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Creative Commons on Journalistic Information in Internet Essay Sample

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Creative Commons on Journalistic Information in Internet Essay Sample

Introduction

In the recent years, intellectual property lawyers have been put on the task of dealing with the influence of internet on copyright (Weinstein & Wild, 2005). Traditionally, copyright licences are applied on individuals work as a way of protecting a person’s intellectual property. This meant that an individual’s work could not be reproduced without the author’s permission whether for personal or commercial purposes (Broussard, 2007). A breach of copyright is subject to persecution under the copyright laws. However, a lot has changed now as technology advances. The internet has formed a basis into which new creations regarding licensing has come into place. Today, there is the Creative Commons abbreviated CC, and introduced by Lawrence Lessig, in which various kinds of licences are given and only some rights are reserved for the author or artist, depending on the licence.

Similarly, there is copyleft, a twisted description of copyright, introduced by Richard Stallman, and offers licences in which the authors’ or artists’ works can be copied or reproduced by the users, and under a similar licence (Jones, 2003). Then, there is also public domain in which all material is freely available to the users, as there is no permission required. As expected, such innovations have brought controversies regarding intellectual property rights.  The supporters welcome the aspect of free software because they see it as a deliberation from the strict copyright laws (Gruen, 2005). On the other hand, critics are concerned about the protection of intellectual property and question the credibility of Creative Commons and Copyleft in rewarding original work. Nevertheless, many web pages in the internet are using the free software licences such as the Creative Commons and Copyleft, and users can freely share pictures, videos, stories and so on (Malcom, 2008).

 The purpose of this review is to analyze the different kinds of licences present in today’s web pages. Various literatures will be studied for the purpose of comparing and contrasting the information about these licences. Importantly, the works of conspicuous authors on licence issues in the internet will be critically examined, and their biographies given. The review examines the issues behind these licences especially on their impact on journalistic information in the internet.

Internet licences deviating from copyright

According to Broussard (2007), the internet is a resourceful information tool but at the same time it has contributed to rampant lawlessness especially on the infringement of copyright in which unauthorized distribution and copying of other people’s content take place (Hong, McLaughlin, Pryor, Beaudoin, & Grabowicz, 2005).  Broussard (2007) credits movements like the Creative Commons and Copyleft for coming up to try and mitigate infringement of these rights through creating legal channels of which these information can be copied or distributed. Marandola (2005) also agrees and implies that Creative Commons is the first attempt to provide a legal framework that is valid for open access.

Creative Commons (CC)

  • History and definition

Creative Commons was founded by Lawrence Lessig, James Boyle, Michael Carroll, Eric Salitzman, Hal Abelson, and Eric Eldred in 2001, while the first set of licences were issued in 2002 (creative commons).  Creative Commons is a non-profit organization whose headquarter is in San Francisco in the Californian state of the U.S. This started in the Harvard Law School and later shifted to Stanford Law School. Creative Commons is an intermediary between copyright and public domain in which various kinds of licences are provided to warrant different degrees of protection for intellectual property. The Creative Commons logo is made up of the abbreviation cc which is circled, and the slogan for the licensing organization is ‘some rights reserved’ (Broussard, 2007). The focus of the organization is to expand flexible copyright that is seen as reasonable. So far the organization offers six kinds of licences, and is devoted to expand the creative works range, making it for available for other users for the purpose of sharing, and building upon the work legally.

  • Regions where Creative Commons licences are used

The initial modelling of the Creative Commons in terms of the role, work description and purpose was tailored to meet the requirement of the legal system of the U.S. because this is where the organization was launched. However, as the internet is a virtual place that connects people from various regions of the world, the company is revising the intellectual property rights of other countries for the purpose of creating compatibility with the laws of other countries as well. This is being done by the Creative Commons international and so far, by May 2010, the licences could be accessed in 52 jurisdictions as the project focuses on drifting laws for other jurisdictions (Creative Commons).

  • The Creative Commons Licences

The licences under Creative Commons operate under four major conditions; first, that there needs to be attribution (BY) where the original author or composer is accredited (Marandola, 2005). Second, there is the non- commercial (NC) condition where the work produced should not be availed for commercial purposes. Third, there is the no derivatives condition (ND) where it is only the original work and not the derivatives which are allowed. Fourth, there is the ‘share alike’ condition which allows derivative works as long as they are under the same licence condition as the original work. Six kinds of licences are available free of charge to the public under Creative Commons. By applying the conditions of the Creative Commons licences, the six licences are available as follows;-First, there is ‘Attribution’ licence (CC-BY) which expects the owner of the original work to allow others to copy, share, display, or act on the owner’s work, and the derivatives upon the work, but on the condition that they accredit the owner of the original work.

Second, there is ‘Attribution Non-Commercial’ licence (CC-BY-NC) in which the owner lets other people copy, share, display, or act on the work, and the derivatives based upon it, but for purposes that are strictly non-commercial. Third, the ‘Attribution No Derivative licence (CC-BY-ND),’ expects the owner to let other people copy, share, display, or act upon the original work, but not on the derivative works. Fourth, ‘Attribution Share Alike’ licence (CC-BY-SA) expects the owner to allow others to distribute or share the derivative works but only under a licence that is identical to the licence that govern the original work.

The other two licences operate under combined conditions of the Creative Commons licences. These are;-fifth, ‘Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike licence (CC-BY-NC-SA) which lets others use, modify, or build upon the original work but for non-commercial purposes, and the author must be credited. This also applies to the derivatives which must also be produced non-commercially. Sixth; the ‘Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives’ licence (CC-BY-NC-ND) which is the most restrictive licence as far as redistribution of work is concerned (Broussard (2007). The licence allows other people to download and share works but as long as they mention as well as link back to the author.

 Other than the abbreviations there are four symbols to represent the conditions of each of the licences. The licences allow the creators-who can be authors, musicians or artists-to communicate to the users who will access their work, on which rights they wish to reserve; and on which rights the creators wish to waive for the benefit of the users, or other creators. Therefore as compared to Copyright, Creative Commons as a copyright model appears to be more flexible. Despite the first set of licences being issued in December, 2002, the organization had given around 130 million works under its licences by 2008. As of the current terms, all the Creative Commons licences allow the basic right of redistributing the  work of the creator so long a it is for non-commercial purposes and non-modified.  The options of ‘non-commercial’ and ‘non derivatives’ automatically grants the work a non free status.

There are also additional options for Creative Commons such as the ‘No rights Reserved abbreviated as CCO. Creative Commons also has three licences that are available for software, and these are the CC GNU GPL licence, BSD licence and CC GNU LGPL licence.

  • Works available under the Creative Commons Licence

There is a growing list of work that operates under the Creative Commons licence and the list is growing. Journalism content sharing, which had earlier been guided by very restrictive copyright regulations, is also paving way for the licences of the Creative Commons. Geach, (2009) analyses the situation in Europe in which adoption of a Creative Commons licence can be considered to enhance innovations in the audiovisual media sector. Some broadcasting concerning the Israel Gaza conflict on Al Jazeera was distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0., licence in 2009, January 13 (Garfield & Scott, 2010). Formal publications such as the Public library of Science, Sino-Platonic Papers, and Proceedings of Science are licensed under the Creative Commons.

In Portals, archives, and aggregations, there is Flickr, deviantArt, Newsgrounds, Ourmedia, Internet Archive, ccMixter, and Citizendium among others. Government websites such as the US White House uses the Creative Commons licences for the contents that are not available in the public domain. Other government websites include the Russian Federation President. In journalism, the 20 minutes newspaper, lifestyle magazine, Blast Magazine, Biopact, Progressie tV and radio news and program, Democracy Now, and Crocodyl are also licensed under Creative Commons. Publishing companies like Immedium Press, web applications like Flash Gallery, and Flash MP3 player are also under the CC licences. Others include social, music and fun sites like Aupatu, Meneame, Digg, Youtube, Jamengo, and Vimeo (Creative Commons).

  • Reasons for supporting Creative Commons Licences

Despite a change of tradition from the usual copyright model of licensing, Creative Commons has still managed to get quite a number of supporters and creators who are willing to share their work under the Creative Commons licences (Bargfrede & Mark, 2009). First of all, the content creators believe that they are able to be in charge of how they choose to share their intellectual property through selecting the kind of licence that they wish to choose for their work. Another reason for supporting the model is because of the flexible regulations as compared to the model of copyright. This is especially favourable to the users of information who are likely to be faced with fewer or no legal issues that come along with the breaching of intellectual property rights. In the past there have been cases of some journalists being sued under copyright laws for illegally building on the works of others without granting them credit. However, with Creative Commons these episodes may reduce because the user has a wide variety of options from which to analyze on which the best is licensing model that they can use for distributing or copying the work.

Moreover, some supporters view the Creative Commons movement as a new answer to the intellectual property of the information age in which the role of the commons has been thought over. . Broussard (2007) appreciates the new licensing tools because the author believes that internet problems are growing faster than the political system can handle, and thus these tools provide an alternative to handling copyright infringements. Creative Commons not only issue licenses to those who want to share their work under the Creative Commons terms and conditions, but also provide legal, institutional, and practical support for the individuals or groups of people, or organizations willing to interact, experiment and communicate more freely with  culture. Creative Commons is dedicated to working for the purpose of countering what the organization believes is a culture of restrictive permission, yet in this information age, sharing of information improves interaction and encourages upbringing of other talents. Lawrence Lessig (2004) the accredited founder of Creative Commons termed the Creative Commons movement as a place for ‘freemix’ culture.

This is because the culture is presented by creators who are able to sort the permission of other powerful or outstanding creators, or creators from the recent works with the purpose of doing their own creations, and of which they can also subject to the licences depending on how they would want the information shared (Ronchi, 2009). The culture mix is displayed in such a way that the modern culture becomes dominated by classic content. In this way, culture is maintained, strengthened and preserved as a result of sharing the works. As years advance, some people believe that the past culture can still be maintain at vibrant levels as favourite past time stories, cinemas, songs or movies can continually be shared through time. This is therefore another motivator for some creators to share intellectual property under the Creative Commons licences.

  • Reasons for criticizing Creative Commons

On the other hand, the society is not wholly acceptable to the new intellectual property rights licences, as the Creative Commons has also had a share of criticisms and controversies in general. According to Weinstein and Wild (2005) powerful media forces are using the internet and twisting the intellectual property law for the purpose of commercial gain despite the fact that creativity is being suppressed. As much as the authors accredit the internet for bringing a new practice, they disregard the influential media forces for pushing the governments to destroy something that is old.

However CopySouth (2009) questions whether it is necessary to preserve the traditions in the first place, and whether there is a definitive description of traditional knowledge. First of all, the Creative Commons organization has been protected under the copyright laws, yet the organization produces services that deviate from Copyright standards. From a critic’s perspective, it is that the Creative Commons has protected its intellectual property with all rights reserved, yet it opens a channel in which other creators have to surrender some of their rights. According to critics, this is a false dichotomy, and it is expected that the organization will fade with time. There are also concerns that the ever growing Creative Commons will erode the copyright system with time.

Secondly, as much as some critics welcome a revision of the copyright act, they believe that the Creative Commons is a mere quick fix contract that blinds the public from the real Copyright Act and copyright terms revisions. Some critics have strongly criticized the rate at which Creative Commons has formed an avenue of which the most precious resources which is the intellectual property, is tossed to the ‘commons’, and can be used anyhow by anyone from any descent who has the time and ability to perform upon the creativity of others at no price at all. A major concern and which leads to a lot of criticism is the concern over just how realistic the Creative Commons is, when it comes to benefiting the artists (Binder, Brandt, & Gregory, 2008).

According to these critics, the creation of a remix culture where other people are free to distribute the creator’s work or build upon it, denies financial gain, and the rightful recognition to the original composers, and instead, the composer’s knowledge is exploited for no good gain (Berry, 2005).  Weinstein and Wild (2005) believe that the creator of any work must be honoured, and provided for legal protection despite the nature of the social or market place if the creator needs to be motivated to create and share his/her work. As a result, the critics believe that this will cause most of the authors to refuse sharing their work and therefore, the restrictive culture will be worse than it was with copyright.   To counter this criticism, Lawrence Lessig argues that the Copyright laws have never offered the perceived strong and indefinite protection that is now provided by the revised law. Instead, the author argues that the duration terms of years in copyright were much shorter, and that some works never really got any protection because of not following the copyright’s requirements.

There are also criticisms questioning whether Creative Commons are really the ‘commons’ that they purport to be, considering that there are some restrictions to people’s ability to use some of the resources within the so described common field  (Curtis, 2009). Some of the resources are restricted entirely as private works of others and don’t seem to relate with the rights shared by all. According to these critics, if Creative Commons is really for sharing among the ‘commons’ then there should be no restrictions in whichever way. There are also arguments that creativity is not defined in the Creative Commons and that there are no specific aspects of works outlined for them to qualify in the ‘commons’ world.

Strong criticisms are laid upon the founding of Creative Commons in which some critics do not view the Creative Commons as means of creating original commons content. The critics assert that a commons can be created and its content preserved by the political system rather than lawyers jotting it as a new rule. The criticism facing licence issuance is that so many licences that are incompatible are being issued as Creative Commons try to incorporate the legislation issues of various jurisdictions (Hodge, 2009). Considering that the six licences operate differently, it is difficult to combine resources under the licences without violating the Creative Commons licence terms. This means that works which are licensed under incompatible licences cannot be combined to result into a derivative work without seeking permission from the holder of the licence. It is a source of concern that the lack of a common legal framework can render works which mix licences to become un-shareable (Armstrong, 2008).

 There are also concerns over licence misuse in which copyright holders have identified that some users brand their works erroneously with the Creative Commons licences. These works are then re-uploaded on the internet. This feature has been attributed to rampant use confusion of which some users do not know how to apply the multiple licences appropriately. There have been legal cases concerning the misuse of the Creative Commons licences. A case appeared in 2006, in which a podcaster Adam Curry sued a tabloid for publishing photos on Flickr page without Adam’s permission. The photos were licensed under the Attribution Non Commercial licence but the tabloid did not adhere to the regulations.

However, as much as the court ruling favoured the author, the tabloid just received a warning not to repeat the offence. There was no compensation to the original author. The court ruling is an indication that currently, the Creative Commons does not provide checks that can hold the users accountable for any misuse. A similar concern occurred in a Spanish court in 2006 in which Spain’s music collecting society (SGAE) placed a legal suit against a disco owner for public performance of music that was managed by SGAE (Billboard, 2007). The claim was rejected by the court after it was proved that the music was managed by the Creative Commons licence. In 2007, Virgin mobile was sued by a 15 year old Alison Chang after finding out that a picture of hers was uploaded on the Flickr page under the CC Attributions licence (Greenwood, 2007). Virgin mobile work was to promote the works of amateur photographers by uploading their works on the Flickr page. As much as the girl believed that her privacy rights were breached, the case was terminated as there was no law under which Virgin Mobiles could be sued.

Creative Commons has also faced criticism on its ‘Non-Commercial’ licence under which works presented with this licence are incompatible with many public domain sites. Critics feel that small publication corporations such as local newspapers, weblogs, and radio stations that are advertiser-funded will be affected by such restrictions. Lessig (2004) responds to this criticism by asserting that compatibility is also harmed by the traditional copyright regime, and it is a good thing that Creative Commons has provided options in which users who feel very restricted by a particular licence can opt for a less restrictive licence. The author also cites the advantage of the ‘Non-Commercial licence as one that would protect the authors work from being capitalized by users just in case the author wishes to capitalize on the work in future.

Creative Commons has also faced criticisms from the almost similar organization ‘copyleft’ in which the organization questions’ CC definition of creative freedom and free culture interaction (Curtis, 2009).  According to copyleft founder Richard Stallman, and also the director of the ‘Free Software Foundation’, Creative Commons do not meet the basic freedom of free software in which users are allowed to use the materials as it is. Accordingly, Debian which is an organization that distributes the GNU and Linux software and has a rigid attachment to a specific software freedom definition, believes that even the least restrictive CC Attribution licence does not adhere to the free software guidelines of Debian (AUUGN, 2004).

 The new 3.0 version licence was created to sole the problem and it is considered to be at least more compatible with Debian’s free software guidelines. Critics from the Free Software Foundation and other open content site fear that the Creative Commons double plays the users by failing to create a basis line in the rights reservation process. Some believe that its popularity will detract from the core goals of a free content organization. However, as Lessig (2001) insists, it is about providing the users with choices, or options.

Copyleft

  • History and definition

Copyleft is a method that involves making a creative work or program free to other users and requires modifications or even extended versions of the work (Broussard, 2007). Copyleft was first initiated by Richard Stallman, who first made available the GNU General Public Licence that has been extensively used under copyleft, and still dominates in the copylefted licensed software. However, attempts to free software production began way back in 1975 when the newsletter of the People’s Computer Company cited a project dubbed the Tiny BASIC was to be specified as a language programmer (Stallman 2005). The term copyleft is a corruption of copyright and used to describe the use of copyright law to gain the right to distribute or share copies and derived version of a work, and requires that the same rights that apply to the previous work are preserved in the modified version. The copyleft logo is a reversed circled ‘C’ (Stallman, 2009) but unlike in the copyright loge, this logo lacks a legal definition.  The slogan ‘All Wrongs Reserved’ accompanies the logo. Warren explains the motivation behind the software reproduction citing that if software is made so cheap or freely available, then there is no way that it can be stolen (Harrison,2008).  Stallman (2005) concurs by asserting that if there is need to protect privacy then personal data should not be collected.

  • Richard Stallman and the motivation for the Free Software Foundation

Richard Stallman worked on a Lisp interpreter which Symbolics requested to use and Stallman agreed to supply the firm on a public domain basis of his own work (Carver, 2005).  Symbolics went ahead and modified the Lisp interpreter but when Stallman wanted to access his work and improve the software, the author was denied access by Symbolics, a behaviour that Stallman later described as software hoarding. In 1984, Stallman (2009) dedicated resources into working to eradicate the emerging proprietary software culture and software hoarding behaviour. Considering the short term impracticality of eliminating the current copyright law and the wrongs that Stallman believed the copyright perpetuated, the author began his work within the frameworks of the existing law.

Stallman therefore first created his copyright licence dubbed the Emacs General Public Licence, which was the first copyleft licence. Later, the GNU General Public Licence was introduced, and is the most popular free software licence. The licence does not limit the number of revisions that can be made on the software plus as many users as possible are free to use it. Stallman (2009) asserts that the name ‘free’ software implies that the essential freedom of the users is respected. The user can run the software, study or change it, and redistribute the copies with or without the changes. Stallman (2009) considers the freedom to be more important than issues of price of which the author had arguments over with the Microsoft founder.

  • How copyleft works

Copyleft as a licensing method is used to maintain the copyright conditions for computer software, music, arts, and documents. The author adopts copyright to prohibit other users from adapting, reproducing, or distributing the authors work but then the author can grant every recipient with the copy of the work the permission to reproduce, adapt or distribute the work so long as it is still bound under the same licence agreement. Therefore through copyleft, the work remains freely available as long as any author with the copy is allowed to reproduce, adapt, or distribute it. Copyleft is almost synonymous with Share Alike of the Creative Commons licence. Copyleft works in the opposite direction as copyright. While copyright grants the users authors the ability to control the copying, modification, and distribution of their works, copyleft instead grants the users the ability and freedom to copy, modify, or  distribute the original work. This is where copyleft differs with Creative Commons and other open source content sites which le t the original author control how his/her work is available.

Authors willing to reproduce or modify or distribute the works of other authors are required to present information from the previous author regarding the permission to execute the copying or modifying process. In this way, the original author is acknowledged. Copyleft use entails the coding of the copying terms for a licence work. Any licence attributed to copyleft gives every user having a copy of the work, equal freedom as the author. The coding tradition begins with a 0 which represents the freedom to use the work. 1 represents the freedom to study the work. 2 represent the freedom to copy and share the work with others. 3 represent the freedom to modify the work, and also to distribute the derivative work.

The freedoms do not ensure that the modified or derivative work will be distributed under the similar liberal terms but that there must be a copyleft licence that holds similar terms as the previous work. The source code of the modified work is made available with the software to ensure that the copyleft rights cannot revoked later on, and that the modified works can be availed in a reproducible form. Copyleft licences make creative use of the relevant laws and rules. For instance, authors who submit their work under copyleft must gain, assign, or defer a copyright holder status so that they deliberately give up on some of their rights that are available on copyright which offer the right to be the unique distributor of the work copies.

  • Copyleft  laws  in various jurisdictions

Laws applied for copyleft licences vary from one jurisdictional area to another, and terms granted can also vary. Some countries accept the sale of the software without warranty as long as it is in the standard GNU GPL form (Becker 2003). However, in most of the European countries a software distributor is not permitted to waive all the warranties in regards to a sold product. As a result of this, the European countries specify the extent to which these warranties are applied in the copyleft licences.

  • Copyleft licences

Copyleft and non-copyleft licences

Some free software licences use copyleft as a distinguishing feature, because most of the free software licences are not copyleft, and thus do not require the holder of the licence to distribute the derivative work under the similar licence. Software licences that are non-copyleft maximize the initial recipient’s freedom of the in which propriety software can be created.  Examples of non-copyleft free software include the Apache Licence, X11 Licence and BSD Licence. Among the copyleft licences is the GNU Free Documentation Licence (GFDL) which allows that creators to apply some limitations on specific sections of their works, and thus exempting a section of their work from the full exploration of copyleft practices. In this way, the GFDL holds some resemblance to the Creative Commons licences. The restrictions include use of sections that are invariant and thus cannot be altered by the future authors.

Weak and strong copyleft

The terminologies weak and strong copyleft apply to the extent that copyleft provisions can be availed to the derivative works (Tassel 2006). Weak copyleft licences are used for the creation of software libraries for the purpose of allowing other software libraries to link with the library. These can then be redistributed without any legality that requires the work to be distributed under copyleft licence of the library. However, any alterations to the to the specific weak copyleft software licence become subject to the copyleft licence provisions. This procedure allows programs from any kind of licence to become linked to the library software and can be redistributed without any re-licensing requirements. Examples of software that use the weak copyleft licence include the Mozilla Public Licence, and the GNU Lesser General Public Licence. On the other hand, the strong copyleft software allows the re-licensing of the derivative work and this licence holds the same terms and conditions as that of the original software licence. The most known software that operates under the strong copyleft licence is the GNU General Public Licence. Another holder of the strong copyleft licence is the design Science Licence which can apply to non-software work and documentations such as music, art, sports, video, and photography, but the Free Software Foundation does not consider the licence as compatible with the GPL.

Full and Partial copyleft

Full copyleft is applied when all parts of the work- that is with the exception of the licence- can be distributed, copied or modified under the terms of the copyleft licence of the work. On the other hand, partial copyleft applies to circumstances when some sections of the work are exempted from copying, modification or distribution (Kirk & Still, 2007).

Share Alike

Share-Alike warrants that any freedom that is warranted on the original work needs to be granted in exactly similar measures, or under compatible terms in the derivative work. This shows that any copyleft licence automatically becomes a share-alike but not any share alike is a copyleft licence (Stallman, 2009).

  • Reasons promoting free software use

According to Stallman (2009), the founder of the free software, the freedoms that abide the changeability, and improvement of software, is not only essential but important. Free Software is not only for individual benefit but for the benefit of others as it promotes social solidarity (Flew, 2005).  This is through sharing. Cooperating and improving the knowledge of others in the creation of advanced works. Free software has also helped in so many uses as far as education is concerned and many schools in Spain and India teach students to use the free GNU/linux operating system but Stallman (2009) is concerned that the free software is accredited to other philosophies such as the open source. Stallman (2009) draws the difference by stating that free software should be considered a social movement whereas open source is a development methodology.

  • Criticism to copyleft

Copyleft licensing has earned the name viral licensing because any creations derived from a copyleft creation must also be copylefted before distribution and this has been termed as undergoing a viral phenomenon. GNU Public Virus is a terminology in the internet associated with this phenomenon. The Software Foundation has received criticism especially from Microsoft indicating that the viral aspect is a threat to the intellectual property of organizations that apply the software.

Public Domain

  • Definition an History

Generally, public domain refers to publicly available information or ideas that are intangible to private ownership and are available for members of the public to use freely.

Works that are in the public domain are not covered by any intellectual property rights and this can occur if these rights have expired. Another reason could be that there is a forfeit of the intellectual property rights. Additionally, most of the works of the U.S government are under the public domain. The public domain concept can be traced in earlier centuries especially in the laws of Britain and France. Other terms that have been used interchangeably with public domain include public sphere, and commons to indicate the intellectual commons, or information commons or commons of the mind. The major difference between public domain and the other forms of licences such as copyright, copyleft, and creative commons is that the derivative works from public domain do not require permission from the holder of the copyright. Most countries guarantee private rights ownership and patent protection of which the latter takes duration of 20 years and expire to become part of the public domain. The duration for copyright laws and patent protection vary from a region to another depending on the ownership rights of particular countries.

  • Examples of works under the public domain

The public domain includes the literal works of William Shakespeare, the Newton physics formulae, and the English language.

  • Public domain values

Rnimmer (2007) highlights some of the values put across by Pam Samuelson concerning the information and ideas from the public domain. However, the author asserts that not every work or idea present on the public domain necessarily has a value. The values include first, through the public domain, a basis for the creation of new knowledge is formed, and this is achieved through the available facts, theories, data, and scientific principles. Second; the public domain gives an access to cultural heritage through the available information resources for instance, the ancient Greek wordings, or the Mozart symphonies.

Third; the public domain promotes education and this is because the information sourced, or ideas and scientific principles are spread. Fourth; the public domain enables flow of education especially from expired copyright and patents. Fifth; the public domain enables the access of information at low cost and a shorter time as it does not need the location of the owner for the purpose of negotiating rights, and pay royalties. This is especially true for expired copyrights or patents, or compilations from non-original data. Sixth; public domain promotes public health and safety by important information, and scientific principles available to the public. Seventh, public domain promotes the democratic process and values, especially via news, laws, judicial opinions, and regulations. Finally, public domain enables competitive imitation, and this is through expired copyright and patents, or technologies that have been publicly disclosed or are not guaranteed patent protection.

  • Concern about the public domain in the information age

Guilbault and Hugenholtz (2006) assert that in this information age era, the public domain faces pressure from rigorous use of the information for commercial purposes. Items that were previously of little or no economic value are now acquiring independent economic value, and this include, genetic information, factual data, personal data, and pure ideas.

The internet, journalism and privacy rights

According to Amadeu da Silveira (2008) the expansion of information networks has consolidated the important elements of cyberculture, and the remix of many collaborative practices but has weakened the copyright industry. The information age has brought with it a whole new perspective to ownership rights (Hobbs, 2010). As Holman and McGregor (2005) assert, the existing and the now developing regulatory frameworks for the traditional mass media are not fully suited to the new internet environment. First, they emphasize on the control of the media content, and second, they emphasize the distribution of the content by the private media owners. Yet, communication has become multifaceted with the internet creating an environment of deliberative democracy, and unlimited access (Magee & Lee, 2007).

According to the authors the new digital information and communication technology provides an opportunity and potentiality for free speech, and free information exchange among culturally diverse constituents. Such massive interactive, unique and powerful settings have been availed by the internet, electronic mail and the World Wide Web. The users of the medium are the same ones who are the producers, and receivers of information unlike the traditional setting in which there were distinct few producers and many receivers but whose reception was controlled by proprietary laws. The internet is available to treatment as a commons considering that it is subject to exclusion, togetherness and indivisibility (Holman & McGregor, 2005). The capabilities of the internet are not destroyed by the present users but each connection expands the resources, as opposed to consuming it, as critics would want to believe. A study by Machil and Beiler (2009) examines how journalists incorporate online research procedures into the entire research process, and how they assess the search engines and the internet, and also how their level of competence is developed in their use of search engines.

The study was based on an observation of 235 journalists from all kinds of media including radio, TV, newspaper, and online media, while other 601 journalists were subjected on a survey. The findings revealed that journalist actually employ computer-aided research tools more frequently but for shorter duration than classical research tools. The authors concluded that overall, computer-aided research supplement do not displace the classical research. However, the authors imply that the self-referencing among the journalists, that is now common with internet research and the overuse of Google for research are issues of concern.

This study shows the implication of the internet on communication. Journalists can now get information much quicker than they do with classical research. However, the dilution of stringent copyright laws and availability of licences like the Creative Commons and Copyleft allows journalists to share and distribute content that could not be their original research (Amadeu da Silveira, 2008).  Hong, et al. (2005) believes that online sites are not very committed in protecting the privacy of their uses and that this may jeopardize their future use of the internet as an information source. Jones and Cameron, (2005) argues that the only justification that can be given to intellectual property rights is when there is a balance between moral or ethics and creativity. McCann (2005) confirms that the internet in its own has created a world of commons in which students, journalists scientists, artist all converge in the search for information.

Summary

For ages copyright has been used to protect the intellectual property of creators to prevent the works from malicious, intentional or non-intentional use by other people. For authors most of these works has been in print form although copyright applies to other creations like music, arts and even novel idea s. However, the 21 century dubbed the information age has seen the increasing use of the internet. The internet has been embraced as a tool for gaining information, and this information can also be shared across all cultural diversity. As much as the internet has been appreciated for the accessibility, unrestrictive, and availability of almost all kinds of information, there are concerns over the influence of  this information sharing on the intellectual property rights of the original creators. The internet has made it easy for people to use the information of other people without seeking permission, crediting the information source or paying royalties.

This is an infringement of the intellectual property rights and is feared to discourage the culture of creativity. Nevertheless, original creators find it easier to share their information in the internet because many people get to know about it within duration of time, and if it is a creation for commercial purposes, then sales can be gained faster that when the internet had not taken root. Substantial studies also show that journalists are not left behind on the internet information searching and sharing as it is a faster way of distributing information and discovery. The concern over the infringement of copyright has led to the emergence of two movements that act to extend the recognition of the authors and these are Copyleft or the free software foundation and Creative Commons. However, these movements do not guarantee the exclusive uniqueness of information providers as copyright does. Creative Commons provides an array of licenses under six categories of which the creator chooses the extent to which the information can be shared, copied, modified or redistributed. Some of the licenses are strict while others permit sharing culture.

Lawrence Lessing the founder of Cretaive Commons terms the situation as free mix society in which culture cannot be restricted but has to be shared. On the other hand, Copyleft allows that anyone with a copy of work that has been licensed under copyleft is free to distribute, copy, or modify the work as log as it is done under similar license conditions. Richard Stallman the founder of Free Software encourages the free use of creations for the purpose of enhancing social solidarity and improving skills and knowledge. Then there is Public Domain where the information is free to all without subject to intellectual property rights. Anyone can build on the work in the Public Domain without consulting the original author, as most of these works are those whose patents have expired or the authors did not adhere to copyright regulations, or its government information that warrants the attention of the public.

There are controversies concerning these movements in which some people feel that they are out there to dilute the property rights of hardworking ingenious artist and discourage them from making new creations all for the purpose of commercial gain. The benefits that original authors need to receive from such aspects of licensing are unclear.  On the other hand supporters feel that if anything, these movements have helped the original creators, more than copyright would have done in this era where the internet is a major communication tool. Moreover, despite diversities such soft license rules have enabled the mingling, preservation and advance of culture. It is still unclear as to whether the Creative Commons Copyleft or Public Domain licenses have more benefits s compared to drawbacks in the information sharing process. Further studies need to be done in the establishment of which kind of license serves to protect the rights of both the information providers and information receivers. There is need to protect the intellectual property from misuse but also the freedom foe information exchange should not be denied.

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