I can learn a lot of things in places where typically people don’t think there is learning.

Meanwhile, here is Matt Hanson at the Leeds Film Festival explaining why his Cinema 2.0 project is on a CC license:

I’ve been involved in producing VJ and remix cinema projects. I like the idea of sampling other work, and doing it legitimately. So this is a digital community project as I want to give something back to the community by opening it up for free sharing and non-commercial use, as well as commercial sampling.

There’s a huge opportunity in more open content that Hollywood and the music industry haven’t realised or been able to move toward because their business models are predicated on something else.

As consumers we are all becoming used to creating our own media, and viewing it how we want. As such personally I don’t want to cripple my media with bad DRM and punish viewers/users of my material.

But Matt hasn’t given up entirely on auteurs… Nicole Wistreich interviewed him for netribution:

A couple of interesting developments

Posted October 30, 2006 by unboundedfreedom
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I wonder how the people at OpenFest will respond to this news from the Bulgarian foreign ministry:

And more ‘commons sense’ from IPPR:


Posted October 26, 2006 by unboundedfreedom
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The P2P Foundation has been excerpting Unbounded Freedom.

Michel Bauwens also sent me a long article on the political economy of peer production. It contains, among many other new formulations, one that I think is particularly intriguing – ‘anticredentialism’, defined as follows:

“P2P projects are characterized by equipotentiality or ‘anti-credentialism.’ This means that there is no a priori selection to participation. The capacity to cooperate is verified in the process of cooperation itself. Thus, projects are open to all comers provided they have the necessary skills to contribute to a project. These skills are verified, and communally validated, in the process of production itself. This is apparent in open publishing projects such as citizen journalism: anyone can post and anyone can verify the veracity of the articles. Reputation systems are used for communal validation. The filtering is a posteriori, not a priori. Anti-credentialism is therefore to be contrasted to traditional peer review, where credentials are an essential prerequisite to participate.”

This chimes well with my current mood on there being too many gatekeepers, and not enough opportunities for people to show their creativity. For every book that is published there are so many more that could be that are just as good, even if they’re only read by your own extended family! The essay is here:

Can a sharing economy be a ‘fake’?

Posted October 24, 2006 by unboundedfreedom
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OpenBusiness is following up on a discussion by Larry Lessig and Joi Ito – “Is YouTube web 2.0 ?” They argue that there is a “fake sharing economy” emerging. YouTube does not allow downloading, nor does it encourage remixing, or re-use (in contrast to services like Revver). In that respect, YouTube is a service which lives off user-generated content, but does not empower individual creativity.

OpenBusiness will publish a series of responses. The first one is here:

This relates to the need to define Open Services:

If or flickr are nothing without their users should we explore distributed ownership and investment structures? Is it right and sustainable that “enabling shells” such as flickr, YouTube or digg are owned by one big company?

Giants’ shoulders

Posted October 23, 2006 by unboundedfreedom
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I have long admired John Kay, Financial Times columnist, on these issues, and here is a recent column of his on innovation and copyright, which finishes with a few words of advice for Andrew Gowers:

It has made me think again about Bob’s question of a few days ago. In response to my assertion that we need a rich cultural commons, Bob Croxford says,

‘Why? How does this help encourage works of original authorship?’

In the same issue of the FT as Kay’s column (October 13), an editorial called ‘Threat to free speech’ found itself alongside a letter from a list of performers’, writers’, directors’, and composers’ organisations, entitled, ‘Worrying rise in hostility towards copyright’. Read the rest of this post »