Several years ago I discovered the book Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig. It was actually one of the first eBooks that I put on my handheld PDA at the time, a Handspring Visor, a device that now seems quaint compared to my iPhone. I remember watching the Flash presentation of Lessig’s talk at OSCON in 2002, and being motivated to learn more about copyright law. Lessig made the issues tangible, and of incredible importance to anyone who considers themselves a creator.
More importantly, he demonstrated that the copyright laws of yesterday were no longer suitable for the creators of today, and what was needed was a new way to license your creative work. And so he founded the Creative Commons, a non-profit organization that provides free tools for creators to easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry.
During one of my trips out to San Francisco, I met with Mike Linksvayer at the Creative Commons headquarters. At the time I was very interested in adding Creative Commons licensing support to Plone, the open source content management system, so I wanted to talk to him about the best ways to accomplish this.
Well, we didn’t talk much about Plone, but I did get to have lunch with the other CC folks, and afterwards Mike suggested that I talk to Nathan Yergler, the Python programmer who was making so many cool CC tools, that they had to hire him.
Upon closer inspection, I discovered that Nathan was doing some pretty cool stuff with Zope 3, including building desktop applications such as ccPublisher. While I still haven’t met Nathan (now CTO of Creative Commons), I can see from his blog that he recently moved from Indiana to San Francisco, so there’s a much greater chance that our paths will cross now.
Meanwhile Jonah Bossewitch had written up PLIP #136 (Plone improvement proposal) to get content licensing support native in Plone. There was a product called PloneCreativeCommons that was a good start, but Brent Lambert and David Ray from Utah State University, took it a step further during the Big Apple Sprint (also organized by Jonah) and created ContentLicensing a really great add-on product for Plone that we’re now bundling with Plone4Artists.
After moving to Boston, I got to know some of the folks involved with the Harvard Free Culture group, one of many college-based Free Culture groups that promote the public interest in intellectual property and information & communications technology policy.
Last week I was hanging out with the Free Culture kids at a dinner at the Cambridge Brewing Company hosted by Dean Jansen and Will Guaraldi, both of the Participatory Culture Foundation, best known for the Miro video player. For the Plone4ArtistsVideo add-on product for Plone, we’re exploring using some of the Python code in Miro for scraping popular video sharing sites such as Youtube.
Recently I stumbled across this TEDTalk video presentation by Lawrence Lessig, and invite you to watch as he takes you through a fascinating journey about culture and gets a standing ovation at the end.