The International Workshop for Asia and Commons has had a successful first day. To get a sense of the variety of projects and commercial enterprises using Creative Commons licenses and/or open source software around Asia, check out the very useful case study booklet compiled by Creative Commons Australia, downloadable here (PDF).
There are quite a lot of tech startups around the region using open source software and/or Creative Commons licensing, a few of whom are here at the conference. Ellis Wang showed us his EeePC, pictured on the right, a subnotebook computer running on a Linux-based operating system (WSJ has a review of it here). Sean Moss-Pultz discussed OpenMoko, which he describes as the world's first "totally open phone." (Recently Gizmodo wondered whether the iPhone developers borrowed some of their ideas.) We also heard from Takeshi Homma from Sony, who runs eyeVio, a kind of youtube-like video sharing service which uses Creative Commons licenses for user-generated content (see an English-language article about it here).
On Friday night we heard from some independent artists, photographers, and filmmakers who are licensing their works under creative commons and finding it a useful way to get their works seen and known. We'll get a concert later tonight featuring musicians who use CC for at least some of their work.
I will continue posting photos to my Flickr account.
The opening keynote was by Terry Fisher of Harvard's Berkman Center, who discussed his proposed solution to the world's copyright problems, which involves his new company, Noank Media. The company is mainly working in Canada and China right now. More info on how it works here. In China they're working with a company called Felio run by CERNET (the China Education and Research Network), to deploy a legal file-sharing service in Chinese universities. The idea is to act as a broker between producers of creative content and people who want to consume it, compensating producers according to how many people are using their works. I asked Terry how Noank is going to deal with user privacy issues as well as government censorship requirements in China. Regarding privacy, he said "there is no one participant" along the chain of distribution, service providing, and downloading "who simultaneously knows what has been consumed and who has consumed it." Which should protect users from dossiers being kept on them about what films or movies they're watching and listening to. When it comes to censorship, he said that so far they haven't encountered any problems because for now they've only been dealing with music and that censorship questions have not come up. He said he wasn't sure how they will deal with censorship requests if they receive them in the future. But he also said that based on his interactions with Chinese officials, he thinks that there is probably more acceptance in the Chinese government apparatus about the inevitability of open flows of information than one would assume based on current censorship behavior and policy. I'll be following up on that thought in my brief talk tomorrow morning.