Creative Commons… revolutionize protection.

Whether you’re a writer, painter, filmmaker, musician or just someone who enjoys creating art, I’m sure you’ve run into the stifling barrier of copyright protection. Think the indie band that has an awesome idea for a cover of a Bon Jovi tune but with a jazz twist, or the student who needs that ten-second scene from a movie to demonstrate his point more effectively, or the filmmaker who has to remove an entire scene that was crucial to his documentary because a radio in the room was playing a piece of copyrighted music in the background.

There’s now a silent version of my RTVF380 final project, Messages, on YouTube. YouTube removed the audio because we used a copyrighted song in our class project. Didn’t matter that we weren’t going to make money off it. What were we supposed to do? None of us were musically inclined enough to write an orchestral masterpiece to suit the mood of our film… and none of us had money to pay a composer to do it for us.

Truth is, whether we like it or not, anything tangible we create, any expression of an idea, is automatically copyright protected. That’s right… that doodle on your writing pad… that’s copyright protected.  No need for any registration, no need to print a little circle with a letter c in it. But what if you don’t want to keep your work all to yourself? What if you want to enable people to enhance their work by making use of yours? What if we can build a rich culture of creative sharing and a vibrant exchange of ideas?

Creative Commons

I first came across Creative Commons 3 years ago in my Media Law class (thank you Mr Sabnani!) and was instantly swept away. I got so excited about this door-opener that my partner Rachel Fun and I did a news piece on it for broadcast on Radio Singapore International. We went all out for that radio journalism assignment… even made a phonecall to Germany to speak to the Executive Director of Creative Commons International at that time, Christiane Henckel von Donnersmarck. This was her take on it:

I think originally copyright was invented to foster creativity and to have artists get reimbursed for their work. But this was before the digital age. Now the artists and the users of the internet and digital media have such great and powerful new possibilities to be creative …And it just became obvious that the international copyright system is not sufficient at the moment.

Where copyright is all rights reserved, Creative Commons is some rights reserved. CC works with copyright to let you, the copyright owner decide how you want to share your work. So instead of leaving your work completely untouchable by others when it’s automatically copyrighted, simply tag on options to your free CC license to decide things like whether people:

  • by-nc can/cannot make money off the work they’ve used your stuff for

  • by need to credit you for your work in their piece

  • by-sa need to pass on the kindness by sharing their piece with others too

  • by-nd can modify your work or if they need to use it whole

Let this video explain it to you in 2 minutes.

I love what CC is trying to achieve. When more people are aware of their ability to share, it becomes a huge community of exchange. Witness the power of collaboration. Spread the word. Help save the world from failed sharing.