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[ 11 November 2003 ] CNSG Proposes Study to Review Framework for Acceptance and Promotion of Copyleft in the Region

CommerceNet Singapore proposes the study of withdrawal of the copyright law from a certain 'predefined creative realm' in this region. This is to allow catalytic 'creative sectors' to grow uninhibited, gaining market penetration in a systematic but not anarchic manner. The distribution of revenues in the culture or creative industries follows a certain pattern, whereby a small number of very successful creative professionals receive a large share of the money, whereas the overwhelming majority toil without any significant remuneration.

Historically the need for copyright and patent laws has been postulated as necessary in order to ensure the flow of revenue back to the producer, so that the production of culture or science can be perpetuated. These laws constitute downstream constraints on the ways in which works can be used and inventions employed. These laws, derived from a theory of creativity determined by the figure of the desocialised individual of capitalist property relations, have always functioned as a fetter on creativity. This impediment has simply been rendered more manifest in the context of digitalisation and the ubiquitous networks.

Many of these professionals may find it more useful to have their works to be shared or distributed to a large user-base, protected via a copyleft license. A copyleft license is a free license that, in contrast to a public domain work, prevents the work or their derivatives from becoming non-free again. Any derived work remains free as long as it's original creator makes it free. So a copyleft license should be useful for the creation and distribution of derivative work, if it is or will be free.

CNSG feels that this move towards provision for copyleft is increasingly necessary with the large interest in open source community, circumstances resulting from changing business model and the demolition of market entry barrier by larger conglomerates. This provision will end the potentially monopolistic cycle whereby large and established creative conglomerates with large ownership of the past provides the revenue to control the nature of what is produced, distributed and 'popular' in the present and consequently promising them control over the future.

The emergence of new copyleft works could still be used in a non-free data base work or collection work, forming a non-free work that is not necessarily a derivative work. A copyleft license should require the creator of such work to include instructions how to remove the non-free parts, and a free license for the remaining part. CNSG is finalising plans to fund and collaborate with any organisation in ASEAN region that is researching into workable copyleft framework.


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