Creative Commons

Monday, June 26, 2006

In Digital Age, Advancing a Flexible Copyright System

A worldwide alliance of artists, scientists, and attorneys met in Rio de Janeiro this past weekend to establish a "creative commons" that permits artists and others to determine which rights to their work they want to keep and which they would prefer to share. The Creative Commons system permits creators and patrons of culture to see or listen to a digital work and to copy, remix, or try it out, so long as the author is correctly credited. Since the launch of the Creative Commons idea three years ago, around 145 million "creations" have been registered, and over 100 million of those licenses have been given out in the past six months. Blogs comprised the biggest number, followed by images, and then music, although the video industry is expanding. Microsoft last week made available a plug-in for Windows Office software that allows users to label their own creations, such as Word documents and PowerPoint presentations, with a Creative Commons license. Activists from several nations, however, including Australia and France, contend that musical collection societies are attempting to stop artists from making their work accessible under any system other than typical copyright. These groups, which obtain performance royalties on music from radio stations, recording firms, and others, have threatened to fine or bring action against musicians who license their work via Creative Commons.