Jesse Dylan on the (Artistic) Value of Sharing

Jesse Dylan is a filmmaker, commercial director, and creator of's "Yes We Can" music video. The benefit of the internet and how...

Jesse Dylan is a filmmaker, commercial director, and creator of's "Yes We Can" music video.

The benefit of the internet and how things are distributed now is that you are exposed to more than you ever have been before. The downside is that much of it is heavily copyrighted. With current copyright law, it's hard to use anything legally, and patent law is stifling innovation; for example, science isn't going to be as powerful in a world where you can patent an organism or a gene, because scientists won't want to use the research if they have to deal with the patent holder. Creative Commons lets you license things with a clearly defined idea of how others can use it.

One of the great things about Creative Commons for me as a filmmaker is the fact that people who give CC licenses to their imagery make it very easy for me to use it and give attribution. I'm always looking for useful imagery-I use hundreds of images in a piece-and if I had to individually contact each creator, it would be an impossible task, and I wouldn't end up using any of it. With Creative Commons, there is a huge database of stuff (imagery, songs, paintings, etc.) that I can use without worrying about anything except for simple attribution and making sure that I comply with the license. The internet becomes a platform that everyone can plug into to get things and see things and reuse things.

It should be clear to artists why they should publish their media for everybody to use. Using Creative Commons doesn't mean giving up your copyright; it just means making it possible for your work to be licensed a different way. This doesn't mean you can't get a record deal, it just means you want to share your work and make it possible for other people to use it in their own creations. I think that is an important message, which is why copyright and patent law both need to be refined.

Will films, commercials, and ad campaigns become truly participatory, where the media changes to be something that isn't delivered to people but is given to them to play with and be a part of? I think the market will drive whether people truly want that level of interactivity. I think that it will be easier and easier to do, but whether it becomes a really useful aspect of the web, I'm not sure.

I think you will see really interesting projects like Jonathan Harris's work. He created We Feel Fine which pulls from a bunch of different sources around the world and kind of brings it all together. What comes out of it is this amazing way of looking at the world that only the web can give you. And I think is probably the best example of a new type of story telling: It allows the audience to watch and follow that story in whatever way they feel like slicing it.

My great sadness about it all is that I don't think there are enough people who are up to speed technologically and artistically; we are not yet seeing the full might of what the internet can give us. So the fact that data visualization is at such a primitive stage is something that hopefully, over the coming years, will keep evolving into something more and more sophisticated.

Interview as told to Eric Steuer. Click the play button below to listen to a full version of the interview.

Eric Steuer is the creative director of Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that works to make it easier for creators to share their work with the rest of the world. It also provides tools to make it easier for people to find creative work that's been made available to them-and the rest of the world-to use, share, reuse etc., freely and legally. This is the third in a series of edited and condensed interviews called "We like to share," in which Steuer talked to people who work across a variety of fields who use sharing as an approach to benefit the work that they do.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Julian Meehan

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