Archive for March, 2009

Article: Creative Commons: A License to Share

From International Business Times (25 Mar 09):

In July 2008, Singapore became the 47th country to offer the CC system of licensing to their jurisdiction. Warren Chik, law professor at the Singapore Management University, is a member of the Creative Commons Singapore team that has worked in close collaboration with Centre for Asia Pacific Technology Law & Policy (CAPTEL) to adapt the licenses to Singapore’s jurisdiction. As Chik points out, beneath their easy-to-grasp wording, these licenses actually reflect significant social and technological changes – to say nothing of political – that have been unfolding in recent years…

… In 1710, Britain enacted the Statute of Anne, the first law to formally express such key concepts as copyright (hence intellectual property rights) belonging to the author or creator of a work. Specific time limits for copyright were also introduced after which a work became “public domain”.

… Today, most of the world has extremely strong copyright laws, based on the premise that more intellectual property rights (IPRs) will translate into more creativity. However, present-day technologies such as the Internet and mobile digital networks are redefining and transforming our sense of authorship and copyright. Although the cyberspace may be virtual in a certain sense, lawyers are trying to adapt existing laws to fit the digitised world.

… Critics of IPR protection claim that, like science and technology, culture grows by accretion and therefore depends on a rich and truly public domain…

… This has led to some who argue for a reconsideration of notions of common ownership, what is deemed appropriate for the public domain and how which, in turn, can be more readily applied in electronic transactions, he adds.

… So what is the Creative Commons framework bringing to the on-going debate? “The main basis of the argument against a default position of full copyright protection that the CC movement is seeking to remedy, is that the right of re-use can beget greater overall creativity albeit inspired by the source of an original creation as well as promote the benefits of information sharing without restrictions based on wealth,” says Chik.

The legal basis for this argument is the Utilitarian model –- inspired by the likes of 19th century English philosophers, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill — whereby a set of legal rules should maximise the overall benefits to society.

“In the end, there is no clear right or wrong position to be taken and probably no perfect calibration for what is to be protected and what should be shared. But as we have seen, the market and cultural forces will continually seek as optimal a balance as possible between interest parties through the framework and in the context of the law,” says Chik.

Full article, here.

Creative Commons: A License to Share – International Business Times -. (n.d.). . Retrieved March 27, 2009, from


Creative Commons – What, How, Why

Here are slides for my presentation at the Creative Crew Singapore meeting on 10 Mar 09. Some people told me the slides were useful in understanding more about CC, so I’m sharing it here:

The PDF copy can be downloaded here (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Singapore License. For permissions beyond the scope of this license, please contact

CC-SG Adopter: Aaron Tan

This is Aaron’s blog “Confessions of a technophile“.
CC-Adopter: Confessions of a technophile

His CC license is displayed somewhere down the right margin of his blog.
CC-Adopter: Confessions of a technophile

Thanks for supporting CC, Aaron.

CC-SG Adopter: Loo Kang’s Java interactive digital media applet

Educator Loo Kang, who maintains this forum left this comment, pointing us to his codes for a Java applet released under the CC-BY-SA-sg-3.0 license.

[Click on image for larger sizes]
CC-SG Adopter: Loo Kang


CC licenses can be applied to just about anything that you own.

Incidentally, Loo Kang’s forum has a section for postings relating to Creative Commons.
Singapore Education Community - Index

Thanks for being a CC-SG supporter, Loo Kang.

CC-SG Adopter: Deadpoet’s Cave

Another CC adopter in Singapore:
CC-SG Adopter: Deadpoet’s Cave

Kenneth is an early CC adopter, so the CC-SG license wasn’t available then.
CC-SG Adopter: Deadpoet’s Cave

He says he’ll try to find time to change to a CC-SG license. Actually it doesn’t matter that much if it’s a SG jurisdiction or not. If you’re a Singapore-based blogger (or photographer or artist etc.) who has adopted a CC license, we’ll highlight your work.

Creative Commons Singapore meeting, 6 Mar 09

Here’s a quick update (as reported by Ivan Chew, i.e. this isn’t formal Minutes).

The Creative Commons Singapore ‘team’ met at Toa Payoh Public Library on 6 March.

I say ‘team’ because CC-SG isn’t a formal organisation. There’s no one person in-charge, now that the license has been ported over.

Creative Commons Singapore meeting, 6 Mar 09
[Click on the image to see names of attendees (a few others couldn’t make it to the meeting)]

Well, that was one of the agenda items discussed at the meeting. Whether there was a need — legal or otherwise — to register the Creative Commons Singapore as a formal entity.

Pros and cons were discussed. Also what other jurisdictions (i.e. countries) practiced; what could still be done even if CC-SG wasn’t formally registered. It remained an open-question at the end of the meeting. Which means, in a way, there wasn’t an urgent need for this at this stage.

Here’s what I doodled on the whiteboard, by way of summarising the main discussion thread:
Creative Commons Singapore meeting, 6 Mar 09

About the ‘People’ part, it was confirmed that Chung Nian and Giorgos would be the Legal Lead and Public Lead respectively. That’s as ‘official’ as things. For me, the simplest way to explain their appointments is that if formal organisations like IPOS wanted specific clarifications about CC-SG license, then those two guys would be it! :)
Creative Commons Singapore meeting, 6 Mar 09

Other appointments were also deliberated and decided. For instance, Harish and Ivan (that’s me) would be the ‘Community Managers’. This meant that we could help look out for suitable events (i.e. the Platform part in the diagram) to spread the word about Creative Commons.

For instance, Harish as CC Evangelist (with focus on OSS) and Elizabeth as CC Evangelist (with no specific focus for now). Ivan (that’s me) would be the ‘Community Manager’, i.e. help look out for suitable events (i.e. the Platform part in the diagram) to spread the word about Creative Commons. Or organise events in partnership with others.

Ideas included a “Creative Commons SG Day” and “Creative Commons Saloon” (kinda like meetups with food and drinks).

The discussions were friendly, cordial, informal but utterly professional (I found it fascinating to hear Anil and Chung Nian talk about the Legal nitty-gritty involved… I guess that makes me some sort of CC-geek!)

Seriously though, it was grassroots advocacy blended with professional work. Most of the participants, including myself, were attending the meeting wearing both professional and personal hats, so to speak.

As I wind up this post, I realised the goal for the CC-SG team was left unsaid. But I think this was something already internalised by everyone at the meeting. If not, we weren’t be in it.

I’ll state it anyway: To raise awareness and advocate the adoption of Creative Commons in Singapore.

Come to think of it, I think this presumption might be a roadblock for CC-SG team’s efforts. I think in Advocacy work, one cannot assume that the benefits are apparent. Personally, what I think what we might want to come up with are a set of materials to explain “Why CC-SG” or “Why CC at all?”

~ Ivan Chew
p.s. Associate Professor Anil Samtani, formerly the team’s Legal Project Lead, promised to write an ‘origins’ piece on “how CC-SG came to be”. I think it’ll be an important piece of CC-SG heritage.

CC-SG Adopter: Starfish Stories :: The Band

[Disclosure: I’m one-half of Starfish Stories]

This is my band website/ blog, Starfish Stories :: The Band (my other band mate is Adrian Loo, aka Lekowala).
CC-SG Adopter: Starfish Stories :: The Band

This is the CC-SG license displayed at our sidebar:
CC-SG Adopter: Starfish Stories :: The Band

CC-SG Adopter: Starfish Stories :: The Band

Our default license is a “BY” license only. If any song is released under a different CC license, we’ll make special mention for that song so that there’s no confusion.

We make it a point to display the license on specific blog pages where possible. Again, it’s to make our position as clear as possible:
CC-Adopter: Discography « :: Starfish Stories :: The Band

One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s still not too clear for most people HOW exactly they should attribute to the creator. So we’ve provided additional information at this page on our blog.

I’ve found that releasing our work under a CC license has made us more friends, and additional publicity :)