Barack Obama

Obama-Biden transition site Change.gov now under a Creative Commons license

Eric Steuer, December 1st, 2008

Change.gov, the website of US president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, has undergone some important and exciting changes over the past few days. Among them is the site’s new copyright notice, which expresses that the bulk of Change.gov is published under the most permissive of Creative Commons copyright licenses – CC BY.

Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Content includes all materials posted by the Obama-Biden Transition project. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Change.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

This is great news and a encouraging sign that the new administration has a clear sense of the importance of openness in government and on the web (there’s a bit more on this over at Lessig’s blog). The embrace of Creative Commons licensing on Change.gov is consistent with earlier support by both Obama and McCain for the idea of “open debates.” (It’s also in line with Obama’s decision to publish the pictures in his Flickr Photostream under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license – pretty cool!)

Tim O’Reilly has written a smart post (which has elicited some very thoughtful reader comments) recommending that Change.gov use revision control as a way to further improve transparency and make it possible for the public to review any changes that occur on the site. Of course, licensing is just one component of openness, but getting licensing right is necessary for enabling people to truly take advantage of technologies that facilitate collaboration.

Update: Several people have pointed out that “works created by an agency of the United States government are public domain at the moment of creation” (see Wikipedia for more on this). Change.gov is not currently the project of a government agency, but a 501(c)(4) that has been set up to manage the Obama-Biden transition. Also, the public is being invited to contribute their own comments and works to the site, and it is important to have a clear marking of the permissions that other people have to this material.


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President Elect Barack Obama CC-Licensed Behind the Scenes Photos on Flickr

Cameron Parkins, November 7th, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama and his staff have been posting photographs to his Flickr photostream since early 2007. Their most recent set from election night offers an amazing behind the scenes look at a historic point in American history.


20081104_Chicago_IL_ElectionNight1032, Barack Obama | CC BY-NC-SA

All of the photos are released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, making them easily shareable and reusable. You can see more photos from the campaign trail here.

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DJ Z-Trip’s Obama Mix

Fred Benenson, October 27th, 2008

Z-trip Obama Mix
The legendary mashup DJ Z-Trip has released a new mix under our Attribution license intended to help garner support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Z-Trip’s Obama Mix is a recording of the set he’s been playing at recent fundraisers he’s organized with the artist Shepard Fairey (creator of the ubiquitous OBEY campaign and more recently, the Obama HOPE posters). Z-Trip wants you to push the mix as far and wide as possible so it makes sense he chose our least restrictive license:

I encourage you to download it and pass it along to anyone you think should hear it. Feel free to burn copies, share it with friends, family, co-workers, strangers, and especially anyone you know is on the fence about this election. I’m also putting out a radio friendly version, in case anyone wants to broadcast it.

Regardless of your political affiliation, the mix deserves a listen for anyone interested in political speech and sound. Download Z-Trip’s mix here.

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Presidential candidates show support for “open debates”

Eric Steuer, October 6th, 2008

Two recent posts on Lessig’s blog show that both of the major party US presidential candidates support the idea of debate footage being available to the public for free and legal use.

Last Thursday, Lessig posted a letter of reply he’d received from Trevor Potter, the general counsel of the McCain-Palin campaign. The letter says that the campaign “supports [the] suggestion that those who may own rights in the debate video dedicate those rights to the public domain.” Potter continues: “Barring that, copyright holders should at the very least give utmost respect to principles of fair use by allowing non-commercial use of debate excerpts, thus ensuring that spurious copyright claims do not chill vigorous public discourse.”

Then, on Saturday, Lessig blogged that Barack Obama had reaffirmed his support for open debates, which he’d earlier established during the primaries via a letter to DNC Chairman Howard Dean. Obama’s letter asks that debate footage “be available freely after the debate, by either placing the video in the public domain, or licensing it under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

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