Monday and Tuesday next week the Program for the Future Conference celebrates the 40th anniversary of Doug Engelbart’s famous Demo, which presaged much of modern computing, in 1968 (related in some ways, see Creative Commons 1967). From the conference website:
Engelbart dreamed of technology and tools that increased our Collective Intelligence and a stunning example of how it works. Now it’s up to us to take up the challenge. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Engelbart’s astounding demo, the Program for the Future is bringing together some of the best minds in science, media, business and education — and we hope you will be among them — to explore the question: what’s next?
Monday the conference takes place at San Jose’s The Tech Museum of Innovation, Tuesday it moves to Stanford University. See the conference program for details and registration.
I’ll be speaking Tuesday on a panel about “Bootstrap Tools”. So what could Creative Commons have to do with bootstrapping collective intelligence? That’s not terminology we use every day, but a hint: I’ll probably title my slides The Commons as a Collective Intelligence Meta-Innovation. For further hints along those lines, sans futurist buzzwords, there’s good reading and viewing to be had in presentation slides by Science Commons’ John Wilbanks, e.g., Radical Sharing: Transforming Science? I’ll probably use some of his slides.
Final bit to whet your appetite, see the Engelbart Mural. A detail is below, featuring a clever CC BY-NC-SA license and attribution notice:
This week, the Grammy Awards nominations were announced – and, for the first time, a Creative Commons-licensed track and album are on the list. Nine Inch Nails’ “34 Ghosts IV” is nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, while the album that track appears on, Ghosts I-IV, is up for Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package.
This year, NIN released both Ghosts I-IV and a second album, The Slip, under a CC BY-NC-SA license. Both albums were downloaded for free and shared legally millions of times by fans under the terms of this license. At the same time, NIN found great financial success in selling cool, well-crafted, limited edition physical editions of both sets. Back in March, Wired said the band made $1.6 million on Ghosts I-IV in its first week of release alone.
Additionally, Radiohead’s song “House of Cards” is up for several Grammys, including Best Short Form Music Video. The video’s animation data was released under a CC BY-NC-SA license earlier this year (see previous post).
Congratulations to Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead for the nominations. Also, congratulations to all of the other artists whose work was nominated for Grammys this year, including Brian Eno, Diplo, Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo (AKA Gnarls Barkley), My Morning Jacket, Gilberto Gil, Peter Gabriel, Thievery Corporation, and Cornelius – all of whom have used Creative Commons licenses and/or have supported CC over the years.2 Comments »
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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Creative Commons Board Chair James Boyle’s new book is out — The Public Domain: Enclosing of the Commons of the Mind, published by Yale University Press. Read and comment online or download and share the the PDF under a CC BY-NC-SA license. Buy a hardcopy.
The Public Domain cover, evolved from excellent contest entries. We blogged about the contest in April.
The Public Domain covers the history, theory, and future of the public domain, taking a broad conception of the meaning and import of the public domain:
When the subject is intellectual property, this gap in our knowledge turns out to be important because our intellectual property system depends on a balance between what is property and what is not. For a set of reasons that I will explain later, “the opposite of property” is a concept that is much more important when we come to the world of ideas, information, expression, and invention. We want a lot of material to be in the public domain, material that can be spread without property rights. “The general rule of law is, that the noblest of human productions—knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions, and ideas—become, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use.” Our art, our culture, our science depend on this public domain every bit as much as they depend on intellectual property. The third goal of this book is to explore property’s outside, property’s various antonyms, and to show how we are undervaluing the public domain and the information commons at the very moment in history when we need them most. Academic articles and clever legal briefs cannot solve this problem alone.
Instead, I argue that precisely because we are in the information age, we need a movement—akin to the environmental movement—to preserve the public domain. The explosion of industrial technologies that threatened the environment also taught us to recognize its value. The explosion of information technologies has precipitated an intellectual land grab; it must also teach us about both the existence and the value of the public domain. This enlightenment does not happen by itself. The environmentalists helped us to see the world differently, to see that there was such a thing as “the environment” rather than just my pond, your forest, his canal. We need to do the same thing in the information environment.
We have to “invent” the public domain before we can save it.
That’s from the preface. I encourage you to read on, to chapters about Creative Commons (of course), evidence-based policy and the public domain (my favorite), a movement for the public domain, and much history, theory, and wit leading up to those.
You can also read and subscribe to Boyle’s blog on The Public Domain, which includes an excellent post on authors, academic presses, online publishing and CC licensing. Brief excerpt, emphasis added to the truth that will be so obvious to readers of this blog that one might wonder why it would need to be said:
The one piece of advice I would offer is to make sure that you really talk it through with everyone at the press and get them to understand the way the web works. While university presses might want to experiment only with a few titles, when it comes to those titles they need fully to embrace the idea — creating an excellent website for the book (or allowing the author to do so), allowing multiple formats of the book to be made available (pdf, html etc), being excited rather than horrified if the book gets mentioned on a blog and downloads spike. The last thing you want is a publisher who has grudgingly agreed to a Creative Commons license but who then sabotages every attempt to harness the openness it allows.
Unfortunately how the web works and what that means for copyright and publishing still needs to be explained. Repeatedly. Every day. That’s one reason Creative Commons needs your support to meet our $500,000 annual public campaign goal. Every day we explain how the web works, how to work with the web, and how to keep the web open, for scientists, educators and learners, and everyone else. And we do our bit to improve the open web.
On those notes, see the CC Network badge on every page of The Public Domain website and James Boyle’s CC Network profile. Join Boyle in supporting Creative Commons and get your own CC Network badge and profile (and other goodies).
Then send this post to your friends. Or if you’re old school, send a hardcopy of The Public Domain with a printout of this post and a personal note enclosed. :-)No Comments »
Pratham Books is a nonprofit publisher started by the Pratham Education Initiative, which, since 1994, has been working to secure primary education for every child in India. “Pratham Books is a not-for-profit trust that seeks to publish high-quality books for children at a affordable cost in multiple Indian languages. Pratham Books is trying to create a shift in the paradigm for publishing children’s books in India.”
While working with One Laptop Per Child and the Open Learning Exchange in Nepal, Pratham Books decided to contribute educational books and other content for use in low cost laptops and an open eBook library. They released six books under CC BY-NC-SA, and they are available for download at Scribd. The children’s books include titles like The Moon and the Cap, Annual Haircut Day, and books that make mathematics fun—translated into Neplai for local use. Pratham Books also has an imprint, Read India, that publishes more children’s books in many different Indian languages and at low cost to make them more universally accessible.
Currently, the format of the books are in PDF, but Gautum John of Pratham writes that this will soon change, as they are working on a platform to remix books and they will also be available in HTML. Check out their official blog post about it here.2 Comments »
One of the things we’ve become very interested in finding more examples of are creators who are using our licenses in combination with traditional business models. For example, many musicians (including our recent Commoner Letter author Jonathan Coulton) sell copies of their CC-licensed music. This may seem cognitively dissonant but in practice it makes perfect sense, as a CC-licensed piece of music simply announces what you can do once you get your hands on it, and it certainly doesn’t restrict the original creator from selling it to you.
Some of the most robust instances of this behavior are musicians who have released CC-licensed material on iTunes, Amazon, and Magnatune. Ambient Electronic artist Kirsty Hawkshaw has done this with her album The Ice Castle, which has a presence in all three stores, but also indicates that is under CC’s Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. In the cases of iTunes and Amazon, the stores themselves are not using the CC license, but are selling the work via the rights they have under their direct agreement with the copyright holders – Hawkshaw and her label, Magnatune. For more about how CC licenses can work in tandem with other agreements, visit our page that describes CC+.
We’d love to hear and see more examples of this kind of hybrid business thinking utilizing our licenses. Do you know of any others? If so, just drop a comment on this post, or contact us any other way. Thanks!No Comments »
Last night I had the pleasure of attending Art Knows No Borders, an event that was both a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders and a release party for Bombardirovka, a book written by Crystal Allen Cook in 2004 while she was in Armenia on a Fulbright Scholarship. The novel is a work of fiction that, in the words of Cook, functions “to observe, up close, how the past, not necessarily even our own personal past, lives on the actions and bodies of people living in the present.”
Bombardirovka is free to download and released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, meaning it can be re-used and adapted in any way as long as it is non-commercial in intent, shared under the same license as the original, and Crystal Cook is properly attributed. Check out the Share Novel page on Bombardirovka‘s website in the coming weeks to find more about interesting reuse opportunities ahead.No Comments »
To our community – for our next commoner letter we are featuring an artist who has really proven that the CC model works for musicians. Jonathan Coulton has made a career out of sharing his music with his fans, not just aurally, but digitally and meaningfully through the prolific use of our licenses. We’ve also worked with Jonathan this year to offer an exciting new CC item — a custom USB jump drive stocked with his music and source tracks. Read on for his heartfelt commoner letter and for more information about our new jump drives. If you would like to receive these email letters, please sign-up here.
Dear Creative Commoner:
I first learned about Creative Commons when I heard Lawrence Lessig speak at a conference in 2004. I had been invited there to sing a silly song about the future, revenge, and robot armies to an audience of futurists and super scientists. It was a little intimidating – I was not even Internet Famous then. I was still working at my day job, trying to figure out how a career software guy in his mid 30s could ever find a way to make a living writing songs. Lessig gave his standard presentation (to this day, still the most delicious Powerpoint kung fu I have ever seen) explaining the history of copyright and the goals of Creative Commons. As we all filed out for lunch, I remember feeling like my head was on fire, it was just the most exciting idea I had ever heard.
In those days one of the things that was keeping me from doing music full time was my lack of a coherent plan: I make music, something happens, I make money, that was about as far as I could think it through. Creative Commons filled in a lot of the gaps for me. I knew about the internet of course, I was aware of the rise of remix culture, file sharing, and fan-created content. But there was something so compelling about the Creative Commons license, the idea that you could attach it to a piece of art you had made and declare your intentions – please, share my music, put it in a remix, make it into a music video. I was thrilled and emboldened by the idea that I could give my songs legs, so that they could walk around the world and find their way into places I would never dream of sending them. I immediately started licensing my songs with CC, and a year later I quit my job to create music full time.
It’s hard to overstate the degree to which CC has contributed to my career as a musician. In 2005 I started Thing a Week, a project in which I recorded a new song every week and released it for free on my website and in a podcast feed, licensing everything with Creative Commons. Over the course of that year, my growing audience started to feed back to me things they had created based on my music: videos, artwork, remixes, card games, coloring books. I long ago lost track of this torrent of fan-made stuff, and of course I’ll never know how many people simply shared my music with friends, but there’s no question in my mind that Creative Commons is a big part of why I’m now able to make a living this way. Indeed, it’s where much of my audience comes from – there are some fan-made music videos on YouTube that have been viewed millions of times. That’s an enormous amount of exposure to new potential fans, and it costs me exactly zero dollars.
When you’re an artist, it’s a wonderful thing to hear from a fan who likes what you do. But it’s even more thrilling to see that someone was moved enough to make something brand new based on it – that your creative work has inspired someone to do more creative work, that your little song had a child and that child was a YouTube video that a million people watched. A Creative Commons license is like a joy multiplier. The art you create adds to the world whenever someone appreciates it, but you also get karma credit for every new piece of art it inspires. And around and around. This is my favorite thing about Creative Commons: the act of creation becomes not the end, but the beginning of a creative process that links complete strangers together in collaboration. To me it’s a deeply satisfying and beautiful vision of what art and culture can be.
This is why I’ve chosen to release a greatest hits album of my Thing-A-Week songs to help support Creative Commons’ 2008 campaign. We’ve teamed up to combine not only the unreleased “JoCo Looks Back” album, but all of the unmixed audio tracks for all of the 20 songs on a custom CC green 1gb jump drive. The drives, whose entire contents are licensed under CC’s BY-NC-SA license, will be available exclusively through Creative Commons’ support site until December 31st, and you can get one today when you donate $50 and above.4 Comments »
The Outcomes Star System is a “tool for measuring the outcomes of work with homeless people,” specifically designed for use by homeless charities. The Outcomes Star System focuses on “an approach to measuring change” on 10 different criteria, the theory being that by following The Outcomes Star System, outreach to the homeless can be approached with pragmatism and a level of success.
Homeless Outcomes, the group behind the Star System, has published their entire website under a CC BY-NC-SA license, including the Star System. By allowing these files to be easily shared and reused legally, Homeless Outcomes is empowering other groups by offering them a free and open system to help enact social change. You can see the Outcomes Star re-posted below:
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Games for the Brain is a fun site that features a number of memory, quiz, and brain games all released under a CC BY-NC-SA license. A number of the games are embeddable, making them easily available for sharing while others reuse previously CC-licensed material. Whether it is an online destination to pass time, procrastinate, or hone your mental skills, Games for the Brain is a nice and simple addition to the growing landscape of CC-licensed content.No Comments »