Creative Commons

Some rights reserved by steren.giannini

Week 10.

Following week 10 tutorial’s exercise, explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.

The struggles between people and corporations that hold copyright and people who want to remix or steal others’ intellectual property has become a massive issue since the internet has allowed for the sharing of intellectual property in ways never seen before. Intellectuals such as Lawrence Lessig and Richard M Stallman are supporters of sharing intellectual property and creative works. Personally I can see the benefits of the Creative Commons idea for amateurs and hobbyists but I also support copyright for professionals and people who make a career out of their intellectual and creative work. Ironically, like Lessig and Stallman who are academics and make a living from their ideas.

I have chosen the most restrictive Creative Commons license available for my blog. I would actually prefer to copyright my blog. The reason for this is not that I don’t want to share; I just would prefer to have control over how my words, which are attributed to me, are shared. I don’t want my words twisted or misquoted, which is illegal with the license I have chosen.  The problem that I have with the license is that I can’t control where my work is shared. Someone could put my work on and that wouldn’t be illegal. I also hope to be a journalist when I finish university, so my words are very important to me.

The ideas behind Creative Commons and Stallman’s GNU software are vital in the current environment. These attitudes foster respect for copyright and other people’s creations while also creating a legal outlet for people who want to collaborate and share their ideas, their words, their images, videos and music. As Marc Garcelon shows, the CC symbol helps people to navigate a legal minefield where a wrong step could cost you thousands of dollars, “the CC symbol also represented an alternative to growing legal uncertainty surrounding the doctrine of fair use.” (2010:1314).  Copyright law is not always understood and by creating understanding, it helps people who do want to respect others.

Creative Commons is not without its problems. Nina Paley explains her problems with confusion over a creative commons license here, and it shows the issues that people just assume but don’t take time to understand. Talking time to understand consequences is a real issue in the copyright debate. Taking someone’s intellectual property doesn’t seem to be a big deal because it is a non-rivalrous resource and because we can’t see the person we are taking it from. The copyright ads played before movies compare stealing movies and music to stealing a rivalrous resource such as a car or a handbag but the message doesn’t work.

Intellectual property is non-rivalrous but it doesn’t automatically follow that it should be available to all. People who make a living from selling their non-rivalrous resource use their money to be buy food and other rivalrous resources, just like people who work in factories and shops. We pay experts such as electricians and IT experts for their knowledge when we need something fixed. We pay for drugs created by scientists and value their work. Creative pursuits are just as important and we need to find a balance between the closed world of the corporates in Hollywood and the open world Lawrence Lessig envisions.


Garcelon, Marc (2009) ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’, in New Media &Society 11 (8): 1307-1326.

Lessig, Lawrence (2005) ‘Open Code and Open Societies’ pp. 349-360 in Joseph Feller, Brian Fitzgerald, Scott A. Hissam and Karim R. Lakhani (eds) Perspectives on Free ad Open Source Software. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Stallman, Richard (2002) ‘Why Software Should Be Free’ pp. 121-133 in Joshua Gay (ed.) Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard Stallman. Boston: GNU Press.

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