Tuesday, June 24, 2008

CC Singapore License Draft in Public Discussion

Received an alert from the Creative Commons Singapore Facebook group, which led me to this:
On behalf of CC Singapore, we are pleased to announce that the draft of CC BY-NC-SA adapted to Singaporean law (PDF) is now in public discussion. The CC Singapore team, lead by Anil Samtani and Giorgos Cheliotis and hosted at the Centre for Asia Pacific Technology Law & Policy (CAPTEL), has been working with Creative Commons International to port the licenses to local copyright legislation. A launch event to celebrate Singapore’s completed licensing suite is scheduled in for July 27th.
CC Singapore License Draft in Public Discussion - Creative Commons

Why Creative Commons?
About a year back, Bernard blogged his three reasons why he feels Singapore should consider the Creative Commons (incidentally, the topic came up at this talk):
  1. Encourages More Innovation and Creativity:
  2. It's a win-win situation with the establishment
  3. Moving towards a Web 2.0 mindset
I agree with Bernard's analysis. Though I'd say the main reason is really the first one. The other two are its supporting arguments.

I first learned about Creative Commons (CC) right about the time when I experimented with blogs (i.e. about four years ago, amidst the proliferation of community collaboration and sharing through the Web 2.0 movement).

The concept blew me away, really. A paradigm shift in what copyright was about.

What is Creative Commons?
My understanding of CC is this:
  • It's not about losing your copyright, but reinforcing it
  • Traditional copyright works where permission is presumed not given, and has to be sought from the owner
  • CC is merely stating the terms of use upfront. You don't give away your rights but merely give permission first, along with the terms of use
It's so simple, but yet it requires a change in mindset that it's mind boggling at first. At least it was for me.

There are several videos that explains what Creative Commons is about and how it works.

What Creative Commons isn't
Of course one fact CC cannot do is ensure that people credit your work.

CC merely makes it clearer -- in uncomplicated terminologies -- how others can, and should, use your work.

The onus of compliance is still on the receiver and not you, the person providing the content.

But when you think about it, neither can current copyright law ensure compliance by people who download your work from the Internet.

And because the traditional notion of copyright is that permission must be sought, it isn't as efficient as CC.

Peace of mind for people interested in sharing
CC probably wouldn't give you peace of mind if you're the person who constantly worry about people "stealing" your work that you upload on the Internet. Or not giving you due credit. If you tend to think that way, you're better off not making your work available online in the first place.

For me, I'm already interested in sharing my work online.

Because it's the easiest way to get an audience for my songs (let's be realistic: who's gonna buy this?)

Being able to release my work using CC terminology gives me peace of mind.

It doesn't make my rights any more enforceable than it already is.

But I think it increases the chances for my work to be used and credited in the right way.

But has it?

Does CC encourage innovation and creativity?
It's a definitive YES, as far as I'm concerned.

I can personally attest to it.

It's happened to me.

Here's one example -- I shared this song and released it under this particular CC license. Someone came along and added his vocals to it, and he was free to release it as a new work.

Does it benefit me?

For sure, 'cos not do I feel flattered that someone has deemed my work good enough for them to spend time on it, I'm also listening to my work in a new light and gaining ideas from it.

Attribution is a learned behaviour
I mentioned at this post how I've not received any emails or trackback links for all the hundreds of downloads recorded.

But in fairness, merely downloading it doesn't require people to email me, least of all "crediting" me.

Perhaps out of the 100 downloads (125 now, as of this post) someone has used that song in a school project but didn't attribute the work to me.

Or maybe someone ripped me off by selling my work as their own.

Well, I tell people sharing one's work on the Internet is like investing in the stock market: You put up what you can afford to lose.

Besides, I think the habit of attributing, or even just simple courtesy emails, takes time to inculcate.

As the CC movement gains momentum, I'm hopeful that parents, teachers (and librarians!) will ingrain the habit into young people.

Digital Literacy
To me, the adoption of Creative Commons ultimately promotes Digital Literacy.

My own definition of Digital Literacy includes 'Content Production', where every individual is potentially a producer, in addition to being a consumer of content (this is wider than some current definitions of Digital Literacy, like this this one).

By today's standards, everyone's a content-producer. If you've taken a photo or video via your handphone, then you're one.

Whether your works are commercially viable is besides the point.

Copyright and IP rights are something everyone need to know.

Because everyone is a potential content producer, if they aren't already.

It's obvious to me that raising awareness about Creative Commons is raising awareness about IP and Copyright.

[update: see "What does it mean by "porting Creative Commons to Singapore"?"]


  1. Hi Ivan,

    Thank you for sharing the interesting information about Creative Commons. I am getting an education here on this and other topics which you have done a vast amount of research and did not just keep them to yourself.

    It is said that "Imitation is the greatest flattery".

    The designs, concepts and systems of 'Made in Japan' products were once branded as copycat and imitations from those of USA, Germany and other advanced European countries.

    Most countries are now doing what Japan had done 3 decades ago.

    With the interpolation of global ideas in an increasing shrinking world; and the widespread access of information via the Internet, ideas will either spread, inspire and grow or get buried with the parochial, protectionist mind.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

  2. Anonymous5:01 am

    "Well, I tell people sharing one's work on the Internet is like investing in the stock market: You put up what you can afford to lose."

    This is a great line, Ivan. It's a perfect metaphor for the risk involved in sharing content online, which is something I talk about a lot. Sure, your work might get ripped off, but maybe the potential gains are worth the potential risk. Hope you don't mind if I borrow it from time to time... with attribution, of course!

  3. Molly, go ahead! Attribution would be appreciated. :)


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