Friday, 23 August 2013

Thus Spoke the Creative Commons Board of Directors

It's Day 2 of the Creative Commons Global Summit 2013 in Buenos Aires. This Leo has chillingly discovered that Buenos Aires is farther south than Cape Town, and the weather (4° today!) reflects the latitude.

Today started with a panel discussion by 6 of the members of the CC Board of Directors.
The CC Board doesn't wear black suits.
Henri Gervex, 1890,
"The Board of Directors of La Republique Francaise"


A notable remark was made by Lawrence Lessig, co-founder of CC and presenter extraordinaire. He commented that CC is partly political by nature, but that it is not in CC’s best interest to have a “creed” or “mantra” that is “recited every week as is done in many churches.” His [reasonable] reasoning is that CC’s strength lies in the difficulty to say what CC actually is and stands for. CC includes activists, liberals, conservatives, radicals, and people from every continent, so there are a huge variety of views expressed by CC supporters. This makes it difficult for opponents to target CC and discredit CC’s activities. [This also makes maintaining the CC community much like an exercise in herding cats, or leos.]

Lessig continued later on to say that his whole life now is figuring out how CC prevents itself from being captured by it’s funders. The political system in the US [as in most many other countries] has been captured by donors, and is thus unable to serve the people it is supposed to serve.

Paul Brest, the Board Chair (and former Dean of the Stanford Law School) addressed a question about micropayments. An audience member [a Kenyan, notes this Leo with pride] asked the Board for their opinion on requesting every CC user to donate USD1 ($1), which would possibly raise many millions of dollars in a year. Paul Brest responded that it’s a good idea but asked two questions in response: how many audience members have visited the CC website in the last week, and how many have visited Wikipedia in the last day. The answer should be self evident, and he suggested that it indicates why micropayments probably won’t work well in practice.

Audience members didn’t drop the issue, and pushed the Board to redouble their efforts in making micropayments a significant revenue source. Cathy Casserly, the CC CEO [so many C's!], remarked that they have tried and it simply has not worked. But the Board agreed that efforts should continue. This blogger agrees that Wikipedia (which generates much/most of their revenue from a 1-month-per-year fundraising effort targeted at users) is far more “visible” to it’s users, and that CC’s activities and functionality is less amendable to micropayments.

Lessig pointed out a fascinating conflict that has so far largely prevented CC and Facebook from collaborating.  CC’s position is “permanent and free availability of CC-licensed content.” But Facebook is legally required to tell users that they can, if desired, permanently delete their Facebook account and uploaded content [really? this blogger thought that it was impossible to permanently delete a Facebook account.]. So if Facebook starts allowing users to license content under CC, there is a conflict with their legal requirements.

Michael Carroll (another CC co-founder) concluded the panel with a discussion of CC’s role in advocating for copyright law reform. CC is active in pushing for a more open copyright law, but he stated that, even with a “perfect” copyright law, CC would still be necessary. This blogger doesn’t understand why that’s even a question, since any copyright law would grant right(s), and the ability to license such rights follows automatically. CC would be unnecessary only if copyright law didn’t exist at all.


This blogger has one suggestion for the CC Board, and it is hoped that the suggestion is taken not as criticism but as encouragement. CC has become truly global (the Summit demonstrates this – Affiliate groups are on every continent and are numerous), but the Board has remained almost entirely White. This blogger would like to see the Board diversify and reflect the wide variety of users and supporters of CC.

1 comment:

goldenrail said...

On the FB-CC issue, that just doesn't make any sense to me, and for different reasons than it doesn't to the author.

The CC licenses (3.0) explicitly say that an author can stop offering their work at any time. The license is also explicit that such removal of content does not terminate the license. The reason for this is pretty simple. If a work is CC-licensed, it may be shared other places than where the author originally shared it. Those other copies continue in existence under the original license. There's no reason the ability to delete Facebook accounts should affect the ability to CC license things shared on an account. I can also delete my Flickr images, or my blog.