Looking at the world of media: from music to RIA.

Creative Commons Salon

March 9th, 2006 Posted in Film, Games, General Media / Stuff

Last night was the first monthly salon that the good folks over at Creative Commons (CC) are putting on. The idea is to gather people that are interested in CC to come and meet up to talk about issues and uses of CC. They also have featured speakers to talk about what they are doing and how they are using CC in their projects. This month they brought in Joshua Kinberg of FireAnt, Eddie Codel of Geek Entertainment TV and Wagner James Au who is an embedded journalist for the MMO game Second Life.

Actually, I probably should take a step back and give a little intro to CC and why it is cool and important to us. Creative Commons is a project that was started by Lawrence Lessig to help facilitate a more easy to use system to share copyrighted material. One of the major challenges (and of course benefits) with copyrighted material is that it is All Rights Reserved. This means that if you want to use anything (from text to video) that is Copyrighted you have to get explicit permission to use the source. This is great protection for the copyright holder, but if you want your material to have some freedom this creates a lot of headaches and hurdles for both the copyright holder and the person wishing to use the material.

With CC, they have created different levels of “permissions” for copyrighted material. This allows the copyright holder to quickly license something as CC and instead of All Rights Reserved the material is now Some Rights Reserved.

For example, I have a song that I wrote and I want to allow people to remix it but not make money off the remix (because I still want to retain some of my rights). I could then post my song on my site and put up the CC badge that states in the license that you have to credit me, it must be non-commercial, that you may make derivative works but you have to post it under a similar CC license. We now have a quick and easy way to share material and still retain rights.

So, back to the salon. Joshua of FireAnt showed what their project is all about. FireAnt is both a web based and software downloadable aggregator that focuses on Video casts. One of Joshua’s goals for his presentation was to get feedback for the folks at CC and FireAnt about how they can better use CC to help facilitate video editors. From the presentation one of the bigger challenges they have to face is standardization of Metadata when tagging material as CC. This is important because when a video cast is made and posted on FireAnt and the creator wants to mark something as CC there should be a super simple way to do this via the tool. Also, the metadata should be standardized so that other tools and sites can use the data to inform end-users quickly what rights they have with the material.

Eddie, of Geek Entertainment TV (and the man behind Webzine which I was a panelist at) showed us an episode of Geek Entertainent TV and talked about how they are using CC material in their shows. One big use of CC content is images that he pulls from Flickr to be used in the episode. What’s cool is that Flickr has a search system that allows users to find CC’d material of different licenses and then you can search inside that license to find images that are tagged with different keywords. By creating such a system Eddie is able to quickly find material and then he can follow the license and integrate the images into his show.

The last speaker was James, an embedded journalist for Second Life. Second Life is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) that users can download and play for free. In the game users have the ability to create 3D objects and write scripts that can then control these objects. Once the object is created the user can then pay using an in-game monetary system call Lindens for their object to become permanent. Once the object is permanent the user can then use the object or even sell it. On top of that, the user retains the IP rights to any of the objects they create.

An example James used was of fashion designers. Some players of Second Life began creating custom fashions in the game and then selling them from stores they built in the game. Here is were it gets interesting, you can turn around and sell Lindens (the money) in the open market for real money, right now the rate is about 250 Lindens to $1 USD.

At this point some of the designers are making about $60,000+ a year just selling their online clothes. In fact, some of the designers have been approached by real life clothing companies to take the online fashion into “analog” forms.

As I mentioned, James is an embedded journalist. He plays the game, talks to players and then blogs about what is currently going on in the world. He was brought in by Second Life’s developers, Linden Labs, to do this and let them know about what is going on in their own game. One of the challenges the developers were facing was that there was so much going on they did not know what people were doing or how they were using the system. By bringing someone like James in, they can then get detailed information about the good, bad and the ugly in their world.

The reason James was speaking at the Salon was that CC and Second Life are working together to provide the rights and licensing system for the creations by the users. Since the user retains the IP rights to their creations, CC helped design a simple in-game way of licensing the creation as CC, giving other gamers rights to the creation if so desired. It was impressive how integrated this all was into the game and by playing the game you were actually performing licensing. On top of that, you can actually go to the CC office in the game and then donate Linden dollars to CC that will then be converted to USD and PayPal’ed into CC’s bank account. Wild.

Overall, I had a great time at the first CC salon and learned a lot about how others are using CC and what potential CC provides not just for the obvious things like music or video. Also, Jon Phillips of CC has asked me to speak at the next Salon and I am really excited to talk about podcasting and the using Creative Commons inside this medium.

  1. 4 Responses to “Creative Commons Salon”

  2. By James on Mar 10, 2006

    ha… I guess I should mention that the episode that was shown by Eddie was Irina interviewing the girls from Geeks Rule. Hmmm… now am I more famous yet? ;)

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