Virulent Word of Mouse

June 17, 2012

What does the average surfer know about Creative Commons?

Filed under: Academic Research,Internet economics and communications policy — Shane Greenstein @ 9:47 pm

What do you know about Creative Commons, the legal frameworks that support many web-based activities, such as Wikipedia, Flickr, or YouTube? You probably do not know too much, if you are like most people. Most users do not know the legal details behind the web – and that is a fact, as you will see in a moment.

You might reasonably respond that it does not matter what users know. Knowing the legal details makes no difference to enjoying and using the services. Indeed, the general ignorance of the users shows just how sophisticated and easy-to-use many of the leading web services have become. You also might respond in a contrary fashion, that most users are inviting disaster by remaining ignorant. Knowing the details does not matter on 99 days of pain-free use, but someday there will come a day it matters, and not knowing will bite users hard.

Those two opposing responses are both reasonable answers, I believe, because the state of the discussion remains in flux. No good answer to these questions dominates the topic for now. At present it is enough to ask the question, and recognize that the answer is open.


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