Why Don’t You Come Up Sometime And CC Me?

Creative Commons: Sensible solution, or accidental antithesis?

I’ve spent some time trying to understand Creative Commons and the arguments in favour of its usage. As a traditionalist, I believe in paying for access to creative product: I use iTunes, feel uncomfortable borrowing dodgy DVDs and, despite encouragement from friends (and an increasing resentment for all my favourite TV shows being gobbled up by SKY) have no intention of going Torrenting. I don’t understand why it’s seen as acceptable for artists to be devalued and their talent undermined simply because we have the Internet. Why should a writer be denied financial security and profitable recognition for their work, merely because technology makes it possible?

We appear to live in a society where an obsession with cost has overtaken an understanding of value.

I also (and this probably flies in the face of both modern thinking and the information industry as a whole) have some reservations towards the concept of open access- be it information or software- as a panacea of learning and progressive educational advancement. I’m probably coming across as a 21st Century King Cnut, waving my sword in pitiful defiance at the waves of reality crashing into my feet.


Anyway, my point is, I’m supportive of the notion of trying to safeguard the rights of an individual in regards to their intellectual property and artistic integrity; therefore, I think Creative Commons is a potentially meritorious project.

However, like my Cnut-esque protestations about the modern world, Creative Commons is an extremely idealistic concept, raising all kinds of questions in terms of its legality and practical enforcement. And, let’s be honest, we’ve all borrowed a CD from a friend, a book from a colleague and, in our darker moments, taped stuff off the radio (ah, the days of cassettes and pressing pause/record at the same time…). The fact is, if people are going to illegally share/copy/download, then they’re not going to pay much attention to a little symbol on the corner of a website, especially when the full force of the law has proved so clumsily inadequate as a deterrent.

I actually feel that the concept of Creative Commons contradicts itself in its own terms. Creative Commons seems to have been setup in order to encourage responsible free sharing of content online. Yet CC admits that it only works in concert with existing regulations. Rather than opening up content and information sharing, Creative Commons is actually helping to reinforce the established (flawed) boundaries between those who generate original work, and those who take advantage of the work of others. Copyright law is already floundering under the weight of the Internet, and yet Creative Commons wants to add another layer of, frankly, inept restrictions, on top of the problem.

I also noticed that on Flickr, many people are using the more restrictive licenses, and actually transferring their licensing controls to a corporate entity (Getty Images) in order to protect their commercial interests. In this instance, Creative Commons is failing to meet the challenge of the Internet; in addition, the Flickr/Getty setup serves as a reminder that the Internet is continuing to be colonised by major commercial stakeholders.

Apologies, I’ve probably mangled my points here. I knew what I wanted to say as I started typing, and then sort of got jumbled up in the argument. Essentially, I like the idea of CC, but don’t think it’s the perfect answer to the online copyright question.

Anyway, enough of this! Let’s get to the fun part:

This week’s first Thing was about Creative Commons, or CC as it’s known. So, I thought I’d present a tribute to some of the other famous CC’s who have gone before (extra prize if you can guess who/what they are without cursor-hovering for the answer!):

(1) Popstar: CeCePeniston3.CPF.WDC.11jun06

(2) Actress*:

(3) Popular music group: 10cc

(4) Motorcycle**: 1973 Triumph Tiger

(5) Religious figure: St Francis of Asisi

(*Actress: CCH Pounder)

(**Motorcycle: It’s 750cc…)

I must admit, I found the CC searching on Flickr awkward- sometimes it was more helpful to use the normal search as it yielded greater options. I found formatting the images on WordPress quite fiddly & time-consuming (maybe I was doing something wrong) and must say a massive Thank You to Library Apocalypse and Twinset & Purls for their discussion about using Flickr; it really helped!

(I spent ages reading the CC explanations, trying to make sure ‘I got it’- seriously, if anyone notices that I’ve applied the license instructions incorrectly: TELL ME, and I’ll remove them immediately. It’s stupidity, not an attempt to infringe anyone’s copyright. I found it a real minefield, particularly when you factor the Getty license into the equation.)

Finally, the Cool Extra Thing. And what a thang. I wish I had a better photo to use, but I had to make do. That’s not to say the results aren’t hysterical (or indeed freaky…)

Thank you for introducing me to PhotoFunia. Love it!

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9 thoughts on “Why Don’t You Come Up Sometime And CC Me?

  1. Helen says:

    I have the same thoughts about paying for things. It really annoys me that people think they can just steal other people’s artistic work. I don’t know if it is ignorance or selfishness. I think the myth is that all film makers / musicians / artists / writers are rich enough it won’t matter and anyway what difference does “my” not paying 59p make to them. Well multiply that even by 100 and that is £59. Not to be sniffed at if you are a struggling musician. When there is no music industry or film industry left because nobody can be bothered paying for it what will illegal downloaders do? Mind you it’s not just individuals who do it. I know a photographer who’s work was used in a national newspaper and unattributed. They apologised and paid the fee but if he hadn’t seen that paper would he have known his photo was in it? He may even have let them use it for free for the publicity!
    Maybe I’m old fashioned or maybe biassed because I know a lot of artists asking people who download whole albums or films if they would walk into HMV and steal a CD or DVD off the shelf? Because essentially they are doing that when they don’t pay.
    I do like your quiz!

  2. *puts medieval history hat on* Actually, Cnut was seeking to demonstrate that he *wasn’t* able to control the tide, it would keep coming – he was vaunted as ‘bestest leader eva’ by his followers, so he was pointing out that actually, he was nothing compared to his god, who was controlling the tides around him.

    I’m not really sure where that leaves the analogy but unfortuately I can’t help myself, it’s like a 11th century tick. If it helps, the whole story is almost certainly 12th century apocrypha anyway.

    In other news, interesting point about CC just propping up the broken copyright system; broadly, I agree. It’s the best thing we’ve got at the moment, but that doens’t mean the whole system isn’t in need of more than a CC-logoed sticking plaster.

    • I’ll consider my bad-history-typing-hand well and truly slapped! In this case, I should have actually looked at Wikipedia, rather than relying on my memory of the Sainsbury’s Guide to Kings & Queens circa 1996… Lack of accurate research? Journalism student? Surely not! (cough)

  3. Emily Allbon says:

    Great post – I do know what you mean about CC – it’s a kind of fuzzy huggy ideal but the prospect of everyone abiding by it is a slim one. Disturbed by your pics though…think i might be having nightmares for weeks to come!

    • It would be nice to think that people would respect the CC licenses; I just feel there’s a slight contradiction in wanting to license content sharing in order to improve the process of open sharing- and that, actually, what can be seen is strong sense that individuals don’t want to make everything freely available at all. I also like Devil’s-Advocating-it a bit too… I loved that picture stuff; hours of endless fun. Seriously, hours..!

  4. RMG says:

    Some of your PhotoFunia pics are disturbing!!! But hilarious! Love it!
    But yes, CC is important for us to know about, but not alwyas easy to grasp.

    Our culture is becoming much more of a one where people expect everything for free, or to be freely available. How artists are supposed to make a living I don’t know.
    Plagiarism is theft, illegal downloading is also theft. People tend to see it as only hitting the big companies and organizations, but as they pay contracts to musicians it does directly hit them. Interesting post from Peter Hammill on this at http://sofasound.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/the-onward-drift/
    I have outed my musical tastes somewhat there…

    Rowena 23 Things Team

    • Thanks for the link! (Believe me, I’m in no position to judge anyone’s musical tastes…) It was interesting to see this in the news today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/14029865. There was a radio feature the other night on CC which I’m going to try to track down on iPlayer too. Definitely important issues across a wide range of industries and professions.

  5. Peter says:

    Talking of outing musical tastes… I read this post this morning (amid much head scratching about your photos I may say), then at lunch time my iPod threw this up (is that the expression I’m looking for??): http://youtu.be/MD1uJtTdpik.

    Spooky huh?

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