*The Hindu : "Creative Commons: the licence to evolve"*

*A win-win scenario: The objective of the Creative Commons licence is to
encourage improvisation and remixing of content that everybody can benefit
from. Wikipedia is an example.*
*Cultures evolve gradually, and this cumulative process of evolution is, of
course, driven by various forms of human expression: art, literature,
music, photography and films, to mention a few. With the dawn of the
Internet age, these cultural vents have undergone a renaissance of sorts.*
*The concept of user-generated content, where users create blogs, music,
photographs and films for mass consumption, was unheard of before the
advent of the Internet. While the concept of ‘public domain', where
creative works are not bound by Intellectual Property Rights and laws was
prevalent even before the Internet, the full potential of this idea has
been manifested with the Internet.*
*The inherent difficulty with user-generated content is that because a
whole community owns it, it could again get entangled in the prohibitive
intellectual property laws. A plausible solution, which was proposed in
2005, is going really strong today; these are a certain gamut of licences:
Creative Commons. The objective of these licences is to encourage
improvisation and remixing of creative content to facilitate evolution of
*The meaning of copyright today is known to all, so are the restrictions
that come with it, which are often taken for granted. The tag ‘All rights
reserved' on creative works has an underlying threat: read ‘Full
restrictions imposed'.*
*The idea of restricting creative works from evolving is, in effect,
allowing culture to stagnate. The copyright regime, with all its intentions
of keeping users mere consumers and not content generators, effectively
leads to this stagnation by suing and discouraging users who dare to create
based on a copyrighted work.*
*The enormous possibilities in creating content on the Internet has
encouraged a lot of users to put up their works in the form of blogs,
articles, videos, music and films on the Web. Most of them do it for
personal purposes without giving much importance to the licensing. But it
is essential to adhere to a licence that allows others to further remix,
improve and build upon the available content.*
*This is precisely is what Creative Commons licences aim at. Creative
Commons licences are copyright laws with the tag ‘Some rights reserved',
and in essence convey that licensees may copy, distribute, display and
perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give
the author the credit in the manner specified by the licence.*
*There are variants of this licence that provide flexibility to authors to
alter the parameters.*
*Vigneshwar Shankar, an undergraduate student and a photographer by hobby,
endorses the Creative Commons licences and believes that contributing to
the public domain with such licences is the best thing to do. “Enriching
content for the public domain is crucial. At some point, everyone's going
to be benefited by it. Look at what Wikipedia has become today,” he says.*
*A ‘read-write culture'*
*User-generated content with the carapace of the Creative Commons licence
will enrich the public domain.*
*Lawrence Lessig, one of the founders of the Creative Commons non-profit
organisation, which released the Creative Commons licence, puts it in a
nutshell. He calls the copyright regime based on Intellectual Property
Rights a ‘read-only' mode where the commons, or users, are only allowed to
‘read' the content. With Creative Commons, users will be able to read and
write; that is, users will be able to consume and create, leading to
cultural evolution.*

Tinu Cherian

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