Construction of Digital Commons and Exploration of Public Domain

(Jerry) Jie Hua


The expansion of the rights of copyright owners caused by digital network technology greatly reduces the capabilities of users to obtain access and exploitation of the copyrighted information and works. Some commentators vigorously question and attack traditional systems, asserting that copyright law has never been of net benefit to society but rather served to enrich a few at the expense of creativity. Facing the widespread anti-copyright arguments and tendencies, scholars and critics therefore endeavor on searching for solutions that could restore the balance of interest between copyright owners and public users both within and outside traditional copyright regimes. Based on concepts of open licensing, scholars began to import alternative schemes under which authors reserve only part of their exclusive rights and license public users to exploit their copyrighted works upon satisfying the licensing conditions.This article will analyze the emergence of digital commons based on voluntary licensing scheme and its influence on restoring the continually shrinking public domain. It will firstly introduce anti-copyright tendencies and the emergence of open access projects which comprise digital commons. This article will then examine a well-known example of digital commons, namely, the Creative Commons, which provides authors the opportunity to release their works under a series of licenses. This article will finally analyze the influence of digital commons which are represented by projects, such as the Creative Commons, to the public domain.

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