Mod Ur Contract

Posted by Fee
5 March 2008, 1:15 pm

Elliott Bledsoe
This morning many bleary-eyed GRL masterclass participants dragged themselves out of bed to hear Elliott Bledsoe (Creative Commons Australia). The struggle had nothing to do with Elliott’s presentation skills, quite the opposite in fact. He’s an engaging and entertaining speaker with a clear passion for Intellectual Property rights and the open source movement. The weariness was all to do with the first setup & testing of the laser tagging system:

it's still free (this one’s for Kel)

Creative Commons, for the un-initiated, are a wonderful group of internationally-tuned legal bods who have been looking at new models of intellectual property protection for the creators of content for about 6 years now. Where before we had a permissions based culture where “all rights are reserved” (i.e. you must ask permission every time, for every use), CC moves us towards a “some rights reserved” model.

You, the creator, can state how your work is used, with simple licenses that any numpty can understand:

  • Attribution. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give credit the way you request.
  • Noncommercial. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for noncommercial purposes only.
  • No Derivative Works. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.
  • Share Alike. You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

CC au

While this is an international framework, Elliott says, it’s important to associate your license to the country you are based in. Should you actually have to defend your license, the court case will take place in the country you’re licensed under - and would you really want to travel to the USA to protect an international license?

After his overview, the group had a great discussion about specific issues or problems relating to IP, particularly the problems associated to IP on hardware which tends to be covered through Patents - so there’s no IP on the product, but there is a restriction on the method of duplication of that product. He mentioned an ‘Open Patent Network’ but I can’t find any links to them (will chase that up).

free culture, lawrence lessig

James suggested we all read ‘Free Culture‘ by Lawrence Lessig; seminal to anyone wanting to explore the struggle between sharing and ownership (and it happens to be free to read online in text and spoken word bittorrent too, bless that man). He also mentioned a book about the relationship between the art and advertising world called ‘Unbranded’ but I can’t find it, so perhaps I got that wrong.

Elliott’s best advice was saved until last (and you can read plenty more at his blog too):
1. If you really want to protect yourself, own nothing in your own name - no one will sue you if there’s no money in it for them.
2. You can empower yourself by simply standing up for your rights. If someone gives you a contract read it, then negotiate on any clauses you are unhappy about. (He even sent back the terms and conditions to Myspace with the bits he didn’t want to sign blacked out, and they approved his changes).
3. Look for alternative service providers to standard distribution platforms (we know who they are!) who do not take the same amount of IP control as standard (e.g. Revver or the less ad-focused EngageMedia’s Plumi).
4. If you do decide to use those social networks, at least host your work (text, images, video, etc) on another site - embedding a link in myspace/facebook/etc does not give them any rights to your content at all!

So all in all, Mod ur contracts!

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