Creative Commons

by on December 29, 2005

Larry Lessig has spent the last week exhorting people to contribute to Creative Commons, the organization responsible for the Creative Commons license.

The CC license is a concept that every libertarian–regardless of their views on intellectual property–should be excited about. Sometimes, an author, artists, or musician chooses to market his or her products commercially. But other times, for a variety of reasons, a creator would simply like his or her works to be widely available. The creative commons license is a convenient and efficient means for copyright holders to make their works available to the public while placing various conditions on the way those rights are used. So, for example, a musician might release a song under a CC license that’s free for non-commercial use, but requires his permission before the song is used for commercial purposes.

Copyright is all about putting creators in control of their creations. The right of control includes the right to relinquish that control, or to relinquish some rights (such as the right to non-commercial use) while reserving others (such as the right to attribution and commercial exploitation). Thus, CC extends the power of copyright by giving authors finer-grained control over their rights under copyright.

I’d been aware of the CC license for a long time. What I didn’t realize, until recently, that Creative Commons, the organization, has about 20 employees and are involved in a wide variety of exciting projects. Lessig described the organization’s current activities in a series of emails over the last few weeks. They’re well worth reading to understand what the CC project is, what it’s trying to accomplish, and where it’s heading in the coming years.

Anyway, until now CC has been supported primarily by a handful of generous foundations. But they’re currently undergoing a public fundraising campaign in order to preserve their status as a publicly-supported non-profit organization–and the deadline is this Saturday! So check out his most recent appeal, which answers some common questions, and perhaps you’ll be persuaded that they’re an organization worthy of your support. I was.

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