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One Last Commoner Letter – from Lawrence Lessig, CC's Founder


Though our 2009 Commoner Letter series has officially come to an end, we are pleased to announce one final letter, this time from our Founder and Board Member Lawrence Lessig. Professor Lessig needs little introduction, so I’ll leave it to him tell you in his own words why supporting the mission of Creative Commons is vital for anyone who cares about building a culture of free and legal online sharing. If you, like Professor Lessig and hundreds of thousands of creators and consumers around the world, care about sustaining CC in the long term, then I encourage you to give back to CC and invest in the work we do. As an added incentive to answer Professor Lessig’s call for support, Attributor and wikiHow are currently matching gifts made to CC – so donate today and make your year-end gift really count!


It is the end of another year, and I find myself frantically reaching out through as many channels as I can to get friends of the commons to support Creative Commons. I’ve been writing emails — yes, actual hand-made emails — to everyone who’s given significant contributions to us before but not this year. I’ve been writing to others who should be giving but haven’t so far. And I’ve been writing more machine made emails (like, for example this) to everyone else. 

My freneticism about this is in part personal, part not. The part that’s not is the stuff that you’ve been reading about — about Creative Commons — in all these letters. You’ve helped us build something important and valuable, that is supporting a much bigger and much more valuable ecology of creativity that everyone should be celebrating. If I had thought at the start to predict when I knew we had marked our space, it would have been when the White House, Al Jazeera, and Wikipedia all adopted CC licenses. That happened this year. And now that it has happened, we all have an even stronger obligation to make sure this thing that thousands helped build over the past 7 years continues to grow and succeed and inspire. 

But the part of the frenetic that’s personal is that I worry that I myself am not doing enough for this amazing organization that I helped found. That I’m an absent father — or worse. That because I felt I had to devote the majority of my energy to a new, and truly impossible project — fighting “institutional corruption,” especially as it debilitates our government — I was leaving this child on its own a bit too early. 

I can’t hide that I fear exactly this. This year in particular, despite our receiving more contributions than ever in our history, we are struggling to meet our goal. The desert that is corporate contributions has hit us hard, and that forces all of us (and especially, absent fathers) to work harder. 

That is why I asked the team at Creative Commons to let me write this last Commoner letter for the year. Tough times force us to shake out the old, and focus on the future. Creative Commons will be an even bigger part of a much saner future. A world is beginning to recognize the place for reasonableness and balance. They are beginning to practice that using our tools. 

But you need to help us to continue building that future. One click will get that started. Please, as you complete the list of great orgs to support this year, be certain you have reserved a space for us. This year more than any other before, we need that support. Donate today.

Thank you. 


Posted 28 December 2009