Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Philippine Commons Empowers Content Creators

Last January 14, 2008, Philippine Commons was launched. This is a movement developed to create a common avenue for those who wish to collaborate in open education, access to knowledge, free software, open access publishing and free culture communities within the Philippines.

Since then, numerous developments had happened according to Berne Guerrero, deputy project lead of Creative Commons Philippines, and a proponent of the Philippine Commons movement.

An ongoing initiative is the Bayanihan Books being pursued by Greg Moreno's volunteer group and licensed under Creative Commons (CC) license.

WikiPilipinas is also pursued by volunteers through the resource provided by the Vibal Foundation and licensed under GNU Free Documentation License (FDL).

Berne shared that discussions with entities and individuals are being made towards a resource that will provide a convergence of open content, open education, and free open source software (FOSS). "We still have to get people involved in OpenCourseWares (OCW) in the Philippines, among others, to be actively involved in the movement. Creative Commons Philippines is contemplating of hosting a mini-conference, during summer, to get people, who are interested in Open Education, together."

Creative Commons Philippines is a jurisdictional affiliate of Creative Commons International. It is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 2001, that promotes the creative re-use of intellectual and artistic works—whether owned or in the public domain. Creative Commons licences provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists, and educators that build upon the “all rights reserved” concept of traditional copyright to offer a voluntary "some rights reserved" approach. It is sustained by the generous support of various organizations. For the Philippines, the lead project institution is the Arellano University School of Law, and the project lead is Atty. Jaime N. Soriano, CPA, MNSA.

Berne cited efforts as well towards Legal Commons. The Arellano Law Foundation has licensed the LawPhil website, the IT Law Journal, and Arellano Law Policy Review publications under CC licenses. "There are projects being developed in the community that would provide free and open legal literature relevant to both law student/practitioner and layman audiences; and a collaborative resource for law students in pursuit of their studies."

Free Culture
There are no FreeCulture movement chapters yet organized in the Philippines. Berne said the group is is currently in discussion with a primary/secondary school in Southern Tagalog that could serve a catalyst for students to be immersed in the discussions involving free culture -- including cultural participation and access to information -- so that students may get involved into communitarian endeavors if they believe them to be compelling.

Berne also mentioned several artists who have used CC licenses in some of their works such as:
  • Maria Elisa Sempio Diy. She is now involved in the formation of a CC Asia band;
  • Eugene Marfil of True Faith has also released a couple of original compositions with CC licenses;
  • DRIP launched their first CC-licensed album, Identity Theft, last March 15 and it is also considered as the first in the Philippines.
Philippine Commons is currently in contact with upcoming bands who have also signified their intent to release their songs with CC licenses. "We are interested in holding CC salons with two notable music venues in the near future. There are also a lot of Filipinos who have been providing CC-licensed content, through their individual blogs, or submission to public repositories, such as Flickr. We still have to look into those who would pursue legal sharing of audio-visual works."

How can Internet users support Philippine Commons?
There are a lot of ways of Filipinos can support, whether on the global sense or in the Philippines. Berne explained, "One can be a creator, an end-user, or both. Both supply and demand provide the dynamics of the commons, and ensure the "commons" endeavors' success."

"Do you develop open source software? Do you use open source software? Do you create content (whether text, stills, audio or video) which are made available for legal reuse by others? Do you contribute in open content repositories or projects? If yes, you are already contributing to the commons. More so, if you do so for Philippine-bred projects, in a way, you are already contributing to the Philippine Commons. These are the usual modes where Internet users support the commons, whether they intended to do so or not."

Those who want to contribute more actively in the Philippine Commons as a movement, one can join any of the projects (whether online or off-line) being placed under the umbrella. "If you have projects and organizations that are relevant to the commons, why not connect with the movement so as to generate a concerted front? Not a software developer nor a content developer? Sponsoring a commons event perhaps? Or just spreading the word?" Berne encouraged.

Making Philippine Commons a success
Short term success for Philippine Commons, for Berne, is about getting individuals and entities involved in the commons mapped out so that they can have avenues for collaboration for their individual and common goals; and getting ordinary people aware and involved in the cause.

"Medium term success is about Philippine projects being similarly competitive to projects being pursued by other jurisdictions, to the point that we are not merely catching up or replicating what the other jurisdictions have done before. We hope that the Philippines become a primary participant in the global commons in the future."

"Real success, however, can be reached if the ideals of the cause, and the projects are tuned to such ideals, are actually translated into positive and lasting changes for the Philippine society. If people are more empowered to implement solutions, enhanced their creativity, and broaden their knowledge, in light of broader options, I think we will be in the right direction."


Jim said...

If a Creative Commons License is violated here in the Philippines, who gets to represent the holder of that license? Is there an equivalent EFF here in the Philippines?

The Philippines is not exactly known for respecting intellectual property.

What's there to assure individuals or groups who publishes under the Creative Commons that they will get protection for their work?

BerneGuerrero said...

Any violation of any intellectual property rights, whether "All Rights Reserved" or "Some Rights Reserved," are pursued through the usual methods provided by law (RA 8293), with due regard to international treaties if the violation is transnational. A copyright owner (as well as work licensor under Creative Commons [as he/she in fact is a copyright owner]) is usually represented by his/her own counsel of choice to enforce his claim through legal means, including resort to the courts. If there would be questions to the interpretations of the Creative Commons licenses here in the Philippines, the Creative Commons affiliates here can collaborate with the attending counsel or the court itself (as amici curiae), as to this particular aspect.

The law on intellectual property and the law on contract provides for the mechanism for the protection of the work and the licensor's intent, respectively. Upon practical deduction, however, even if these laws are in place, these do not ensure that there would be no instance of violations of such laws or of anyone's rights. The laws merely provide for the protection for the above, and the reliefs in case of violations thereof.

Significantly, the introduction of Web 2.0 technologies has diffused the options in the creation and publication of works. This development provides awareness on intellectual property issues since the masses, as alternative content providers, now considers the repercussions involving the use of their own works by others. Alternative licensing, like Creative Commons licensing, provides an additional dynamics in the interplay of alternative and mainstream content providers -- suppletorily increasing the awareness on intellectual property as well on contracts themselves.

I would assume that the comment regarding "[t]he Philippines is not exactly known for respecting intellectual property" is non-exclusive conclusion since such could be similarly proffered against other jurisdictions; and would touch on a vein of truth similar to a sweeping statement that "the Philippine government is not exactly known for respecting international contracts and agreements." Nevertheless, I believe that such statements should not be self-defeating conclusions but that avenues and alternatives be made available to depart from such situations. Fostering a culture of respect is primordial, and we could contribute to such in our own way, i.e. through alternative licensing. We hope that you can also offer possible solutions to cultivate such culture.

I am unsure whether there is a local EFF fellow here or whether there is a local EFF equivalent, as I am not personally introduced to the same.

yolynne said...

thanks for this Janette, very informative. Looking forward to your future posts of similar genre

Eugene said...

Janette, it would've been nice if you had also linked to the Philippine-language Wikipedias, Wikibooks, and Wiktionaries. :-)

janettetoral.com said...

@eugene - sure! send me the urls. I can't seem to find them via Google.

@yolynne - thanks!

@jim and berneguerrero - thanks for taking the article further through this discussion.

BerneGuerrero said...

@eugene, janette

Wikipedia in (1) Tagalog: http://tl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unang_Pahina (2) Bicol: http://bcl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangenot_na_Pahina (3) Visayan/Cebuano: http://ceb.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unang_Panid (4) Ilocano: http://ilo.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umuna_a_Panid (5) Capampangan: http://pam.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pun_Bulung (6) Pangasinense: http://pag.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arapan_ya_Bolong (7) Waray: http://war.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syahan_nga_Pakli (8) Chavacano/Zamboangeno: http://cbk-zam.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Primero_Pagina

Wikibooks in Tagalog: http://tl.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page

Wiktionary in Tagalog: http://tl.wiktionary.org/wiki/Unang_Pahina

and so on...

janettetoral.com said...

@berneguerrero - thanks for the links! Will check them out.