Sustaining CC

Week 11.

Medosch argues that: “CC does not pay any attention at all to the issue of an economic model for supporting cultural production” Discuss.

The issue of sustainable cultural production and a sustainable remix culture is highly contentious. Lawrence Lessig says “I’m fairly optimistic that in the next five to 10 years, the views we have been pushing will actually become mainstream.” (Quoted in Garcelon 2009:1322). He is confident that a free remix culture will win out over big corporations by the power of the masses. His vision of the commons is that “Anyone can draw from the commons – and here is the crucial idea – without the permission of anyone else.” (2005:352).

His vision relies on the idea that people will continue to contribute to the commons with no reward except some virtual pats on the back and the opportunity to remix others’ work in the same way that their work is remixed. This is where Lessig fails to realise why many people create cultural works. Medosch is correct when he argues that a serious flaw in CC is the lack of consideration for professionals. People , for whom their cultural works are their living, may like the idea of CC, but cannot afford to put hours and hours into their work if their is no tangible reward at the end.

The original motivation for the Statute of Anne was to encourage people to produce cultural works so their time and effort could be rewarded financially just as a lawyer or a farmer is. Medosch argues that “money cannot be left out of the equation completely” (2008:77) and it is obvious that people who share their cultural productions are often hoping for financial returns. The CC vision dismisses this view because they see too much money going to big corporations who aren’t actually producing anything.

Triple J Unearthed is an interesting example of sharing cultural productions. The website is specifically for music artists who are not yet signed to a music label and allows free downloads of many songs. It acknowledges the way in which musicians want to share their cultural productions and be heard, but that when they become professional, they want to see some reward for their work. Most artists only contribute a few songs – all they can afford to record without help. This confirms Lessig’s ideas to a certain extent and does show the truth in Medosch’s argument. These artists want to share their cultural works for free so many people can access them, but they can’t afford to do that as a career.

James Boyle argues that “copyright, intended to be the servant of creativity, a means of promoting access to information, is becoming an obstacle to both” (2008) in his book available online for free under a CC license.  He is correct to a certain extent, as copyright moves further to the right it moves further away from achieving these ideals. These ideals are also eerily similar to those of the Copyleft, but if we move too far in that direction, we may also fail to achieve those ideas.

Medosch is correct in arguing that CC is not sustainable cultural production, but Copyright is also increasingly unsustainable as well. Websites such as Triple J Unearthed acknowledge the balance that needs to be reached between cultural productions available for free, and cultural productions that need financial help to be sustained.


Boyle, James (2008) ‘The Public Domain – Enclosing the Commons of the Mind’, Yale University Press

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.

Medosch, Armin (2008) ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’ pp. 73-97, in Deptford TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies. London: Deptford TV.