Rami Olwan

All About CyberLaw, Copyright and Developing Countries

Report on CC-Al Jazeera day, 14 March 2009, Doha, Qatar

The meeting of CC in the Arab world, which was hosted by Al Jazeera was successful in bringing together enthusiasts from across the Arab world with various backgrounds to discuss the development of the movement in the region.

Among the CC team that attended the meeting were Joi Ito (COE CC), Catharina Maracke (CC international), Michelle Throne (CC Berlin office) and Donatella Della Ratta (CC Arab World Media and Development Manager).  Several lawyers attended the meeting including me and Ziad Maraqa (CC Jordan), Dr. Mohammad El-Said (legal consultant, AL Jazeera), Maître Nafaa laribi (CC Tunisia) and Stephanie Raye Safi (legal consultant, Khasawneh & Associates, UAE). Other names that attended the meetings include: Ahmad Gharbeia, Mansour Aziz, Helmi Noman, David Munir Nabti (RootSpace), Mohamed Nanabhay (Head of New Media, Al Jazeera Network) and others.

Joi Ito started the meeting and provided everyone the opportunity to give an introduction about himself and his involvement with CC. The meeting was divided into two parts; the first discussed the legal issues related to the Jordanian CC license and porting process (Jordan was chosen as a case study since it is the first country that finalised the translation to Arabic), and the second part was devoted to the development of the movement in the region.

Catharina Maracke gave a bit of introduction about her role in CC international, and the legal issues associated with the translation and the porting process. Then she gave me and Ziad Maraqa the opportunity to discuss what we have done so far for CC Jordan.

I explained how and when this project was established in Jordan. I started to talk with professor Lawrence Lessig about CC in March 2003 when I attended the internet law program hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Then I finalized with Ziad Maraqa the first draft of version 01 in 2004, and it was approved by Professor Lawrence Lessig and CC. Version 03 was also finalized in September 2008.

The legal discussion concentrated on the translation of the word Creative Commons to Arabic, and the amendments that were introduced to the Arabic version of the license to be compatible with the Jordanian Copyright Law and civil legal system mainly: moral rights and fair use (limitation to author’s exclusive rights).

Several attendees were not happy with the translation of the word CC to Arabic (mashaa) including Maître Nafaa laribi (CC Tunisia) and Stephanie Raye Safi. Both couldn’t come up with an alternative for the word we have suggested. Ziad Maraqa mentioned that we haven’t received the necessary feedback on the Arabic license, and Ahmad Gharbeia from Egypt was among the first to do so. Ahmad Gharbeia gave his support to the word we have used, and mentioned his interest in the movement from an Arabic blogger perspective.

Others also gave support to the translation including Samer Jamous from Abu- Ghazaleh, Qatar and Dr. Mohamed Al Said who gave his implied support. It was agreed during the meeting to keep this matter open for discussion for a month before Catharina Maracke gives the final decision or someone comes up with an alternative that me and Ziad agree upon.

As for the second part, Joi Ito started the second part by giving his own perspective on the importance of CC movement internationally and to our region specially. Although he expressed that he is just starting to understand our region, he believes that there is a lot of potential that needs to explored. There were several suggestions from the attendees to boost the CC movement in the region. Among the important ones, a suggestion put forward by Helmi Noman to identify the important stakeholders (government, business, non- profit organizations) in the region for possible cooperation and outreach.

I mentioned the importance of conducting research of how CC could help developing countries mainly Arab countries in the context of education and development. I also stressed the importance of localising CC projects in the Arab world to make the movement more successful and more appealing to a wider audience in the region. Other ideas and comments were also given by David Munir Nabti and Dr. Mohammad El-Said.

Helmi Noman also mentioned the importance of setting out a policy of how to deal with Arab political bloggers that are using CC licenses, as this could be a sensitive issue in the region and could give certain governments that are not familiar with CC a bad impression.

Among the important issues that were also discussed was the fund raising for the CC Arab world activities. Joi Ito mentioned the fact that the fund raising campaigns should start from the region itself and not the U.S since most corporations would not give funding for this region. Several suggestions were given by Mansour Aziz, David Munir Nabti and Donatella Della Ratta.

The meeting was over and another follow- up meeting was also conducted to discuss the practical steps on the development of the movement including the continued discussion between the attendees.

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