“Trust: Reaching The 100 Million Missing Voters” Re-released Under CC License

Cameron Parkins, September 2nd, 2008

Trust: Reaching The 100 Million Missing Voters“, originally released in 2004 as a collection of essays, has been re-released online under a CC BY-NC license, meaning it can be shared, reused, and remixed as long as the author, Farai Chideya, is credited and it is for non-commercial purposes.

By releasing “Trust” under a CC license, Chideya and ‘Pop + Politics‘ (a political blog Chideya started in 1996) are able to spread their message much farther than before as the work can now be disseminated, reused, and remixed with no legal hassle. In other words, “Trust” can now more easily reach the 100 million missing voters the essay collection is focused on. You can download the first three chapters here, with more to follow as the election continues on. From Pop + Politics:

What does “Trust” cover? Well, do you want to know how the two-party system evolved? Why independent parties are at a disadvantage in that system? Why millions of people don’t vote? How hip hop politics evolved? How young Americans can revolutionize the system? It’s all in there.


This book is yours now. As long as you are a non-profit or a non-commercial blog, you can print any part (or all of) “Trust,” or: distribute it, post it on your site, excerpt it, or put parts of into other works like voter-registration packets. If you’re a commercial publisher or blog, you can do the same thing… but you have send us an email and ask permission first.

How can we give the book away for free online? The publishers, Soft Skull Press, gave us permission to release the book under a Creative Commons License. Creative Commons is an amazing project that allows books, art, and information to be free, with the permission of the people who created it.

That’s it. THIS IS YOURS.

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Alex Roberts, August 30th, 2007

Creative Commons International is working with Dharmniti Law Office, ChangeFusion Institute, and Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (SIIT) to create Thailand jurisdiction-specific licenses from the generic Creative Commons Licenses (CCL) and promote CCL and free culture of copyrighted work in Thai society. More details of the collaboration can be found at Creative Commons Thailand project page.

CC Thailand Project Team:

Phichai Phuechmongkol, President, and Worasete Phueksakon, Director, Dharmniti Law Office(DLO); Sunit Shrestha, Director, ChangeFusion Institute; and Arthit Suriyawongkul, Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, Thammasat University.


License draft (PDF).
English re-translation of the draft (PDF) and http://cc.in.th/wiki/th_ccl_changes_f

  1. BY-NC-SA : http://cc.in.th/wiki/th_ccl_e_f
  2. BY:  http://cc.in.th/wiki/by_f
  3. BY-NC: http://cc.in.th/wiki/by_nc_f
  4. BY-ND: http://cc.in.th/wiki/by_nd_f
  5. BY-NC-ND: http://cc.in.th/wiki/by_nc_nd_f
  6. BY-SA: http://cc.in.th/wiki/by_sa_f

English explanations of substantial legal changes (PDF).
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Read the discussion archives.


License draft (PDF).
English re-translation of the draft (PDF).
English explanations of substantial legal changes (PDF).

More about Dharmniti Law Office


Founded in 1947 by Pradit Premyothin and with the guidance of Buth Khandhawit in 1978, The Dharmniti Law Office Co., Ltd. (DLO) has become one of the most well-respected law offices in Thailand providing quality legal services for both local and international clients. DLO provides a full range of legal services with a staff of over 100 persons including over 50 talented lawyers.

Recognizing the rapidly changing needs of its international clients, The Dharmniti International Co., Ltd. (DHI) was founded in 1990. DHI, also with a staff of extensive experience, is one of the few international law firms in Thailand designed to understand and serve the needs of both foreign and domestic clients.

For more information about Dharmniti Law Office, visit http://www.thailandlawoffice.com/ (in English) or http://www.dlo.co.th/ (in Thai).

More about ChangeFusion Institute

changefusionChangeFusion Institute has been designing social innovation initiatives since 2001. Our sole purpose is to inject innovation into the social sector and corporate’s sustainable practice via design-thinking, innovative financing, partnership building and the use of ICTs.

Our social innovation designs range from micro-scale sustainable agriculture in dry land for the poor, Thai Open Courseware with the ministry of Education, Internet-based volunteer and philanthropy portal as well as social venture capital for emerging innovative social-startups.

For more information about ChangeFusion Institute, visit http://www.changefusion.org/.

More about Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, Thammasat University

SIITThammasat University

Thammasat University has been established in 1934, two years after the 1932 Siamese Revolution, in the name “University of Moral and Political Science”, to educate a fledgling democracy at that time on law and political science. Since then, the university played an important role in social movements. In 1992, the university together with its industrial partners founded Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (SIIT) to provide research and education in engineering, technology, and management for the country’s development. Its School of Information and Computer Technology hosts one of the country’s largest research groups in knowledge and information science.

For more information about SIIT, visit http://www.siit.tu.ac.th/.

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CC Talks With: Librivox

Mia Garlick, December 5th, 2006

LibriVox is a project that describes its mission to be the “acoustical liberation of books in the public domain.” It is a digital library of free public domain audio books that are read and recorded by volunteers. It was started just a year and a half ago, in August 2005, and already has amassed over 150 recordings. Most of the recordings are in English but there are also recordings available in German, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Japanese as well as other languages. Read More…

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CC Talks With: McKenzie Wark

Margot Kaminski, October 11th, 2006

Photo © Ara Koopelian, CC-BYMcKenzie Wark is a professor of cultural and media studies at the New School in New York, and author of A Hacker Manifesto, published by Harvard University Press. He chose to post the draft of his next book, GAM3R 7H30RY, on a site designed in coordination with the Institute for the Future of the Book, an organization that seeks to explore, understand and influence the shift of intellectual discourse from printed page to networked screen.

GAM3R 7H30RY is described as an experimental networked book, and allows readers to post feedback online using windows that are arranged like note cards on the page. The entire online work is currently CC licensed under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5.

Creative Commons contacted Wark to discuss this project, his choice of licensing, and his thoughts on the future of print publishing.

Creative Commons: Can you give us a bit of background about the project? How and why did you start it?

McKenzie Wark: GAM3R 7H30RY grew out of my last book, A Hacker Manifesto, which, incidentally, was about intellectual property. I wanted for the next book to find some way of sharing the book with readers before it reached its final versions. A lot of authors do blogs and things either before they write a book or after it comes out. I wanted to share the actual text of the book as a work in progress, so readers could contribute to it mid way.

The usual blogware just wouldn’t do for that. Neither would a PDF, which provides no adequate way to link comments back to points in the text. And that god awful comments function in MS Word is just the bane of my existence. So we needed a new tool.

So in collaboration with the Institute for the Future of the Book, we created a new kind of interface that would present a longish text in a useable way online, and enable comments, both about specific paragraphs and more generally about the project.

The idea was to get both gamers and academics to come together around this idea of what I call gamer theory – which is that computer games are a new dominant cultural form, and hence call for new kinds of critical concepts. It went up in May 2006 and produced a steady trickle of really useful comments and dialogue. I wrote the title GAM3R 7H30RY, partly so I would have a unique search string, and I’ve found very interesting and useful stuff on other people’s websites as well.

CC: How did you decide to use a Creative Commons license for this project?

MW: It’s a question of goodwill. Users of mainstream services like MySpace are now very nervous about ownership questions – and rightly so. Who owns what you contribute to somebody else’s website? So just as a matter of principle I wanted everyone to feel like they could have “ownership” of GAM3R 7H30RY, where noncommercial purposes are involved. The CC license is now widely understood as a key to that goodwill gesture, at least in the new media circles where this book was likely to travel.

What the media corporations refuse to countenance is the fact that communication has always been in part a commodity economy, but in part also a gift economy. They want to use intellectual property law and the technical crippling of media technologies – what I call Digital Restrictions Management – to shut down the gift part of the communication cycle. It’s crippleware for the whole culture. Having written against this in A Hacker Manifesto, I wanted to make damn sure I wasn’t contributing to it. Hence the CC license for the web expression of the project.

CC: What behavior did the license enable that traditional all-rights-reserved copyright wouldn’t? Were there any unexpected benefits due to the license?

MW: I think it allows readers to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the book without feeling like they are just doing my job for me. People are waking up to the fact that the so-called participatory side of the blogosphere is really just another version of outsourcing. Not only do we have to put up with the ads in commercial online media, we have to produce the stuff ourselves now. You write it, but they own it.

So in its own small way, GAM3R 7H30RY was about making it clear that there is also a gift economy side to participatory media. I give my book away, in its not-quite finished state, for free to anyone who wants to read it or share it, as a way of encouraging people to help improve it. And they are! I have some terrific material from readers that will go into the finished book.

I also intend that site to stay up in one form or another so people can use it in teaching. I think the CC license should make people feel comfortable about doing that too.

CC: Are there any plans to translate the site/project into print? If so, why? How might a print version differ from the online one?

MW: I’m in talks with my publisher, Harvard University Press, about this right now. It’s new territory for them, so there’s a learning curve. This is a major and respected academic press, so they don’t do things without thinking them through.

One thing we would have to work out is a way to license the print book in a way that doesn’t prevent the online conversation from continuing. We still need university presses, or something like them. We still need their expertise in filtering and editing manuscripts, managing a backlist and publicizing works. And all that has to be paid for.

So the question is: how can the gift economy of the online “book” and the printed book with a cover price work together? I think the practice of how you do it is actually quite clear and no big problem. It’s just a question of getting the legal conventions to catch up.

Creative Commons is a big help there. But in reality I’m doing with GAM3R 7H30RY pretty much what I did with A Hacker Manifesto and my other books: I’m giving away ideas in lots of forms that are transitory and fragmentary, which persuades some readers that they would like to respond to that by buying an actual book – a well designed, well edited, well bound object that will look great on the coffee table, that you can hand to a friend, that you can store on your shelf. In other words printed books still have lots of functions. Not to mention being easier to read.

CC: If you are planning a print version, do you predict (or have you had) any trouble with traditional print publishers over licensing or other transferring issues?

MW: When I did A Hacker Manifesto, I had to assign all rights to Harvard University Press. I think they understood from the get go that a lot of my ideas will circulate freely on the Internet, but that I would not do anything that would hurt their efforts to benefit from the rights for which they paid me.

That book did well enough that they are prepared to at least think about a different licensing arrangement this time for GAM3R 7H30RY (should they accept it). What I’m saying to them is that I can assign to them the rights that they can actually make a living from, but that we leave out of the contract what I would call the “fantasy rights” that are usually in these things.

What got me interested in all this in the first place was the ridiculous state of academic journal contracts, where you sort of assign all these mythical powers in all territories, ‘til the end of time. Rights that nobody in a million years could ever figure out how to profit from, but that some lawyer with no clue about how the reading-writing relationship actually works dreamt up.

Maybe that’s a big part of the problem: Lawyers just don‘t read like normal people. They read and write with the meter running! This warps their judgment about the subtle nature of the intertwining of the gift and commodity economy in culture.

CC: If the project does go into print, will you be posting a CC-licensed version of the final version?

MW: I hope so – it depends, as Laurence Sterne wrote in Tristram Shandy, whether “I can strike a tolerable bargain with my book seller.” I have some bargaining power, but not as much as Lawrence Lessig does! So we’ll see.

CC: How did this experience differ from your normal writing process? Was it a positive or negative experience, overall?

MW: I was asked by Bob Stein, the moving force behind the Institute for the Future of the Book, if I would have liked to have been in dialogue with readers when I wrote A Hacker Manifesto. And I said: “hell no!” That was a sitting alone on the mountaintop kind of book. Writing does not always benefit from being in instant contact with its intended audience. You lose the capacity to surprise that audience, and to really challenge its beliefs in a sustained way.

But I have a lot of respect for Bob and I liked the team he has put together at the Institute, so I thought: maybe for the next book. So I was very happy when they agreed to design and build a brand new, purpose-built website for GAM3R 7H30RY. Jesse Wilbur built it, after long conversations with me and Ben Vershbow, also from the Institute.

At first I was very nervous about readers coming in to the process at this mid-point in the writing process. Writing is a pretty solitary art, and particularly early on you can be a bit sensitive to how people respond. But generally, readers extended this huge amount of goodwill to me and to the project. I’m really thankful for that.

So now I not only have the official reader’s reports commissioned by Harvard University Press. I also have this unofficial “peer review” material from the website. It’s peer review in a different sense. Some people call it peer-to-peer review. People have to prove their “credentials” in what they write on the site, rather than simply have it taken for granted that because you are professor such-and-such your opinion should matter.

I had terrific official reader’s reports from Harvard – they’re very good at that process. But like most writers I’ve also had terribly ignorant and lazy official reader’s reports, presumably from supposedly respectable sources. Peer review doesn’t always work as it should. I think what we’re experimenting with here is not something that can replace peer review but a sort of check and balance. A sort of collaborative filtering.

CC: What are your feelings about the networked book- will authors take to it? And do you think authors can remain commercially viable while networking and CC-licensing their work, prior to print publication?

MW: To take the last first: one of my all time favorite books is Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle. There’s a lovely edition for sale from Zone Books. Today its Amazon rank is about 18,000 – but I’ve seen it as high as 5,000. This edition has been in print for twelve years.

You can also get the whole text free online. In fact there are three whole translations you can download. In the ’60s Debord was editor of a journal called Internationale Situationiste. All of it is freely available now in translation.

The Situationists were pioneers in alternative licensing. The only problem was they didn’t have access to a good license that would allow noncommercial circulation but also bar unauthorized commercial exploitation. There were some terrible pirate editions of their stuff. Their solution to a bad Italian commercial edition was to go to the publisher and trash their office. There has to be a better way of doing things than that.

But in short: the moral of the story is that if you give a nice enough gift to potential readers, they return the gift by buying your stuff. Debord’s works are now classics. Constantly reprinted, a nice little earner for his widow. But it is because of this huge gift of stuff to readers that readers – generations of them – return the favor by buying the works.

Culture has always worked like that. The real question to ask is the reverse: how is anyone except the media conglomerates going to make a living when they have commodified culture to within an inch of its life? How are they even going to make a living off it? It’s never been done before in the history of the world.

On the networked book: this also is something that is not as new as it looks. Literature has always been networked. As the German media theorist Friedrich Kittler and his followers argue, there would be no novel without a postal system. The book as artifact and the book as vector, or relation between points, always go together.

What the networked book needs, however, is new tools, new conventions, new economies. That’s where GAM3R 7H30RY and experiments like it are interesting. It’s about reinventing the connective tissue between books, across space and time, and between different kinds of reader. It’s about making an end-run around monopolies of knowledge and culture. Creative Commons is a key part of that process. But so too are new media tools, and perhaps even more importantly, new cultural, social, and literary conventions. We need to relearn how to read and write.

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CC Talks With: Wikitravel

Mia Garlick, June 20th, 2006

Wikitravel is a wiki dedicated to providing a “free, complete, up-to-date and reliable world-wide travel guide” that is built by collaboration of wikitravellers from 42 countries around the globe and in a variety of different languages including English, German, French and Japanese. The wiki tool, of course, lets any Internet reader create, update, edit, and illustrate any article on the Web site. Currently, wikitravel has 8,847 destination guides and other articles related to travel.

Wikitravel was begun in July 2003 by its two founders, Evan and Maj (Michele Ann Jenkins). It was inspired by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and by the needs of travelers for timely information that long book-publishing cycles can’t seem to meet.

In April 2006, Wikitravel and World66, another travel wiki, were acquired by Internet Brands, Inc., an operator of consumer information Web sites. The sites are growing exponentially, collectively attracting more than 2 million visits per month, more than triple a year ago.

Wikitravel is licensed to the public under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 license. Mia Garlick of Creative Commons asked Evan & Michele to explain a little about wikitravel and their experience of using a Creative Commons license.

CC: Why did you start Wikitravel?

Evan: Michele and I started Wikitravel to scratch a personal itch. We’d been traveling in Southeast Asia in the winter of 2002-2003 and we’d had really poor experience with the (brand new) guidebooks we were using. They were just hopelessly out-of-date and inaccurate. Restaurants that were listed were closed or moved; hotels were out of business; “unknown” beaches overrun with other people.

Michele writes all over guidebooks: scribbling out restaurants that are gone, changing phone numbers, updating addresses. It’s partly because we need the information, and she has to write it down somewhere. But I think it’s also just to show how wrong the books are.

At one point, as Michele drew a line through yet another non-existent hotel she started to grumble. “So how many other people out there do you think have come down this same road and not find a hotel and how many are going to? Making the change in my guidebook isn’t going to do them any good.” The idea of posting changes to a website came up, but we quickly realized that it wouldn’t be enough for just two people making updates on one or two guidebooks. I’d had experience with Wikipedia (which was pretty young at the time), and it dawned on us that we could recruit the entire Internet to write and update guidebooks for us, a little bit at a time. It was really our selfish desire for reliable travel guides that got us started on Wikitravel.

Michele: It always bothered me that thousands of readers were subjected to the travel opinions of a handful of writers and editors — and in some cases just one. If those few people didn’t find a place worth covering, it might as well not exist. And if they didn’t get a chance to double check a listing, how many people would lug their backpack down the wrong road in the middle of the night between editions? Then you have the big-trip problem: do you pack 1000-plus pages of guidebooks and then tear out pages as you go along? Do you buy the guidebooks along the way? What if your trip is San Francisco-Bangkok-Hanoi-Lisbon? Is that 4 huge country or region guides or four small city guides? We both saw a lot of flaws in the current travel guide model.

CC: “User generated content” seems to be the new buzzword but it does depend on getting users to take the time to generate the content. How did you attract users to the two sites to make contributions?

Evan: I think the main reason people contribute is because they can. They arrive on wikitravel.org and read the pages that are on Wikitravel right now, and in some way or another the page is wrong. There’s a misspelling, or a phone number is incorrect, and people hit the “edit” button and edit the page. They mostly do it out of frustration; it’s like Michele scribbling in our paper guidebooks. But in this case, the corrected listings are shared with the entire Internet. Everybody has the corrected version of the book.

Other people really identify as “travelers” — it’s part of who they are — so becoming heavily involved in Wikitravel lets them express that part of their identity. Some others are really disappointed in the coverage of some region or city by a commercial travel guide, and they want to “set the record straight.” Others want to share their information about their hometown or home state.

Mostly I think people believe in the idea – that travelers’ best information source is other travelers. They think it’s logical, and they want to see it work. So they add in whatever knowledge they’ve got to share, and help out in any way they can.

Michele: Wikitravel brings together the travelers’ natural instinct for sharing information with the speed and reach of the Internet and the low threshold for entry of a wiki. It turns travel guides from a one-to-many communication stream to a many-to-many. Anyone who’s sat through a friend’s vacation slides knows that the problem is rarely getting people to contribute. The challenge is focusing all that energy and information into something that is consistent and reliable for other users.

CC: What kinds of policies do you have in place to manage the nature of contributions — to settle disagreements and ensure the content is high quality?

Evan & Michele: When we first started, we had some really strong ideas about what we wanted to do, and we figured we’d take a few months to work on the site on our own. But somehow people heard about it, and all of a sudden we had contributors coming out of nowhere — like the baseball players coming out of the cornfields in Field of Dreams. It’s true – “If you build it, they will come.”

But people didn’t all grok our concept of doing collaborative travel guide – people were just taking the name wiki + travel and interpreting that however they wanted. We wanted people’s input, but if things descended into chaos, we’d have wasted this opportunity.

So we scrambled to come up with some organizing principles for how to structure the guides. Almost immediately, we created a list of our goals and non-goals – what we wanted to do, what we thought was a distraction and off-topic. We also created a list of article templates – standard layouts for each travel guide – and a manual of style that describes how to say things in a consistent way. We want readers to understand any guide on the site after they’ve read another guide; and we want contributors to concentrate on sharing knowledge, rather than re-organizing each guide for each destination (“How should we lay out restaurant listings for Paris? OK, what about for Rome? OK, what about for Santa Barbara?”)

As for disagreements, we’ve always worked in a real consensus-oriented decision-making style. Anything in our manual of style, in our policies, or in the content of the guides is up for discussion. We want everyone to feel like they’ve got a say in how Wikitravel works – that their ideas and opinions matter. When we have a conflict, we try to keep our goals in the forefront, and ask what’s going to make a better travel guide, versus what’s just going to gratify contributors in the short term. We really think that the traveler comes first. Wikitravel isn’t an art-therapy exercise, where what matters is giving the contributor a warm fuzzy feeling; it’s a serious project for making guides that travelers need. We want people to feel satisfied with their work, of course, but when it comes down to personal satisfaction versus the quality of the guides, well, we want to err on the side of quality.

We don’t really have a lot of the typical structures around group decision-making, like votes and referendums and arbitration and such. We think that collaboration requires making decisions together, rather than waging war on each other. So we try to stay more consensus-oriented rather than conflict-oriented. And the fact is that we’re in this project for the long term – things don’t have to be decided right now, we have time to think it through together.

That all said, we’ve left a lot on the cutting room floor in getting to where we are. And now we want to think about the best ways to get it back up front, and let people contribute however they can. We’re really good right now at “we travel” — objective, factual guides, built together, with consensus point of view. We want to expand in the coming year into “me travel” — personal experience, opinions, photo galleries, blogs, reviews. We want to bring that personal dimension of travel information into the equation – we call it the “yin-yang” approach. We think there’s something there for the reader, too.

CC: Do you have stats about the sites?

Evan & Michele: Today, we have about 8800 travel guides in various states of completion on the English version of Wikitravel, and about 14,000 travel guides in all languages. Add to that the 19,000 on, and there’s a whole lot of guidebooks going on!

We cover the entire globe, but places that have pretty intensive travel industries get covered the deepest. We have some really interesting off-the-beaten-path destination guides (like Svalbard, Pencticton, and the Falkland Islands), which I think are the biggest beneficiaries of the wiki model of travel guide development.

Last count of contributors was somewhere around 6000 registered users, but that’s kind of deceptive since you don’t have to register to contribute. I think our unregistered users are somewhere around 25,000-30,000 — people who’ve changed a page or added a guide without registering.

Our read-to-edit ratio is high — something like 40 or 50 people read an article before one person edits it. But that’s OK – we’re grateful for that one person!

CC: How did you hear about Creative Commons licensing?

Evan & Michele: When we started Wikitravel, we looked to Wikipedia for a model on a lot of the ideas. And Wikipedia was using the GNU Free Documentation License, which when Wikipedia started was really the only game in town for free content licenses. The fact that they started out as “GNUpedia” probably also had something to do with it.

We had a couple of problems with the GFDL, though. It requires that the full license be included with every copy of the work. While that’s not a burden for an encyclopedia or software manual, it’s a real hassle for someone distributing 2&nash;3-page printouts of a travel guide if they have to have to include 12 pages of boring legal text. Also, the GFDL has requirements for distribution of the source code — again, something that doesn’t make sense for small distributors of short works.

And we really see those small distributors as some of the big re-distributors of our guides. B&Bs, hotels, tourist information offices, teachers on field trips — there are a lot of people who can benefit from having a lot of printed handouts of Wikitravel guides handy. We gave out copies of the Montreal guide to each of the guests at our 2004 wedding — and people really appreciated it.

So, we started looking around at other Open Content licenses. I think the main reason we heard from them was from the FSF site, which had this self-righteous screed about them, since you could just include the URL of the license, rather than the whole license, and maybe in the flying-car future, by the time copyright expired, URLs would be no longer used. I was like, “Just the URL? That’s just what we need!

Looking over the licenses themselves, and at the material on creativecommons.org, we thought that the licenses made a lot more sense for us than the software-manual-oriented GFDL, which had all this confusing stuff about Front Cover Text and Back Cover Matter and all these things that just didn’t apply in our case.

At the time in summer 2003, the CC 1.0 licenses were only about 6 months old, but we thought it was a good bet that they’d continue to gain momentum and that people would understand the Creative Commons idea well into the future.

CC: Why did you decide to apply a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 license to the sites?

Evan & Michele: We wanted to get the CC license that was closest in spirit to the GFDL, so that contributors who were used to Wikipedia would understand that they had about the same deal on Wikitravel as they did there. And the copyleft provisions in the by-sa 1.0 license seemed to be the best fit.

We really wanted the license to represent a deal between contributors and the site, and between contributors and the rest of the world. We thought that people who put a lot of work into a travel guidebook at least deserve attribution — the respect of recognition of their work. And we thought that the copyleft ShareAlike requirements were a way to ask readers and redistributors to “pay it forward” for the favor of the shared information. Copyleft keeps a community orientation — it keeps the collaboration flowing.

We avoided some of the other license elements, like NonCommercial. It’s always been one of our goals to have commercial travel guidebooks include Wikitravel information in them. We want people to have up-to-date, reliable content, and however they get it, that’s OK with us. Putting a non-commercial requirement on the guides would really cut out a lot of the channels of people getting that data.

CC: Have you had any feedback — whether positive or negative — from contributors to or users of the site about the use of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 license?

Evan & Michele: I think the biggest feedback we’ve had has been that the strong copyleft provisions of both the BY-SA 1.0 and the GFDL make it hard to share text, images, and so forth between Wikitravel and Wikipedia (or other Wikimedia sites). I’ve got mixed feelings about the matter; I think that for the most part encyclopedia pages aren’t really that good as travel guides. The way you talk about a city in an encyclopedia is different from the perspective you take in a travel guide. A travel guide has hotel listings, opening hours of restaurants, prices for admission to museums, directions to get to bars, and so many other things that just wouldn’t go in an encyclopedia article. That’s the other reason that people don’t carry encyclopedias in their suitcases when they travel.

But mostly we’ve had really good feedback. People understand that Creative Commons means sharing what you know, and they like that idea. CC is a big part of how we get the Wikitravel idea across to users.

CC: In April 2006, Internet Brands, Inc. (“IB”), an operator of consumer information websites, acquired Wikitravel. Did they have any comments or concerns about the use of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 license?

Evan & Michele:When they first approached us, we felt like we had to explain the license: “You know this is all under a CC license, right?” But IB totally understood where we were going with Wikitravel, and they embraced it. They think that the license, and the impression that readers and contributors get from the license, is key to the success of the site.

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CC Talks With: Lulu

Mia Garlick, May 17th, 2006

Lulu offers a publishing service for “digital do-it-yourselfers” to publish all manner of media including books, music, comics, photographs, and movies.

Lulu lets creators set the license terms, including Creative Commons licenses, for their works as part of the publishing process. Authors can also set the price at which they wish to sell their content. There is no set-up fee and no minimum orders.

Anyone can search for works published on Lulu by license type.

Lulu was founded by Bob Young, who was also the co-founder of Red Hat, a leading open source company. Mia Garlick from Creative Commons caught up with Stephen Fraser from Lulu to learn more about Lulu’s service and their use of Creative Commons licensing.

Creative Commons (“CC”): Lulu was started 4 years ago. Can you explain a little about the reasons that lead to Lulu being established?

Stephen Fraser (“SF”): After stepping down as chairman of his previous company, Red Hat, Bob Young created Lulu.com. His intention was to create a business model that fostered a more open marketplace for intellectual property, a marketplace that didn’t require creators to give up control of their content or the rights associated with that content.

Lulu.com provides on-demand publishing tools for digital content including books, ebooks, music, images, custom calendars, software and video. We are not a publisher, but a technology company giving individuals the power to publish independently. Most of our business comes from books, which can be printed on demand or downloaded. We are, I think, the largest print-on-demand service for books in the world at this point.

Self-publishing, of course, is not new. But new technology has changed the idea of self-publishing a great deal. Greater connectivity and access to tools for creating content have given individuals an unprecedented ability to produce and share their own media. Books–along with videos, music, software and other media–are now often created, distributed and owned by individuals rather than big companies.

One way to look at the changes brought about by Lulu.com in the publishing world is to compare Lulu to Blogger, LiveJournal or MySpace.com. Before blogging tools were available, individuals could still publish their own web sites; it just required a lot of effort. Blog technology (and more recently sites like MySpace.com) made it possible for anyone—of any age or technical ability—to publish and update a web site. The result was an explosion of content, much of it uninteresting, but taken together representing a media revolution. Similarly, before Lulu.com came along it was certainly possible to publish your own book. But by making book publishing technology free and accessible to anyone, Lulu.com has become part of a revolution (a revo-lulu-tion) in print publishing.

CC: Can you provide an overview of how an author, musician, filmmaker or photographer can use Lulu’s site to publish their work(s)?

SF: In the simplest terms, to publish something on Lulu.com a creator must register, choose to start a new publishing project, enter a project description that includes the copyright license information, upload a file, specify format and accessibility options, and then set the amount of money he or she plans to earn for each copy sold. For those interested in distribution but not profit, giving content away is also an option.

Publishing electronic content is quite straightforward, as is creating a photo calendar using your own digital images. Publishing a book is a bit more complicated, which—with over 1,200 new titles per week—doesn’t seem to slow people down much

From a technical standpoint, if you are a book publisher you will want to come to the process with your book already designed and typeset to one of Lulu.com’s available trim sizes. If you have access to layout software, creating your own PDF with the fonts embedded is ideal, but our system can also convert .rtf, .xml, .html,..doc files and the like into press-ready PDFs.

Once you have uploaded the body of your book, you can upload one .JPG for your front cover and another for your back cover, choose from a gallery of existing images, or create a wrap-around .JPG file with both covers and the spine of your book. As complicated as it is, we designed the Lulu publishing process to accommodate experts who design books professionally as well as complete novices, so it really offers quite a few options as you go along.

After you have made the content available, you (or, if you have made it publicly available, anyone else) can buy a printed copy. The order process is straightforward, and once ordered a book is manufactured and shipped within about three business days. Any book on Lulu.com can be ordered from anywhere in the world. As of this month, Lulu.com books ordered from Europe will actually be printed and shipped in Europe as well. The site is now available in French, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch as well as in English.

While publishing a book is free, at any point a book publisher can also choose to pay a fee to add an ISBN and global distribution to his or her title. Adding ISBN distribution allows the book to be sold through the worldwide web sites of retailers like Amazon.com and BN.com, and to be ordered by bookstores.

CC: Lulu’s Advanced Search lets members of the public search for works by copyright license including for works that they can: copy and distribute; use even for commercial purposes; and, modify, adapt, or build upon. A search by these license terms reveals some 300 works that are licensed on flexible terms including the Free Documentation License, the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license and Creative Commons’ Public Domain Dedication. Why did Lulu decide to include these specific license options in its publishing process?

SF: Hmmm. I just ran the same search and got about 370 or so items using one of the three standard CC licenses. But while we chose to offer those three licenses in the standard options, in fact anyone publishing content on Lulu.com can enter their own license description if they choose to do so; and many have. The standard options consist of what we perceived to be the most commonly requested licensing alternatives. We chose to leave the other licenses out of the standard choices just to make the process as simple as possible.

CC: How can an author who uses Lulu’s service choose to apply one of these licenses to their work?

SF: Choosing the license that will appear in your published item’s description page is one of the options appearing on the second page of the publishing wizard. As I mentioned, in addition to the standard options, creators are free to enter any text license they wish. Our system does not embed the license in the work, however, so a book publisher would want to insert the license terms on the copyright page of his or her book so that it appears in the printed versions.

CC: In Lulu’s experience, are some types of works are more likely to be flexible licensed than others?

SF: The greatest number of flexible licenses on Lulu.com are appear on content in the music category, where creators are most likely to be motivated by the desire to get exposure for their work. It’s also true that, apart from inhabiting a culture of sharing and creative reuse, many musicians use Lulu.com primarily as a means to host their files rather than as a marketplace for selling their music. That cannot be said of the community of Lulu authors, who by and large sell their work through Lulu.com.

CC: What kind of feedback, if any, has Lulu had from either authors or members of the public about the availability of this flexible licensing as part of Lulu’s publishing service?

SF: Demand from the creator community is the reason Lulu offers those licenses! Despite being early supporters of Creative Commons, we were slow to offer the licenses on our site because our team was so busy with other features. But eventually we had to make Creative Commons options available, because as a company we pay close attention to what members of the Lulu community talk about and request. While the flexibly licensed works constitute a minority of the total number of books published on Lulu.com, the folks who use them carry a lot of weight with us. As a technology, Lulu.com is designed around the principal of offering creators more control over the distribution and sale of their work. That means designing a system that gives authors, musicians, and others as many choices as possible, both in licensing and every other respect!

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CC Talks With: Sistema de Internet de la Presidencia, Mexico

Alex Roberts, March 8th, 2006


The Sistema de Internet de la Presidencia (or Presidency Internet System) (“SIP”) is the office in charge of generating and publishing all of the Mexican President Vicente Fox’s content and information over the Internet. They host and maintain various websites including the Presidency’s main website, “México en Línea” the Presidency’s Internet radio station, and “Software Libre” Presidency’s website for using the FLOSS project. León Felipe Sánchez, of our CC Mexico team, interviewed Luis Alberto Bolaños (pictured on the right) and Emiliio Saldaña (pictured on the left) to explain why Creative Commons licenses caught the Mexican Presidency’s attention. A Spanish version of this interview is available here.

Creative Commons (“CC”): How did you find out about Creative Commons and its project in Mexico?

SIP: As part of our activities within SIP we try to keep up to date with the leading technologies and trends in digital environments. One of our core activities is the work with FLOSS, which is how we learned about the Creative Commons project which attracted our attention because of its flexible range of licenses that can be tailored to the specific needs and interests of the Presidency’s communication and transparency programs.

CC: What made you decide to adopt Creative Commons licenses for all the content generated by the Mexican Presidency on the Internet?

SIP: We carried out extensive research on copyright protection and licensing and analyzed the Presidency’s specific needs to make its content available to the people. After this research we were delighted to find that Creative Commons licenses enabled us to protect our content in a more flexible way than the default “all rights reserved” status quo, thereby contributing to one of our main objectives, which is to make all the information available to as many people as possible. This is a key issue for the Presidency because we want our content to be used and distributed by researchers, academics, students, press members and the general public. Through Creative Commons’ licenses, the Presidency is able to ensure the free distribution, reproduction and diffusion of its content at no cost, thereby encouraging people to share while preventing unauthorized commercial use with licenses that fully comply with Mexican copyright legislation.

CC: What impact has this decision had on the Mexican Internet radio community and other program producers?

SIP: Collaboration between the Mexican government and Creative Commons Mexico is still at an initial stage. As a government Internet radio proposal, “México en Línea” is an innovative project which we trust will encourage other government entities to adopt the Creative Commons licensing scheme. This will emphasize the state’s recognition of the fact that the content belongs to the people while preventing unauthorized commercial use of such content and information yet not affecting its distribution and reproduction which, in the case of government statements and information, is very important for reaching as many people as we can.

CC: What impact or implications do you think the adoption of Creative Commons’ licenses might have on the governmental environment?

SIP: Both the impact and implications will be very positive because through the adoption of these licenses, we guarantee that the content generated by the Presidency remains the property of the people and that it is available free of charge. The use of Creative Commons’ licenses is a step towards a new government with very high standards of openness as regards information that will contribute to the administration’s levels of transparency, thereby guaranteeing that information will always be available to the people that need it. As we said, we want to set an example to help other government entities make their information available as well benefiting the community.

CC: How does Creative Commons fit into the government FLOSS project which you lead?

SIP: The use of Creative Commons’ licenses strengthens the work philosophy underlying the way the Presidency’s Internet System directs this project. It represents the spirit in which almost all of the content generated by the government is administrated actually. In other words, Creative Commons’ licenses have helped us make access to information more democratic.

CC: What is your vision about the role that FLOSS and open access to information technologies will play in the future of Mexico?

SIP: The use of FLOSS is a growing trend, especially within government, because it has enormous benefits such as, for example, the savings made from not having to buy software licenses. However, the most important fact is that taking advantage of open technologies and open distribution methods increases the transparency and efficiency of government operations, the process of documenting working procedures and the generation of knowledge databases, in this case in systems that enable us to increase the number of better government practices very simply.

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CC Talks With: Groklaw’s Pamela Jones

Eric Steuer, December 14th, 2005

Pamela Jones is the founder and editor of Groklaw, an award-winning Web site that conducts complex legal research using an approach inspired by open source. What started out as a one-woman operation in 2003 has grown to a full-fledged community with hundreds of contributors and millions of daily visitors. Focused primarily on issues that concern the FOSS community, Groklaw has become a must-read source of news and information for legal and technology professionals.

We recently spoke with Jones about her site’s origins and how applying a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license to her articles has helped her promote her work.

Creative Commons: What are the origins of Groklaw? What were your goals for the site when you started it?

Pamela Jones: I started by just trying to learn how to blog in connection with a job interview, and you have to write about something, so I wrote about what I knew and found most interesting, which is IP law, writing about cases in the news. I wasn’t expecting anyone to read what I was writing.

It wasn’t until people showed up in numbers that I realized the potential for applying open source principles to legal research. I understood that many of my readers knew more about tech than I did, and I knew more about the law than most of them did, being a paralegal. I also knew that lawyers are typically the last ones on the tech train, and I thought that it would be fun and creative to explain everything I knew about researching for a case and see if my tech readers would turn up information that would be useful. I was sure they could, if it was out there. At the same time, I thought lawyers reading Groklaw, and there are many of them, would benefit from understanding tech issues better. I saw myself as a mediator, introducing the two groups to each other, so they could be more effective together. It proved to be a successful experiment.

The idea was to follow a case daily, explaining as we went along. I started with several cases, and I watched to see which one seemed most interesting to people, and the SCO v. IBM case won hands down. So, after some time, I focused on that case, although we always had news of a general IP nature too, and eventually we covered patents and standards, anything that is of interest to the FOSS community. We actually have 8 or 9 topics now that we regularly cover, including one ongoing book, being written in installments for Groklaw by Dr. Peter Salus.

Our Groklaw Mission Statement explains what our goals were.

CC: How did you decide that Creative Commons licensing was right for your work?

PJ: Groklaw is a noncommercial site, and I knew I’d be keeping it that way, so it would always be independent. So my two interests were to disseminate information widely and to prevent others from making money from my work, when I wasn’t. I also wanted some measure of control over who used my hard work, but I wanted less than copyright provides, so it was a natural decision.

CC: What have been the benefits of using a CC license?

PJ: Groklaw’s articles, the ones under the CC license (sometimes individual contributors do choose a different license or straight copyright and comments are not under the CC license, so we provide an articles-only section for bots and those wishing to mirror) are widely mirrored and republished around the world. So my goal of widely disseminating the information was definitely achieved, remarkably so.

And another benefit is that I’m not annoyed with endless requests to reprint. Sometimes people who don’t understand the CC license will write anyway, so I truly see how time-consuming it would be to have to go through that with each and every person wishing to republish. It’s a real time-saver, well adapted to the Internet. And when Groklaw became popular, time became my least abundant asset.

It also has proven a protection. There have been a couple of times when articles were inappropriately reused by commercial entities, and I’ve been able to resolve such matters effectively.

CC: Are you surprised by Groklaw’s popularity?

PJ: Beyond words. I can’t tell you what a shock it is to see how many people really love Groklaw. I’m so shy by nature, it’s been an adjustment, a major adjustment, to learn to deal with it, but overall, I’d say it’s been good for me to have to grow. Or grow up. Finally.

It was a major, major adjustment for me, though, one that I still struggle with. I am sure, though, that part of Groklaw’s popularity is because of the depth of feeling people have for the subject. IP law has become important to everyone, because of the Internet and blogging. Anyone and everyone is now a publisher, so the laws affect us all, yet most people don’t understand the laws or worse, they misunderstand them. That’s not good. I thought about my family and all my friends, how they’d ask me to explain things in the news, and I thought, why not write just like that, to explain the process as if to a friend or family member over dinner who asks you, ‘Say, what’s this case all about? Why is such and so happening? What will happen?’ I might be just a paralegal, but I could at least explain the paralegal part. I love to write, it turns out, and I like helping and explaining, so it worked out. I do think that is the source of Groklaw’s popularity – that people are relieved to understand things that were like Greek to them before.

A half dozen of Groklaw’s readers have decided to go to law school, by the way. I love that, and I’m very proud of it, because part of my goal from day one was to share the love I feel for the law, and the respect I have for the process. And I think it’s terribly important that computer programmers and other tech-savvy people go to law school, so that someone can explain to judges (and later become judges) so decisions made will be based on tech comprehension and not on FUD or gross misunderstanding of how computers actually work.

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CC Talks With: Kembrew McLeod

Mia Garlick, November 1st, 2005

Kembrew McLeod is currently an Assistant Professor, University of Iowa, Department of Communication Studies. In addition to being an academic, Kembrew is a self-professed prankster. In 1998 he trademarked the phrase “Freedom of Expression®” as a comment on how the intellectual property law is being used to fence off culture and restrict the way in which people can express their ideas. He is the author of two books: “Owning Culture” and, most recently, “Freedom of Expression®: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity“.

The book “Freedom of Expression®” was released online under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/). Kembrew is currently making a documentary based on the second chapter of the book “Copyright Criminals: This is a Sampling Sport“. Excerpts of the documentary are currently online at the Internet Archive licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license. This documentary also inspired music that has been uploaded and remixed on the Creative Commons ccMixter site.

Both the book and the documentary make for a fascinating look at the creative process for many artists for whom sampling, recontextualization and referencing and ‘borrowing’ from the works of others is their artform.

Creative Commons’ Mia Garlick caught up with Kembrew and asked him about his experience of using Creative Commons licenses and tools.

Creative Commons (“CC”): How did you come to decide to release your book “Freedom of Expression®” online under a Creative Commons license? How did your publisher respond to your decision?

Kembrew McLeod (“KM”): While working on “Freedom of Expression®”, I always knew I would vigorously try to convince Doubleday/Random House to release a PDF file version of my book under a Creative Commons license although I suspected that Doubleday/Random House’s response would be “no way.” After all, the parent company of Random House is Bertelsmann, the media giant that also owns one of the major labels that is suing downloaders, so I didn’t think they would exactly jump for joy at my proposal.

Then Larry Lessig released his book “Free Culture”, that was published by Penguin books (another media giant publisher) online under a Creative Commons license; it made the news, and eventually it filtered back to my editor, Gerry Howard, who is a truly extraordinary person, and a really cool rock ‘n’ roll dude (not to mention a legend in the editing world). Gerry deserves the credit for getting Random House and its lawyers to go along with the idea. However, I don’t think I ever would have gotten any traction if Larry hadn’t convinced already another major press of the merits of a Creative Commons license.

CC: Have you had any reaction or comments from members of the public about your online release of the book under a Creative Commons license?

KM: It has been a truly gratifying experience to have the PDF version freely available, especially because (with the exception of Japan, where it is being translated for publication), my book “Freedom of Expression®” has no overseas distribution. I have heard from someone at a UN office in Switzerland, who shares my research interests, as well as others from various European, Asian, and African countries. Not coincidentally, soon after the book was released I was invited to speak at a really interesting event to be held this October 14-15, 2005, in Budapest, Hungary, called: “RE:activism: Re-drawing the boundaries of activism in a new media environment.”

CC: You have been selling hardcopies of your book as well. Do you feel that the online release of your book under a Creative Commons license has had any impact on the hardcopy sales?

KM: When I placed the Creative Commons-licensed PDF version online a week after it had been released, Larry Lessig endorsed my book on his blog — providing links to both the free PDF version on my website, and to Amazon. After that, my Amazon ranking (of course, not the most scientific indicator of sales, but an indicator nonetheless) shot way, way up after he posted his recommendation. Honestly, I think I got more publicity from that event than anything else surrounding the release of the book. After all, my book did not receive even a millionth of the promotion muscle of, say, Harry Potter, so the Creative Commons-prompted publicity definitely helped. It also seemed to be a positive karmic act of good faith, given the nature of what I argue in the book.

CC: You are in the process of making a documentary about the second chapter of your book – “Copyright Criminals: This is a Sampling Sport“. You used the Creative Commons ccPublisher tool to upload the video for free hosting at Internet Archive. What was your experience of using the ccPublisher tool?

KM: It was really simple and easy! It took me less than one minute to do it, and I’ve recommended this tool to everyone who has asked about Creative Commons licenses. My co-producer, Ben Franzen, and I had already placed our 10-minute work-in-progress version of Copyright Criminals under a Creative Commons license. But when we remembered that there is free hosting on the Internet Archive for Creative Commons-licensed works, we quickly uploaded it there after we blew through our bandwidth in only 24 hours.

CC: You also had an interesting experience with our ccMixter site and a remix involving your “Copyright Criminals” documentary. Can you tell us about it?

KM: Straight after we made this early version of “Copyright Criminals” available, someone (Pat Chilla the Beat Gorilla) placed an a capella rap on the ccMixter site that starts out, “It’s the copyright criminals/hit you with a blast from the past… .”

Shortly after this track was uploaded, many different remixes appeared that reworked this a capella. To date, there are 9 different remixes. Next time we do another Creative Commons-licensed cut of our work-in-progress (the feature length version won’t be finished until sometime in 2006), we are intending to use Ashwan’s “Chilla Illa Tha Cilla Killa” during the credit sequence.

This is an example of one of those gratifying creative feedback loops that makes Creative Commons so attractive for so many different kinds of people. I am glad it happened.

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CC Talks With: Open Democracy

Mia Garlick, October 1st, 2005

openDemocracy is an online magazine that provides a forum in which global issues relating to politics and culture are debated, many of which do not receive sufficient or sufficiently careful attention by the mainstream media. Its purpose is to “publish clarifying debates which help people make up their own minds.”

Since 2001, openDemocracy.net has published around 2,600 articles written by writers from around the world. Readers include students, journalists, pensioners, policymakers and politicians. A brief review of openDemocracy’s author pages shows that recent authors have included Kofi Annan, Timothy Garton Ash, Janis Ian, Iris Marion Young, Salman Rushdie, George Soros, Richard Stallman and Gillian Slovo. openDemocracy’s website consists of lively discussion forums, in addition to topical articles; it serves as a global network of people committed to making the world a better place.

openDemocracy is based in London and also has an office in New York, in addition to its online presence. openDemocracy recently announced that they will be releasing the majority of their articles under a Creative Commons license as part of their commitment to global democracy. In recognition of openDemocracy’s launch of Creative Commons licensing, Siva Vaidhyanathan, has written a welcoming article outlining the history of the Creative Commons that appears on openDemocracy. Siva is a cultural historian and media scholar, and is currently an assistant professor of Culture and Communication at New York University.

Mia Garlick spoke with Solana Larsen about openDemocracy’s switch to Creative Commons licensing. Solana is a Commissioning Editor at openDemocracy and also heads up openDemocracy’s New York office. She is Danish-Puerto Rican, holds an MA in international journalism from City University in London and is herself a published author.

Creative Commons (“CC”): Can you tell us about the nature of openDemocracy?

Solana Larson of openDemocracy (“oD”): openDemocracy is an online magazine and also more than just an online magazine. openDemocracy is committed to debating global issues and supporting democracy. We provide background on a lot of the issues that the mainstream press skate over. Our authors tend to be the top thinkers, movers and shakers in their field: mainly scholars, journalists, and policymakers, and from across the political spectrum.

Our objective, through our website, is to make difficult or remote issues easily accessible and interesting to anyone, no matter where they live in the world. Instead of making foreign politics exotic, we try to present things in a way that makes it easy to understand. To explain, for example, why an American, a Briton, or an Egyptian should be interested in, say, Brazilian democracy.

We are also committed to facilitating discussions about issues by the people most affected by them. For example, in the run up to the Iraq war, many people would use Iraqi opinion to support their own views. As far as the media goes, openDemocracy was one of the few publishers, if not the only publisher, who set up roundtable discussions between Iraqis themselves. We’re not scared to put people who disagree in the same room. Right now we are looking closely at Iran, and we’ve set up a weblog with writers inside and outside the country to observe the presidential elections.

CC: How did openDemocracy come to the decision that it wanted to apply a Creative Commons license to its articles?

oD: Editorially, openDemocracy has paid a great deal of attention to the legal struggles that led to the development of the Creative Commons, and interviewed both Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond when Napster was still a big story. Intellectually, it was a piece of cake to see that the Creative Commons offers a constructive and democratic solution to a really huge problem. Practically, it was harder to walk boldly into unknown territory. Most of us were more familiar with the print model of thinking, and we reasoned that if people could read openDemocracy articles elsewhere they would have no reason to visit the website.

Initially, we placed older articles behind an archive barrier and charged subscription fees. At first, we let people choose themselves how much they wanted to pay. Later, we set a fixed price. Although many signed up, it wasn’t really sustainable but, more importantly, it just didn’t fit our ethos. When we surveyed subscribers, many said they gave us money because they liked us; not because they wanted to access the archive.

Now openDemocracy is finished with closing off information to the world. The archives have been opened, we only ask for donations now, and we’re encouraging all our authors to release their work under Creative Commons licenses.

Our commitment is to getting ideas out in circulation, and even from a survival perspective it makes sense. We are confident people will read republished articles and be drawn to the source by curiosity. We hope readers will begin to think of us more as a resource for their intellectual or political causes rather than just an online magazine.

CC: As part of switching over to Creative Commons licensing, openDemocracy has gone through the process of approaching many authors of articles that have previously been published by openDemocracy to ask if they were willing to make their article available under a Creative Commons license. What have been the different types of reactions of your authors?

oD: openDemocracy has an archive of more than 2,600 articles. Initially, we’ve only approached the 350 authors from the past year about making their work available under a Creative Commons license. It’s difficult to get responses from everyone when you send a mass email, and people are always changing addresses. But of the 160 or so who have responded 150 have said yes, and that amounts to hundreds of articles. The enthusiasm has been genuine.

We have been surprised by how few of our authors seemed to know about the Creative Commons before we told them about it. It feels like we’ve already done important work simply by telling them about our new policy. They’ve praised, applauded, and thanked us for taking the initiative on this.

When authors have voiced concerns or said no it’s generally been because they’ve already signed away their rights to book publishers, or don’t want to deal with asking permissions. Although, Salman Rushdie opted out for his own reasons (“Sorry to be old-fashioned”). And another author was concerned with moral rights, and how his work could be used in publications that disagree with him. He asked his agent for advice and they decided it was best to stick with what they knew.

We don’t pretend to know what’s right for each individual author. Many of the people who write for us sell books or articles for a living. Just because they agree to the Creative Commons on openDemocracy they may not change their practices otherwise. But it might inspire them to change over in the future.

CC: openDemocracy is asking its authors on a going forward basis to publish their works under a Creative Commons license. Do you have a sense of what the likely reaction will be going forward?

oD: Our focus has been on creating an internal system that would make it easy for authors to opt in to Creative Commons licensing over the Internet before we publish their articles. The Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license is going to be our default license. In special cases we will allow people to go for traditional “all rights reserved” copyright, or, like Siva Vaidhyanathan, to opt for a license that is even more permissive. Siva opted to allow derivative works.

Already we’re setting “free” articles by writers in Mexico, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Nepal, Indian, Australia, the UK and United States. The list is even longer. This is a day to celebrate. We’re serious about the need for a Creative Commons and we’re serious about taking it worldwide.

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