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Spain: Conversation with Ignasi Labastida on Intellectual Property

During the final part of the Free Culture Congress [es] in Quito, Ecuador, Ignasi Labastida [es] spoke about “Intellectual property in the IT era” (some tweets with excerpts from his speech here [PDF] [es]). Ignasi, a physicist by profession, is a member of Creative Commons Spain, and therefore an expert on the issues of copyright and intellectual property.

In this 2008 interview [es], for example, he explains Creative Commons and Copyright:

El Copyright es el marco legal en las jurisdicciones anglosajonas mientras que en las continentales europeas hablaríamos de derechos de autor. Más o menos el Copyright es una parte de los derechos de autor, los llamados derechos de explotación. En estos derechos se incluye el de reproducción, distribución, comunicación pública y transformación. El autor es quien decide cómo ejercer estos derechos y si quiere ceder su titularidad a otra persona o entidad.

El Copyleft nace como una alternativa al llamado Copyright tradicional o restrictivo; es decir, al de ‘todos los derechos reservados’. El Copyleft utiliza el Copyright para crear un sistema de cesión menos restrictivo: se permite cualquier uso de las obras siempre que se cite al autor, y que cuando se transforme la obra original en una nueva obra, ésta también se distribuya con la misma licencia.

Actualmente la palabra Copyleft se utiliza para designar todos los sistemas de licencias alternativos al clásico de todos los derechos reservados. Creative Commons (CC) es una organización americana que ofrece un sistema de licencias, entre las cuales hay una puramente Copyleft. Creative Commons no ofrece una única licencia sino que ha desarrollado unos grados de restricción que van desde sólo pedir que se reconozca la autoría hasta la limitación de hacer usos comerciales e incluso no permitir la transformación para crear nuevas obras.

Copyright is a legal concept in Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions, while on European platforms, we would refer to author's rights. More or less, copyright is a part of author's rights, the so-called exploitation or licensing rights. These rights include reproduction, distribution, public communication and conversion. The author decides how to exercise these rights and whether he or she wants to cede his or her ownership to another person or entity.

Copyleft came about as an alternative to the traditional or restrictive copyright; or rather, the “all rights reserved” one. Copyleft uses copyright to create a less restrictive system of cession: it allows any use of the works so long as the author is cited, and that when the original work is converted to a new work, the new work be distributed with the same license.

Currently, the word copyleft is used to designate all of the licensing systems that are alternative to the classic one of all rights reserved. Creative Commons (CC) is an American organization that offers a licensing system that is purely copyleft.  Creative Commons does not offer one single license, but rather has developed grades of restriction that go from only asking for author recognition to limiting commercial use and even not permitting conversion to create new works.

Given that following the event, I had the opportunity to briefly chat with Ignasi, I took the opportunity to bring up certain doubts about these issues:

Ignasi has also written various articles, one of which is about [es] how Creative Commons licenses appeared, were adopted, and spread throughout the Spanish state. In this article, he concludes:

Quizá el aspecto más importante de la implantación de las licencias de Creative Commons en el Estado Español es la reflexión que está suscitando sobre los derechos de autor o el acceso a la cultura. Los modelos de negocio actuales están quedando obsoletos con los avances de la tecnología. Hay que optar por buscar nuevos modelos y no pretender mantener los actuales que restringen el acceso a las obras. A veces la sobreprotección de los derechos se realiza por los intermediarios en nombre de los autores, cuando éstos quisieran más flexibilidad u optar por fórmulas más novedosas para difundir sus creaciones.

Perhaps the most important aspect of introducing the Creative Commons licenses in the Spanish state is that it has provoked a reflection on author's rights or access to culture. Current business models are becoming obsolete with the advances in technology. We must opt to look for new models and not expect to maintain the current ones, which restrict access to works. At times, over-protection of rights comes about through the middlemen on behalf of the authors when they want more flexibility or completely new formulas to disseminate their creations.

Nevertheless, this philosophy does not seem to have completely permeated through all institutions in the Spanish state. For example, in a recent case, the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) told Uruguayan journalist Ricardo Soca, through editorial house Planeta, to remove web content that was considered RAE property such as links to the RAE homepage.  Ignasi Labastida also shared his opinion about this case:

During his speech at the Free Culture Congress, Ignasi commented on the need of making as many people as possible aware of intellectual property and the licenses, which ultimately affect us all.  This sparked a conversation about the 15-M movement in his country, Spain.

More interviews with Ignasi Labastida can be found online.  One of the most widely spread is this part [es] from the documentary ¡Copiad, malditos! [es].  This one [es] about OpenCourseWare is also quite interesting.  If you understand Catalan, you can follow him at @ignasi on Twitter.

* Subtitles of the videos by Helen Siers and Beatriz Arze.

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