I presented to the DV fellows today - spoke about plans for Creative Commons Africa and more immediate plans to build an iCommons tool and the curriculum portal. They are a tough crowd.
They had some interesting things to say. One was that I was probably focussing on the wrong people. 'Shouldn't I be focussing on the disempowered communities who have their stories taken away from them by foreigners for no return?' And my answer was yes, that communities need to be empowered, but that empowerment can only really come through a committed group of individuals who are becoming educated about the copyright system and how to use that system to their best advantage. Sure, you could try and change the system and attempt to get communities to register as corporations and then aportion benefits to administrators of those communities, but much more realistic, I think, is to make individuals aware of how important it is to understand how the value chain in the copyright system works, and how there are really good, effective examples of alternatives to copyright if they choose to use them.
Isn't it a good enough job to help young African musicians, artists and authors to enter a global network where people around the world are gaining skills and knowledge, and learning from one another? The alternative is to address the traditional community and attempt to gain rights and revenue from community assets by forming corporations or legal entities.
I think that traditional songs would be preserved much better if young people were able to enter a global network and recognise the need produce works that stand out as unique and to share their heritage with the world. Preservation and creation are two different things - and the more I think about it, the more I start thinking of what came first - the chicken or the egg?