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Lessig launches Creative Commons for the UK

Licences available 1 November

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Larry Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford University and all-round intellectual property guru, was in London today to announce the launch of the UK version of the Creative Commons licence.

It will be available for use from 1 November, and the public consultation on the final draft begins today. Comments are invited before 18 October.

Creative Commons is designed to provide a balance between an entirely regulated digital world where "all rights are reserved, and then some", and a world with no controls, where authors have total freedom, but their work can be exploited very easily.

The idea is that authors will be able to set out terms of use when they create their work. A creator can say at the time of publishing "I am happy for others to use this for anything they like, as long as it is not for commercial purposes", or "This work is totally available to everyone for commercial and non commercial purposes" and so on.

This way ideas can be protected, but the author is able to encourage some other uses of their work.

“The licence is built on a common insight which is not new,” Lessig told an audience of journalists, technologists and academics. “That is, creators are not pirates, even if they build on the past.”

The idea has proven popular, and Lessig has persuaded many high-profile musicians (including the Beastie Boys) to release their content under a Creative Commons licence - it will be on the front cover of the next US edition of Wired, he told us.

In the UK, the licence has been designed to fit in with the BBC’s Creative Archive project, a service whereby Auntie is putting her content in the public domain.

“The enemy is not the corporations, and it is not the authors who want to make money from their work, the enemies are the lawyers who think there is only one way to protect creativity,” Lessig explains, adding that he isn’t totally against the idea of having lawyers, “I do produce them for a living, after all”. ®

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