Friday, May 06, 2005

Creative Commons separates with BzzAgent

Lawrence Lessig and the people who run Creative Commons have left the BzzAgent program. BzzAgent approached Creative Commons with the campaign, based on the positive response a BzzAgent campaign for the Red Cross. Many members of the Creative Commons objected to the idea of being partnering with a marketing organization, and called it a "betrayal of the work done by grassroots activists..."

Lessig writes:
Forth, and for all the extremely powerful reasons these discussions have mustered, we were wrong to use this tool to spread our message. This is not, again, because BzzAgent is evil. It is not because it shouldn't be used to spread any message. It is not because understanding achieved through networks of humans is worse than the understanding produced through a survey. It is instead because this way of spreading our message weakens the power of our message.

I've looked at BzzAgent program. It offers rewards for spreading word-of-mouth buzz about a product or service. Once an agent creates buzz, the agent receives points that can be redeemed for products. In the case of the Creative Commons campaign agents could win Creative Commons tee-shirts.

I understand, but don't agree with Creative Commons decision to separate from BzzAgent. Most of the buzz around Creative Commons is generated online, they really need more word-of-mouth buzz off line. Not everyone is going to seek them out. People who create works under current copyright law will still go without hearing their cry for copyright reform.

On the flip side, maybe they should have never entered into an agreement with BzzAgent without consulting their rank-and-file members. This is what seems to have stirred up the controversy in the first place.

For the record, I support Creative Commons. I use a Creative Commons license for this blog and for music I have released on the Internet. I have no problem using it for my own work. After reading Lessig's books, I agree that the corporate abuse of the copyright system is locking down creativity and innovation. This move will be a loss for Creative Commons, I hope their members see their loss, but I don't think they every will. They will instead talk of their win over the "evil marketing people."


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