Creative Commons Global Summit 2011

I’m sitting at the airport in Copenhagen waiting for my connect flight forward to Warsaw. I found myself coffee, electricity and Internet and couldn’t ask for more 🙂 I always get this special feeling when going abroad, a mix of stress and excitement. Stress to have forgotten something important or miss my bus/train/flight for some reasons, but always excited to be visiting another country :). The fall must be an exciting time for Icelandic bands to go abroad. At Keflavík Airport I saw the whole band Gus gus, Janus the singer of Bloodgroup (if you wanna go dance and have fun and enjoy great music go see them!) and Borko .

The reason I’m going to Warsaw is that I’m going to the Creative Commons Global Summit  ! I first heard about Creative Commons 4 years ago when I volunteered to help FSFÍ (Iceland Digitals Freedom Society) and got the task to translate Creative Commons flyers for their annual Digital Freedoms coneference (The CC flyers were in English and were no prob, but then I  also translated Ubuntu flyers from Finnish to Icelandic. That was a bit harder since I don’t understand a word in Finnish but somehow managed… thanks to Google Translate!). I was immediately fascinated by the concept, and the brilliance to build new licenses on top of the current (outdated) copyright laws! I would say CC-licenses don’t suit all creations for all artists, but more and more artists see the advantage of sharing their work freely, with their own terms, and make them accessible: This is a gain for the artist, him/her and their creation get more known, and the society as a while since art creations are more accessible. I’m not gonna go into details now about the importance of CC or Free Culture, Free Software or freedom of expression right now, but I’m very passioned about keeping and increasing our freedom at all levels. If nobody would care, dictators and corporations would wipe out our freedoms in an instance to gain more power and money.

About a year ago, from a personal and professional interest I started to have email conversations with one of STEF’s(Icelandic music collective society) lawyers. In Iceland (as in many other countries I’ve heard) STEF is known to be this ancient dinosaur with no technical awareness and not much gain for artists, other than the old pop “stars”. For example we have a tax on all digital cd’s and storages which goes to STEF, since of course everyone that uses that are downloading illegally and owe them royalties… or seemingly that is what they think and have convinced the government about. My personal interest blended with my professional interest when I realised that artists can’t give away their songs through gogoyoko (the awesome musice service I work at). gogoyoko always has to pay STEF, whether the artist gives his permission or not. An artist can give his music personally, out on the street or on his own webpage, but not through a third party. Well ok, though I do not agree with this, if you as an artist know this and agree to be a member of STEF, this is one of the terms and you choose to accept them. I started to email STEF to see what they knew about CC and what they thought of it. The lawyer I talked to had never heard of it… but read about it and presented the subject at a board meeting. In our conversation she told me that CC with commercial licence would never work though, because Icelandic copyright law won’t allow it, even though you’re not a member of STEF. “Wait! What, can that be right??” I thought and started to read read the Icelandic copyright laws (that were written in 1972, with a small update in ca. 1995). There I saw, black on white, that by law, it doesn’t matter if you’re a member of STEF or not,STEF have the same right to collect your royalties. And believe me STEF always use that right of theirs. The only difference is that if you’re not a member then somebody else get’s your royalties, makes much sense no? And to top this, I realised that also by law, STEF is a monopoly! “Each art type(music, literature, film etc.) can only have one collective society”. Copyright lawof this kind is not only in Iceland but common in Europe. It just outrages me how in this only case the laws encourage and ensure monopolitic rights of some society and ignore personal freedom!! God, it wasn’t my plan to talk about STEF and I could write an whole essay of them but this discovery of mine just fired my passion for Creative Commons and Free Culture.

So now I’m active affilite of Creative Commons Iceland! FSFÍ have been working with CC, and FSFÍ’s chairman, Tryggvi Björnsson, is also the “chairman” of CC Iceland. I’ve been working with him and other great CC-affiliates from the Nordic countries for the past year. A few of my fellow nordic CC-ers presented CC formally to STEF and they seemed to take it well. But at the end the board thought that “CC is not of their interest since they cannot collect royalties with those licences”. A clear example that STEF is all about the money but not the artists interest. We also went to talk to people at the ministry of Education and Culture where we were met with great interest. They loved the idea to introduce CC-licenses for education materials, but were afraid it could be a difficult task because in the end the teachers will have to agree and that can be a hard task. Some teachers have a hard time to “let go” of teaching materials they’ve worked on, even though it means that they would gain as well from teaching materials from others. Some of the buerocrats were astonished to hear how the Icelandic copyright law are, so it seems not to be common knowledge. Then in May we organized a CC Salon in Reykjavík with the topic Future of Money with Gabriel Shalom and Jay Cousins. About 20 people showed up, but it was people of various kinds with much interest and we had a lot of engaging discussions.

I’m really looking forward to meet CC affiliates from all over the world as well as attending all the great talks that are at this conference. I’m expecting to be really inspired and go back home to Iceland with a lot of knowledge, ideas and friends 🙂 I’m not gonna have this post any longer than it already is since Now I’ve arrived hungry and tired at my hotel in Warsaw. I don’t get an Internet connection in my room, my nail polish spilled all over my beauty box and it stinks, I will probably get high if I stay here any longer!

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