Sharing Culture, Open Source and Creative Commons

2008-04-12 17:27 in Articles by Anton Channing

I’ve noticed some discussions on irreality.net about sharing culture, which usually revolved around justifications for music piracy and stuff.  Now I’ve got nothing against music piracy.  Many a band I own on vinyl and cd, and have attended concerts of, I first listened to on pirate tapes made for me by friends.  Sometimes I didn’t even like the music until I’d heard it a few times.  Some music really does need to grow on you.  So I’m not down on piracy or anything.  I think many bands whose music is not immediately accessible have benefited from piracy.  Its corporate capitalism that’s killing music, not home taping.

But this article is not about piracy, or even musicians that are giving their music away for free, but rather a more relevant movement to the culture of sharing.  I am talking about Open Source and Creative Commons.

Open Source software, especially Free Software (free as in libre, as well as in beer), has been incredibly successful so far, and is continuing to grow and challenge previously complacent corporate software monoploies for dominance.  Most of the web is hosted on the Open Source apache webhost for example.

I am writing this article on a GNU/Linux PC (an open source operating system) and using the open source Mozilla Firefox web browser.

What is open source?  Well at the basic level it means that the source code is open for to all see.  But proper open source software is released on a license that allows that source code to be reused and modified by other open source projects.  In the case of some licenses, such as Apache and FreeBSD (the open source OS used as the basis for Mac OS X), the license also allows for non open source derivatives to be reproduced.  Essentially it is a challenge to the existing copyright paradigm by presenting a freer alternative.  Ironically these licenses are built upon and rely upon the very copyright laws they are challenging.  But this doesn’t make them less useful.

A number of sorcery and magick related groups have adopted the open source banner, sometimes just to mean their rituals are public, but at other times adopting rather more of the open source philosophy and methodology in the sharing and developing of ideas.  This includes the KIA Illuminated Adepts, which has a wiki article listing those open source sorcery groups we’ve discovered so far.  This includes key23/key64, The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn, SourceryForge and frequency23.

Creative Commons is a movement to extend this philosophy into the realm of art, photography and other creative pursuits.  I have already released all the internal illustrations from the books Chaos Monkey and Kaos Hieroglyphica on Creative Commons licenses and plan to release more.  The KIA logos, current and historical are also available on these licenses.  These images can be found in my deviant art gallery.  Not everything in there has been released on said license, but good portion has been.

I am very interested to see what other creatives are able to do in terms of derivations on these works.  The license I have chosen allows derivations, allows commercial works, but requires that the new image be released with the same license.