This Week In Creative Commons History

from the global-summit dept

Since I’m here at the Creative Commons 2017 Global Summit this weekend, I want to take a break from our usual Techdirt history posts and highlight the new State Of The Commons report that has been released. These annual reports are a key part of the CC community — here at Techdirt, most of our readers already understand the importance of the free culture licensing options that CC provides to creators, but it’s important to step back and look at just how much content is being created and shared thanks to this system. It also provides some good insight into exactly how people are using CC licenses, through both data and (moreso than in previous years) close-up case studies. In the coming week we’ll be taking a deeper dive into some of the specifics of the report and this year’s summit, but for now I want to highlight a few key points — and encourage you to check out the full report for yourself.

Public Domain Dedications Are Gaining Steam

Even within the CC community itself, there is some debate as to the effectiveness and appropriateness of various licensing options like no-derivatives and non-commercial. Here at Techdirt we’ve always encouraged creators to strongly consider the CC0 option that puts their work fully into the public domain (or at least as fully as you can under a copyright system that provides no clear legal mechanism for doing so). In the past year, the use of CC0 has been growing, largely thanks to some specific projects like the the release of a large collection from the Metropolitan Museum of Art which I wrote about a couple months ago, and the public-domain-focused photography platform Unsplash. Hopefully the success and usefulness of these projects drives even more creators and platform operators to embrace CC0 (many content sharing platforms still don’t even give uploaders the option, with CC-BY as the least restrictive license available).

Non-Commercial Licenses Are The Minority

Casting the net a little wider than pure public domain dedications, there’s an even bigger trend away from the more restrictive CC options. We’ve discussed many times in the past how “non-commercial” is an extremely problematic requirement in an era where the lines between commercial and non- are often extremely blurry. Similarly, “no derivatives” cuts of countless avenues of positive, productive use of content, and creates even more uncertainty around exactly what is allowed — and under a harsh copyright regime with hefty penalties for infringement, uncertainty is functionally pretty close to just being blocked altogether. So it’s great to see that licenses which allow remixing and commercial use are continuing to increase as a proportion of all CC licenses, reaching 65% this year.

The Commons Is Huge

In 2016, there were 1.2-billion works published with Creative Commons licenses. Though growth has slowed slightly since the count passed the one-billion mark last year, it shows no signs of stopping. Ten years ago, there were only 140-million such works.

Many of the discussions at the summit are focused on how to push these trends forwards even further, both in specific areas of interest and in the commons as a whole. We’ll have closer looks at some of these ideas soon, but for now check out the full report to learn more — and get ready for the Made With Creative Commons book (a collection of examples of CC work, plus insights from artists on how they have built sustainable open culture businesses, and advice on using CC with your own work) which will be available as a free ebook on May 5th.

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Comments on “This Week In Creative Commons History”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

> The point is if there is a strong and valid choice that creators can use, then is there such a pressing need to demonize copyright?

"It’s not about it being mutually exclusive, it’s just mutually exclusive!"

I’m not seeing it. What’s incoherent or mutually exclusive? This person was asking whether you should focus so heavily on the restrictions of copyright when there’s less restrictive material available.

(I think you should; culture always builds on earlier work and having any of it locked down for a hundred years is unacceptable.)

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just to be clear, using your metaphor:

What’s being reported here is countless examples of companies copyrighting “black coffee” and “cream and sugar.” Trademarking “black coffee” and “cream and sugar.” Patenting black coffee, cream and sugar and any mix of them. All within recent years, despite those things being common long before.

And then suing people like you for violating their copyrights, trademarks and patents when you sell or merely consume your own black coffee. Or issuing takedown notices when you drink black coffee in a YouTube video. Or having your online comments on black coffee taken down using a fraudulent court order.

Companies who have registered “tea”, “cookies & cream” and black anything, who will sue you because your coffee is close enough to “cause confusion.” It was bad enough when companies could stop you from using a vaguely similar name – or a mere color – in the same industry. Now you have Apple going after others for using ANY fruit in their name, in ANY industry.

Woe betide you if you happen drink or photograph or recommend your black coffee in a mug or cup. For that opens up even more violations of others’ intellectual property.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Problems with copyright that are in no way lessened or fixed by a growing amount of CC content:

– Constant abuse of notice & takedown
– A global push by copyright industries to upgrade this to notice & staydown
– The constriction or complete lack of fair use and/or dealing around the world
– DRM/TPM violating people’s most basic property rights
– The still-ongoing huge orphaned works problem
– Oh wait I just remembered you don’t actually care, you’re just here to be an asshole

My_Name_Here says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

When it comes to being an asshole, I think you have it all locked up Leigh. I guess you learned from the boss to move to a personal attack rather than discussing issues.

Each of your points is valid if there are no other options. The 1.2 billion works using CC don’t have those issues. Respecting the creator’s rights is a very important thing, including respecting those who chose CC licensing, or prefer to retain the rights to their works.

CC is the proof that copyright isn’t broken. All it requires is that the creator makes a choice to share and for the public to respect those who do not make that choice.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

My_Name_Here, you pretend that the copyright regime is fine and dandy because CC exists. No, it’s not. It’s far from alright.

First of all we’ve got a problem with authors not registering their work; even your post here was copyright the moment you posted it. While you may not find it’s worth your while to sue me for infringement for quoting you thus:

CC is the proof that copyright isn’t broken. All it requires is that the creator makes a choice to share and for the public to respect those who do not make that choice.

you technically could. THERE’S the problem. Orphan works exist because it never occurred to WW1 soldiers that their letters are copyrighted by default so museums and historical societies who can’t trace the writers or their families can’t use them.

Copyright terms are also ridiculously long; what was the problem when it was 28 years tops for decades?

The effort is the creator’s but the culture is ours. No one ought to be allowed to own and control cultural artifacts. That is why copyright terms were limited in the first place. I would not be surprised to discover you’re a little-known musician or performer who jealously guards his "intellectual property" and doesn’t understand why he’s not more popular. I come across people like you all the time and no matter how often I point out that getting your work out where people can see it is the way forward they still insist that only protectionism can ever enable them to make a living. Rod, meet back.

As for myself, I do a lot of original writing for my job; I made it but I sure as hell don’t own it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Reading this entire exchange was painful.

Both sides needs to stop being pretentious and lay out the issue.

TD is not specifically against Copyright, just against bullshit or draconian copyright. Creative Commons is a far more acceptable version of copyright. You should have said something like that Leigh.

Regarding the AC, it seems like he is just picking on you for supporting a “copyright” mechanism while trash talking a different copyright mechanism alluding to the idea that you might be running into a bit of irony. Sure the AC could be trolling, but you had a teachable moment and you missed it!

I don’t think most people are against reasonable Copyright controls at all. It’s just that copyright is clearly out of control right now so people like to rail against it because it makes an easy target. But either way… good luck, the vast majority of idiots are the voters that get to have their way.

America might not be a Democracy, but it is “Democratic” enough to ensure that we will self destruct. Given the past 3 Administrations and their elections… I say we are doomed unless we citizens bend over and shit a couple of parties right out of the Political System. Both love power, and they both love big business, and big business loves draconian copyright law!

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

(Indeed, the only reason I bothered to write the list of problems with copyright in this comment is to provide a substantive answer for anyone else who might be paying attention. I’m not sure what you’d prefer me have done – this is Techdirt where we lay out the issues with copyright in great detail on a regular basis.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Ahh already to persinal insults. Hard to have a discussion when you insist on playing on that level.

I will try one more time with my point. With over a billion CC licensed things and with such a huge commons why not work with what is there?

If copyright works are so hard to deal with then stop using them. Demand CC license alternative works?

If you love the commons then spend your energy to promote it and expand it. Going negative on the other options is weak.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

The worst thing that might be considered “negative” is a “harsh copyright regime with hefty penalties for infringement, uncertainty is functionally pretty close to just being blocked altogether”.

If that’s all it takes for your jimmies to get rustled it’s not a surprise why people generally find dealing with copyright annoying. Having to take into account whether even legal fair use might twist your panties is widely considered a “negative” aspect.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Nobody should willingly relinquish their rights just because there is some alternative, limited replacement. Copyright in its current form creates massive restrictions on free speech, and that’s a problem regardless of the existence of the Commons.

The Commons is only 16 years old and forms only a fraction of our shared culture. Nobody is going to toss away their right to access and use the rest. While celebrating and promoting the Commons, they are also going to fight to fix the broken laws that made it necessary in the first place.

There’s no contradiction there. I’ve known from the start what your "point" was, and it’s extremely disingenuous, because I think you know that our objections to copyright are deeper and further-ranging and more complex than anything that can simply be solved by "avoiding" copyright works (as if that were even remotely possible in the modern world which, again, I think you know it’s not).

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