SXSW Day Three – Open Content, Remix Culture, and the Sharing Economy

Last panel of Monday was “Open Content, Remix Culture and the Sharing Economy: Rights, Ownership and Getting Paid” – moderated by Eric Steuer of Creative Commons. (He’s also one half of the duo Meanest Man Contest).

Panelists included:

As is typically of the last panel of the day, I didn’t really get good substantial notes. But there were a few highlights:

Why does Good Magazine use the creative commons license?

To enable the contributors to retain control of what they’ve produced. For now, we just pay people the same (that they would make in a more traditional, exclusive license-to-publish mode) but try to also educate contributors about their rights and enable them to leverage their content more broadly. It isn’t that contributors come to us wanting creative commons licensing – we have to explain to them what it makes possible.

YouTube is an example of the need for a way to clearly express a remix culture. They are relying on the DMCA and the takedown notice as the best way to enable  sharing and participation. But it seems like it really the wrong way to go about it – post everything as though it were all open content and rely on content owners to protest.

(John Buckman from Magnatune blogged about the discussion, saying this:

The energy level was a bit low, so I picked a fight with the lawyer from Youtube. The lawyer is actually Glenn Brown, former head of Creative Commons, and we’ve been friendly for years, so this was hardly a nasty fight. But, point was the Youtube is the “wonderful thing that’s gone terribly wrong” in that every media owner is angry with them and spewing DMCA take-down notices at them, and it’s not clear at all to me that Youtube will survive the collected venom of the video industry, and Youtube looks a lot like Napster to me (from a legal standpoint). Glenn countered that there was only one lawsuit currently, so there was hardly a stampede of lawsuits. Ironically enough, the next day Viacom launched their billion dollar lawsuit against YouTube.

There was certainly some friendly jabs going back and forth, but I wish they’d really been able to open up and have that discussion be the focus of the panel, which otherwise was fairly tepid).Brown: fair use, when interpreted correctly, actually works pretty well – the goal shouldn’t be the reform of companies through legal action.

Companies do have a responsibility to  be transparent about what they are doing, but we shouldn’t look for legislation to make that happen.

We need icons for this like the universal ones for hospitals and toilets – we need human readable licenses, with links through to the full version if necessary.

Even for Creative Commons – there are challenges around what something like non-commercial use might mean in every context.

Q: From audience – is there even really a line to be drawn, in the sense that we ought to just allow sharing. It’s only pushing the line back, rather than reforming.

Do you want open content to be a hardline party or a big tent party. Principle and effectiveness can be in conflict. Creative Commons decided we want to be a big tent party – that’s what we think will be the most effective.

Books to read: The Future of Music. Also Promises to Keep.

Buckman: The music business does 18 billion a year in revenue. 12bil is licensing. Only 6bil is retail sales. The more you are in the business the more you realize we are in the business of creating culture which we then stamp on things- shirts, posters, cards, concert revenue.

Racine: The fashion industry dwarfs both the msuci industry and the film industry – there isn’t any copyright protection for designs. Knock-offs occur, but are broadly tolerated (until they start using the logos / trademarks -that’s where the line has been drawn for that industry).


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