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Sharing Creativity

Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that frequently gets described as in the vanguard of the copyleft (1) movement that seeks to build a rich public domain as an alternative to the traditional copyright with its “all rights reserved”. To learn more about the organisation, its objectives and actions in Portugal, ECO123 talked with Teresa Nobre.


Teresa Nobre
Teresa Nobre

ECO123: What exactly is Creative Commons and what is its positioning in Portugal?
Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organisation that provides free of charge licenses for the utilisation of works and materials protected by author royalty and other rights as well as other juridical means.
The organisation has over 100 affiliates in over 70 countries and all supporting and promoting CC activities at the national and international level with one such affiliate in Portugal: ID+, Institute of Design, Media and Culture.

What differentiates CC from other open content license providers?
The CC licenses are under translation and legal adaptation in over 70 different local jurisdictions all around the world as well as being the market leader worldwide. Government entities, universities, libraries, museums, archives, companies and individuals all around the world are making available their creative works under CC licenses. In 2009, it was estimated that there were around 350 million creative works available on CC licenses.

Creative Commons: a simple copyright tool or a movement?
The Creative Commons mission is to develop a technical-juridical infrastructure enabling the sharing of materials under the protection of royalties and other author held copyrights. However, as CC recently had the opportunity to declare(2), universal access to scientific research, to education and to culture – which is the CC vision – will never be attained merely through licensing. Indeed, reform of the royalty and copyright framework is required to achieve this objective.

Generally, there is the perception that only anonymous projects or those with low levels of visibility adopt these new licensing models.
Creative Commons was designed by people who, at that time, were discussing, among other issues, the question of participatory cultures incorporating the reutilisation of works under the protection of private individuals, amateurs (for example, more about a Youtube video shot by an amateur than a protected song). We knew that the need and the potential utilisation rates by common and anonymous citizens would be enormous. Then, we after a while also began to grasp how open licensing was also of interest to professionals as a means of raising the profile of their outputs, thus obtaining greater visibility. Finally, along came the major projects and the major institutions (Wikipedia, the World Bank, the National Portrait Gallery in London and so forth).

What type of projects do CC licenses cover?
The CC licenses may be applied to any project. Currently, CC has four main areas of action: education, science, culture and government.

Is there any incompatibility between the open content licenses and the traditional author’s rights?
I believe there is some confusion over the relationship between the licenses and author’s copyrights. The CC licenses are not an alternative to royalties and other authorial copyrights. They respect the legislation of the author’s royalties and other copyrights. Simply, they enable the author’s copyright and similar obligations to be easily waived to third parties without any previous determining of specific authorisation for the utilisation of these works. Prior to these licenses existing, it was not easy for authors to inform the public that they did not mind that their works got used for this or that purpose. With these licenses, that became possible. And, as the licenses are flexible, that is, owners of particular copyrights may choose just which rights to reserve for themselves (e.g. for commercial purposes) and which to authorise and license, represents an interesting option to those not wishing to reserve all of them for themselves.

Is the traditional copyright system doomed?
The copyright system currently in effect proves highly imbalanced and does not appropriately take into account all of the interests at stake (such as the public interest in access to education) and hence has little chance of survival in its current format.

Teresa Nobre:
Co-coordinator and legal manager at Creative Commons Portugal.
Graduating in Law and trained in Intellectual Property by the Munich Intellectual Property Law Center, she also provides legal representation to Agência Kwamecorp and the publisher Enchufada.

About the author

Hugo Filipe Lopes:Has a degree in sociology and a post-graduate qualification in clinical nutrition from the Egas Moniz Faculty. Collaborates with a number of online publications, a trainer and nutritional therapist. Honourable mentions in the Casa da Imprensa and Lisboa à Letra competitions..

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