We are privileged to be able to begin this issue with an interview with one of the leading thinkers in the field, Esther Wojcicki, the Vice-Chair of the Creative Commons Board of Directors. Esther is an award winning journalist and educator, who has taught at Palo Alto High School in California for 25 years and blogs regularly for The Huffington Post and Hotchalk. She is an articulate and experienced advocate of open, using it in her professional and personal life. In Wojcicki’s interview she introduces us to the background philosophy of Creative Commons through the lens of her experience, giving her take on why rights literacy is necessary to teach a generation that will work and play primarily on the net.
Providing a broader overview of where things are at, the issue commences with Rachel Cobcroft’s piece chronicling the development of the international Creative Commons Case Studies initiative. The 2-year-old qualitative research project uses real world examples to gauge the impact of the Creative Commons licensing scheme's legal, technological, social, media and policy initiatives. As well as providing the fundamentals of the Creative Commons model, Cobcroft's piece examines the progress of open content licensing; identifies models of implementation and licensing trends across industry sectors as diverse as music, government, wikis and fashion; and, perhaps most importantly, explores individual motivations for the adoption of open philosophies.
A similar focus on motivations is central to our second piece by Cheryl Foong. However, in contrast to the broad picture provided by Cobcroft, Foong takes a narrow focus for her analysis, asking the question can open philosophies go hand in hand with commercial gain? Drawing on examples of adoption of Creative Commons licensing by content creators and intermediaries, Foong concludes that, if used wisely, the open licensing scheme can be a useful tool for those creators who wish to circumvent traditional distribution channels dominated by content intermediaries, while maintaining a level of control over their copyright works. However, Foong identifies a need for caution – giving your work away is not a business model in itself, and only those who can successfully adapt the tools provided by the open movement to, as Techdirt CEO Mike Masnick puts it, connect with fans and give them a reason to buy,. . . will achieve success in this space.
The message that open is valuable, but does not solve all problems is taken up in our third paper, a collaborative piece by Alexandra Crosby and Ferdiansyah Thajib. Viewed through the lens of video activism in Indonesia, Crosby and Thajib seek to explore the experience of individual creators attempting to tackle the behemoth of copyright in the liberated, but confusing, internet age. In doing so, they argue that while open licensing is an improvement on the models of the past, there is not yet a solution for the problems of copyright management that fits the Indonesian context. Of particular concern are issues of collaboration and credit in a world where attribution is the new currency, and the increasing gap between the global rhetoric of copyright enforcement and the diversity of practices on the ground. In the end Crosby and Thajib conclude that if the commons movement is to be successful in Indonesia, it must address cultural issues, images of imperialism and practical barriers to clear and open licensing in a society where no strong copyright tradition exists.
The final paper by Peter Jakobsson also focuses on the principle of collaboration that underpins the current commons movement, but with a more critical, theoretical eye. Relying primarily on the analytical model provided by Rene Girard's theory of mimetic desire, Jakobsson examines the relationship between the growing trend, and rhetoric, of cooperation on the ‘social web' and the often undervalued importance of competition in the same field. In doing so, he argues that both competition and collaboration are not only valuable but central to the new forms and platforms of cultural production. Most interestingly, to demonstrate his argument he draws on the real world example of YouTube's Partnership program, demonstrating that even in a limitless world, scarcity still exists in resources such as viewer attention.