Last October, the 2015 Creative Commons Global Summit gathered in Seoul the network of experts, academics, and activists of the « Creative Commons » – they came from 80 countries !
I attended the first 2 days, representing the OuiShare movement – an international community that connects stakeholders to develop the sharing economy.
What are the Creative Commons (CC) ?
I knew that this was related to the collaborative / sharing economy. But the CC did not mean much to me ! People at the conference were very experts of the field and shared a common vocabulary and references that I did not master as a neophyte. But little by little, I started to understand better.
The Creative Commons are about open knowledge.
« Open » means that instead of protecting the knowledge with intellectual property licences, organizations and individuals (artists, typically) can choose to share it and allow others to use it for free.
Open knowledge relates to :
- open science – e.g. how can researchers share the content of their research ?
- open education – e.g. MOOCs = free massive open online courses (Coursera, Khan Academy…)
- open data – data is available and anyone can use it to develop services/products
- open source – the code of the website/app is open and developers can improve it permanently
The digital era boosts the potential and power of the Creative Commons.
The philosophy behind the CC
Economic development over the last centuries was based on a conception of a world of scarcity with limited resources where strong monopoly was absolutely required for success.
The digital era and the new paradigm world in which we evolve flip this vision.
There is abundance of information and knowledge expands immensely. Citizen empowerment and the peer to peer collaborative economy embed a model based on cooperation VS competition.
=> The CC are about normalizing an economic model based on abundance and sharing
Lila TRETIKOV, one of the speakers who belongs to the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation (which is dedicated to encouraging the development of free educational content), shared a quote by Isaac Newton : « If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. »
=> The CC are about accelerating human knowledge development and creativity through sharing ideas and avoiding wasting time reinventing the wheel
« We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. » – Albert Einstein.
Thanks to the CC, knowledge is available to all kind of people who think differently, empowered by the magic of collective intelligence.
Knowledge can be remixed and used in ways that probably could not be imagined by those who shared the content.
=> The Creative Commons allow out-of-the-box thinking, unlashes creativity and powerful innovation which helps invent new ways to solve the challenges of the future
Wikipedia is a well-known open knowledge tool : everyone can contribute to create common knowledge with a permanently improving process and peer control that guarantees accuracy.
Other tools :
- Youtube – platform to discover, watch and share originally-created videos
- Firefox by Mozilla – very interesting 3 minutes video here
- Jamendo – royalty free music download
- Flikr – social network dedicated to pictures sharing
- Medium – community of readers and writers to share perspectives on ideas
- Wattpad – social platform that connects people through sharing stories – writing them and reading them
- 500 – royalty free photo community
- PLoS – nonprofit publisher and advocate of Open Access research
- Scribd – A digital documents library that allows users to publish, discover and discuss original writings and documents in various languages
- WordPress – hosting platform to create a blog or website
Zoom on Wantreez Music
During the CC Global Summit, the CEO of the Korean startup Wantreez Music shared the story of the start-up and his experience as a stakeholder of the CC economy. It is a very interesting example of using the CC to develop a business, so I tell you more about it…
What is Wantreez Music about ?
When you go shopping in a department store or a shop, there is background music, right ?
In the traditional model, department stores or shops have to spend a lot of money on background music, because of the high cost of royalties and the large number of locations where the music is used – think of a chain like H&M for example.
Usual cost for royalties is around 3.400 USD/month/store. Sometimes, companies choose not to broadcast music as they can hardly afford it and have other priorities.
Wantreez Music offers background music at a much lower price (10% of the previous cost for the same quality) thanks to the development of a database of « open music » and partnerships with artists.
They are now present in 25.000 stores and reach 5 millions of listeners each day. The client companies save a lot of money that they can use for other purposes (such as sales development or marketing).
The development of open data programs within the Korean government
The Korean government was present at the Summit and shared their initiatives in terms of open data.
They had already developed e-government systems which provided them data. They are currently focusing their effort on opening the access to some of the data to the public. The objective is to allow private businesses to use the public data so that they can develop innovative services to respond to customers needs – such as smartphone apps to find a doctor, to make an appointment at the hospital, …
The Korean government does not have the human and financial resources to develop so many services. Opening its data and therefore allowing the private sector to develop these new services, the government focuses its efforts and resources on purely social services that do not generate profit (e.g. dedicated to disable people).
There are around 10.000 apps that have been created that are related to public sector open data.
The current stake is to make sure that the data is exploitable, so the Korean government currently works on the reliability and development of standards of data.
Creative Commons state of the art
At the CC Global Summit, entrepreneurs, artists, professors (especially in the law field), members of the public sector and activists shared on the CC state of the art, their latest experience, and challenges to be addressed.
The amount of content shared is increasing. More and more organizations, both in the private and public sector, choose to open their licences. Here is the number of Commons licenced works evolution over the last years :
- 2006 : 50 millions
- 2010 : 400 millions
- 2014 : 882 millions
Challenges to address in order to promote the open sharing culture
1/ Awareness and information about the Creative Commons have to be developed
Awareness and information about the possibility to use free license content, and the possibility to create knowledge/content without licensing or with an open licence in order to share
Rise awareness about the fact that open licence knowledge & content is available and that it is easy to use
- let people know that the Creative Commons exist and that it is possible to use knowledge and creations of others to reuse them in a new way (photos, music, videos…)
- let people know how it works, making it clear and simple
Rise awareness about the opportunity to open license one’s work, and explain how it works
- let people know that they can share the knowledge/content they create – targeting researchers, photographs, inventors, journalists…
- explain how to do it through guidelines and provide tools to make it easy, build alternative platforms for dissemination
- explain the rules and legal framework so that people are not afraid to open licence their work – one may naturally wonder how the content is used, what the limits are…
Example : there is a CC image bank app that was created – unfortunately I do not remember the name and could not find it – maybe someone knows… ? In this app the community members can download their pictures, giving access to it to others to use for free. And in the same time, they can use the pictures of others. If a member needs a picture that does not exist in the image bank, let’s say to illustrate a powerpoint presentation, he/she can create a « need » on the app, asking other users of the community to download a picture of this thing, or take a new picture.
I had never heard about it and I think this is a great idea !
2/ There is a need for legal clarification
The digital era and the digital natives shake the concept of property, which creates blurry legal zones.
We explored the example of Pikicast to understand how new websites and apps create legal ambiguity. Pikicast is a Korean social media curation platform – curation means selecting, editing and sharing relevant content for a defined target. Pikicast has 1 million daily active user and is mainly used by teenagers. These teenagers are likely to express themselves not only through words but also through visual content available on the Internet. They share their opinion using existing content. For example, they will publish 2-3 seconds extracts of movies to express an emotion they feel – Titanic, or a Walt Disney movie for example… Or they may use the picture of a celebrity.
So they create original content to express themselves, using others’ content and the question is : are they allowed to use it without authorization and for free ?
The young generations do not even ask themselves the question of course.
And on the side of the companies or celebrities : on the one hand, there is no respect of the licence, and on the other hand, this use may have a positive viral marketing/communication impact.
It is hardly imaginable to think of a unique rule to deal with this.
This example illustrates how the digital era and the evolution of the way internet users behave triggers a need to develop « fair use » rules.
In order to allow the development of open licensing, there is a need for stakeholders to create policies shaping an international legal framework – until now, contentious situations have beed addressed in an ad hoc way.
3/ New business models need to be created – the monetization issue
The CC are the manifestation of a new social and economic model in which property is not anymore the core model. Open licensing lies upon a society working towards the common goods in which cooperation and collaboration overtake competition. In which maximization of profit is not anymore the objective. In which the perception of the world slides from scarcity towards abundance. Sharing one’s content/knowledge is an act of commitment ; it has a deep social meaning.
So obviously, the question is : how to make money when you give for free the value you create ? The CC community expresses that indeed, it is a leap of faith that requires conviction and deep motivation. This new way requires a lot of experimentation. « It might pay off but not sure ».
I thought that indeed it is a real challenge. I feel that the world needs to evolve in this direction. In order to spread out the CC movement and build it in a sustainable way, it seems to me that entrepreneurs and artists need to be imaginative and innovative as far as monetization/business model are concerned. I guess that for now, an interesting first step would be hybrid business models. This allows to experiment comfortably.
Attending the conferences and workshop, sharing with people, I learnt a lot at this CC Global Summit.
I will really remember what one of the speaker, Rick FALKVINGE, said about narratives. He is an entrepreneur in information & communication technologies and founder of the Swedish pirate party.
He said that we create the society we live in through narratives – stories we tell. Stories we tell to ourselves, stories we tell to others.
Indeed, the world exists though our perception.
As human beings, we perceive the world through our senses, analyze it with our brain, and so we create an understanding of it. We feel emotions related to our experience of the world. It is like a story that we create in our minds, individually and collectively.
Then we start believing in these stories. We find rational explanations for these stories we believe in.
We share them and they become our individual and collective reality. We end up behaving in a way that reinforce this narrative-reality.
This is the way we build our world.
With the CC movement and the sharing economy, people have started to behave and act differently in the world. It creates new perceptions of the world. The digital era makes it possible for a larger number of people to express oneself, act and have impact. New media actors (such as Sparknews) broadcast positive content.
A new narrative based on sharing and common good is becoming stronger.
And this new narrative influences our behavior, shaping our habits and triggering actions. These actions will change the world we live in in the way we want it to be.
It’s all about what we choose to focus on. About what stories we tell. What if our ability to impact the world was much more important than we think… ?
Learn more about the Creative Commons !
The future of ideas, by Lawrence Lessig
The wealth of networks, by Yochai Benkler
Capital in the 21st Century, by Thomas Piketty