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Creative Commons South Africa Launch

Neeru Paharia, June 7th, 2005

Week before last, Creative Commons South Africa officially launched at the Commons-Sense: Towards an African Digital Information Commons conference in Johannesburgh. The launch event and conference, primarily organized by Heather Ford, South Africa Project Lead, and Andrew Rens, South Africa Legal Lead, was nothing short of spectacular.

The launch event on the night preceeding the conference was well attended by leaders in arts, technology, education, and government. South Africa-based band 340 Milliliters rocked the house alongside an art gallery of Creative Commons licensed works.

Following the launch began the 2-day Commons-Sense conference sponsored by the LINK Centre (at Wits University) and funded by the International Development Research Centre. The groundbreaking conference collected 120 leaders from around Africa, and the world, to talk about what a digital commons means specifically to the social and economic context of the continent. There was a terrific bill of speakers who addressed issues including access to knowledge, open access publishing, traditional culture IP, medicines, free trade agreements, and technology.

Specifically worth mentioning was a talk given by Eve Gray from the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, who discussed how HSRC’s early experiments with open access publishing paid off. As they made their research papers available for free download, the print revenues went up by 270%.


The conference was well reported on, with a crew of young journalists from the New Media Lab covering the blow-by-blow with blogs, images, and videos from the conference, in addition to a great article written in Business Day about the launch event.

There was much hope that this conference would be a jumping off point for greater activism in Africa using technology, and tools like Creative Commons as enablers for social and economic development.

Heather Ford, South Africa Project Lead:

The band, 340 Millileters rocking the house at the Creative Commons launch event:

The conference attendees:

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