The Creative Commons team is making great progress here at sxsw– meeting with the people who actually use or may use the licenses is a great experience – it's a reminder of the relevance of our work to the massive creative force in society that is represented here and makes the relatively isolated work to come all the more worthwhile. I have had temporary pangs of guilt over the past few days that I'm having way too much fun to call this work, but I quickly remind myself how important it is for us to make good connections with the people who will drive innovation in the realm of copyright in society.
Creative Commons was involved in two panels at sxsw this week – Neeru Paharia, assistant executive director, in 'Legal Music Promotion: File-Sharing, Sampling or Both?', and executive director, Glenn Otis Brown, on a panel asking the question, 'Can Copyright Bring Audience and Filmmaker Together?'
The music panel discussed creative alternatives to straight copyright on the Internet. Sal Randolph talked about Opsound (Open Sound Resource), 'a record label using an open source, copyleft model, an experiment in practical gift economics, a laboratory
for new ways of releasing music.' Opsound licenses music under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license, and its open sound pool lists a number of tracks, many of which have been designated as 'Remix Ready', which means that the artist has offered to provide uncompressed source material for remixing (by email or on the web). I love this track from the opradio resource.
Although a little aggressive about marketing the mp3 format, Matthew King Kaufman has produced a great resource at mp34u.com for musicians to showcase their work and for listeners to download legal songs.
Jake Shapiro, from Public Radio Exchange, talked about a fascinating project to distribute quality radio programs online. According to the site:
The Public Radio Exchange (PRX) is a nonprofit Internet-based service for digital distribution, peer review, and licensing of radio content. The mission of PRX is to build a fair market for creative radio work and a station-producer community of increasing gains; to create more opportunities for diverse programming of exceptional quality, interest, and importance to reach more listeners.
PRX brings new voices to the airwaves, creates a new revenue stream for producers, and helps noncommercial radio stations assemble diverse and exceptional programming.
Neeru's description of Creative Commons' upcoming music license and related 'Mixter' site made me really excited about the potential for collaboration amongst artists. Mixter will feature tracks that can be remixed to create new versions that contain clear links back to the original. Still in development, Mixter will provide an excellent resource for musicians to work together and learn from one another, but who may be limited by time or geographical factors. I think that it may be a good idea to indicate geographical influences on the site i.e. a South African kwaito beat mixed into a southern U.S. blues melody.
Although Glenn urged panelists in the film panel to prevent this being 'a love fest for Creative Commons', it kind of turned out that way, with a number of 'converts' in the audience recognising cc licenses as a great way to distribute their work. Zack Exley and David Jacobs from Moveon.org and Media Rights spoke about their decision to use Creative Commons licenses because the main aim of their work is not to sell as many copies or viewings as possible, but rather to get the message out to the widest possible audience. Justin Cohen, winner of the cc 'Moving Image Contest', spoke about his use of public domain footage from the Internet Archive and cc licensed music tracks in the production of his entry. “I wouldn't even have attempted it if it hadn't been for the availability of this content,” he said.
Filmmaker, David Ball, finally talked about the launch of the new Fourth Wall Films website and his licensing of every element of his film, Honey, under cc licenses. Glenn has a great post on this here.
sxsw has been all about soaking up the latest challenges, ideas and trends in the creative sector and applying them to the direction of cc. Every conversation, every experience of music, film and creation charts the path of cc as intimately connected to the needs of a growing number of active creators. I hope that if this century offers one great advance to civilisation, that it is our ability to celebrate and enjoy the artist that is within all of us. sxsw certainly reminds me of this.