In the age of the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook and the Apple iPad, the landscape of information acquisition, access and distribution is quickly changing, but one thing has not changed in the publishing world: the copyright licence. Amy Wu reports.
Enter Creative Commons, an international system of intellectual property rights management through which creators can choose to distribute their work with “some rights reserved,” by providing free legal tools that allow people to share their work.
Nearly three years since launching Creative Commons Hong Kong (CCHK) Ying Chan, director of the JMSC, offered a comprehensive overview of what CCHK has accomplished here in Hong Kong, and where it is headed as part of Hong Kong University’s Knowledge Exchange lunch series on January 12, 2011. The event drew a packed audience and fuelled lively discussion about challenges and issues related to copyright and intellectual property in this age of Google.
CCHK is the local entity of Creative Commons, the US-based not-for-profit organisation launched in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig when he was a professor at Stanford Law School. Lessig, now director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University, came to HKU to celebrate CCHK’s launch in 2008.
CCHK is run by the JMSC and receives funding from HKU’s Knowledge Exchange Projects. The CCHK team includes Chan, co-head of the project, Pindar Wong an internet entrepreneur and chair of the executive committee, and associate HKU law professors Alice Lee and Li Yahong.
In Hong Kong, the number of CCHK works archived has skyrocketed from 250,000 at launch to 400,000 as of October 2010. Chan said that CCHK is on the right track to expand, and compared the licensed creative material to grains of rice.
“If we contribute more grains of rice under CC then you can make a bigger and better pot of cooked rice for everyone to share so we would like to continue this project,” said Chan, who plans to expand outreach on campus and in the community.
Chan and Li reviewed the history of CCHK, how it was started, and some of the unique challenges to CCHK including the process on legalising CCHK’s licenses in Hong Kong. Since then, CCHK has been giving educational seminars, lectures to secondary school teachers in the community, publishing educational materials, started the Liberal Studies Creative Archive, and it launched the CCHK web site where the CC licensed works are archived.
Here at HKU students and faculty have started to license their works using CC. To be sure, the JMSC’s China Media Project is CC licensed and the Department of Philosophy’s Critical Thinking Web have followed suit. Chan pointed out that writers can also publish their works by licensing their books through CC. Dan Gillmor, a prominent American technology journalist and a former JMSC visiting lecturer, recently CC-licensed his second book “Mediactive.”
Moving forward, the CCHK team hopes to increase awareness of Creative Commons by following in the footsteps of Creative Commons in Mainland China and Taiwan; both have held activities including monthly open parties and art exhibitions.
CCHK continues to actively solicit materials from essays, books, photographs, songs and other artistic works. Chan said that CCHK helps artists, scholars, scientists and other content creators, to promote their work.