Why Creative Commons Hasn't Caught On In Serbia: They're Happier Without Copyright At All

from the freedom-is-a-nice-thing dept

This is from a few weeks ago, but I’m just getting around to it, though I found it quite fascinating. Rick Falkvinge, in discussing a recent trip to Serbia for the Share Conference, points out that Serbian content creators haven’t really embraced Creative Commons, not because they prefer the full limits of copyright, but because many don’t seem to like copyright at all:

He gave the story of what had happened when then-Yugoslavia was under an international embargo in 1990-1995.

Yugoslavia was allowed to import food, medicine, all the basic necessities of life, but not luxury items. Copies of digitized works counted as luxury items that weren’t allowed. Importing copies of bitpatterns was not permitted, stupidly enough. It turns out, therefore, that this was not a problem. The people living there could make do themselves, copying themselves. It showed on a country-wide scale just how unnecessary the copyright monopoly is — not just to academics studying the situation, but to the very people, too.

The result was that it was seen as a step backwards to start using Creative Commons in Serbia. It was perceived as unnecessarily restrictive and, well, unnecessary. Later, the copyright industry has been aggressive in Serbia just like everywhere else, but they have a serious uphill battle for hearts and minds.

I’d love to learn more about what happened in Serbia during that time and what happened in the aftermath as well, because I think it would be quite educational and useful in understanding some of the debates on these issues. Does anyone have any pointers to publications or people who can share more info?

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Why Creative Commons Hasn't Caught On In Serbia: They're Happier Without Copyright At All”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Jay (profile) says:

WIPO and Kosovo

Looks like they now have a similar framework to the WIPO.


I would gander that perhaps the Kosovo War might have had a few things to do with the change.

Clinton did authorize the bombing of a pharmaceutical company during Milosevic’s reign, and with 1998 being the year of the DMCA, it’s not far-fetched to believe that industry didn’t steamroll over Serbia during those 3 years.

Prashanth (profile) says:

I do believe Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig and GPL creator Richard Stallman both said that their respective libre licenses wouldn’t be necessary if copyright didn’t exist, and their strength only derives from the status quo strength of copyright. So it’s nice to see that such a situation isn’t just hypothetical but is quite real indeed.

chris says:

Re: Re:

Yes. If a work isn’t under copyright, you wouldn’t need to accept a license in order to redistribute it, so one could simply ignore the terms in the GPL/CC and copy away. One thing that bothers me is when folks start applying CC to works that don’t even fall under copyright such as recipes, instructions, software specs, etc. IMO that leads people to believe that such works are in fact copyrightable and only ends up broadening copyright, first in peoples minds and eventually in law.

Anna says:

I am from Serbia and teachers here even use pirated software in school or universities. People share it among themselves freely. The one theory is that just we are poor, and the other one is that people are now so used to it, that they consider it normal. Consequences are that we have a large number of educated IT experts and programmers, which present an excellent outsourcing opportunity for western companies.

chris says:

Re: Re:

This reminds me of that story where Microsoft was trying to make US companies liable for buying from foreign ones who used “non-genuine” copies of Windows in some aspect of their business. Now I know how it can get worse. I’m imagining there next step to be preventing companies from employing workers who at some point in there lives were taught using such a copy of Windows 🙂

Ivan NYC says:

Re: Re:

Anna, yes – I would say it’s both theories. I worked in BiH 1996-98 and Belgrade 1999-2001. At the time, even if I wanted to buy legal CDs or software, it was impossible to – it was simply not available. As a foreigner, I was lucky to be able to afford it, though I would estimate that fewer than 5% (1%?) of Serbian citizens could.

And it was everywhere – in every shop and every kiosk on every street. You can’t flood a society with something so ubiquitous (and so inexpensive) for decades and suddenly expect the entire society to one day turn around and shun pirated software as ‘wrong.’ Every single person there who’s touched a computer in the last 20 years has used (or is now using) pirated software.

PaulT (profile) says:

People say that copyright hinders creativity, and yet one of the most mindblowing films I’ve seen in recent years came from Serbia (A Serbian Film)…


Luckily, Serbian attitudes to copyright clear my conscience of having “pirated” that film in protest (Westminster Council blocked my scheduled viewing of the film at Frightfest in London last year, and it’s official release is heavily cut in the UK – I just downloaded it uncut instead).

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...