Main Blog Post: Sustainable Cultural Production

Medosch argues that: “CC does not pay any attention at all to the issue of an economic model for supporting cultural production” (Reader, page 315).

Discuss while giving an example online.

The main idea behind the vision and mission of Creative Commons (CC) are about participatory culture, free culture, maximizing creativity, sharing and innovation. Unlike other capital driven user generated content sites like YouTube and Flickr, CC is still a not-for-profit social movement aimed at sharing contents in the World Wide Web for free (Medosch 2008). Foong (2010) writes CC is a tool for people who do not sell their creation to make a living. Indeed, there is a lack of attention to the issue of an economic model for supporting cultural production on CC.

Screenshot of Wikipedia Homepage

Using Wikipedia as an example, it is the most popular site that uses a CC license for its content (it is ranked 7th on Alexa). The non-profit Wikimedia Foundation supports Wikipedia. As an online encyclopedia, Wikipedia rely on volunteers to write and edit articles. Similar to CC, Wikipedia is a user generated content site but not capital driven. There is no economic model such as advertising space on the website, supporting the production of encyclopedia articles on Wikipedia. It solely relies on public funding through donations and fund raising drive on the web. Wikipedia uses the Creative Commons Attribution – ShareALike License, which means that the organisation still hold some rights to the content.

Medosch (2008) writes CC co-inventor Lessig is assuming that the economic model (or lack of) for cultural production will be resolved automatically in the future. However, Lessig’s assumption may not be overly optimistic.

Although CC does not pay any attention to the issue of an economic model for supporting cultural production, there are instances where a business model has been derived from using CC licenses. An example would be American rock band, Nine Inch Nails. The band released two albums under the CC (Attribution Non-Commercial ShareALike) license and made the first nine tracks of the album free for sampling. In doing so, the band sold digital copies for the rest of their music tracks and earned $1.6 million in one week. The success of their sales is long term despite facing threats from peer-to-peer file sharing sites (Foong 2010). Hence, Techdirt came up with this business model for the success of Nine Inch Nails:

Connect with Fans (CwF) + give them a Reason to Buy (RtB) = $$$.

This is an interesting and practical formula to explore, which can be extended not only to music artists but also to CC users. In order for CC to thrive, it should take the leap and pay attention to the issue of an economic model to support cultural production. Renowned artists and academics are put off by the idea of CC, as their hard work cannot be translated to economic incentives. The current CC concept is unfair for professionals who spend their entire life creating cultural content and expecting them to share it for free (Medosch 2008). With the formula, CC could come up with adaptations of the business model tweaked to suit the different interests of CC license users. This would be a good economic model to consider supporting cultural production. It will also encourage more professional artists to take CC more seriously and not a concept suited for amateurs seeking recognition in their cultural content.


Marc Garcelon, ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’, New Media & Society 11.8 (2009): 1307-1326

Foong, C. (2010) ‘Sharing With Creative Commons: A Business Model for Content Creators’, PLATFORM: Journal of Media and Communication, A Creative Commons Special Edition (December): 64-93.