A year ago, Ártica director Mariana Fossatti wanted to publish a book. Ártica, an online cultural center in Latin America, had no budget to print the book — so it published it online under a Creative Commons license — at zero cost.
Today, the eBook has over 4,000 downloads. Two months after publication, an Argentinian publisher also decided to publish the book in print, a format for which Ártica did not have the knowledge, time, nor the technical and economic means to produce. “A free license allows our texts, videos, and other materials to be republished in other spaces. That has increased our visibility and allows us to connect with a wider community.”
A year ago, when Ártica director Mariana Fossatti wanted to publish a book, Ártica had no budget to make a print version – so it published it digitally at no cost. They published the book under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA) license, which allows anyone to republish or modify it so long as they publish their modified versions under the same license.
“The Creative Commons license greatly facilitated the process, since it was not required to sign any contract between the publisher and authors. The publisher simply took the material and re-edited it in a beautiful pocket edition of the book,” says Mariana. “We benefited greatly, since we got the chance to be read in the physical format, a format for which we did not have the knowledge, time, nor the technical and economic means to produce.”
As the director of Ártica, an online cultural center in Latin America focusing on art, digital culture, and cultural management, Mariana also wants to teach others how to create sustainable models for online work that is both economically viable and free to share, use, or reuse.
With Creative Commons licenses, Ártica’s users have been able to do all kinds of exciting projects: online poetry workshops where students collaboratively wrote a book of poems; a “licenciatón” (licensing marathon) where participants released over one hundred works using CC licenses; and cultural management courses where students learned to administer their own projects. For example, in a project managed by one of their students, #UNIAcapitalRiego, the student collaborated with the University of Andalucía and the platform Goteo to support innovative projects through crowdfunding.
When they launched Ártica in 2011, Mariana and her team knew immediately they wanted the materials in the cultural center to be under a CC license. “We believe that in a democratic society, knowledge should be free. For that reason, our project was intended from the beginning to help develop knowledge and free culture,” says Mariana.
The ShareAlike terms of the BY-SA propagate a multiplier effect, ensuring that anyone who uses the work must offer derivative works under the same CC license. “The license promotes a fertile ecosystem of free and accessible works,” says Mariana. By allowing even commercial use by individuals, organizations, and companies, Ártica receives value back by allowing the materials to reach new audiences. “A free license allows our texts, videos, and other materials to be republished in other spaces. That has increased our visibility and allows us to connect with a wider community.”
To help build an open society where all people have access to the world’s knowledge, Mariana encourages everyone to “use the Creative Commons licenses without any fear.”
“People should not be afraid to choose the freest of all licenses, such as BY-SA. Such licenses allow wider dissemination of works, and they don’t harm the business models of 99% of entrepreneurs.”
As an example of its ideals, Ártica has over time created an economically sustainable model for itself. In addition to massive open online courses and consulting services for the development and management of online cultural projects, Ártica also conducts additional paid online courses. Although paid, the materials used in the course are still licensed and available for free under a Creative Commons license.
“We found that people are willing to pay for personal advice, group work, and special attention to their projects,” Mariana explains. “Some people believe that by using Creative Commons licenses, they can lose the rights to their works, or that they renounce the ability to make money,” says Mariana. “These misconceptions are due to misinformation and certain insecurities that are natural. Therefore, it is very important to continue disseminating and teaching about the real implications of free licensing.”
Today, Ártica is a site of reference in the Spanish-speaking world, contributing to the research and learning about art, cultural management, and digital culture in Latin America. They have been invited from different countries (Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador) to give courses, workshops, and conferences, and have worked with other organizations to generate sister projects, such as “Aprender a Ver Cine” (“Learning to See Cinema”), a website for film reviews and online courses about cinema. Their seven massive open courses using free licenses have hosted between 300 and 1,500 students each.
This year, Ártica will launch the third edition of their massive open online course “Art and Culture in circulation,” along with Vía Libre Foundation from Argentina.
“We are committed to Ártica’s growth,” says Mariana. “It is happening in the form of a rhizome, helping to germinate related cultural projects in the region, with which we can continue building a free and open culture together.” Under Creative Commons licensing, Ártica and its users are building this open culture by allowing anyone to use and contribute to a history of shared knowledge, innovation, and creativity.
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Mariana Fossatti (Team Open) was written by Meryl Mohan for Creative Commons. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The illustration of Mariana Fossatti was created by Luke Surl. To the extent possible under the law, Luke Surl has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights under the CC0 Public Domain Declaration.