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Al Jazeera Blogs Go CC

Fred Benenson, October 19th, 2009

Al Jazeera Blogs #2

Al Jazeera has just launched the latest of its online project called Al Jazeera Blogs.

The website features blog posts written by prominent journalists and correspondents from the global Al Jazeera television network. It also hosts several sub-blogs sections divided by geographical areas, such as the Africa, Asia, Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. In addition, Al Jazeera has a blog focused on international business and the ongoing financial crisis.

The project also features interesting tech extras such as integration with OpenCalais’ semantic tagging system.

Credit once again goes to Al Jazeera English’s Head of Online, Mohamed Nanabhay. Mohamed also happens to be the author of the first commoner letter for this year’s annual campaign, and was one of the key players who made Al Jazeera’s amazing CC repository a reality.

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Back to School: Student Journalism 2.0

Alex Kozak, August 31st, 2009

As students around the world return to school, ccLearn blogs about the evolving education landscape, ongoing projects to improve educational resources, education technology, and the future of education. Browse the “Back to School” tag for more posts in this series.

In the minds of many students, back to school means back to the same old textbooks, tests, and classrooms. Instead of getting excited about learning new ideas on the forefront of human life and experience, students often dread returning to the old methodology in their classrooms.

But for journalism students in several California Bay Area high-schools, school in the 2009-10 year will mean becoming research collaborators in the world of Creative Commons licenses, copyright, and so called “new journalism”. After months of planning, ccLearn at Creative Commons will be partnering with 5 bay area journalism teachers to introduce and research how a copyright and Creative Commons-related curriculum influences (or not) the practices of budding journalists.

From the original announcement:

For journalism students, the digital age requires more than hands-on reporting, writing, and publication of stories. Students must also embrace the capabilities of the Internet for virtual collaboration, viral dissemination, and feedback loops that inform and deepen original stories. All of these web-based opportunities depend on knowledge and proactive application of open content licensing, such as with Creative Commons, and appropriate metatags and technical formats. Student Journalism 2.0 engages high school students in understanding legal and technical issues intrinsic to new journalistic practices. The lessons learned during this pilot project will be documented in anticipation of a national-scale, follow-up project.

In the initial phase of the project, we hope to develop a successful model for engaging journalism students with new ways of thinking about content, copyright, and their goals as journalists in the age of the Internet and viral communication.

And at the same time, we are hoping that projects similar to Student Journalism 2.0 will impact how students perceive their place in the developing information ecosystem. Whether they go on to become professional journalists, artists, bloggers, or participants in social media platforms, students will be armed with a firm understanding of copyright and licensing, and how their decisions in those areas affect how their work will get distributed, used, and then redistributed.

We want students, both in school and after, to become part of the information ecosystem rather than passive consumers of information products. This will lead to better pedagogies, higher quality teaching and learning materials, and a more informed society.

Visit the Student Journalism 2.0 website for more information.

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Back to School Blog Week

Jane Park, August 31st, 2009

As students around the world return to school, ccLearn blogs about the evolving education landscape, ongoing projects to improve educational resources, education technology, and the future of education. Browse the “Back to School” tag for more posts in this series.

The last day of August also marks the start of the first week of September, and many schools in the northern hemisphere are opening their doors for the first time since spring, if they haven’t done so already. Parents are dusting off their kids’ backpacks, kids are tying on their squeaky new sneakers, and teachers and administrators are abuzz in the halls with preparations for the big week. In the U.S., back-to-school week has come to reach a significance usually reserved for spring in many countries, which is that for new life, a fresh start and chance to overshadow the past year’s failures with future successes.

In acknowledgment, and perhaps in celebration, of all the back-to-school weeks around the world, ccLearn is blogging its own. In the spirit of back to school, we will be blogging daily this week on the various projects, old and new, that have flourished in the open education space, while setting milestones and advancing our stance on a few pressing subjects and news items to date. What’s been in the news: open textbooks, open courseware, peer to peer online initiatives, OER in Africa, copyright exceptions and limitations, education search, and the ever rapidly changing world of journalism and new media.

Please join us in blogging this week. Re-blog and re-tweet at will, and comment away!

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New Video Pages and Blog Tags

Parker Higgins, August 20th, 2009

I’ve spent the last few months of Summer volunteering for Creative Commons, and in that time I’ve had a great opportunity to do a few little things that should make CC outreach and communication a little bit more effective.

First, I’ve been working a lot on the Videos section of the site, dealing specifically with promotional and informational CC videos. I’ve reorganized the Videos page on the Creative Commons wiki, finally putting together all the source assets and translation information in one place. That page may change a bit more in the coming weeks, but already it’s a lot clearer and easier for people who want to engage with the videos.

In addition to the wiki page, I’ve added a few links and a bit more information to the individual video pages on the main site. We hope that now the translation materials and source assets are displayed more prominently, people who are inspired will be enabled to jump in and translate or remix or mash up the videos.

The other major project I’ve been tackling this summer is adding “tags” to the CC weblog posts. As you’ll notice on the right of the main Commons News page, our most popular tags are visible are now visible, and each individual post has tags at the bottom of it, which you can click on for more posts tagged in the same way. For example, check out the Free Music Archive tag which displays all the posts related to WFMU’s Free Music Archive project. I’ve tagged a full year of CC posts and we will continue this habit going forward. This should make it easier to find things that we’ve blogged about that are especially relevant to your interests, as well as track related stories more efficiently.

These are just a few little projects I’ve had the pleasure of tackling as a CC volunteer. I hope it makes it easier for everybody to find their way around the site!

Parker Higgins, CC Volunteer

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CC website redesign launched

Mike Linksvayer, April 28th, 2009

We just turned on the first big creativecommons.org site design changes since October 2007. If you’re reading in a feedreader and haven’t visited the main CC site in awhile, here’s a home page screenshot:

CC homepage screenshot

The blog (which of course you’re reading now) no longer dominates. Of course headlines from the main CC blog and from jurisdiction projects are still present on the home page, and you can always visit the main blog page or planet for the full blog experience.

Previously we made the CC wiki match the main site’s theme as closely as possible. That was a good idea at the time, but now that the world is more familiar with wikis, we’ve brought wiki tools and navigation to the fore. Here’s a screenshot of wiki navigation for a logged in user:

CC wiki screenshot

We’ve also made some incremental improvements to license deeds, consolidating important items that aren’t top level license properties under a “With the understanding that:” heading, see screenshot below:

CC BY-SA deed screenshot

Next steps include redesigns of the CC wiki main page, our international landing page, further improvements of the license chooser, and a rethinking of CC Search.

If you have ideas about how we could improve creativecommons.org sites, please leave a comment, file a bug, or even submit a patch. All of CC’s sites are built on free software and are themselves free software. Visit our code repository and a guide to where to find source code for the themes we use for WordPress, MediaWiki, and Drupal.

Congratulations on this redesign launch to Alex Roberts, our senior designer, with support from other staff, and suggestions and financial support from you. Thanks!

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Create Digital Music Winter 2008 Guide

Cameron Parkins, December 15th, 2008


White On Black LCD by William’s Photos | CC BY-NC

Create Digital Music, a fantastic blog on innovations in music technology/performance, recently published their Winter 2008 Guide featuring interviews, reviews, and of course photos of new trends in music production.

The guide is being published as a free PDF download and paperback book and is released under a CC BY-SA license. Not only is the guide approved for free cultural works, but it does an excellent job pooling free-to-use CC-licensed images and providing proper attribution back to these images through out its pages.

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The Food Geek: “Who owns that recipe?”

Eric Steuer, November 24th, 2008

Food writer and culinary culture aficionado Brian J. Geiger maintains a great site called The Food Geek, which features a blog, podcasts, recipes, and loads of helpful cooking tips. The site – which combines Gastronomica‘s thoughtful analysis and Alton Brown‘s geeky wisdom – is published under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Over the weekend, Geiger posted a column entitled “Who owns that recipe?,” which explains why recipes can’t be copyrighted (while the expression of recipes can) and encourages food knowledge sharing as a way to “make a better life for ideas.” Highly recommended for food fans and free cultural works proponents alike.

Ideas are better shared than they are stored. Ideas like company. Ideas like new environments. Ideas like to frolic in new brains with other ideas. It’s how baby ideas are made. Ideas can’t reproduce well alone, so everyone wins if ideas are allowed to be promiscuous. … How firmly do I believe in this? I have released all of my original work for this site under a Creative Commons License.

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Open Music Wire

Cameron Parkins, November 17th, 2008

Open Music Wire is a new initiative from Musik1 that promotes CC-licensed music from affiliated net-labels. Most readily seen as a music blog, OMW curates the music they feature on their home page in an effort to shine a light on the songs and artists they find particularly inspiring. All of the music on the site is released under a CC BY-NC-ND license.

OMW is still in beta, so many of the services aren’t fully launched. With that said, it is important to note that although there is a distinct emphasis on OMW’s affiliated net-labels, anyone can submit music to their Open Music Library as long as it is licensed correctly. Presumably, this music will not only be freely available but also pooled for the curated content on the main page.

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Music Blogs, Sharing, and CC Licenses

Cameron Parkins, November 5th, 2008

A recent post on music blogs and MP3 distribution at UK webzine Drowned In Sound raised some interesting questions about the legality of sharing online and caught our attention as a result. The posting focused on the case of blog Berkeley Place Indie (now Berkeley Place) that, like many music blogs, posted free MP3s of artists and songs that they liked. Beyond the legal questions involved in this practice, BPI’s owner claims that it was done under the assumption that they had both artist and record label blessing to do so.

When BPI found that a number of their posts had been either removed or made private by their hosts, a messy and complex ownership battle emerged. DiS summed up the details nicely, and provided some unique insight as well:

Rumblings suggest that this blogger is not alone, and that a whole host of posts are being taken down.

[...]

It’s all quite crazy and confusing, like most copyright laws in this highly globalised, anything-goes-until-a-precedent-is-set mad world in which we live. Unless there are sensible solutions, such as bandwidth taxes for data transfer or for owning an internet connection and/or a computer, this confusion will continue, embracing technology that can do things will be a minefield and technological creativity will be stifled or more likely forced further underground. It’s such a muddle, even people doing legitimate things will be thrown in with every album leaker.”

The CC answer to this problem is relatively simple – even our most restrictive license (CC BY-NC-ND) allows for the sharing of content. Record labels and artists can indicate, in advance, which songs they wish blogs to distribute – not just in a passing manner, but with a legally sound license that works to protect all parties involved. Music blogs, in turn, gain the insurance that these sort of takedowns won’t take place – legally speaking, our licenses are irrevocable, making a commitment to sharing legally and technically binding.

The issue is of course isn’t as simple as it sounds. From a legal perspective, international copyright law remains a point of confusion (as it was with BPI), a haze we are adding clarity to by offering jurisdiction specificity for our licenses. A similar complication arises in from the murky question of what commercial use is and what it isn’t – another issue we are attempting to tackle through our noncommercial use study.

Regardless of these questions, for artists and record labels looking to distribute songs to music blogs under terms that allow sharing, CC licenses are a great option for all parties. They are legally tested, easy to understand, and free.

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