Paperhouses interviews Jorge Ringenbach, Creative Commons in Mexico

Culture / Interview / Latin America / Open Source

Paperhouses interviews Jorge Ringenbach, partner at Fulton & Fulton and representative of Creative Commons in Mexico

Paperhouses – What made you as a lawyer and Fulton-Fulton as a firm advocate Creative Commons licenses?
Jorge Ringenbach – The project was a crossroad between electronic contracting and intelectual property. Since Leon Felipe Sanchez, my partner in Fulton & Fulton, and I were interested in both, we thougt it might be fun getting envolved.
The challenges and the network turned out to be a great place to learn about the issues of copyright in the digital age.

PH – How did CC Mexico come to existence?
JR – Initially we approached other people who showed interest before we did. We were then able to begin the draft of the Mexican licences together with other volunteers. Our first option for an affiliate institution was UNAM but the collaboration ended up being too bureaucratic for decision making so ultimately we used our law firm as the host institution.

PH – Who have been the users of the licenses?
JR – We were lucky we had many academics interested in those licences. They were the first to help us spread the uses of the licences. Then bloggers were also eager to explain creative commons to their audiences. Finally, came musicians and eventually many other artists looking for alternative ways to distribute their contents.

PH – What are the major projects in which CC Mexico is involved?
JR – The first commission was for the office of the president of Mexico, then Vicente Fox, then we worked for REDALYC, a repository of Open Access from the UAEM, and eventually many others became involved.

PH- What did you do for the office of the President?
JR – The administration of president Vicente Fox, and in particular the internet system of the presidency, adopted Creative Commons Licences for the distribution of all the content generated by the office. The announcement was made at an event by the officers in charge and Lawrence Lessig. That helped to spread the word and meaning of CC as well as the importance of the open culture in Mexico, particularly among public officers.

PH – The question most professionals ask is  – what is my financial incentive for opening my work and using such a license? Can I still make money from a work I make available under a Creative Commons license?
Apparently that is the question the board asked CEO Elon Musk about opening Tesla's patents recently…  How would you encourage professionals and companies to embrace this movement?

JR – Educating users on the way IP law works is a first step towards bringing people to open culture. Free distribution helps artists gain audience. We have also seen examples where sharing content becomes an easier way to find comercial channels for work. In many ways the patent process is more reasonable than copyright because the time frame of protections has a shorter duration and therefore gives the society a better chance to benefit from work, giving the creators exclusive rights. Remember that creative commons begins due to a copyright term extension…

PH – Did the internet change the way copyright should be looked at?
JR – Yes and it is still changing the way it should be looked at. The main areas are distribution of artistic work and the roll of the middle man.

PH – How to you see the relationship between regulated professions – like yours, like architecture – and open source? What are the challenges and the virtues of opening specific knowledge like contracts or blueprints? 
JR – Often times, it is about helping others access knowledge in a more efficient way; for some it might be about explaining a better use of some techniques or materials. With the adoption of those materials and techniques comes a profit. In any case, that is for the market to resolve...

PH – Dozens of government bodies have adopted CC licensing and public domain tools for research, information and education or to provide feedback to public policy. What would you identify as critical areas for government adoption of cc licenses in Mexico and what would the social, cultural or economic consequences be?
JR – There is a public obligation in Mexico to communicate and to provide public information. The social consequence is that society can access that information and help build upon it and, in many cases, help correct it. People will participate more in the social and political dialogue if access to the information is easier.

PH – Where do you hope CC will be in the next 5 to 10 years? Are there any new directions for its immediate future?
JR – I think in many ways CC will continue to provide an alternative for culture and society in general but more importantly it will become a stronger reference in the way the law gets shaped in the future.

Jorge Luis Ringenbach Sanabria is a Mexican attorney in the practice of intellectual property. He is a partner to Fulton & Fulton, S.C. and a Legal Co-Leader of Creative Commons in Mexico. His efforts towards the Free Culture movement, open access and open source movement in Mexico have made him a key player of this movement.

Watch Jorge Ringenbach on Creative Commons in Latin America

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