CC BY

Open Milton

Jane Park, December 11th, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday John Milton! The poet that English majors belabor and grow to know so well turned 400 earlier this week, and to celebrate, the Open Knowledge Foundation launched Open Milton. What is Open Milton?

Open Milton is “an open set of Milton’s works, together with ancillary information and tools, in a form designed for reuse. The Open Milton project has two main objectives:

  1. Provide the works of John Milton, along with textual apparatus and tools all in an open form.
  2. Deliver this material as a knowledge package that allows for easy deployment, redistribution and reuse. 

Specifically [they] provide a full open set of Milton’s works along with ancillary material, a variety of tools and a python API. In addition to the works themselves there is a chronology, statistics, a concordance and search facilities.”

The great thing about Open Milton is that it is a specialized resource, organized and pieced together in novel and thoughtful ways—but it doesn’t prevent you or anyone else from tinkering with it, adding to it, and making it better. Why? Because it’s licensed under CC BY and therefore discoverable (machine-readable), even if it doesn’t conform to some aggregator’s notion of a proper resource. Open Milton is an excellent example for self-publishing; anyone can give their work the advantage of open licensing.

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Australia’s census going CC BY

Michelle Thorne, December 8th, 2008

In a small, easy to miss post, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has made a very exciting announcement. They’re going CC – and under an Attribution-only license, no less.

From the ABS website:

Creative Commons provides a spectrum of licensing for the use of intellectual property between full copyright and public domain – in essence ‘some rights reserved’. The ABS is poised to introduce Creative Commons licensing for the majority of its web content.

The relevant Creative Commons logo (which will link to the Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence) will be included at the bottom of every page on the ABS website.

The ABS conducts the annual Australian census and is the holder of all official Australian statistical data. CC Australia explains, “The ABS been providing all its resources for free for a number of years, but under a limited re-use license. The decision to go one step further and allow complete reuse of its material – even for commercial purposes – heralds a great opportunity for the Australian community, researchers and business, and hopefully will lead to a great leap in the use of and innovation based on this rich resource.”

Update: As reported to us on Dec. 23, all content on the ABS website (other than logos and other trade marked content) is now marked as CC BY – including all census data, economy data, fact sheets, analysis, press releases etc.

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Change.gov’s Choice Already Bearing Fruit

Fred Benenson, December 3rd, 2008

Less than 72 hours after the Obama-Biden Transition Team adopted our most permissive license for Change.gov, Cerado Ventana has built a Change.gov iPhone, mobile application, and widget. We will never know if this application would have been built if Change.gov hadn’t chosen such a permissive license, but it just goes to show what interesting things can happen when you let the world know your work is free to be built upon.

We originally caught this via Twitter and Christopher Carfi’s “Social Customer Manifesto” blog where he expressed thanks to Obama’s team for using CC:

Thank you again to the Obama administration for opening up Change.gov with Creative Commons to make this possible, and thanks to everyone here on the team. You have been building killer technology, and have enabled us to create this new conduit for citizens and government to connect.

This is just the beginning of innovative uses of the content from Change.gov, so keep an eye out for more interesting applications and let us know about them.

Check out the widget after the jump.
Read More…

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Iron Man and the Right Not to Be Attributed

Fred Benenson, December 2nd, 2008

When Jeremy Keith, a web developer living and working in England took a photo of at Cape Canaveral and posted it to Flickr under our Attribution license (which seems to be the flavor of the month around here), he had no idea it was eventually going to end up in the blockbuster feature film Iron Man.

After explaining the terms of the CC license to a studio representative interested in using the photo in the film, Jeremy was told that it would costs at least $1500 to be attributed in the credits. So the studio offered the next best thing in lieu of being attributed properly: cash. But Jeremy turned the money down and just signed the license release anyway.

Besides being another example of Hollywood utilizing CC licensed material, this story offers insight into why we developed the CC+ protocol. CC+ is designed to help creators negotiate rights outside the scope of the license. For a lot of cases, this turns out to be our NonCommercial provision — that is, musicians offer their music to their fans under NC and use CC+ to point commercial users to a 3rd party rights broker (like Magnatune) that handles commercial rights negotiation on behalf of the artist. But here we can see another right being negotiated, that of attribution, which shows just how flexible CC licenses are.

Remember, when you’re the creator and owner of a copyrighted work, you have ultimate say over who does what with your work; CC licenses merely help you negotiate the thicket of what that “what” is.

Thanks go to Jeremy for writing up such an important example of CC licensed works being used in the wild.

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Dopplr Launches Autogenerated City Profiles

Fred Benenson, December 1st, 2008

The team at the travel community Dopplr has launched an autogenerative tool that magically creates city profiles utilizinginteresting” Flickr photos licensed under our free licenses.

Dopplr has aggregated thousands of travelers data and photos to create compelling pages that have autogenerated content. These pages expose fascinating trends of travelers visiting different cities. Take a look at Black Rock City’s profile:

The spike is from the famous Burning Man festival that happens at the end of the summer, and the photo is from brainsik’s flickr.

By utilizing our Attribution and Attribution-ShareAlike licenses, Dopplr has effectively avoided the transaction costs typically associated with negotiating rights to use a photo in a derivative work.

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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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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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ESO CC-Licensed Photo and Video

Cameron Parkins, November 21st, 2008


The Carina nebula by ESO | CC BY

The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) is a group that “builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.” With those telescopes they produce some absolutely amazing photographs and videos, all of which are released under a CC BY license. Check out their visual of the week for some particularly stunning photographs.

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Spot.us: CC-Licensed Community Funded Reporting

Cameron Parkins, November 18th, 2008

Spot.us is a recentlly launched nonprofit project from the Center for Media Change that aims to pioneer “community funded reporting.” Stories are pitched online with an amount of money needed for publication – users and site visitors can donate to any pitch they deem worthy, with the resulting article released under a CC BY license. From Poytner Online:

Users create story ideas that they think should be investigated and submit them to the site. From these ideas, journalists choose to write story pitches and open the idea up to the public to make donations. Once the project reaches its funding goal, those who have donated pay up and the journalist produces the story. If the project doesn’t receive enough funding, no one is charged. After the story is complete, Spot.Us publishes it and offers it to news organizations for free (the site’s content is licensed under Creative Commons). There is an option for news organizations to buy exclusive rights to the story, with the funding money going back to the journalist.

Spot.us has been getting a ton of great press including a nice write-up in the New York Times. Check out the site – no articles have been published yet but there are plenty of great pitches waiting to be funded. Similarly, don’t hesitate to start your own.

Addendum: Spot.us and Wikinews are both presenting tomorrow at a special CC Salon San Francisco on citizen journalism. It’s cool that both sites use the permissive CC BY license — they could each reuse the other’s stories, so long as they give credit — and you could too.

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Designers Accord Web Community launches under CC BY

Eric Steuer, November 6th, 2008

Some very cool news from the design world: The Designers Accord, a community of more than 100,000 designers who are committed to environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible design practices (read more the project in GOOD Magazine’s interview with founder Valerie Casey) has launched an online platform for sharing design ideas. The Designers Accord Web Community is a collection of case studies, resources, methodologies, and best practices that have been created by designers and are intended for public use. All submissions and materials on the site are available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. This approach will enable the development of a body of freely-licensed design resources that can be used by people around the world, even for commercial purposes. A big bravo to the people behind this incredible effort!

If the Designers Accord community site was a traditional website, it might behave like a catalog or encyclopedia of best practices, cases studies, and references. Most likely, it would present a single voice to an audience of listeners.

It would be hugely helpful to all of us if that universal resource existed. But it doesn’t. Yet.

We can create this resource through our coalition. The reason we have the Designers Accord is that the creative community has yet to create a definitive set of instructions, or a clearly defined roadmap for fully integrating the principles of sustainability into our work. We are struggling through these difficult challenges together, and this site is a repository for content related to this journey.

Thanks very much to Katy Frankel for introducing us to the people at the Designers Accord and for her help in making this happen.

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