Short Paper 2

The Creative Commons


Environment, Technology, and Society

Fall Semester 2003


In Session 19, I told you a bit about a keynote address given by Lawrence Lessig at the conference I attended the previous week. Lessig is a professor of law who specializes in intellectual property law and its relationship with human creative endeavors. at the conference, he spoke on how copyright law has evolved over the last 200 years, and how current legal views of copyright and intellectual property do not work very with the emerging technologies for creating and using new media. he also described his current project involves trying to carve out a cultural and legal niche between "© All rights reserved." and the public domain, where "anything goes".

This problem is an important one for everyone these days. Creators of technologies would like the freedom to explore the space of possible ideas and tools without fear of being punished for making something. Creators of content -- writers, musicians, artists, graphic designers, teachers, ... -- would like the freedom to create content without fear of unnecessary inhibition from the law. Users of content -- people like you and me who buy books, movies, music, and the like -- would like the freedom to use their purchases in ways that are fair and valuable. And, as technology advances, more and more "regular" people who are now only users will soon become creators themselves.


Visit the web site of Lessig's new project, The Creative Commons. Read about the project by following the Learn More link. Surf through several other links on the site to learn about the content, technology, and license sides of the project. Browse some of the blog entries or Artists Corner entries to understand the issues and possibilities at a deeper level.


Write a short paper of two to three pages telling me what you think about this project. You might organize your paper as follows:

You may certainly write more for your paper, if you'd like to discuss the project, its activities, its potential effects, and its potential value in greater detail. But please do keep the paper to four pages or less, unless you make an arrangement in advance with me.

Remember, this isn't a research paper topic or a test question for which there is one right answer. The idea is for you think about the issue of intellectual property and its effects of creative work on the world -- and thus on people.

Remember also that both content and presentation matter.


Bring to class by 1:00 PM on Thursday, November 13, one printed copy of your paper. As you come in the classroom, turn in your paper on the desk up where I always sit. :-)

Eugene Wallingford ==== ==== November 5, 2003