By Zhuoyun Wu – October 11, 2019
Creative Commons licensing is a major innovation and reform of Internet information management. Creative Commons (CC) is a global, non-profit organization that provides Creative Commons licences to copyright holders (Creative Commons Australia [CCA]). CC aims to promote ‘some rights reserve’ to replace the traditional ‘all rights reserve’ system to encourage the ‘legal sharing, remixing and reuse of creative works’, thus creating a simple, flexible and balanced intellectual property system (Wang, 2008, p.305). This article will dialectically argue the importance of CC in the field of Internet information management – which is its role in greatly improving the public interest of resource sharing. This article will include the describe of Creative Commons licensing’s origins and history. This article will also analyze work creators and ‘produsers’ own and control the key business in this landscape and whether they benefit from its transformative effects in political economic and social.
Genesis and Historical Trends
The concept of ‘the commons’ refers to the shared space of resources in the public interest (John, 2012). Creative Commons is closely related to intellectual property rights (IPR). Although CC hasn’t been around quite long, it is an especially important part in the history of information management (Geere, 2011). The protection of intellectual property in the era of no Creative Commons licensing creates two extremes – ‘total rights control’ and ‘IP world of anarchy’ (Wang, 2008, p.306). All rights to work under ‘total rights control’ are preserved but each use is restricted, while in ‘IP world of anarchy’ some creators enjoy freedom, but others are vulnerable to exploitation.
As John (2012) considers, the traditional restrictive copyright law applied in the digital domain is not ideal, because the older media is not suitable for everyone who publishes works online in the traditional economic of ‘pay per copy or watch’. Therefore, a sensible position was established between the two extremes. The first batch of CC licences was issued on December 16th, 2002 (Geere, 2011). CC organization supports and promotes activities on a global scale and CC Australia is an important part of the global network which launched in 2005 (CCA).
The CC licence is a milestone in the history of information management and represents the goal of the Internet community – reducing legal barriers to sharing and reusing (John, 2012). Simmonds (2010) argues that, CC attempts to completely reorganize the product to balance the interests of copyright holders and produsers. For example, CC has developed six standardized CC licenses, each with different baseline permissions, which can be licensed and used as long as the produser of the work meets the conditions of the licence (CCA). The purpose of CC is to open up a practical way between the ‘traditional copyright’ and ‘public domain’ in traditional copyright legislation (Simmonds, 2010, p.162). As highlighted in the CC website (as cited in John, 2012), CC has created a new era – universal research and education, participating culture, driving development, and increasing productivity.
Moreover, it is undeniable that the CC licensing is a significant part of historical trends in information management. The use of CC has increased year by year. In 2003, 1 million works were licensed for creative commons. In 2005, the number of licenses increased to 20 million. CC is widely use in the Internet, such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram. By 2013, licences of international version CC BY 4.0 were released. The Australian version CC BY 3.0 AU were released in 2010 – which is the version still used today. Therefore, the advent of CC licensing is an important part of information management and creating a new era for the Internet.
Own and Control
The key business of CC is to balance copyright issues, allowing people to freely publish their work on the web and continue to recreate by others. As Wang (2008) considers, CC provides a reliable legal platform to disseminate and build a digital creative culture to compensate for over-restricted IPR. By creating a ‘fair and user-friendly structure of IPR’, CC helps to achieve ‘open access to knowledge’ (Wang, 2008).
Work producers and produsers own and control this key business in CC. The CC is valid in copyright law, and the law gives the creator control over his work (Creative Commons [CC]). The CC meets the needs of producers who want to publish their content on the web and retain control and protection of legal systems (John, 2012). Also, as Wang (2008, p.305) states, ‘authors, researchers, artists, and educators’ can easily mark their creative work with specific intellectual property they want their work to carry. CC is not only designed for the author’s rights, but also for the user of works.
As CC organization (as cited in CCA) strongly points out, the CC is a simple, standardized way for ‘individual creators, companies and institutions’ (including ‘government agencies at all levels’) to flexibly share their work with the users without infringing copyright. According to the Internet Archive vision it is to advocate creative commons to ensure that information can be accessed by anyone anywhere (Wang, 2008, p.307) – which means CC belongs to and is used by creators and their works users. Therefore, the creators and users of the work own and control the key business of CC, which greatly enhances the sharing of public interest.
Benefits from Transformative Effects
Some legal figures have a negative attitude towards CC licensing because CC damage their professional identity and even reduce the revenue for licensing to customers (John, 2012). Additionally, some media experts have also accused CC of weakening traditional copyright laws (John, 2012). However, this is not the case – the CC license is a derivative of copyright law and is based entirely on the law. CC is now being introduced into more than 40 jurisdictions and used for various types of IPR content (Wang, 2008).
Moreover, McGuinness (2015) points out most consumers are willing to pay for copyright, but are not treated fairly and even threatened by criminal sanctions. The authors do hope to see their work being widely reused to make more valuable products (Bailey, 2017). This is the benefit from transformative effects of CC – as it allows ‘a liberal reuse policy’ (Bailey, 2017). For authors, they are free to upload their work on the web without having to hire a lawyer to draft a license and explain the terms. For the user, the policy can copy, share and re-publish other people’s work as long as the conditions are met.
In the political economic level, the creators and product users also benefit from CC transformative effects. Large enterprises use the network as a new distribution medium, but they tend to try the old restricted access model and claim to strengthen legislation to protect IPR. But for individuals and small businesses with limited economies it is a burden to hire a lawyer to manual license to stipulate IPR (John, 2012). Therefore, the transformation of CC is beneficial to Producers, especially small businesses and individuals.
Furthermore, CC’s NonCommercial (NC) use does not mean cutting business profits, but instead increasing business profits (Wang, 2008). For example, Jeffrey Ulin, Senior Director of Distribution and Business Affairs at Lucasfilm Ltd, said Starwars.com attracted more than two million visitors, precisely because the new remix content on the site quickly increased visits (Wang, 2008). The legalization and promotion of mixing by transformative effects may renew the attention of the Star Wars series and increase the sales of its products (Wang, 2018). As Wang (2008) states, creative commons and the information industry have formed a fruitful integration – where the creators and product users support each other, the creative works are greatly promoted and disseminated, and offer a wide range of choices for the commercialization of the works. Therefore, the creators and product users benefit from the CC transformative impact in political economic.
In the social level creators benefit to some extent. John (2012) believes that the CC licence is a positive representative, and the creator can use the World Wide Web to publish his work so that others can use it, while retaining some control over the use – which can help promote the work and create more. However, Bailey (2017) argues that CC licensing is no longer a tool to simplify creativity and collaborative sharing but has ‘become a tool for spammers, scrapers and others who simply want to extract benefit and take shortcuts’. For example, Bailey (2012) realized that spammers have always been the main users of his CC content, and most users who don’t want to use spam are directly contacting Bailey, which greatly eliminates the significance of CC revolution.
Spammers want to meet the minimum requirements of the license and use the work of others with as little feedback as possible (Bailey, 2012). This phenomenon has largely eroded the author’s confidence in CC and made them not benefitting from CC transformative effects. Therefore, in the social aspect of CC licensing, creators can freely share their own works and make their works re-created, but the use of this model by spammers undermines the interests of creators and the public. Although CC has some issues, it is undeniable that it has greatly improved the public interest.
In short, CC licensing is a useful new way to open up between ‘strict traditional copyright law’ and ‘unrestricted use’, which includes knowledge sharing and copyright legality, creating a new era of Internet information management. In addition, creators and users of the work own and control key business of CC and benefit from its transformative impact. However, in some respects it does not benefit, as it is used by spammers in social aspect. Therefore, CC plays a significant role in the field of Internet information management, greatly improving the public interest of resource sharing.
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