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October 28, 2005
Dvorak on Creative Commons: Now I Get It
Back in July, I wrote about John Dvorak's utter misinterpretation of Creative Commons, observing that the upside to people writing badly misinformed articles is that the fisking process can often be educational in ways you don't anticipate (The Upside of Misunderstanding).
Turns out I was right. As a recent "This Week In Tech" podcast shows, it was an education for Dvorak himself. The man who called Creative Commons "eye rolling dumb" has now recanted, saying he's changed his attitude ever since he learned how difficult it is for an author simply to give work away. Why is it difficult? Because ever since 1976, copyright with "all rights reserved" is the automatic default setting for creative work. Before 1976, you had to be proactive about securing copyright protection. Today, the opposite is true: you've got to take very specific steps to ensure that others are legally free to use your work. Creative Commons aims to make that process easier, giving creators more flexibility in asserting their rights -- something Dvorak now understands has value.
So will Dvorak write another column admitting that he was wrong? Not so fast. Explains Dvorak:
My column was never wrong, my column was questioning...I was saying, "I don't get it, will somebody explain it to me, please?" Yeah, [Larry Lessig] explained it. I finally got my explanation. Sometimes you've got to go public with bafflement, which I do...He's doing fine. You don't need my help.
One misconception down, one more to go. In fact, Creative Commons does need help
. Despite the enormous popularity of CC licenses, Creative Commons is a nonprofit with all the challenges that the status brings. Explains Larry
Today, Creative Commons launches a fund raising campaign. The trigger is some bizarrely complicated requirement of the IRS that nonprofits demonstrate not just support from some large, wise, foundations, but also "public support." So we've got an (urgent) need to demonstrate that support, through, well, support.
According to the CC site, there are now over 50 million "objects" on the Web that link back to CC licenses. But how many people who use the licenses have taken a minute or two to join Creative Commons? If you're an artist, writer, musician, or scientist who "gets it," help throw the switch on the default by joining CC today
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