It doesn't follow that if a book or song is offered "for free" online, that it is "free" in the Richard "rms" Stallman sense. That is to say, many who offer their works for free (Doctorow, [Douglas Rushkoff], and [Chris Anderson] above) are not necessarily willing to make the work "free to change, re -mix, or mashup" (as do [David Byrne] and Eno, above).
Commons and Creativity Commons and Creativity The commons; common good; public domain; public utility. These concepts, though covering differing areas of interest, all share a grounding concern with what we intentionally share. Like national forests, these are the landscapes in which we share a common stake, a common investment from which we all, individually and collectively, take reward. I t’s a good thing that information, as a commodity, is freely enough avail- able that we can take it for granted. That Finding a balance between the lucrative IP rights of corporations and the collective cultural heritage is not easy, and it looks like it isn’t getting advances us all. The work of deciding what any easier. In our sometimes rabid attempts to is “common” about this good, and what is claim what’s ours and keep others from getting a conditional and private, goes on. As Glaxo- cut from our hard work, we overlook the concept SmithKline patents genes, as Monsanto ties of the commons, of public good, of what we can farmers down with “technology agreements,” as all agree to share. And lest we slip too close to IP Disney’s lawyers get set again to argue the case communalism, laws and customs have to protect for another extension of copyright protection for the rights of the creative, so that they can con- its eerie old trademarked cartoon animals, a tinue innovating and continue receiving rewards larger question looms: How far will moneyed for their work. interests be able to push their claims on intel- But in our overly litigious culture, there has lectual property (IP)? Copyright has grown from been a marked shift of focus away from the com- a 30-year span in the late 18th century to a 120- mons. Perhaps such a shift is natural or at least year span at the beginning of the 21st century. cyclical, but it leaves information professionals How long before the common good outweighs and “knowledge workers” of all types in a vulner- the good to any copyright claimant? able state. With less area left in which to move www.infotoday.com/searcher October 2009 33 Commons and Creativity freely, we run the danger of slipping into a permanent culture But we ain’t lawyers, so we ain’t going to try that. But buck up; of paranoia about IP and copyright infringement. (“Open up, the good senators on the Commerce, Science, & Transportation four-eyes, we’re the copyright cops, and we’re coming in! We Committee are busy working with it on our behalf. know you went and uninstalled that DRM we had put in your brain, so now you’ve got a looong life of dismantling hard drives Public Domain and Time in a a Beijing dump to look forward to.”) Travelin’ for Pesos! Many good articles have been written about fair use and The Copyri
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