Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Microsoft Courts Creative Commons Crowd While Pushing Piracy Controls

An interesting juxtaposition in the headlines today: as Microsoft announces its launch of a tool to embed Creative Commons content licensing information in works created via Microsoft Office CNET news covers growing opposition to the way Microsoft is implementing its Windows Genuine Advantage software anti-piracy tools. So at the same time that Microsoft is trying to encourage more flexible and friendly licensing for users' intellectual property it is zeroing in on much tighter licensing restrictions on its own intellectual property. There's nothing wrong with trying to do both, I suppose, but for the most part commercial companies setting up alliances with Creative Commons seem to be using it as window dressing to build up points with user-generated media folks while focusing mostly on mainstream publishers' property for business deals to drive profits.

The gap between token support for user-publishers and more serious commercial encouragement may close somewhat as Windows Vista rolls out, widening the use of rights management capabilities that offer content licensors enforcement options. Could it be that Microsoft becomes a major facilitator of greater profits for user-publishers via a combination of Creative Commons and DRM? Wow, would be a bit of a stretch for BOTH camps. But as the propagator of the main platform users employ to be global publishers Microsoft has more to gain in the long run from the hundreds of millions of individual and enterprise publishers than from a relative handful of media companies trying to exploit those same user platforms. When you give users a clear "what's in it for me" proposition digital rights management tools will begin to make sense. Perhaps the Creative Commons deal is a small step towards a meaningful WIIFM proposition for Microsoft users. But one step must follow another. More to come...
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