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

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