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CC Arab World Community Gathers and Celebrates

Donatella Della Ratta, February 13th, 2013

CC Arab World
Faiza Souici / CC BY-SA

In keeping with the tradition inaugurated by the third Creative Commons Arab regional meeting (30th June-2nd July, Tunis, 2011), the 2012 fourth annual gathering of the CC Arab communities was marked by a great deal of creative energy and a strong push towards strengthening a sharing culture in the Arab region.

Organized in cooperation with Arab Digital Expression Foundation (ADEF), an Egyptian NGO extremely active in the domain of free culture and sharing, the fourth Creative Commons Arab regional meeting was held in Cairo from 10 to 14 December 2012, with participants coming from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar, Sudan, Oman, and Egypt.

Three days of intensive hands-on workshops, held at ADEF headquarters in the beautiful area of Moqattam overlooking Cairo, were self-organized and led by members of the CC Arab community. Workshops tackled issues such as licensing artworks under CC licenses, or using open-source tools to design and produce creative work. A team of musicians, together with a filmmaker and a graphic designer, worked on a multimedia project aimed at producing a creative journey into science fiction literature in the Arab world (see sample below).

A group of visual artists worked on caricatures of the participants, which were remixed and turned into beautifully colored cartoons. Another team worked on the concept of Creative Commons as bringing creative people to life; or lampooning the traditional copyright as a “locked up” culture.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday / Bilal Randeree / CC BY-NC-SA

Egyptian guest speakers were also featured during the three days meeting, such as filmmaker Ahmed Abdallah who directed the popular movie Microphone and who raised the controversial issue of using CC-licensed music in movies that the producers then decide to distribute under a traditional, all-rights reserved copyright. Blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah and technologist Ahmed Gharbeia also shared their thoughts about openness.

The works produced during the meeting were showcased on 14 December at Zamalek Public Library, in a closing ceremony which also celebrated the 10th anniversary of Creative Commons.

The 10th anniversary celebrations were held across the four corners of the Arab region. Creative Commons communities in Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, and Oman all hosted live events animated by local artists and communities, featuring light talks, discussions about sharing culture, and homemade birthday cakes.

CC CEO Cathy Casserly, in her first official trip to the Middle East, joined the CC Qatar celebrations in Doha, before heading to Cairo where she participated in the CC Arab community’s call to free Bassel Khartabil aka Safadi, the public lead of CC Syria who has been detained in Damascus since March 2012. During the closing ceremony of the 4th Arab regional meeting in Cairo, the CC Arab community recorded a video message for Bassel and emphasized that in the Arab region, advocating for free culture and sharing might put one’s life at risk of imprisonment or death.

Two months later, the open community is still urging for Bassel’s release. The good news is that Bassel has been granted visitation rights, and even wrote a letter to #freebassel supporters. Visit FreeBassel.org to find out how to get involved.

Since the outbreak of the uprisings in late 2010, the Arab world has witnessed the rise of popular movements for political and social change. This has been matched by violent reactions by authoritarian regimes, repression and political unrest. Yet, a genuine push towards peer-produced and collaborative work has responded to violence and repression with creativity and innovation. The fourth Creative Commons Arab regional meeting has been a celebration of this courageous stance of the Arab youth and of their defiance in responding to authoritarian power with the weapons of creativity.

Related Links

CC Cairo meeting

Creative Commons 10th anniversary in the Arab world

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