Creative Commons is Broken – Parsing Creative Commons

Update: I just saw a comment on TC referencing my blog on my Civil War post and this one.  TC has a long post (no one reads these long posts) on the Creative Commons problem aka Lane Hartwell problem.  It’s a good post about what I’ve been saying on this Civil War in the blogosphere.  A Civil War is in the Blogosphere. 

What a ClusterF$&k – Creative Commons is broken in the social (viral) media world.  I lived through this with Lan Bui when he went after my former company PodTech over a photo dispute – which we paid him.  Now Lane Hartwell is making a techpolitical statement going after Richter Scales on what has been one of the cleverest, low cost, and best timed video to hit the tech scene yet.  Wait the problem is that they didn’t contact Lane for permission.  By the letter of the ‘vague’ copyright clause  I guess Richter Scales is wrong, but the low cost video is just that low cost.  Half the low cost stuff doesn’t make it and nobody knows about it.  Once something goes popular (by pure timeing) then there was a malicious foul.  

What made the video great was timing and taking a photos off the web made it great.  The Owen Thomas picture wasn’t a make or break photo.   In fact I bet to say that if Richter Scales had to get permission from everyone that video would not have seen the light of day.  Which is worse no new creative work or rigid copyright language.

Lane is right; Richter Scales is right.  Creative Commons is broken.  This will get worse as the net becomes more social.   As a new generation of producers hit the net we need a new standard.

I’d love to do podcast with Lane and have her tell her side of the story.  For now it’s a technopolitical mess.

update:  LawGeek says the video was not illegalMatt Ingram followed this story from the beginning and his original views are supported by LawGeek.  Meanwhile Mike Arrinton thinks Lane is wrong on her approach.


Author: John

Entrepreneur living in Palo Alto California and the Founder of SiliconANGLE Media

9 thoughts on “Creative Commons is Broken – Parsing Creative Commons”

  1. No, Creative Commons isn’t broken.

    First, what happened with Lane’s photo has nothing to do with Creative Commons. Lane’s photo was under copyright, not CC.

    And I’m sure she would have done the same thing if the video had come to her attention and it had only been seen by a handful of people on YouTube.

    Actually, if the Richter Scales had used only Creative Commons photos (and given them proper attribution), they wouldn’t have had this problem.

    There are photos of Owen under Creative Commons

    robb and owen muscling up


    The problem is with people (at Podtech and other places) who don’t understand Creative Commons.

    If you’d been paying attention, you might have noticed that CC Zero and CC+ were launched on Saturday

    And one of the biggest problems with what happened with Lan
    was the way you handled it.

  2. John
    Very insightful. The new viral one hit wonders are done on literally no budget. Usually no planning is involved except some creative bootstraping. In looking at my kids I see them copying stuff all over myspace. How do you educate Creative Commons to those kids? It’s like fighting a raging tide. CC needs to adapt.

  3. Actually John, if you do a Flickr search filtering for Creative Commons only content, you’ll find plenty of photos that could have been used in the video with simple attribution. Creative Commons isn’t broken, it was ignored. The problem isn’t with CC, it’s with people being lazy.

  4. VideoSalon: i see your point. I wouldn’t chalk it up to laziness per se but instead education. All of us need to do a better job educating people on how easy it is to get CC pics. That’s my point in the post and the reason I’m not slamming Lane is that she is making a good stand althought I wouldn’t have done it her way. This will educate people but it ever goes the next level. CC needs to own the education and outreach especially those new users coming onboard (12-18yr olds). I beleive that no one wakes up saying they want to cheat the artists. Instead it’s an education game – call it lazy but to me education is the key.

  5. “which we paid him” is an incomplete statement of the facts. “we sent him a check for one third of what he invoiced us for after we ignored him, which he donated to Creative Commons” would be a bit more accurate.

    Well, then again, like the village idiot said “there’s more to the story than that”.

    So, how do you suppose we educate people in proper use?

    I’d say that the harsh reality is that people will be forced into learning like your old company did. By making mistakes and getting found out and being called out on it. People don’t seem to car much when money is not involved. That is the unfortunate harsh reality.

    Although unfortunate, things like this need to happen for us to set a precedent.

    Stealing photos is wrong. I read this example yesterday:

    They claim they “found” the photos online. Well it would actually be “searched for” then and took them. So by that logic I should be able to go to a museum and find some photos. Make sense now?

  6. Eric Rice has a good video on this copyright debate

    Lan: you’re a hardliner; nobody is stealing; I believe that they want to do the right thing. Very similar to software in the early days. This issue is a culture issue. Your position and Lane’s is noble and understandable. Why take this hard line rather then educate people. Industry leaders take a leadership role something you don’t do.

  7. One thing we need to be cautious of is when folks with a big reach like Scoble say, ‘steal my content’ or more specifically,

    “I WANT YOU to steal my content. In fact, next year I’m going to do stuff to make all my content available via Creative Commons license so you can use it whereever and whenever, including my video shows. I’d like a credit, yes, but don’t demand it.”

    That’s not helpful to Creative Commons, in my opinion. The CC licenses have an option for attribution. We’re setting a n unhealthy precedent that may train people to ignore even Creative Commons if we disregard fundamental rules. If we believe in that, then we SHOULD demand it, since well, dammit. It says ‘attribution’.

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