Klang, Mathias,"The Digital Commons: Using Licenses to Promote Creativity."
The paper beings with the concept of property as "mine", which at an early age is always contrasted with the concept of sharing. The new digital age tests out currently property regulation, since things are now copied with ease. Importantly, "that which is owned is no longer simply the item itself but the privileges which it provides to the owner". How, then, do we reconcile property rights and the public domain (the commons)? Property law in Western civilization tends to bestow all rights onto a single person. He defines ownership as a "collection of rights which complement each other and grant to the owner the authority to legitimately enforce conditions". The focus on possesion complicates the property law when dealing with intagible objects.
Klang offers the differing views people have of the commons, citing sources as far back as Aristotle and as recent as Lessig. The first, and considerably widespread, is the belief in the "tragedy of the commons". The second argues that the idea of the tragedy is false since it does not consider the environment in which the commons exists. The commons itself is a considerably vague term (consisting only of notions of property and sharing), and the public doman is defined only as what it is not (it is not legally protected intellectual property). According to Klang, what the public domain is "is our collective culture". He continues to explain the basics of the current copyright law and how owning the content of something limits the creativity of others. Creative Commons was developed to help ensure an ease of sharing and the creativity that the commons encourages. He explains, as most do, the basics to how Creative Commons licenses work, concluding that though copyright is a tricky game, "we can also be certain that we will always need a commons or a public domain from which we can create and recombine into new culture for us to enjoy".
This article provides a great overview of the debate that currently surrounds copyright and Creative Commons, extending into the idea of the commons itself. As we saw, there are those who believe that the commons is nothing but a vast wasteland or an "overgrazed pasture", which my project hopes to discredit by emphasizes the good things that have come out of the commons. There are others who believe in the benefit of the commons, taking into consideration the situation in which they exist and the fact that the web allows for social cohesion and trust among those involved. It is this view that conforms to the models that I expand on, showing the many different ways that online communities have been affected by the commons and vice versa. Importantly, this article explain Creative Commons licenses as well and helps to illuminate the debate about property by offering definitions of terms that are really, less than clear in the law today. It really is the basis for this project.