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.


A question of quality

When we studied Youtube in class, we talked about whether it takes extra effort on the part of the user because they have to ignore quality issues. We forgive dodgy sound, pixellation and buffering sounds because we don’t expect it to be perfect. Youtube is the main way alot people access videos now, I wonder if Armin Medosch, who acknowledges that “[Creative Commons] does not pay any attention at all to the issue of an economic model for supporting cultural production” could see this happening with music. Making quality music with proper recording and production costs money. If people stop making money, but keep making music, will quality be the cost? People who download illegally sometimes say “yeah it’s not the best quality but it will do.” If musicians and other artists become only hobbyists and not professionals because there is no financial benefit to what they do, will we be consistently making that extra effort and forgiving short comings in quality? If Creative Commons and the Free Software movement do become the way of the future, then maybe quality may be what we lose. I’ve tried free software such as Open Office, Gimp and Audacity, but have always found the professional software, MS Word, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Soundbooth as much easier and better programs. If we want everything to be free and open, will we have to settle for less than perfect all the time?

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.