Revolution postponed? Tracing the development and limitations of open content filmmaking

Robin Williams, Gian Campagnolo, James Stewart, Evi Giannatou, Michael Franklin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Networked information technologies have brought about extensive changes in the production and distribution of creative cultural work. Inspired by the widespread success of Free-Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS), many proponents of open access advocate reconceptualisation of existing legal protection frameworks in creative works. This paper traces the attempted appropriation of Creative Commons (CC) licences by filmmakers and the consequent formation of an Open Content Filmmaking (OCF) movement. OCF proponents articulated notions of technology enabled transformation in content creation and distribution, similar to those that inspire the visions of FLOSS and CC advocates. It examines how these creators attempted to addressthe relevance of openness to their own activities and develop practical open models for filmmaking. Difficulties experienced in establishing viable livelihoods with OCF (as FLOSS developers had done), created tensions between those with a pragmatic or more ideological orientation. The initial vision of a consistent OCFmovement, enabled by CC, thus became fragmented. In contrast to FLOSS, where many actors were able to find ways to develop sustainable careers within the industry while contributing to Open Source Software, such generic strategies have not readily emerged for OCF. Drawing insights from Sørensen’s (1996) Social Learning framework (Learning technology, constructing culture.Sociotechnical change as social learning: University of Trondheim, STS working paper 18/96) in this paper we untangle the elaborate but often messy strategies deployed by Open Content Filmmakers (OCFs) and trace the multiple and often partial ways they have worked out to utilise CC elements and tools in producing,monetising and distributing their films.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 -21
JournalInformation, Communication and Society
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2018


  • digital media
  • cultural cration
  • filmmaking
  • copyright
  • open content
  • open source
  • science and technology studies
  • social learning perspective


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