On Sunday November 4 I had the opportunity to attend the first Creative Commons Photo Awards ever held worldwide at the National Library in Beijing. I was invited, and there was a wide range of overseas guests, including Joichi Ito, president of Creative Commons and Dr. Catharina Maracke, director. The whole event was put together by Prof. Wang Chunyan, who is the project lead for the Creative Commons Mainland China. She also serves as assistant professor of law at Renmin University of China.
There were some 4,000 photographers who submitted their photos for judging. The judging panel was made up of independent photographers and photo editors at Xinhua News Agency. There were some excellent speeches in Chinese about the development of Chinese photography. Joichi Ito spoke about Creative Commons licenses and about how to select them, while Dr. Maracke made an introduction to the CC licensing model, and how it has been implemented in some 80 countries, giving content creators some level of control over the degree of licensing they wanted to give.
Stewart Cheifet, who serves on the board of Creative Commons Mainland China, discussed how there are now new software programs which help content creators easily choose the license they want to grant.
Overall, the exhibition reached a perfect balance between photo appreciation/education and legal licensing. Photos were judged and voted on online which was made available through a Chinese language website for this event.
The whole event was covered by Sohu, the leading media sponsor, one of China’s leading news portals. Here is the Sohu article (in Chinese).
In the evening, I had dinner with Joichi Ito and the Sohu correspondent, Cherry Cheng, about how Creative Commons licensing lowers the costs of marketing for new content creators. By making low-resolution photos available for free, they can lower the very considerable costs of marketing their works. He told about how a new musician from Colombia released her vocals on the Internet, and found it incorporated into the music of other musicians, giving it far wider coverage than she would have had under traditional licensing methods.
Most who are new to the CC licensing model grant very limited rights, but when they become more comfortable with it, they grant more generous licensing terms, including commercial uses of their works. This is a strong trend.
Later on, we discussed some of the continuing misunderstandings between Japan and China, and how both sides needed to do more to build trust with each other. Aside from his involvement in the Creative Commons, Joichi also offered excellent insights into understanding Japanese politics, a subject which he covered very well in an article published by the New York Times.
Creative Commons is becoming more active in China, which is a very good thing. The Chinese are used to getting beaten over the head by the US congress about IP violations; now it is apparent that even many Americans feel that the US copyright law, which is largely dictated by larger traditional media companies, is broken and needs to be fixed. Earlier on, I posted about Cory Doctorow’s visit to Beijing in September, which was very well received.
It is Monday morning in Beijing as I write this, and I see that Joi has already posted about the event on his blog.