Articulating a Chinese Commons: An Explorative Study of Creative Commons in China

Bingchun Meng


In this article, I use the introduction of the Creative Commons approach to China as a lens through which to examine the processes of framing arguments in a way that shape public attitudes. It is difficult to measure the success or impact of Creative Commons, nor is it necessary to do so for this paper. Creative Commons has been organized as a social movement which tries to implement and render immediate, a cultural shift. How it diffuses its message in China is key to understanding its effort to reframe attitudes toward the dominant paradigm of positioning copyright. I will first discuss CC as a global movement aiming at building a cultural commons for the future. I then explain the differences between the original context from which CC movement emerged and the Chinese one where CC is now picking up momentum. The combined effect of the ideological ambiguity of CC and local conditions ends up producing different discursive positioning for CC China. Instead of acting primarily as a counter-force against the privatization of intellectual works, CC China is first and foremost about cultivating the “rights consciousness” of Chinese people and giving individual creators (especially marginalized groups) a sense of controlling their own work in a communication environment that is dominated by both the state and the market forces.

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