Opened to the public in 1903, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a world-class museum that houses more than 5,000 art objects, including works by Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Degas, and Sargent. It is also known for its phenomenal music program, lectures, and symposia, as well as the museum’s nationally recognized Artist-in-Residence and educational programs.
Online, it is well-known as the producer and distributor of The Concert, a classical music podcast that features unreleased live performances by master musicians and talented young artists, recorded at the museum’s Sunday Concert Series. The podcast is free, distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license (Music Sharing), and widely popular. The Concert was one of the first classical music collections to be shared under a CC license, and the ISGM was one of the first art museums to actively distribute digital content under a CC license.
We’ve talked about The Concert before, but wanted to learn more about the series and the decision to use CC licenses for the project. We recently caught up with Director Anne Hawley and Curator of Music Scott Nickrenz, who were able to provide a lot of great information about the series and how CC licenses have played a role in its success.
Those in the CC community best know of the ISGM as a result of your highly successful The Concert podcast. What was the inspiration for the podcast series? Why did you choose to release it under a CC license?
Anne Hawley: We launched The Concert – the museum’s first podcast – in September 2006, as a way to continue the museum’s long history of supporting artists and creative artistic thinking. During Isabella Gardner’s lifetime, the museum flowed with artistic activity: John Singer Sargent painted, Nellie Melba sang, and Ruth St. Denis performed the cobra dance within these walls. Isabella Gardner was a committed patron of artists and musicians and the museum has always followed her lead. The podcast is the latest example of this; it’s a modern way to bring the museum’s wealth of programming to a wider audience, promote the exceptional work of the musicians who perform here, and ultimately expand the reach of classical music.
Music has always been an important part of the Gardner. When the museum opened on New Years Night 1903, attendees enjoyed a performance of Bach, Mozart, Chausson, and Schumann by members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra—“a concert of rare enjoyment” according to one guest. During Gardner’s lifetime, the museum hosted visits and performances by well-known musicians and rising stars including composers Gustav Mahler and Vincent d’Indy, pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and cellist Pablo Casals, and memorable concerts including the 1903 premiere of Loeffler’s Pagan Poem, composed and performed in honor of Isabella Gardner’s birthday. Four years later, the work had its “official” premiere at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Today, the Gardner’s music series is the oldest of its kind in the country, with weekly concerts and special programs that enrich and draw musical connections to the museum’s special exhibitions and permanent collection, while continuing Isabella Gardner’s legacy as a music lover and patron of the arts.
Kenzo Digital is New York-based multi-talented creator that works in video, audio, and mixed media to create both artistic works and commercial products. Aesthetically informed by early 90s hip-hop, his latest and most well-publicized work, City of God’s Son, is a CC-licensed “opera for the blind.” The project finds Kenzo sampling and remixing numerous sources to create a vivid sound-scape that invokes imagery and a cinematic narrative through audio.
Today, in conjunction with our interview, Kenzo is releasing the most recent addition to COGS titled City of God’s Son: Cinema for the Blind. The piece features interviews with blind musicians on “sight through sound, synesthesia” and the film itself, crafting a fascinating perspective on how our senses work in conjunction with (or without) one another. You can watch the piece, which is released under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial license, in HD at YouTube – check out a still of the video below:
We caught up with Kenzo recently to pick his brain in regards to the project generally, his approach to creation through sampling and reuse, why he chose to CC-licence this project, and much more. Read on to find out what he had to say.
photo by Tommy Agriodimas | CC BY
Can you give our readers some background on yourself and the project? What inspired you to create City of God’s Son? You call it a hip-hop opera and a ﬁlm for the blind – what do you mean by these descriptions?
I am a digital artist, video artist, director and music producer based in NY. Early 90ʼs hip hop was always a big inspiration to me growing up, it served as the soundtrack to a lot of my childhood and adventures growing up. I was really into grafﬁti as a kid, and used to sneak out of the house all the time and run around with my friends or sometimes by myself and go bombing. I considered the city at night to be kind of an altered reality. No one was around except for the junkies, prostitutes, and gangsters who occupied the same streets that by day would be bustling with business men, school kids like myself, and delivery men. I loved the fact that in my mind only a few people were privy to seeing these same streets during the day while I was entrenched in my civilian life (school and family), and at these late hours were things were pretty wild, and as a kid of course I was very excited by that. What really inspired me as a kid was also the fact that the only traces of my existence in this alternate reality were the tags and grafﬁti art left behind. Music played a huge role in this. My walkman was probably one of the most essential things going out at night, as the music was a key component to setting the mood and getting myself in the proper frame of mind to create. By experiencing the city this way, and listening to the music, everything through the night played out cinematically. So much so that it would leave these super visual impressions in my imagination that I could recall and trigger through the music.
Musicʼs relationship to time, both as a medium and a device to manipulate time, in addition to a listenerʼs historical relationship to a song is what “City of Godʼs Son” seeks to expand and explore. “City of Godʼs Son” is a hip hop opera in that it is an epic, a greek tragedy, and like opera, understanding the actual lyrics and slang is not necessary to understanding the story and experiencing the drama of the story. Understanding the slang and verses deﬁnitely adds another level of meaning and depth to the story, as well as a knowledge of hip hop music history. “City of Godʼs Son” while seemingly a strictly music focused project, is equally about gangster cinema culture as well, as references to everything from pre-code Edward G. Robinson gangster ﬂicks, to 70ʻs Japanese gangster ﬂicks like “Branded to Kill”, to “Le Cercle Rouge”, “Clockers”, “Goodfellas” and of course “City of God” litter the story and soundscape, as some of hip-hopʼs most inﬂuential artists of this generation collide with the gangster ﬁlm icons that helped deﬁne their genre. It is about weaving the various mythologies from each medium and creating a new language called “Beat Cinematic”. It is a ﬁlm for the blind in that it exists in the listenerʼs imagination and recalling of their own psychological associations to music, ﬁlm, and sound. I speciﬁcally wanted to play this for blind people because I wanted to see how blind people reacted to a ﬁlm made to be experienced sonically. I am interested in how a blind personʼs mind works like a visual sampler depending on whether the person was born blind or lost their vision along the way, and what those visual impressions mean to them now. It is also a ﬁlm for the blind in that my own artistic journey into music production was inspired to make this project. As a completely self-taught disgustingly bad keyboard player, creating the music for this project was in and of itself a very blind process in that I had to really feel out my entire way through this new world of sound.
Many readers of this blog will be especially interested in the report’s section on open access to public sector information:
An open access approach to the release of public sector information is a logical response to the digital economy and innovation benefits that can result from new and emerging digital use and re-use, subject to privacy, national security or confidentiality concerns. In this context, ‘open access’ means access on terms and in formats that clearly permit and enable such use and re-use by any member of the public. This allows anyone with an innovative idea to add value to existing public sector information for the common good, often in initially unforeseen or unanticipated ways.
As one commentator has argued, “[n]o one supplier, public or private, can design all information products required to meet the needs of all users in a modern information-based economy.” By opening access to appropriate categories of government information to all members of the public, those best placed to innovate can do so and the market can decide which product is most useful.
The report covers many other topics, befitting its definition of “digital economy”:
The global network of economic and social activities that are enabled by information and communications technologies, such as the internet, mobile and sensor networks.
Congratulations to all involved, especially former CC General Counsel Mia Garlick, who last year joined the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to lead its digital economy initiatives.No Comments »
If you’re reading the Creative Commons blog, chances are you’re aware of the fact that the United States federal government is not entitled to copyright protection for their works. If you didn’t know this, check out the Wikipedia article on the subject, or some of our past blog posts on the subject. This means that federal works are essentially in the public domain.
What you may not know is that works of American states, in contrast to works of the federal government, are actually entitled to copyright protection under U.S. law. This creates the very awkward consequence of states automatically holding copyright in the very state laws, rules and court decisions that bind their citizens, not to mention other types of content created by its employees who are paid from public coffers filled in part by their taxpayers. CC is not alone (check out legendary archivist Carl Malamud and his public.resource.org project for more info) in believing that all such works should belong to the public and reside in the public domain.
Needless to say, we think this is an enormous opportunity for proper application of our legal tools to free up state works.
This is why its exciting to see the New York State Senate adopt a Creative Commons License for the content on their website. The photos and text of NYSenate.gov are now available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license, and 3rd party content, such as comments and user submitted photos are available under our Attribution license. Furthermore, the Senate has used our CC+ protocol to allow all other uses (even commercial ones and non-attribution ones) of the content so long as it is not for political fund raising purposes. In other words, if you’re not doing political fund raising you’re allowed to do whatever you want with the content.
While this is a somewhat novel approach to using our licenses, and indeed grants citizens rights to works they don’t currently have, it is only the first step. In the future, CC would love to see more states pushing their work into the public domain (and their policies into synchronicity with those of the federal government), for example by using our public domain waiver, CC0.2 Comments »
Night Of The Living Dead: Reanimated is a collaborative project that takes George Romero’s cult horror classic, Night of the Living Dead and very literally reanimates the entire film. Featuring work from a huge number of artists, the project as a whole is being released under a CC BY-NC-ND license with individual artists retaining rights to their contributions. It is well documented that the original film is in the public domain and in that spirit, Mike Schneider – the projects curator – is releasing all of his notes and documentation under a CC BY license so others have a leg-up in making their own iterations of the project.
The project is currently looking for independent venues to screen the film come this fall and is slating a DVD release for the upcoming winter – be sure to contact the project leads for more information. Similarly, they are currently soliciting collaborators for their next project, Unseen Horror.No Comments »
PALM Africa, an African CC-based publishing project, just released their first open-access book from AIDS specialist Peter Mugyenyi titled, Genocide by Denial: How profiteering from HIV/AIDS killed millions. The book is being released under a CC BY-NC-ND license making it free to download and share. PALM is using the release to test the impact open access initiatives have on book sales but, as noted by Eve Gray, there is another reason this license choice is so important (emphasis added):
The timing is impeccable, as the release of the open access version of the book coincides exactly with a breakthrough at the World Health Organisation, which has finally reached agreement on a global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property [...] Among the recommendations in the WHO plan of action is government intervention to ensure voluntary sharing or research, open access publication repositories and open databases and compound libraries of medical research results. Thus Fountain’s engagement with open access publishing on a public health topic is right in line with – and ahead of – developing global policy.
PALM and Mugyenyi’s license choice thus becomes a practice in the very lessons they are attempting to teach. Beyond this, Gray argues that “Mugyenyi’s book needs to be read by the South African bureaucrats who are trying to enforce widespread and rigid commercialization of public research”, a task that while difficult, is made easier due to the free sharing encouraged by their license choice.1 Comment »
Every year, Arts Engine produces the fantastic Media That Matters Film Festival. The festival awards and screens a dozen social justice shorts each year and then releases them for sale under our Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license on region-free unencrypted DVDs. This allows educators, fans, and audiences to arrange their own non-commercial screenings of the shorts and help promote them without having to spend time negotiating with MTM and the many different film makers participating in the festival.
This year’s Official Ninth Annual Media That Matters Film Festival is happening next Wednesday, June 3rd in NYC but there are hundreds of screenings organized all around the world. In conjunction with the NYC festival, there will be an impACT salon featuring the festival’s presenting partners that begins an hour prior to the screening at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Visual Arts Theater.
Also of interest may be the video Creative Commons and Media That Matters collaborated on in late 2008:No Comments »
A couple of weeks ago ProPublica posted a note on their site asking their users to “steal” their stories:
You can republish our articles and graphics for free, so long as you credit us, link to us, and don’t edit our material or sell it separately.
Put in CC terms, the public-interest journalism non-profit has chosen our Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license. Since the announcement, The Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, USA Today, Salon, Politico, and Huffington Post have published ProPublica’s work and they’re encouraging other newsrooms to do so as well.No Comments »
On Sunday The New York Times covered Annie Leonard’s massively successful “Story of Stuff” short, noting that it has been viewed millions of times and that Leonard has sold over 7,000 DVD copies of the film. We were delighted to discover that the short is licensed under our BY-NC-ND license, allowing for non-commercial reuse and sharing. On the DVD order page, the team notes that the DVDs can be duplicated and shown in classrooms, but also points those looking to prevent waste to a 50mb .mov download of the whole film. The site also encourages supporters to organize their own screenings of the shorts using free PDF resources to help with promotion and discussion.
The story of “The Story of Stuff” demonstrates a kind of savvy that more activists using media should adopt: create an engaging message and find every possible way to encourage your supporters to promote, share, and distribute it.1 Comment »
Steps towards openness were taken yesterday by the University of Oregon Library, as its faculty unanimously passed a resolution requiring all library faculty-authored scholarly articles to be licensed CC BY-NC-ND (thanks to Peter Suber of Open Access News). Although NC-ND does not allow derivations (which may include translations and other adaptations) of the articles, library faculty also have the option of licensing their works under one of the more open licenses, including CC BY-SA and CC BY.
We highly encourage library faculty (and libraries in general) everywhere to consider adopting these more open CC licenses for their content (especially CC BY). If you remember from last October, the University of Michigan Library adopted CC BY-NC for all of its works, including those to which the University of Michigan held copyrights. Stripping away the ND term enables collaboration across institutions, as you are granted more than the simple right to access, but to also adapt, translate, and improve the work.
However, adopting CC BY-NC-ND is a step in the right direction. From the announcement,
“We largely followed the leads of Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and most recently Oregon State (our friends and rivals). One area where we differ is in explicitly mandating a CC-BY-NC-ND license. Choosing that license was very conscious. We believe that it is vital that the community standardize on a small number of licenses to move beyond the present mess where every publisher and practically every author has their own unique terms. The license we chose is a good candidate for standardization. … Authors who wish to can of course also license their works under a more liberal license such as CC-BY-SA.”
For more information on our Open Access work, visit the Scholar’s Copyright Project page.1 Comment »