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Beyond Copyright

December 16th, 2002

CC.gif“There are those who do, and those who sue.”

- Stanford Law Professor and Creative Commons Chairman Lawrence Lessig, tonight in San Francisco

I’ve crashed plenty of launch parties, and most left behind a slight greasy, cheesy aftertaste — that flavor that surrounds blind greed.

But tonight I went to a very different sort of launch party. It celebrated the release of Creative Commons’ new nonprofit product, a powerful tool than brings real hope for freeing human creativity from corporate shackles.

The product is a set of free, machine-readable copyright licenses that allow folks to simply and easily inform other people that their creations are free for copying and other uses, under specific conditions.

Tools on Creative Commons’ Web site allow for the easy creation of these licenses, and the easy use and interpretation of them by machines, humans, and even attorneys. They provide a very practical means for artists and audiences to bypass the wall of institutionalized greed and litigation that has arisen between them since the rise of multinational corporations.

See creativecommons.org to make a license or to learn more.

Other party highlights:

  • DJ Spooky showed up, spoke movingly in support of Creative Commons, and mixed not only music, but video too… He’s working on a gigantic project: a multimedia remix of D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking (and monumentally racist) film Birth of A Nation. He showed five minutes of the project. (DJ Spooky will share the work via Creative Commons licenses).
  • Brewster Kahle, creator/driver of the print-on-demand Internet Bookmobile and crusader against the greedy mega-corporations’ scheme to extend copyright licenses an extra 20 years, showed his support. (His Bookmobile was on the scene too!).
  • Craig Newmark (he put the “craig” in craigslist) spoke in strong support of the Creative Commons.
  • Net legend and Electronic Frontier Foundation cofounder John Perry Barlow wasn’t there in person, but he made a not-very-surprising but nonetheless poignant argument for the need to rescue music, art and literature from the increasingly stifling bonds of over-litigation, over-legislation, and corporate control.
  • A bigger surprise: Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, made a video appearance in which he gave his blessings to the Creative Commons license concept! [Thanks to Dav for filling in the blanks on that one.]
  • Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly & Associates, publisher of what are arguably the world’s best computer books, was on the scene. O’Reilly & Associates announced that they will donate the rights to many of their books to public use using the Creative Commons licenses.

  • One Response to “Beyond Copyright”

    1. comment number 1 by: Dav

      The corporate bigwig who sang the praises of Lessig and Creative Commons was Jack Valenti.
      There was also a fantastic flash animation that explains the Creative Commons story, begining with a relevant bit about current rock sensations The White Stripes.
      Another video performance was by People Like Us.

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