September 25, 2004 04:24 | Culture / Political / Social / Technology

Creative Commons Activists and Activism

I'm thinking that one of the things the folks at Creative Commons haven't done yet (perhaps it is in planning or discussion?), is provide a way for people who are so inclined, and so disposed, to "spread the word".

Activists, evangelists, et al. The so-called grass-roots.

While the Creative Commons website provides loads of information about CC (animations, cartoons, explanations of licenses etc ... all VERY well done!), I can't seem to find a resources center and a community support network for people to get really involved beyond choosing a license and applying it to their work - provided they get it and they actually produce stuff.

There are loads of people who don't read weblogs, or WIRED magazine, who not only don't know that they as creatives have options, but also don't fully realize the cultural lock-down they are living in. Ignorance of rights and responsibilities is the death knell for freedom, choice, democracy...

So, an example: the previously mentioned POP Montreal Festival starting this week. A music festival promoting mostly independent musicians trying to get exposure and "make it". They get more established acts to come and play and hook them up with smaller bands as openers to give them exposure. That's the basic idea, as I understand it.

Now, say I wanted to promote Creative Commons at these events. I am not a musician, but I know some people involved in the POP Montreal organization who would probably be interested in all this stuff. Where do I get materials I can show them? Materials I can print up and distribute, or a clear, concise statement of purpose, for this context, I can yell in someone's ear over a rock song as they stand in front of me and I hand them a flyer/sticker/whatever? A package I can hand to each of the bands performing at the festival, to get them thinking about all this?

I am looking at the Dean techy diaspora, busy at work creating community building tools such as CivicSpace. Take a look at this: "SpreadFirefox". A grass roots, organized effort to Spread the Word about Firefox (the popular-but-not-popular-enough-yet Mozilla based web browser).

This effort needs to be waged on many fronts, right? Not just the artists themselves, not just politicians (who don't act so quick as when they have a fire under their ass), not just the all-to-rare leaders of industry who get it... but the people, hitherto known as the consumers, as well.

I think this needs to be talked about...


We threw two parties for CC at SXSW (I think you were at one of 'em), and the intention there was to spread the word. Perhaps you could organize something like that?

(Though I do agree that there should be a way for motivated volunteers to get CC swag for distribution, probably something to mention to Neeru Paharia.)

2- Boris Anthony

Hi Jon, thanks for the pointer (Neeru... I think I met her very briefly at the benefit concert after party). I'll ping her directly. :)

Over the last few days I've been talking to people who don't know a thing about CC, or even copyright for that matter. (I myself don't know so much and am slowly diving in, as time permits.) The really encouraging thing is that in each of these conversations, I had a hard time getting a word in edgewise! These people were really into it! They felt an immediate desire, even if they didn't always fully grasp the wider implications, or even necessarily agree. People DO care about Intellectual Property (more so than culture, a concept that seems a bit vague and abstract to some...).

I also bumped into one of the organizers of POP Montreal, and she agreed to meet me about it.. but only after the festival is over as now she's eyeballs deep in just making sure everything runs smoothly... But I did tell her I'd email her today or tomorrow with some inital info about CC, as she'd never even heard of it...

What we NEED to do is get deep into the scenes. Get people inside the indy music/film/publishing scene. A great place to start is in Universities & Colleges. People who work in the campus newspapers, etc. "Don't hate the media, BECOME the media!" ;) People studying in Communications and Arts programs... I could go on...