Home Search Cases Editors' Choices Ideas Resources
Editor Login

Case #941

The Creative Commons


Copyright laws protect your right to exclusive ownership of your art, music, or writing. But what if you want to share your creative work freely, without worry that it will be exploited?

Copyright law grants people who produce expressive works (books, maps, musical compositions, etc.) exclusive rights to copy and distribute those works, and to make new works based upon them. The traditional justification for this limited monopoly is that it encourages creativity and, in the words of the US Constitution, "promote[s] the progress of science and useful arts."

Of course, lots of people who produce creative work aren't in it for the copyright. At one time, the restrictions imposed by US copyright law did not extend to the work of these self-motivated creators. If they published their work without invoking copyright law, the work passed by default into the public domain. It thus became fodder for unlimited copying and creative reuses-part of a commons that promotes creativity not by promising financial rewards, but by providing the intellectual raw materials for new creations. Expressive works are now automatically copyrighted, and the monopoly rights last at least 70 years-a time period now being challenged before the US Supreme Court.

The nonprofit project Creative Commons (based at Stanford law School) is building an Internet based tool that will help people create legal documents that voluntarily disclaim or limit the copyrights that would otherwise automatically apply to their work. The goal is to make it possible to opt out of the default of copyright and instead cultivate the collaborative creativity of the Creative Commons.


THE STRATEGY: Create a way to go around the current automatic copyright function of materials published in the US, thus allowing the free sharing of creative ideas and materials.

IMPORTANT POINTS: (1) This idea won't appeal to all copyright holders. Some people prefer to restrict copying of their works; some people make a living by selling copies of their works or charging other people royalties for the privilege of doing so. But these preferences are not universal, and imposing them on everyone unnecessarily diminishes the commons-depleting our shared store of intellectual raw material and imposing needless barriers to collaborative creativity
Location: USA
Setting: Developed World
Extent of Action: National
Year(s): 999
Outcome in progress
Source: YES! Magazine Fall, 20002, p. 24


Prepared By: sl 7/09
Rating: 1
    Comment On This Case

Database of Successful Strategies and Tactics
Copyright © 2001-2007 DBSST.org. All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer and Notices