Press bonanza

Matt Haughey, September 30th, 2004

While we’ve been plugging away at copyright licensing it appears, at least according to our recent press hits, that Creative Commons is starting to hit a critical mass. Two high profile features came out today: one about legal downloads at the Internet Archive released under a Creative Commons license (in next month’s PC World Magazine), and another from eWeek, about how well our licensing is catching on. There are many more stories coming out every day about Creative Commons, and then, of course, there’s next month’s big mention in WIRED.

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The WIRED Concert: A Testimonial

Glenn Otis Brown, September 29th, 2004

This from someone who attended the concert last Tuesday:

This was truly one of the most inspired shows I’ve seen in a while. Not just the music, which was tremendous, but the entire feeling, established early on through the films; that we were involved in reclaiming and resuscitating creativity and the cross fertilization of cultures. The only downside for me was that it was SO inspired, I started beating up on myself during the performance for not cleaving closer to my own personal dreams. So ever since that show I’ve been working on getting the hell out of TV production. Thanks, Creative Commons!

I promise I didn’t write this myself. I don’t even think I could have come up with this. Inspiring stuff.

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Spain up next

Roland, September 29th, 2004

There is no end in sight, as yet.

In Barcelona, on Friday, Creative Commons will launch its Spanish licenses. Ignasi Labastida i Juan, the Spanish project lead, has organized a promising launch event that will feature, amongst other speakers, Mr. Oriol Ferran i Riera, General Secretary of Telecommunications and the Information Society, Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan Government), and a round table on “New ways of publishing and publicizing culture”. Roland is going to give a talk on iCommons, while Christiane is busy proselytizing in England.

It will all happen in Barcelona, at the Aula Magna of the Universitat de Barcelona (UB), Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 585, Spain, on Friday at 10am. All readers of this blog are welcome to attend and contribute to the discussion.

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Looking forward, Creative Commons recalls extraordinary week

Roland, September 29th, 2004

At Creative Commons, there is hardly ever time to look back and reminisce about great events past. But last week’s congregation in NYC being such a landmark event in our organization’s history, here are a few things to recall.

First, Tuesday’s concert made it clear that we’re becoming truly global now. There is no better way to describe a collaborative project that today encompasses academics and volunteers from all continents. Also, the concert’s coverage in the New York Times – and the fact that we are getting endorsement from high-calibre artists like Gil and Byrne – should create increased attention in many of the world’s cultural capitals – and not only from people who are already Creative Commons devotees. As we can testify from our personal experience over the last days in Germany and Britain, it has had that effect already.

Second, there was the wonderful experience of bringing the two offices of San Francisco and Berlin together. We should do this on a regular basis. The latter one still being in its infancy, Christiane and myself profited immensely from exchanging our ideas and from seeing at close quarters the sheer energy Creative Commons as a project is able to impart on its staff. Neeru, we also enjoyed carousing with you in the meat-packing district when it was all over! I hope we can share the great time we all had with many more Commoners in the future.

Third, there was of course the usual deluge of side meetings associated with an international conference (if that is the word), so we think we should single out just one that was particularly seminal for our work at iCommons. Something great might be in the making in our proposed partnership with the Arts Council England, and we are extremely thankful for being handed this opportunity. Stay plugged in for further details – it will be yet another sign that Creative Commons is well on its way from start-up idea to worldwide institution.

It’s been an extraordinary week. We can all be so grateful for being present at the creation.

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Glenn Otis Brown, September 29th, 2004

At last, I saw my long-time favorite rock band the Pixies in Berkeley this weekend. That doesn’t have much to do with Creative Commons — not yet anyway. Except that this band is the reason for my first picking up a guitar 13 years ago (and, I might argue, for my improving little since). Which means that they’re also the reason for my wondering, for the first time, “Who owns a song?” and “How do songwriting credits work?” I clearly remember wondering, “Why does Black Francis get all the songwriting credits if the band plays together, and when Kim Deal sings so well?” O, those naive early days, when the information-law obsession was only in its infancy . . .

So the concert brought things home for me in a couple of ways at the close of a great week. (Neeru came to the show, too, so it was a kind of Creative Commons milestone celebration.) And despite the intensely nerdy back-story, I was able to enjoy some of my favorite music without thinking about copyright.

Not *too* much anyway: On the subject of covers, the Pixies did two: (1) “Winterlong,” by Neil Young, which Black Francis once said was the best thing the Pixies ever recorded, and (2) a crazy re-arrangement of an already crazy song, “In Heaven,” written by David Lynch and Peter Ivers for the movie Eraserhead.

The songs a band covers says a lot about them, and David Lynch plus Neil Young captures the Pixies awfully well.


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The WIRED Concert: Cover Tunes

Glenn Otis Brown, September 28th, 2004

Another cool aspect of the WIRED show last week: Gil and Byrne both played a lot of covers. As Justin Cone’s award-winning Creative Commons film says, “Creativity always builds on the past . . .”

Among his originals, Gil also played:

–Cambalache (Enrique Santos Discepolo — a dark Argentine tango)

–Imagine (John Lennon)

–Three Little Birds (Bob Marley)

–No Woman No Cry (Bob Marley, with some Portuguese lyrics)

–Soy Loco Por Ti America (Caetano Veloso)

And Byrne covered:

–I Zimbra (this Talking Heads song isn’t technically a cover, but the lyrics are from a Dadaist “sound poem” by Hugo Ball from the 20s, so I’m counting it)

–One Rainy Wish (Jimi Hendrix — yes, Hendrix with a string section — fantastic!)

And together:

–Asa Branca (Gonzago & Teixeira)

–Don’t Fence Me In (Cole Porter)

Ah, if only sampling from other people’s songs were as simple as doing covers. Soon, it will be — for a handful of songs at least.

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Speaking of independent film & copyright . . . Triggerstreet & Kevin Spacey

Glenn Otis Brown, September 28th, 2004

Flipping through Film Festival Today, I came across an article about actor Kevin Spacey‘s project Triggerstreet, an on-line community for indie filmmakers and screenwriters.

Now, I’m fairly new to this movie stuff, so Triggerstreet may be old news for all I know. But I was intrigued by what I read in the piece and saw on the site.

First, get this — the motivation behind the project, as described by Spacey’s business partner Dana Brunetti:

The idea came when I was working as Kevin’s assistant and he was always adamant that he wouldn’t be where he was if others hadn’t given him a leg up. He wanted to ensure that there was a way to keep the ‘pipeline’ open to undiscovered talent and the ‘over the fence’ submissions, but because he has become such a success, a lot of this is hindered by the litigious society we live in and the worry of being sued by accepting unsolicited work. A writer cannot submit a script to a lot of production companies because they will not accept them for this reason, so they do not see any talent or material out of the normal channels. . . .

The initial idea was simple: establish a way for those without Hollywood connections, but with a passion for screenwriting and filmmaking, to showcase their talent, and make it so that anyone on the inside can be exposed to this talent without the threat of lititation. . . . Our site is a platform for undiscovered talent to showcase one’s work and receive feedback from an unbiased audience.

Does that sound like a Creative Commons idea, or is it me?

The site boasts of 2300 short film uploads, 80,000 short film reviews, and 685,000 short film downloads. Like I said, I’m coming to this late, but I’m still interested in learning more. Any of you had experience with Triggerstreet?

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New York Week: IFP

Glenn Otis Brown, September 28th, 2004

On Friday the 24th I attended the final day of IFP New York‘s week-long conference on independent film.

I felt very lucky and humbled (frequent feelings lately) to be on an afternoon panel, “Responding to the Copyright Crisis,” with such heavies as Jonathan Taplin (producer of To Die For, Mean Streets, among other films); Marjorie Heins (founder of the Free Expression Policy Project); Jeff Levy-Hinte (producer of Thirteen and editor of When We Were Kings); Michael Donaldson (author of Clearance and Copyright); and Mark Nadel (author of, among many other pieces, the thought-provoking copyright article “The Overlooked Impact of Marketing“). David Bollier, author of the forthcoming Brand-Name Bullies, moderated.

After the panel, John Perry Barlow, who helped bring many people into the information debate back in the 1990s — even those of us who disagreed with him — waxed eloquent about the parallels between riparian rights (that’s water law) and copyright, and the connection between today’s information policy debate and current events around the world. He finished with a note of cautious optimism: “The dinosaurs are dying, there’s no doubt about that. But being locked in a dark closet with dying dinosaur doesn’t mean you’re going to come out okay. So we have to be brave.” It was a fitting, funny, and inspiring ending to the week.

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WIRED CD: Stereophile coverage

Glenn Otis Brown, September 28th, 2004

From Stereophile magazine: “The November issue of Wired magazine will ship with a compilation CD intended to be shared by music fans . . .” (More.)

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WIRED Concert and CD: A Study in Collaboration

Glenn Otis Brown, September 28th, 2004

My favorite part of the WIRED concert last week were the two songs Gilberto Gil and David Byrne performed together.

The first was called “Asa Branca,” a 1947 song penned by Luiz Gonzaga and Humberto Teixeira and based on a traditional Brazilian tune. Gil and Bryne traded verses in Portuguese and English as their percussionists rumbled like a mad river behind them.

The second was a Brazilian arrangement of Cole Porter’s commons-minded cowboy song, “Don’t Fence Me In”:

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above,

Don’t fence me in.

Let me ride through the wide open country that I love,

Don’t fence me in.


Photo by Yoon Son.

Both songs had the 1500-person crowd dancing, thanks to the tasty rhythms, yes, but also to the gesture: Musical superstars from North and South, jamming together, building earlier works into new creations, in real time. Lawyers on the sidelines and in the audience, where they belong. The big Creative Commons logo smiling overhead.

To me the two songs stand for the entire WIRED concert and its forthcoming CD. It has all been an exercise in joint authorship, a study in collaboration. Here’s a grossly oversimplified list of players (there are too many to list here):

The best part: the main collaboration is yet to come. That’s between you and the artists. Come October 26, you can jam with Gil and Byrne, and many more.

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