I have been making the argument that the creative commons ShareAlike and other licenses are in fact different than copyright licenses and their intellectual property cousins, patents. I want to be specific in defining my approach: ShareAlike and other forms of the CC licenses resemble copyright laws in the sense that they are written in legal jargon consistent with the US constitution – which gives congress permission to grant rights to originators – and US law. These licenses do grant rights to the originators, but emphasize the sharing and distribution of ideas. Traditional copyrights and patents, etc primarily focus on the restriction of distribution, CC focuses on freeing distribution. Were these licenses already in existence in other realms of intellectual property (copyright, trademarks, patents, etc) there would have been no need to develop them. They were developed in response to the criminalization of the online culture of sharing permitting individuals to have access to free licensing of creative efforts by granting express blanket permissions to all users. I don’t want to be too technical here, because my purpose is not to debate the details of IP in its myriad forms, but to discuss the benefits or problems of a worldwide culture of sharing made possible by the Internet and the limits of this sharing.

The core questions are quite straightforward:

  • Is sharing fundamentally better than the alternative?
  • What are the limits of sharing?
  • Should art, science, inventions, services, etc. become the property of the commons? What should not be considered a part?
  • Should the commons become more global? Is it only effective locally? Where is the balance?
  • Cui Bouno? Who benefits? What are the benefits? How can we extend these benefits universally?
  • What are the shortcomings? How do we manage these failings? What institutions/apparatuses need to be innovated? What is already in existence? Do existing infrastructures need to be modified?
  • As we share, we become more transparent. What data should not be shared? Is full transparency desirable/possible? Should we expect full disclosure from politicians, businessmen, etc?

This discussion in comments here or on the ad hoc Friday Google Wave:

h2oneuron at googlewave dot com

Just ask to join the discussion, and I’ll put you on the Wave.