The Commons. A new Open-Source Code around the Sharing of Resources

This is the title of the documentary film I want to share with you today. It’s a film about communities all over the world re-asserting sustainable, responsible futures using ancient Commons principles. Here is what the film-team says:

„Five years in the making, we listened as 49 communities in the Americas, Europe and south Asia told us what has made their Commons work over the centuries. Many have lost much – but in the face of commodification and privatization, when everything seems to have a dollar value, Commoners are now saying, we’re taking a new path forward…“

Have a look at the protagonists and at this trailer:

Well, the question is, is it possible to make a film about the commons without turning it into a common? And if so, how to do it within a world of cultural commodity production?  Film-maker Kevin Hansen explains the internal discussions, concerns and the approach the film-team finally opted for. Copyright decisions are potentially expensive (for both sides), let alone the legal affairs. Moreover, this is still pioneer’s terrain:

„There is a raging debate among those who care about sharing information. For us, this debate is about sharing the The Commons film itself: Should we Copyright The Commons film and the terabytes of material we have collected to make it? Or, should we make all of our film work for The Commons free and open, now, releasing it to public download, letting people decide how best to use it? We recognize this is an evolving area of understanding. New social agreements are being tested all around us. Occasionally, justice and sharing may conflict – and many attitudes and expectations are colored by legacy issues. We’ve spent a lot of time debating this – especially since our film (we hope!) will inspire people to move forward in a world where sharing is a normal, everyday part of Commoners’ lives – including the natural world’s needs. Here are three ways of looking at fair use: … more“

Please read the whole thing.

There is one argument, however, I don’t quite understand. Kevin Hansen asks:

„How can one respect the wishes of those who generously gave of their wisdom, and showed their feelings, if we allow any use of the material, by anyone forever? Can we guarantee others will show the respect due to our subjects? Is there any way of ensuring respectful future use?“

No, there is no way to ensure respectful use by everybody forever. With no licence in the world. Nor with „copyright“ (= the everything-is-mine-declaration) nor with any of the many alternative licences. It is that simple.  People can quote you with whatever licence you might use in a context you don’t like. This is not a copyright issue. So, if this is not the point, why shouldn’t „those who generously gave of their wisdom“ (for free), be happy to spread their wisdom as widely as possible? Forever! This is what commoners need. Beeing heared. And the leverage for ensuring this and protecting the content (=everything-is-us-and-we-want-it-to-be-respected) are Copyleft licences. I bed,  the protagonists of the documentary would be pretty happy with a CC-SA licence.

The film-makers opted for a 3-step solution and a Creative Commons Licence to be used within 1,5 years (not sure if copyleft or not), but they are asking a wonderful question: „Please send ideas for better ways – technology may help!“And that’s what I moste appreciate!

By the way: on the website, there is a donation button. I hit it, determined to donate 10 USD, but the system suggested just 1 USD and I couldn’t change it. I am not sure if I am simply too, say, „undigital“ to get it right or if this was like a hint that commoners don’t need much to support each other.

Because: It’s not about having much, but being many.

2 Gedanken zu „The Commons. A new Open-Source Code around the Sharing of Resources

  1. I am eagerly waiting for a screening in Berlin. The phrases seemed quite catchy; maybe it’s possible to re-use some of their linguistic material.

    Regarding the Donation, which I quickly checked:

    It’s possible to change the value, but only if you are adventurous and only for PayPal.
    2Checkout immediately returns „ERROR CODE:PE101“ for me.

    This sequence should help those who want to donate more:

    1 Click on Donate to show the Donation „buttons“.
    2 Right click the PayPal logo.
    2a Select „Inspect element“ in the context menu. (Or similiar for your locale.)
    2b Then a new pane will open and you will see something like:


    2c Double click on the „amount“ *value* („1.00“) and change it to the preferred donation. Confirm with the „Enter“ key.
    3 Left click the PayPal logo and proceed as usual.

    Hope this could be of occasional help.

  2. Pingback: claim the street for your sheep ! |

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