Ryan Merkley speaks at TED conference (Photo credit: TED Conference)

Creativity and technology blend well in the latest announcement from Creative Commons, which has appointed former Mozilla COO Ryan Merkley as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Merkley starts his new position on June 1st and is well versed in the discipline of applying technology to help creators legitimately build on each other’s work.

Where as at Mozilla that involved driving open-source solutions to build web applications that challenged the private sector, most notably with the Firefox browser that made such a dent in the use of Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer, Merkley’s new role will require a little less tech and a lot more artistry.


Empowering Artists

In many ways Creative Commons (CC) is the answer – or at least part of it – to the ongoing discussion around improving U.S. copyright law.

A nonprofit, open licensing system that allows creators to stipulate how and where their original works can be used,  the following types of CC license are available:


Expanding Creative Commons Licenses

Merkley’s task will be nothing short of re-imagining CC license adoption for a new age of content.

He explains as much in his acceptance of the role, pointing to the approximately half billion Creative Commons licenses currently in action, contrasting that impressive figure against the sheer volume of daily YouTube video uploads (100 minutes worth every hour) and Facebook photo posts (350 million a day). The means of publishing almost every type of content have been democratized, yet there is no uniform way to define the legal limitations (or lack thereof) that applies to each.

For the creative industries, access to a licensing route not motivated by profit provides a valuable counterpoint to the equally important protections of intellectual property law. Creators still making a name for themselves need a way to collaborate and communicate to others that their work is open to sharing and interpretation.

As interim CEO Paul Brest puts it, “a public commons is the most powerful force to foster creativity, inspire innovation, and enhance human knowledge around the world.”

We wish Mr. Merkley well in adding technology to that mix and driving Creative Commons licensing to new creative heights.

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