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“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

If Mahatma Ghandi’s famous this description of political struggles applies to Creative Commons’ quest for an alternative copyright, then the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has just entered stage three: open battle.

In a letter to members (see Part 1, Part 2) ASCAP asks for donations with the following rationale (see BoingBoing):

“At this moment, we are facing our biggest challenge ever. Many forces including Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation and technology companies with deep pockets are mobilizing to promote ‘Copyleft’ in order to undermine our ‘Copyright.’ They say they are advocates of consumer rights, but the truth is these groups simply do not want to pay for the use of our music. Their mission is to spread the word that our music should be free.”

According to this statement, the biggest enemies of copyright holders are no longer “pirates” and respective platforms such as “The Pirate Bay” (see also “Framing Piracy“) but rather NGO’s and unnamed corporations pursuing a copyright reform agenda. Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Commons offers a set of license modules such as “Attribution” or “ShareAlike” that can be recombined to different copyright licenses (see for an overview). One such license module is the “non-commercial”-module. From the very beginning of Creative Commons this module was at the center of most of the license related debates.

First of all, the non-commercial clause was an attempt to enable both sharing and remixing among users and commercialization for creators. Successful examples of hybrid business models such as Jamendo rely on this clause: at Jamendo, musicians receive 50 percent of all revenue generated by commercial use of their works – for example when used in commercials, played as background music in restaurants or in films – while at the same time users can freely download, share and remix those works.

Powerful critics like Wikimedia’s vice-executive director Erik Möller, however, fundamentally challenge the need for a non-commercial module. For him the diversity of incompatible open content licenses is a major barrier for remixing different works. In his 2006 piece “The Case for Free Use: Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons-NC License” he instead advocates using the copyleft module “ShareAlike.” (It is this module that Wikimedia recently chose for re-licensing its content, see “Wikimania Preview #1“.)

But even adopters and users of the non-commercial clause face the non-trivial problem of defining commercial and non-commercial use. Is it commercial use, for example, if content is used on a webpage of a non-profit organization (for example, a research centre), which allows advertisement on this webpage? What if the content is used by a government or state-run entity? What if the work would be posted on an aggregator website which hosts millions of works (such as YouTube or MySpace), and which makes money from the advertising because of the high volume of traffic it attracts? Read the rest of this entry »

At the workshop „Mashing-up Culture: The Rise of User-generated Content“, which had been perfectly organized by Eva Hemmungs-Wirtén of Uppsala University in Sweden, Sigrid and I not only presented a paper on “The Copyright Dispute” (see resources page for paper and slides respectively), but I also had the great pleasure of meeting Niva Elkin-Koren. She is not only project lead of Creative Commons Israel but does very instructive research on copyright licensing and governance in the realm of digital communities (see SSRN-page for details).

One of her most recent papers, titled “Governing Access to User-Generated-Content: The Changing Nature of Private Ordering in Digital Networks”, is of particular relevance for scholars of transnational governance: Most of the new digital communities and their respective carrier platforms such as Facebook, YouTube or Wikipedia are “born globals”. Their regulation, be it (seemingly) unilateral via terms of service (see “Private Copyright Regimes: Facebook”) or multilateral via optional licensing (see, for example, Flickr), represents a form of transnational private ordering. At the same time, the pace of technological change and the blurring boundaries between the commercial and the non-commercial sphere make this field particularly promising for studying (collisions of) transnational governance regimes. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
May 2019
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All texts on governance across borders are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License.