The Creative Commons

By: Audel Shokohzadeh

There has been a movement by many  who believe that intellectual property should be shared with the world. Directors, artists, and musicians  have looked toward the creative commons as a means to generate awareness for their products. A Wired news article mentions Lawrence Lessing, founder of Creative Commons, and how he looks to combat “current strict legal interpretation of intellectual property rights frequently stifles the type of sharing that spurs innovation.”

The strict legal interpretation is the Sonny Bono Act. In 1998 the United States Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. The act was pushed by intellectual property owners, mainly Disney, in order to lengthen the term of copyright to the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. Kembrew McLeod’s book Popular Music and Society mentions that Disney was a huge force behind the passing of the Act. The copyright on Steamboat Willie (the first Mickey Mouse Cartoon) was due to expire in 2004, and the Act even copyrighted “Happy Birthday to You” and “This Land is Our Land.” The fear around The Sonny Bono Act is that it keeps ideas and works from reaching the public domain where they can be expanded upon and make a better society.

The video below was made within the Fair Use Doctrine and discusses even further some of the troubles around the Sonny Bono Act.

Creative Commons(CC) looks to combat the Sonny Bono Act by allowing artists to post their work on the website. On the website the artist can license their contribution so that it can only be used in a manner that the artist deems acceptable.  For example a musician could post a song on the website and allow for it to be mashed and sampled, as long as it isn’t sold for a profit and the original artist is created. Creative Commons even has a link to many websites that allow users to upload songs under a CC. A CC lasts 14 years and is subject to another 14 year renewal after which it enters the public domain. The youtube video below explains this in greater detail.

Creative Commons ultimate goal is to allow for a shared community to grow. With advances in technology it has become increasingly easy to allow other people to be creative and enhance the society. Creative Commons looks to break away from content and move toward communication. The video below captures the goal of Creative Commons more vividly.

The creative commons will be imperative not just to spread art but to maintain and help democracy grow. Our nation was founded on an idea that not just one forefather but all the forefathers debated and discussed over. People were allowed to and encouraged to help create a nation that would function for the people. Imagine if copyright existed during the time of our forefathers. The idea of democracy would belong to the first founder to suggest democracy and only he could adapt it and allow it to grow and spread. Only after 70 years would the general population be able to critique the democracy that had been created. Imagine if that happened though? After 70 years many things would become institutionalized and change would be difficult. We would live in a very scary world if that were the case.

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