Toward a Better Internet: Building Prosocial Behavior into the Commons

Jane Park, Creative Commons, Jun 16, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is a longish post devoted to the idea that the license isn't everything in reuse (Alan Levine has been making this point for a dog's age). In this post, prosocial behaviours are contrasted with "negative behaviors that occur with online content sharing more generally." For example: using bots to remix and repost CC-licensed designs; harassment of marginalized groups; not respecting people’s desires and expectations about how content will be used; claiming CC0 public domain works as their own and monetizing them; and more. These are all allowed under the license, but are genuinely anti-social behaviours. What to do? Suggestions included a prosocial behaviour toolkit, tools that make prosocial behaviour easier, or reputational algorithms. But the very concept of 'prosocial' cannot be applied to amoral actors, or to those who follow a different morality: businesses and individuals, for example, who see the making of money as the only moral virtue. The only way to inhibit them is to create risk for anti-social behaviour. But this may require Creative Commons to take a sharply more political stance than I think it is willing to take.

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