Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

International Commons at the Digital Age/La création en partage

Danièle Bourcier & Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay , Éditions Romillat, décembre 2004 – 2004/12

International Commons at the Digital Age/La création en partage is the first collective and international work on the Creative Commonslicenses. Creative Commons is a nonprofit that offers an alternative to full copyright to help authors to share and build upon creative works. The book analyses the first questions raised by the introduction of Creative Commons licenses in different legal systems and shows the real accounting of "cultural diversity" through Internet actors self-regulation. The authors defend that open access to information and culture for all is possible. They also address a wealth of subjects such as adapting to national specificities and legal systems, the influence of Creative Commons licenses on the creative process, the relationship between this mechanism and the management of traditional copyright, the originality of using metadata in exercising the right to seek information. These contributions gather testimonies and analysis of project leads in charge of the licenses translation, dissemination and implementation in their national legal systems. These lawyers, law professors, students and Information Technology researchers are enthusiastic with the possibility of sharing and mixing creative works in a context of open access to information and culture for all. Their contributions are grouped into three sections. The first section deals with the processes of transposing and adapting the system into national law (Holland, Australia, Taiwan, Sweden). The second section concerns governance and new modes of regulation on the Internet, since Creative Commons is considered a characteristic initiative of the “the civil society of Internet users”. The third section of the book describes two practical uses for Creative Commons licenses in the cultural sector (music and archives).

The second section holds one’s attention, particularly the chapter entitled: Creation as a Universal Common Good - Reflections on an Emergent Model / La création comme bien commun universel - Réflexions sur un modèle émergent. Here, the authors, Danièle Bourcier, Director of Research at CNRS (CERSA – University of Paris II) and Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay, Project Manager for International Creative Commons in France (CERSA – University of Paris II), show how the idea of Creative Commons can revolutionize the public domain’s approach and the exclusive nature of property rights. They reveal that an international critique in the Intellectual Property domain is growing. According to them rights are too strong, too exclusive (overpropertization), too difficult to manage in the digital world. For example, within the European Union, the French transposition draft of the 2001 Copyright Directive1 does not seem to bring a common and shared solution, notably on the implementation of the concept of “cultural diversity”. They also maintain that new solutions must be analyzed from the point of view of various actors on the web. In this way, they note that debates on author rights and on-line cultural practices oppose two economic approaches: one is based on sharing, the other on the market. But, according to the authors, these two approaches can be reconciliated by solutions such as Creative Commons. They suggest that Creative Commons licenses not only enable authors to regain the control and management of their right to choose to offer open access to culture, information, education and science, they also illustrate the complete process of electronic governance. Information and communication technology are both the source and objective of a new law. The educational and demonstrated nature of the licensing process goes against a traditional form of creative governance that is too rigid and incompatible with the freedom belonging to creativity and discovery. According to the authors, Creative Commons illustrates the principle of an emerging right that is adaptable, flexible and negotiated, one that does not oppose, but rather complements states rights, which are at times too restrictive. Such practices of self-regulation renew the question of the standard’s effectiveness, as its application is not controlled and its violation is not sanctioned. Freedom of contract serves as a shield against protection laws and techniques that seek to re-establish the economic rivalry of digital products, and allows other objectives to be effectively achieved, such as enriching the public domain and establishing a common cultural heritage that is freely accessible and shared.

According to the authors, the Creative Commons example shows that independent of public policies, private initiatives, through the voluntarily relinquishment of rights, are expanding the notion of common goods. These flexible solutions are contributing to a new “vitality” in the public domain. In this regard, Creative Commons is expanding the open source and open content movements, and falls under the UNESCO Resolution on the universal access to the cultural heritage of humanity. They ask, is it a new form of “global patriotism”, a new type of online governance to counterbalance the overly-complex rights of States? Does it suggest a new balance or a conflict between the globalization of goods and the universality of common values? Nevertheless, they conclude, if rights are reserved for the ownership of goods, it is also feasible that other rights could be applied to cultural heritage and the universal access to knowledge and culture. [05-07]