2012

Creative Commons Licensing in the World of Philanthropy

Andrew Blanco, June 26th, 2012

Having been here at Creative Commons for a couple of weeks now, I’m excited to share what I’m working on this summer as a Google Policy Fellow.

A quick introduction: I’m currently a graduate student in Management Science & Engineering at Stanford University. Before moving to Northern California, I lived in the Boston area where I worked at the Learning Games Network (LGN), a nonprofit spin-off of the MIT Education Arcade. While helping to develop a foundation-funded Open Educational Resource (OER) project at LGN, I came to appreciate the possibilities that open licensing can offer innovators in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.

The project I’m working on during my ten weeks here focuses on the use of Creative Commons licenses in the world of philanthropy. Our goal is to provide best practices that will help foundation leaders implement open licensing policies and ensure that the work they fund is available for others to build upon. This follows in the footsteps of last year’s Foundation Funding: Open Licenses, Greater Impact, published by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society as an updated version of its 2009 report, An Evaluation of Private Foundation Copyright Licensing Policies, Practices and Opportunities.

As the title of the Berkman Center’s update suggests, open licensing can be thought of as a force multiplier in the context of grant-making. Sharing the digital outputs of philanthropic investments under open licenses makes their reuse easier and increases their potential impact. If grantees produce documents, materials, or other content that could be applied in different settings or remixed in unanticipated ways that offer further social benefits, why not lower the barriers to these possibilities by automatically granting others permission (i.e., open licensing) to pursue these additional uses?

While a few foundations require or encourage their grantees to use open licenses in their work, this is not yet a standard practice. Some highlight their philosophies regarding open licensing, like the Shuttleworth Foundation and the Open Society Foundations, while others mandate specific licenses for selected programs or projects, like the Next Generation Learning Challenges initiative that’s funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Creative Commons encourages philanthropic funders to help lead the way for greater use of open licensing within the nonprofit sector. To learn what works and develop best practices, we’re reaching out to foundations that have already incorporated open licensing into their grant-making processes, analyzing existing policies and the documents used to communicate them, and talking with others in the field to better understand the challenges to broader adoption. Our final output will be sample copyright licensing policies for foundations that want to establish new expectations for sharing the intellectual works they fund, while also preserving flexibility for those instances where reserving more rights might still make sense.

If you’re a staff member at a grant-making foundation and would like to learn more about this project, please contact us at info@creativecommons.org.

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Apply for the 2012 Google Policy Fellowship with Creative Commons

Timothy Vollmer, December 13th, 2011

We’re happy to announce that for the fourth year Creative Commons will take part in the Google Policy Fellowship program. Submit your application by February 3, 2012.

The Google Policy Fellowship program offers undergraduate, graduate, and law students interested in Internet and technology policy the opportunity to spend the summer contributing to the public dialogue on these issues, and exploring future academic and professional interests. Fellows will have the opportunity to work at public interest organizations at the forefront of debates on broadband and access policy, content regulation, copyright and trademark reform, consumer privacy, open government, and more.

The 2012 Google Policy Fellow will receive a substantial grant to work at Creative Commons’ office in Mountain View, California. We are looking for motivated candidates with partially-developed ideas in exploring a particular interest/expertise area, short research project, or related activity within the broad spectrum of open licensing and the commons. Past Google Policy Fellowship projects have included an analysis of the WIPO development agenda in relation to its effect on access to public domain materials, crucial research on the welfare impact of Creative Commons across various fields, and an investigation of the characterization of Creative Commons within U.S. legal scholarship over the past 10 years. We are very flexible in accommodating project ideas that will be mutually beneficial to the candidate and CC. We are interested in a wide range of activities, which could include conducting original research, researching and developing educational materials, or assisting in the development of activities/projects useful to our wide-ranging global community. Potential topics may include, but are certainly not limited to:

Encapsulated research within our CC contribution-study project. Examples include:

  • Studying changing license adoption patterns in a specific community (can be quantitative, qualitative or comparative, with analysis depending on relevant applicant background)
  • Studying changing license adoption patterns within a specific platform
  • Studying the contribution of the platform in a specific context (applicant choice or our direction)
  • Studying the contribution of the CC network in a specific context
  • Studying CC’s contribution to the movement (with or without a human rights perspective; along the lines of expanding creation/data contribution to otherwise “distant” communities/persons/places/domains)
  • Studying CC’s contribution to novel cultural fields
  • For all the former: design DB (data gathering)

CC and the School of Open

  • Help design challenges/courses around CC licenses, with a particular focus on how to certify and assess expertise on CC licenses and topics.
  • Work would involve testing/evaluation with a user/creator community to measure effectiveness of courses.
  • Develop documentation/case studies for different user/creator communities.

Research and development of CC related toolkits and guides

  • Researching trends in CC usage, messaging around trends, development of high quality case studies and toolkits.
  • Depending on applicant interest and CC needs, could create for CC in government adoption/public sector information, CC and innovative business models, etc.

International activities

  • Translation projects (requires familiarity/experience with CC community)
  • Community management projects (requires familiarity/experience in community management skills; applicant could usefully work on volunteers or team-model working groups projects)
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