Asia Commons

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"The Asia Commons was established in order to study how the commons concept is applied in an Asian context. An Asian Commons event was held in 2006 in Thailand and the project has grown from there with subsequent meetings at previous iSummit events. Asia is differentiated in terms of the commons by the fact that common village land still exists in Asia and that piracy is more prolific in the region. These are just two examples of local issues that have bearing on the commons in Asia." (

Status Report 2008

From a session at the iCommons conference in July 2008:

"Heather Ford, director of iCommons, facilitated the Asia Commons session on Day 1 of iSummit 2008 and began by clearing chairs out of the room so that delegates could meet each other by playing some games by way of introduction, before getting down to business and discussing how the commons is addressed in Asia.

Heather pointed out that communications has been a major stumbling block, not just in Asia, but globally. The iSummit provides a platform to improve communications, however, and this session was used for delegates to introduce themselves and discuss their interests in the Asia Commons and the opportunities they have for learning from and teaching to other members of the broader Asian community.

Collaboration was highlighted as a key objective for most in the Asia commons, who are looking for ways to actively engage with other members of the Commons movements. Another issue addressed in the session was how to bridge cultures and traditions in terms of sharing and the commons.

Of course, Asia is a big region with many varying cultural nuances. There is no single concept of "Asia" and its definition should extend beyond just geographical specification. The Asia Commons therefore endeavours to study common interests in the Asian regions and find ways of applying commons principles in specific territories within the region.

Chiaki Hayashi from Creative Commons Japan pointed out that Asian culture is based on community structures and that this can be challenging in discussions of openness, as it is a completely new idea to some. It can, however, be related using traditional models such as land-share arrangements. Part of the challenge is to promote why movements such as Creative Commons are valuable, especially in terms of openness. Translation is also key; one cannot simply translate from English as much is lost in translation. For example, there is no Japanese words for 'commons'. Work must therefore be done to adapt principles and the likes of Creative Commons licenses to Asian countries in a way that makes sense for that particular country.

Tyng-Ruey Chuang from Creative Commons Taiwan pointed out that global pressures also face Asia, for example the USA's 301 list that references countries who do not have copyright acts that align to that of the USA. Some speculate that this list is used to guide sanctions policy.

It was widely agreed that a social movement must precede a legal movement in terms of relating the commons in Asia. So while it is important to have Creative Commons licenses localised for Asian countries, for example, social buy-in of the commons concept must be established and nurtured.

It soon became clear that more meetings and collaboration must take place for the Asian Commons. With agendas defined during this session, and relevant groups specified, the rest of the conference can be used for delegates from Asia to engage and plan to drive the Asian Commons going forward." (