Bledsoe, Elliott. "Lessig's Use of Flickr Photos: is Creative Commons Really a Community?" Creative Commons Through the Looking Glass.
Bledsoe's blog was inspired by a comment Lessig made on his own blog about how, after using a photograph from Flickr in a post, the photographer actually came up to him in Hong Kong. According to Lessig, it was "the most amazing fact of the day". This led Bledsoe to question how, or even if, Creative Commons functions as a community since it relies not only on legal permission but on the idea of sharing and the relationships that sharing facilitates. What makes CC different is that things are not directly shared like they would be in the real world. He compares CC to borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbor, which involves a direction need and interaction. Using a CC license, however, preempts sharing. Even though someone may not need or want to use the work, permission has been granted anyway without any direction interaction between parties. CC also lacks direct membership which even other online communities have. The point here is that with no central hub and no obvious boundaries in the community, it's actually likely that "members" (those using CC licenses) will feel very isolated. CC then becomes a community only in the fact that it facilitates smaller subcommunities which have come to use it.
This article emphasizes this idea that Creative Commons facilitates communities and, in turn, the commons. Some of the examples of subcommunities that Bledsoe mentions are Flickr and DeviantArt, places that my project hopes to emphasize as models of the value of the commons online and how Creative Commons plays a role in it. Both of them are made possible, at least in part, but the larger CC community. However, the article points out an important distinction. CC itself is not (at least not yet) a community in the same way that Flickr and DeviantArt are. No one has to sign up or login to use CC licenses. No one discriminates against who can and cannot use these licenses and therefore little is shared among users except for their willingness to share. But smaller communities that embrace CC licenses offer the boundaries and distinctions necessary for a community to really flourish.
Creative Commons. "DeviantArt." CC Wiki.
This case study is about the "world's largest, most vibrant, and relevant online community focused specifically on ART" (DeviantArt, or simply DA), which was founded in 2000 by Scott Jarkoff, Angelo Sotira, and Matthew Stephens. The site hosts around 55 million works by 4.5 million users, spanning all categories of art from skins to photomanipulations, animations, stocks, paintings, literature, and more. There are free memberships as well as subscription based memberships. Those with subscriptions enjoy more benefits, such as earning fifty percent of any revenue from prints versus the ten percent non-subscriptions members would earn. DA offers an advertising service (adCast), which gives discounted rates to "non-profit and community-related products".
DA began using CC licenses in November, 2006. The default on the site is still regular copyright, but users have the option of placing their work under a CC license. DA administrators operate under the same system of take-down notices that many places do when works infringe on copyright. If someone complains that their work has been used against their wishes, the administration deletes it. The owner of the deleted work still has the opportunity to argue that it was not copyright infringement though. CC is seen as preferable to watermarking images and though DA doesn't believe it will solve all the problems, it is excited about its ability to help alleviate them.
DeviantArt is a truly wonderful example of how CC, copyright, and online community norms come together. Many users license works under CC, mainly for the purpose of becoming part of a photomanipulation later on. The beauty of this is photomanipulation for many people would be impossible without the stock provided by other artists. This is just one of the things that DA and CC facilitates. However, as an online community, DA also has a standard of norms. The case study briefly mentions the messaging network that helps connect DA users to one another, just one of the services on the site that allows for this community to grow. More importantly, the community knows that many artists do not use CC licenses, preferring to list their own rules in journals or comments on their images when CC does not offer enough. Most artists request a link to the finished work. In this way, the artist can see how their work is being used and the creator of the new work is also able to share their work with others. DA is really a flourishing example of how online communities add to the commons, be it through CC or their own standard practices.