[Foundation-l] I'm a creative commoner!!!

Domas Mituzas midom.lists at gmail.com
Sun Mar 29 15:34:18 UTC 2009

Originally I wrote it somewhere on a blog ( http://dammit.lt/2009/03/28/im-a-creative-commoner/ 
  ), so this is a bit long copy-paste into an email:
Lately Creative Commons is becoming very dominant topic in my life.  
First of all, I see all the people in free culture world holding their  
breath and waiting for Wikipedia switch to CC license. I’m waiting for  
that too - and personally I really endorse it. Though usually people  
do not really notice licenses on web content, they really do once they  
see something they really want to reuse. Wikipedia ends up being  
isolated island, if it doesn’t go after sharing and exchanging  
information with other projects.

It takes time to understand one is ‘creative commoner’. I do have a t- 
shirt with such caption, but it is much more comfortable once you  
start feeling real power of use and reuse of information. Few anecdotes…

 > Dear Mr. Mituzas,

 > Thank you for making your photographs available under a
 > Creative Commons license. I am writing to inform you that
 > the American Society of Civil Engineers has featured a
 > silhouette of “Up we go” on the cover of its new book,
 > “Constructability Concepts and Practice.”
 > https://www.asce.org/bookstore/book.cfm?book=7742

 > Per the terms of the license, the following credit appears
 > on page ii of the book: “Front cover photograph by Domas
 > Mituzas used under a Creative Commons license.
 > http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.”

 > I will be happy to send a copy of the book to you if you
 > will provide me your mailing address.

I got this email back in summer, 2007. Did I just steal a job from  
professional photographer? Or would they just leave blank book cover?  
Will this lead to a better bridge in future? Did I join a civil cause?  
All I know now, is that I’m book cover photographer, albeit quite  
cheap one. Also, by using CC license I simply used lingua-franca of  
world I’m in - and now my content can evolve into shapes that I  
couldn’t expect, and that would be limited by non-portable licenses.

Other anecdote is way more internal. I have cheap point-and-shoot  
camera (same one to shoot book cover pictures :) that I use during my  
travels. It fits well into my jeans pocket, it doesn’t provide me any  
self esteem in professional photography. Still, I get to places, I  
take pictures, I place them on my flickr photostream, and I license  
them under creative commons. And fascinating things happen - my  
pictures appear on top of Wikipedia articles (like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_buildings_in_the_world 
  ), without any intervention of mine. People just use it, I can sit  
back, relax, and see how the contribution widens.

Of course, there other different stories. My colleague (and manager)  
runs a wiki about his own town, Bielepedia, and he wants to exchange  
information with Wikipedia. Now he can’t, as well as quite a lot of  
other free content community projects. Though of course, some may  
believe license difference doesn’t mean much, in this case it means  
that we’re building borders we don’t need nor we have intent to  

I live and breathe Wikipedia technology, but I do not feel competent  
enough to go and push content itself around, and it just shows up  
there itself (oh, of course, there’s army of committed volunteers who  
help with that). So, I benefit the project just by being creative  
commoner, and I may benefit lots of other projects. We at Wikipedia  
technical team are very open in what we do, and try to spread our know- 
how in many directions. Documents I wrote about how we do things ended  
up downloaded hundred thousand times, and I really hope that some of  
that know-how will end up used and reused.

I guess I’m taking this to extremes - I ended up talking to people in  
government of Lithuania, journalists and non-profit activists. Imagine  
a government, that would commit to open licensing for produced  
content. Well, no need to imagine - US federal institutions release  
information to public domain, but in Europe it is way more restricted.  
Still, what one has to realize - at government level it is not only a  
right to be given, it also has to be a right that has to be protected.  
Nowadays that means going to copyright powerhouses that serve large  
record labels and movie studios, and will charge for services, that  
government has to provide for free (and does in other areas, like  
looking for your stolen car).

We have lots and lots of talks about knowledge-societies at government  
levels, but we never get to the point, that every individual is part  
of that, and first of all we have to teach those rights, and guard  
them. But of course, to prove, that our rights have to be guarded, we  
have to show how great our work is - and how powerful can our sharing  
be. To achieve that we have to build bridges between license islands,  
talk same languages, and of course, create.

I’m a creative commoner. So should be you.

P.S. So should be Wikimedia Foundation. I’m extremely excited about  
the work being done to make it reality (thanks Erik, Mike, Mako,  
everyone!), and you know my personal position on the matter by now :)

Domas Mituzas -- http://dammit.lt/ -- [[user:midom]]

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