Creative Commons licensing I believe can benefit authors of all the arts as well as the public who wish to use the works. Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford Law Professor who developed the idea, believes with this kind of licensing, artists can still have control over their work. Artists can allow portions of their work to be used by others for any purpose, and other portions not to be used at all. They choose what they wish to have “some rights reserved rather than all rights reserved.” Under Creative Commons licensing, work is restricted to be used for non-commercial use. Lessig believes that by allowing others access to artists work, only builds upon the original work. The artists name still gets out there even though they are not the ones promoting it. And if one person likes the work they will pass it on to someone else, who will then pass it on, etc. It creates a domino effect. This also helps to further promote the author. Existing copyright laws don’t allow works to get to every place that they could. This holds the artist back from their full potential.
Artists who allow their work into the public domain are able to reach a wider audience than if they kept their work under the current copyright laws. The examples given in the article prove how this works. Cory Doctorow’s novel sold 10,000 copies in it’s first run through bookstores. By putting the novel online for free he had 500,000 downloads. He didn’t make money on the downloads but he was able to get his name out to 500,000 more readers. When he does decide to sell a novel again, he will have more people familiar with his name. A variation of this idea also worked for producers Robert Greenwald and Jim Gilliam. By releasing a 48 minute portion of their film “Outfoxed” online just after it was put into theaters, they were able to get their film introduced to more than just the people who sat in the theater to watch it. Their idea also generated sales of the film, since most who viewed the preview bought the full length version.
The article points out that Creative Commons is not just for people that we think of as artists, such as musicians and book authors. Creative Commons has an archive of what Lessig calls “artifacts of culture.” This online archive has assorted works that are accessible to the public. For instance, the Creative Commons archive has “works” such as “materials from more than 500 Massachusetts Institute of Technology classes.” Audio “works” from U.S. Supreme Court arguments since 1950 also inhabit the archives. This type of material can benefit those doing research in a particular area or those who may just have an interest in this type information. By not being able to access these materials under current copyright laws, important information as well as history may never be known. Mozilla Firefox’s plan to allow the public to search online with their browser for works of art licensed by Creative Commons, is probably the first of many other browsers who will follow in their footsteps.