Review: The Power of Open

The Power of Open Cover art“The world has experienced an explosion of openness. From individual artists opening their creations for input from others, to governments requiring publicly funded works be available to the public, both the spirit and practice of sharing is gaining momentum and producing results.”

Creative Commons develops, supports and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing and innovation. That means an alternative licensing model to the closed, restricted and copyrighted world in which most content exists today. Creative Commons doesn’t prevent the producers of content making money, but it does recognise the old models are out-dated and simply don’t reflect the digital age in which we live…

The Creative Commons organisation provides a framework for licensing all kinds of creative works – from art, photography, music and film, through computer software, journalism and publishing, to education. In only a decade, more than 400 million CC-licensed works have been made available on the Internet.

The Power of Open is a well executed celebration and promotion of Creative Commons. Part-pamphlet, part-brochure, the book lists the various types of Creative Commons license then presents selected stories of some of the creators, spanning the Open University, photographer Jonathan Worth, Tears for Fears band-member Kurt Smith and Sylvain Zimmer of Jamendo. At the other end of the CC spectrum; commercial publishing, museum curators, car designers and news organisation Al Jazeera.

Produced as a manifesto, Creative Commons CEO Catherine Casserly (that’s a lot of C’s) writes; “we hope that The Power of Open inspires you to examine and embrace the practice of open licensing so that your contributions to the global intellectual commons can provide their greatest benefit to all people.

Immaculately laid out, it is less like a book and more like a corporate brochure; none the worse for that, it’s time the corporate world took Creative Commons seriously. It’s all very aspirational and makes its’ points very clearly. The only concern is that it’s probably preaching to the choir and the breakout route to the wider public is yet to be found. AJS

Visit to download a digital version of The Power of Open or to find out how to order print copies.

Cover art © 2011 Naeema Zarif. Created as a special commission for this project.