Creative Commons fills a vitally important role in building an innovative and creative society. Creative Commons provides an easy way for people to choose to collaborate in creative activities, complementing the default settings of copyright law. I hope you'll join me in supporting Creative Commons.
Imagine you take two photos. You'd like to restrict use of the first photo as much as possible -- you don't want anyone to post it anywhere, or to use it or to alter it. Maybe this is because you think it's a good candidate for selling, maybe because it's personal and you don't want anyone else to use it, maybe because you think it's perfect as is and would be diminished if anyone changed anything about it. The other photo you feel very differently about. You'd like to see what people might do with it. Maybe you'd like to see it distributed widely with your name attached to enhance your reputation, or so people come to you to buy other photos. Maybe you think it would be good set to music or included in slideshows, or maybe you'd like to see how people might alter it.
Figuring out how to get maximum protection for the first photo is easy. One simply does nothing -- in most countries a creative work is automatically subject to default copyright law. If one wants to emphasize this one can add a copyright notice, but this is not required. Maximum restriction is the default.
Figuring out how to let other people build upon one's creative work is actually much harder. In fact, without Creative Commons there is no easy way to do so. Creative Commons provides a clear, effective way for each of us to choose to share our creative work when we want to, dramatically reducing the barriers to voluntary sharing. It provides legally enforceable mechanisms that live happily alongside the default of maximum restriction of copyright law. Creative Commons empowers creators to choose how our works are used and shared as well as protected.
The ability to share our creative work easily is an important complement to the traditional ability to restrict their use. It's important for individuals and it's important for society. There is no doubt that the voluntary sharing of effort can produce immense civic, social, and individual value. Voluntary collaboration, based on shared resources, shared data and shared creative work provides new tools for solving complex problems. By making voluntary sharing easy, Creative Commons provides new avenues for individual choice and human interaction.
Mozilla embodies this idea, as do vast portions of the Internet. Mozilla relies on voluntary collaboration to build individual empowerment into the structure of the Internet. We use a Creative Commons license for many of our materials. Creative Commons licenses have a similar spirit to the Mozilla Public License, which allows software innovators to release their creations to the public to be built upon, expanded, and improved in ways that we never thought possible. Creative Commons makes it easy to extend this idea beyond software to other creative content. We support Creative Commons financially as well.
If you haven't tried sharing some of your creative work, I invite you to try it. Next time you need a photo for something, search your favorite photo sites for CC licensed work. Add some of your own. Share some of your music and see what comes of it. Consider a donation to Creative Commons. Be open to openness.
Who is Mitchell Baker?
As the leader of the Mozilla Project, Mitchell Baker is responsible for organizing and motivating a massive, worldwide collective of employees and volunteers who are breathing new life into the Internet with the Firefox Web browser and other Mozilla products. Baker was born and raised in Berkeley, California, receiving her BA in Asian Studies from UC Berkeley and her JD from the Boalt Hall School of Law. Her law career included working for Sun Microsystems and Netscape. She has also sat on the board of the Open Source Applications Foundation.
Baker has been the general manager of the Mozilla project since 1999, helping shape the license under which Netscape's source code was released. In 2003, she became president and founder of the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to openness and innovation on the Internet. In 2005, Baker led the creation of Mozilla Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation. As Chairman of the Mozilla Foundation, Baker continues her commitment to an open, innovative Web and the infinite possibilities it presents.