In a book published in 2001, Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig decried the threat to the Internet from both large media interests and burgeoning intellectual-property laws. In Lessig's view, the Internet should serve as a commons, a medium that encourages creativity through the exchange of photographs, music, literature, academic treatises, even entire course curricula. Lessig and like-minded law and technology experts have now decided to go beyond making academic arguments to counter the perceived danger.
On December 16, 2002, the nonprofit Creative Commons opened its digital doors to provide, without charge, a series of licenses that enable a copyrighted work to be shared more easily. The licenses attempt to overcome the inherently restrictive nature of copyright law. Under existing rules, a doodle of a lunchtime companion's face on a paper napkin is copyrighted as soon as the budding artist lifts up the pen. No "¿" is needed at the bottom of the napkin. All rights are reserved.
This article was originally published with the title Some Rights Reserved.