Last night I attended a fundraiser/awareness event for Creative Commons. Awareness event because this particular organization seems to have already planted their foot pretty firmly in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Not surprising based on what they do.
Larry Lesig is the man behind the origins of Creative Commons. Creative Commons basically provides free legal tools that give creators ( or even major companies ) a simple standardized way to put copyrights to work. It allows people to change their rights from "all right reserved" to "some rights reserved". In essence, it is not an alternative to copyright but an application on top of copyright laws that best suit the creators needs.
Question being, why is that necessary? In essence, with the advent of the Internet which has created an entirely different way of sharing information world wide, it is essential that people are able to share, use and build on your work yet you need to protect your work at the same time. Think about it, kids are downloading stuff for free, musicians manipulate other musicians work, etc. Obviously costs are involved with that but more importantly Creative Commons wants to insure that all creators are able to use the giant pool of creativity out there, particularly on the web, to create even more creativity.
Yes, there is lots of legal mumbo jumbo but at the end of the day, what I see as why Creative Commons is essential is to spread and share information. Years ago, I saw Larry Lesig do a panel with Jeff Tweedy at the New York Public Library and this was the main issue that they discussed. The event was called Who Owns the Culture. Tweedy decided that Wilco would release Yankee Foxtrot online for free. Very bold at that point but in the end what happened is WIlco ended up selling more albums and sold out more concerts than ever before.
In essence, Creative Commons is looking to change copyright laws that make sense today so intellectual property can be owned but shared. The handcuffs around copyrights of yesterday need to be tweaked for the way we share information today, legally.