June 8, 2021

Creative Commons’ 2021-2025 Strategya scene stalwart turns “ethical”

Erlend Sogge Heggen tipped me off to Creative Commons’ 2021-2025 strategy statement. Takeaway? Creative Common’s leadership has come down decidedly for embracing ethical and economic criticisms of open licensing practice:

Today, changed technological, social, cultural, political, legal and economic environments raise new challenges for the open movement. In order to protect what we have achieved so far and to create the world we want to see, we must expand our focus beyond copyright licensing, because content sharing cannot be decoupled from economic and ethical concerns. Indeed, the benefits of open sharing can be undermined by exploitative practices that threaten the financial sustainability of open endeavors, leading to economic hardship. Further, open sharing practices can also be marred by ethical concerns, such as the problematic use of open content to trail potentially harmful artificial intelligence (AI) technologies or the use of open content in violation of non-copyright norms.

These challenges often disproportionately affect marginalized and under-resourced creators or communities who stand to lose the most. To ensure everyone can enjoy the benefits of the full open sharing cycle, we must embrace a multifrontal, coordinated, broad-based approach that transcends copyright.

Two quick thoughts:

First, this represents a clear rhetorical and symbolic victory for team “open has a problem” over team “everything is fine”. How this translates into action, or even more specific words, remains to be seen.

Second, as usual, rhetoric does some violence to fact. Copyright isn’t blind to ethics or equity concerns, and never has been. Perhaps Creative Commons’ approach to copyright took a narrow view. The law did not. Others writing license terms did not.

Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome by e-mail.

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