«Principal Editor Professor Brian Fitzgerald Head of School of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia With the assistance of Jessica ...»
Like most artists, composers aim to create their work on their own, creating their own world. But to get to that point they must also absorb and experience the art of others. It seems to me that for developing artists, being able to work with any material freely without fear of liability is a liberating force that I quite like. But I do have one major misgiving. It goes back to the nature of creativity. To me, being creative involves imagination and I guess one of the concerns about the nature of a lot of digital art, in all its forms, is that it concentrates more on judging what has come to you and then saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to it. Selecting, structuring and mixing can become the main activity — even the only activity. For me this is the second stage of being a creative person. The first part is the making of the content or at least the affecting of it in a substantial way. In other words, its not just taking material and deciding whether you like and think it is interesting, or you think someone else might get some pleasure or some intellectual impact from it if you present it in a different context or mix. It is also that you work the material in your own way before you use it.
The key is the use of imagination. For me it is essential that I imagine my worlds before I create them. I am concerned that the way we have taken on the power of digital electronics in music (recorded material) has been dominated by the model of collage. While collage has been very productive, in music, visual arts and all the arts, it is only part of the creative process. So while the Creative Commons may enable greater sharing and access to all the sounds and ideas in music it could have a tendency to reduce the creation of the basic stuff of music. Music will become one huge remix.
My last perspective is as a person responsible for an institution. As the Foundation Vice-Chancellor of Southern Cross University, I perhaps had a slightly different perspective than other CEOs or managers, perhaps a different motivation in my reactions to many things. I was keen to progress the institution and was interested in innovation, new ideas, and new ways of dealing with things. I was willing to take risks. So my first reaction to Creative Commons as an academic manager, the CEO of a new institution, was that I saw it as something that might add to the opportunities and the choices of the University. But my message here is that even in this receptive situation there were restraints. As the person responsible for a complex organization I had to exercise appropriate good sense and healthy scepticism. What looked good on the surface, sounded inspirational and liberating, might not ultimately deliver, or might carry an unseen cost.
Also, within any large institution, even a relatively new one, many individuals are inherently conservative, resistant or at least suspicious of the new. There will be people who, if they are established enough, will not want to give up what they have or will be on the lookout for issues that reduce their influence or authority. So to all involved in Creative Commons dealing with institutions: have patience with your friends — they may be drawn to the idea but because of their institutional context they will need to be given strong, balanced and clear arguments.
Finally, a comment on the moral rights issue that was raised this morning. I was fortunate enough to be involved in the campaign for moral rights in Australia from what I think was close to its outset. The fact that the Creative Commons’ legal framework has been created in such a short time is quite amazing, given that I remember the first campaign for moral rights in Australia that I was involved in was back in the late 1970’s early 1980s.
But, as I am sure most of you know, the Australian legislation was only passed very recently. The fact that the legal structures and processes have come together rather quickly here is very encouraging. One observation in relation to moral rights. It seems to me that of all the moral rights that creators desire, attribution seems the strongest. People value acknowledgement. The commercial impact may be far less important to most than the personal impact. I think for most creators, reward of a financial or material nature is secondary to the ‘reward’ of knowing that you have communicated with your fellow human beings, and they know who you are. If there is wide connection and communication of meaning and it is acknowledged, I think that is worth more than many thousands of dollars. I believe that artists are, foremost, people who are trying to do that — to communicate, to share something, and to say something that will make peoples’ lives better. If the creative commons idea with its emphasis on improving the breadth and accessibility of content can do this while protecting the original creator it will have a greater chance of been embraced by those creators.
PROFESSOR GREG HEARN
My question is “why might the business side of the creative industries be interested in the idea of the Creative Commons”? I want to suggest that at least four trends that have some resonance with the idea of a Creative Commons and these are trends that business people are talking about. They are not radical ideas at all. Then I want to talk about what I see might be some of the resonances and some of the challenges as a result of these shifts.
These ideas come out of two or three studies that we have done in CIRAC with the music industry, with the creative industry sectors across Queensland, and now into the national mapping project that we are doing in CIRAC where we are looking at all the sectors of the creative industries.
Without being empirically driven by those studies, they are reflections that I have had as a result of that work.
The first shift is from the idea of a consumer to a co-creator of value. You probably have all had the experience of going to IKEA and being co-opted into becoming their labourer and assembling the furniture when you brought it home, so the idea of a co-creation of value is not new or radical.
More and more consumers are co-creators of value. In a sense the whole marketing process is about figuring out what is valuable and how to capture that value and produce it. We can talk about students buying a degree from the university. What is the value of that degree and how much do they actually contribute to the creation of the value of that degree through their own labour and their own effort? Think about eBay, an interesting example of co-creation of value, and in the creative industries, as Richard said, this idea is not such a radical idea at all. The best example in our research is in the computer games industry where fans often create the code and, in fact in some cases, own the code. Co-creation of value is an idea whose time has come. The creation of value is not the same as the appropriation of value – who gets to put the value in the bank accounts is a very separate issue – but co-creative activity is a trend that is on the rise.
Another trend is the shift from supply chain thinking to the idea of a value network. In the industrial age, the idea is of a tangible material product moving along a supply chain, from producer, perhaps a beef cattle baron in outback Queensland, to a consumer in a fancy restaurant, perhaps in Japan.
In the creative industries, and in all sorts of other industries, that idea of a supply chain is giving way to the idea of a much more complicated set of relationships that could be described best as a value network. Everybody in that network has to create value and add value to be part of the network, otherwise the network will simply route around them. A network has the advantage that it is multi-directional and that there is more than one path that is possible.
Value networks are a trend that is more and more manifested in the creative industries as well. As a result the shift is from value residing in products, individual products, to the value actually residing in the network.
Everybody has a Visa Card, the value of a Visa Card does not reside in the piece of plastic, but resides in the number of people and services that it connects you to. Operating systems are, of course, the classic example of network value. It just happens that our operating system has been appropriated by one company, but nevertheless the value is not really in the code, it is in the connection and in the cost of changing that network and including other examples that we could point to. I guess you could say movies, that typically rely a lot on word of mouth, are an example again of the value in the network, because word of mouth is simply a cultural network, and the value of all sorts of products in the creative industries, in particular, are driven by cultural networks.
From simple co-operation models or simple competition models, the idea of complex ‘competition’ is another trend to consider. A beautiful word coined by a couple of business academics but simply means that in any value ecology there are not just competitors and consumers; there are suppliers, competitors and there are complementors. There are companies that are not your direct competitor that are nevertheless very important in your particular ecology because without their product, your product has no value. Microsoft has no value without Intel. And more and more we need to understand the way our value has been created as being an ecosystem of both competitors and co-operators. That is not a radical idea; that is just the way that business works, and moreover, those roles change in quite a dynamic way. People who are your competitors one day may be collaborators the next day. We need to get away from simple ideas of cooperation or competition.
Finally, there is an important shift from thinking about the creation of value at the level of individual firms, to the need to think about whole innovation systems. Firms simply do not survive unless they are part of a labour market, where they need to have access to skills. They need to have appropriate legal infrastructure, and they exercise their corporate activity in the context of government policy and government interventions. In thinking about how value is created, it is not just created in firms; it is created in a total innovation system. I think a lot of those ideas characterise thinking in business generally these days and they also characterise and are exemplified in a number of cases in the creative industries as the canary down the mine of the innovative sector, that is, in some senses out in front of other industrial sectors.
How does the concept of Creative Commons then resonate with those kinds of ideas? Well I think there are some obvious ones, and I think there are also some obvious challenges. There is a resonance in the sense that Creative Commons is clearly inspired by the idea of networks. Also value creation in the Creative Commons is a network function and that is something that business processes are evolving towards anyway. Ideally it reduces transaction costs, which means that ecologies are more efficient. It builds skills and creates a labour market which, both Barry Conyngham and Richard Jones saw as also being a very valuable part for film and music sectors. It allows naturally competitive and/or cooperative relationships by the variety of licences that you can structure.
I am arguing that the world of Creative Commons and the world of the corporate are not that far apart if you are looking, perhaps, into the future over maybe a decade or so (perhaps even shorter than that). There are a number of evolutionary trends in the way that social life and business, as being part of that, is evolving, that come together around the idea of a Creative Commons. But I do not think it is all necessary light and no dark.
Networks are often thought of as a good thing because everybody is involved with them, but networks are not necessarily, or inherently, equalitarian. Networks themselves evolve to quite large discrepancies in the number of nodes that are connected to particular players. I suspect that in the network economy, inequality is going to be as much of an issue as it is already and so issues of appropriation and distribution are obviously also notions we need to consider.
Case Studies Open Content Licensing Initiatives AEShareNET Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) Youth Internet Radio Network (YIRN) Australian Creative Resources Online (ACRO)
PROFESSOR ARUN SHARMA, CAROL FRIPP, DENNIS
MCNAMARA, DR RENATO IANELLA, JEAN BURGESS,
MARK FALLU AND DAVE ROONEYOpen Content Licensing Initiatives This section focuses on some specific instances of people working on projects related to Open Content Licensing. The Chair for this session at the conference was Professor Arun Sharma, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research at QUT.
AESharenet Carol Fripp and Dennis McNamara discuss the AESharenet open licensing project for educational institutions and material.
Open Digital Rights Language Dr Renato Ianella looks at the use of Rights Expression Language in Digital Rights Management Technologies, and in particular the Open Digital Rights Language and its use in relation to the Creative Commons licences.
YIRN: Youth Internet Radio Network This section, prepared by Jean Burgess and Mark Fallu, focuses on the case study YIRN: Youth Internet Radio Network, which aims to establish an online network of young content providers across Queensland.
ACRO: Australian Creative Resources Online Dave Rooney discusses Australian Creative Resources Online (ACRO) an online database of multi-media objects.
I have been a spectator of open source for quite a while. The first operating system I used as an undergraduate student in the early 1980s was a form of Unix and since then I have stuck with Unix. In the early 1990s I was a post doc at MIT at the time Richard Stallman was becoming a cult figure, who in some sense was a precursor to what Linus Torvalds did in the 1990s. If you try to look at the history of open source it is replete with examples of how things have happened. But, while I have always respected, and been amused by, and admired, people working on open source, I have always felt that they have become a little evangelical, and at times, very strident.