Creative Commons Reformulates Campaign After BzzAgent Breakup

Copyright non-profit Creative Commons is turning to its supporters to help it create a word-of-mouth campaign, after negative feedback from those same people led it to drop a pro-bono effort planned with word-of-mouth agency BzzAgent.

“We are trying to build a movement around these ideas and having people spreading the message is incredibly important,” Creative Commons’ chairman and CEO, Lawrence Lessig, told ClickZ News. “We want people to spread the message because they believe in it, not because it is their job to spread the word.”

BzzAgent had been set to run a free-of-charge, 12-week “GoodBzz” program for Creative Commons. When bloggers and other Creative Commons supporters got word, however, a heated discussion ensued on blogs and on Creative Commons’ Web site. Some detractors called BzzAgent “creepy” while others called the relationship “a betrayal” of genuine grassroots activists. It was enough to spur Creative Commons to shut down the campaign within a week of launch, after the two organizations had engaged in three months of planning.

“It is a shame that we couldn’t, in the end, help this organization in a way that we know how,” said David Balter, founder and president of BzzAgent. “This campaign was the best that we had started in a long time. We had increased activity. In the end, if it got the Creative Commons community to activate themselves, we are very happy about that.”

Balter didn’t help his case by using BzzAgent’s own blog to accuse bloggers of making misstatements and spreading untruths. He’s since apologized for the post.

Creative Commons’ next step is still being determined. The company has established a wiki (define) to discuss how best the non-profit can achieve its original goal.

“We want to use the energy of the community that was so concerned about BzzAgent doing a word-of-mouth campaign and see if they could step in and do some word-of-mouth,” said Lessig.

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