Well it finally happened. ictQATAR and Creative Commons have gotten together and discussed starting a CC affiliate here in Qatar, porting their licenses and promoting their adoption across all segments of society. And the exciting part – ictQATAR’s Secretary General has expressed her support for making this happen – awesome!
There were actually two meetings with Creative Commons yesterday. The first focused on Creative Commons and Qatar, while the second was the Arab region meeting of Creative Commons. Both had a ton of interesting conversation and debate, and both had amazing energy. So what did I take from the meetings?
First, there is no reason Creative Commons licenses and principles cannot be adopted in Qatar right now. Even though the licenses are not ported to Qatari law, this is really not an essential step to usage. The licenses are clearly more about the culture around them – a culture of sharing openly, and also of respecting the rights of the content creator – whether they are an artist, musician, software developer or scientist. The unported licenses are available for worldwide use now and respected by jurisdictions worldwide. And while lawyers seem to like to focus on if they are enforceable in court (in some cases yes, in others no), use of these licenses are meant to stop needless court cases and encourage people to give up some rights in the name of openness and collaboration.
Second, for Creative Commons to succeed it is going to take a lot more than just the support of ictQATAR. I think a government agency can play an important role in adoption by leading the license porting process and building relationships with institutions such as the Qatar Museum Authority, Qatar Science and Technology Park and media organizations, but for this to truly succeed there needs to be a much more grassroots approach – and it should be led by the creative people that would benefit from Creative Commons. This is exactly what is happening in other countries in the region. I was excited to see so many young people at the Digitally Open Forum and the meeting with Creative Commons. These are the people that will build an energized community around Creative Commons in Qatar, not a government institution – but I do think ictQATAR can play a role in helping them connect in the early stages.
And finally, talking about Creative Commons in Arabic is hard! A good portion of the regional meeting was spent in often loud debate over what the Arabic equivalent for the Creative Commons licenses – Attribution, ShareAlike, Non-Commercial, Non-Derivative – should be. There were different views from all the countries taking part in the meeting (Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan, UAE, Egypt and Syria), but all agreed it would be best to have a universal naming that all Arabic speaking countries could use. The debate centered around whether the name should be clear legally, or more clear to the end users – content creators. I sided with the content creators. Finally, all the countries agreed – but it took almost 3 hours. Nonetheless, important progress for the Arab World and Creative Commons.
So what are the next steps? Well hopefully ictQATAR can identify a team internally to work on this project, addressing the legal, institutional and grassroots components. From there, it will be essential to identifying and empowering the community to really promote Creative Commons in Qatar and let them grow the movement by building a network of advocates and volunteers. Let me know if you want to be a part of this – I know I am volunteering to work on this from the ictQATAR side!