Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Pop Question: What is Creative Commons License? (Jonathan Coulton's Code Monkey song...)

Have you ever seen this icon on a few pages, but have been curious what it means? Well, it's Create Commons licensing options.

I first learnt about the CC license with the 'World of Warcraft' version of Jonathan Coulton's Code Monkey song. It's got some great lines (for *geeky* coders like myself):

Rob say Code Monkey very diligent
But his output stink
His code not "functional" or "elegant"
What do Code Monkey think?
Code Monkey think maybe manager want to write god damned login page himself
If you don't know Coulton, he left a job @ NYC small tech company Cluen to work on music full-time. However, even more than his music, I believe he will be remembered for his backing of the Creative Commons ideal.

Gah! Creative Commons, DRM, blah blah blah. I will give Jonathan Coulton $100 if he will keep his mouth shut for five minutes.
I know, I know. All I can say is that Creative Commons is the most powerful idea I’ve heard since they told me there was going to be a sequel to Star Wars. Everyone in the world should read Lawrence Lessig’s book Free Culture. I saw him speak about CC at PopTech 2003 and I was so excited by it that I nearly wet my pants. The things he says make so much sense, and yet they’re so counter to the current thinking about intellectual property – it makes you want to, well, wet your pants.

So how does it work? Basically you go to this page: http://creativecommons.org/choose/ and select one of options. You can choose to allow others to modify your work and if you allow commercial use of the work, etc.

*IF* you are at all a fan of SCRUM, you likely know the 'god-father' of SCRUM methodology Mike Cohn and his company Mountain Goat Software. He puts his basic SCRUM methodology PPT on his website FREE for use via the CC licensing model here:

(I myself @ SAP have used a 'modified' version of his presentation to help educate team members on SCRUM. I *highly* condensed the deck into roughly a 10-min, 15 slide presentation, but it was invaluable not having to start from scratch.)

I do believe in the power of CC license. In today's world, I believe older copyright laws are becoming quickly outdated. A good example is the backlash that Metallica got when they sued Napster and basically fans. (Ironic because my favourite version of any of their songs is actually a re-make by cello group Apocalyptica, see here. This doesn't get made without creative licensing...)

Maybe it's the culture I grew up in, but I strongly believe that 're-mixing' something is an art in of itself. I see 'this' every time my daughter watches the Sesame Street remake of (Canadian) Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Call Me Maybe', called 'Share it Maybe' with Cookie Monster. (This remake has over 14 million views and counting and I'm sure my daughter single handily contributed hundreds of downloads to this #). Linkin Park's album Re-Animation is nothing but 3rd party re-mixes of their songs.

The internet has been great for knowledge sharing, but even greater has been the power of collaboration. The flexibility of the CC licensing is very powerful. If you like the work they have done, feel free to donate to the CC cause. This pie-chart shows you how they use your donations to help further the power of sharing and remixing:

You can find more about donating on their website here.

Thinking of producing some original material soon? Thinking about what type of licensing to use? Maybe you can consider the CC license.

Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau.

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