The change of copyright

joi ito The theme for this year’s SIME event is the DNA of Change. This morning Joi Ito, the CEO of Creative Commons, talked about the different levels of change that has brought us the social internet of today. Creative Commons is the non-profit that hands out licenses for a new type of copyright. Ito described how copyright used to work, and to a large extent still does. If you want to use someone else’s copyrighted work you have to ask for permission and then you need a written agreement. But today when all the tools online are available for users to take content and remix it into new work, there is a strong need for a model that makes content available for reuse without running the risk of getting a letter from a lawyer. And therefore Creative Commons have created a number of licenses that lets content owners approve in advance what users can do with their work.

Ito then went on to describe how a CC license can be used to drive sales. For example when the band Nine Inch Nails made their latest album available as a free download. Then on the site customers could buy different versions of the album and extra material. The music in this case was merely seen as advertising. In one week the band sold for 1.6 million dollars without almost any distribution costs.

Ito also described tecnobrega: “one of Brazil’s most thriving pop scenes: tecnobrega, a musical movement that’s expanding exponentially thanks to musicians and producers who see copying as a marketing tool rather than intellectual property theft.”


Photo Credit: Dennis Stefani

Another example was when singer Gwen Stefani hired a photographer and shared a photo of her newborn baby under a CC license. Normally famous artists would sell baby pictures exclusively to traditional media for very large sums, but Stefani chose to take control of the process and use the photo as a way to get fans to talk about her and build engagement. Barack Obama also published personal photos from election night with a CC license.

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