CC BY

Free and unrestricted Public Sector Information: Study finds benefits outweigh costs

Timothy Vollmer, November 28th, 2011

Governments around the world are increasingly relying on open licenses to release public sector information (PSI). A September 2011 report titled Costs and Benefits of Data Provision, prepared by John Houghton for the Australian National Data Service, examines the immediate and wider economic costs and benefits to making PSI available.

The key takeaway from the study: “the direct and measurable benefits of making PSI available free and unrestrictedly typically outweigh the costs. When one adds the longer-term benefits that we cannot fully measure, cannot even foresee, the case for open access appears to be strong.”

The report offers an interesting and instructive analysis about the overarching cost-saving potential of making PSI available online for free and under open licenses (we assume the figures to represent Australian dollars):

[W]e find that the net cost to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) of making publications and statistics freely available online and adopting Creative Commons licensing was likely to have been around $3.5 million per annum at 2005-06 prices and levels of activity, but the immediate cost savings for users were likely to have been around $5 million per annum. The wider impacts in terms of additional use and uses bring substantial additional returns, with our estimates suggesting overall costs associated with free online access to ABS publications and data online and unrestrictive standard licensing of around $4.6 million per annum and measurable annualised benefits of perhaps $25 million (i.e. more than five times the costs).

The Houghton study suggests that open licensing is a key component to reducing friction in the downstream use of PSI:

It is not simply about access prices, but also about the transaction costs involved. Standardised and unrestrictive licensing, such as Creative Commons, and data standards are crucial in enabling access that is truly open (i.e. free, immediate and unrestricted) … The efficient economic solution for the dissemination of PSI is likely to be free libre and free gratis (i.e. making it freely available online and using unrestrictive licensing such as Creative Commons).

In a separate internal document noted in the report, the Australian Bureau of Statistics described the impact of adopting CC licensing. It says that CC licensing “meets public expectations with regard to open government, facilitates data sharing (including across government), allows for more timely reuse of statistics, facilitates innovation, [and] makes sense to a growing percentage of people who recognise and understand CC licence symbols and conditions.”

The study urges us to try to understand and foster the unpredictable yet potentially powerful innovation that can be unleashed when PSI is made freely available online and released using unrestrictive licenses:

In the longer term, there may also be unforeseen uses and re-uses that simply cannot be accounted for, and again this may mean that the costs and benefits experienced in the early years of implementation tend to understate the longer-term advantages. Use and re-use can also have wider impacts, in terms of innovation and the development and introduction of new products, services and processes that, in turn, generate new economic economic activity, new business opportunities, better informed and potentially better government and business decisions.

The full report is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia License.

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Open Course Library Launches 1st 42 Courses

Cable Green, November 2nd, 2011

On Monday, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) released the first 42 of the state’s high-enrollment 81 Open Course Library courses. The remaining 39 courses will be finished by 2013. Funded by the Washington State Legislature and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Course Library joins the global open educational resources (OER) movement, and adheres to SBCTC’s open policy, which requires that all materials created through system grants be openly licensed for the public to freely use, adapt and distribute.

All courses are available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported license (CC-BY).

The first 42 courses are available in multiple technical formats including:

Michael Kenyon’s students at Green River Community College used to pay nearly $200 for a new pre-calculus textbook. Now they pay only $20 for a book – or use it online for free. Kenyon’s pre-calculus textbook (CC BY SA) was written by community college faculty David Lippman and Melonie Rasmussen, who teach at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom. “We looked at a lot of textbooks,” Kenyon said. “There are some people who think this is the best book out there.”

“The courses were created with the needs of Washington’s college students in mind,” said Tom Caswell, SBCTC Open Education Policy Associate. “And with the idea we would share the courses with the world.”

Each course was developed and peer reviewed by a team of instructors, instructional designers and librarians. Use of the course materials is optional, but many faculty and departments are already moving to adopt them.

According to an informal study by the Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), the Open Course Library could save students as much as $41.6 million on textbooks annually if adopted at all of Washington’s community and technical colleges. The study also estimates that the 42 faculty course developers will save students $1.26 million by using the materials during the 2011-2012 school year, which alone exceeds the $1.18 million cost of creating the 42 courses. “These savings will not only help Washington’s students afford college, but clearly provide a tremendous return on the original investment,” said Nicole Allen, Textbook Advocate for the Student PIRGs.

Justin Hamilton, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, said the Washington state effort was groundbreaking for the nation. “Lowering college costs increases a student’s ability to take more courses, finish their degree on time, and enter the workforce prepared for success in a global economy. That’s not just good for them, it’s good for the country.”

“It really is the beginning of the end of closed, expensive, proprietary commercial textbooks that are completely disconnected from today’s reality,” said Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) of Washington State’s 36th District, a champion of the Open Course Library and OER. “This is a significant state investment in this era of massive budget cuts. We had little choice but to seize the opportunity of this crisis to challenge the status quo of the old-style cost models in both K-12 and higher education.”

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Blackboard to add support for CC Attribution

Jane Park, October 19th, 2011

Blackboard, the popular Learning Management System (LMS), has announced that they will build in support for CC licensing, specifically enabling instructors the ability to publish and share their course materials under the CC Attribution (CC BY) license. From the press release,

“Support for OER enables instructors to publish and share their courses under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) so that anyone can easily preview and download the course content in Blackboard and Common Cartridge formats. The new functionality is available now for CourseSites, Blackboard’s free, fully-hosted and supported cloud offering launched a year ago and now used by over 18,000 instructors from nearly 12,000 institutions in 113 countries. Similar support for OER will be available soon for Blackboard Learn.”


The Chronicle of Higher Education
and Inside Higher Ed also covered Blackboard’s move toward openness in education. Cable Green, CC’s Director of Global Learning, notes,

“The core part of any OER is an open license, and Blackboard has shown its leadership by empowering instructors to share so others can revise, reuse, remix and redistribute their courses.”

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$500 million awarded to first round grantees for community college career training program

Timothy Vollmer, September 26th, 2011

Today the U.S. Department of Labor, in coordination with the Department of Education, announced the first wave of grant winners in support of ”targeted training and workforce development to help economically dislocated workers who are changing careers.” Today’s announcement commits nearly $500 million to 32 grantees, with a $2 billion investment expected over the next 4 years.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in the Department’s press release:

“Making it possible for unemployed Americans to return to work is a top priority of President Obama’s. This initiative is about providing access to training that leads to real jobs,” said Secretary Solis. “These federal grants will enable community colleges, employers and other partners to prepare job candidates, through innovative programs, for new careers in high-wage, high-skills fields, including advanced manufacturing, transportation, health care and STEM occupations.”

As we mentioned in January when the program was announced, we’re excited that the grant guidelines includes a requirement that where new learning materials are created using grant funds, those materials must be made available under CC BY. Creative Commons, with its partnering organizations, is positioned to provide support to grantees on open licensing, learning and course design, professional development, and adoption and use.

Congratulations to the first round winners and to the Department of Labor and Department of Education in supporting this innovative education initiative.

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CC is seeking a Senior Project Manager and Senior Project Analyst

Jennifer Yip, September 12th, 2011

Creative Commons is seeking highly motivated and organized individuals to fill two positions: Senior Project Manager and Senior Project AnalystBoth positions are full-time with full benefits. Both positions will be key members of the team supporting Department of Labor TAACCCT grantees.

Ideal candidates have contributed to open source, open education, open licensing, and/or other open content projects, are proficient in required technologies, and possess at lease two years of work experience. Joining CC means getting the chance to interact with motivated staff and a brilliant international network of affiliates and community members.

Please feel free to share these jobs descriptions as far and wide as possible. We will be accepting applications on a rolling basis until we find the right candidates. Please be sure to indicate the job title you are interested in applying for in the email subject line, and send to “jobs@creativecommons.org

Application Deadline: Friday, 7 October.

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$20,000 Open Textbook Challenge from the Saylor Foundation

Jane Park, September 6th, 2011

The Saylor Foundation has been known for organizing comprehensive curriculum for popular subject areas, and licensing the resources when they can under the CC Attribution license. Now with the launch of its Open Textbook Challenge, the Saylor Foundation aims to expand the amount of high-quality CC BY-licensed course materials by offering a $20,000 award for open textbooks! If a textbook is submitted and accepted for use with Saylor.org‘s course materials, then the copyright owners receive $20,000 while the referrer receives $250. Then the textbook is re-licensed (if not already) for free and open use under CC BY. For more information, visit http://www.saylor.org/OTC. The deadline is November 1, 2011.

To submit a textbook with Creative Commons as the referrer, go to http://www.saylor.org/otc-form/?refcode=6.

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Winning poster designs for the Global Summit

Jane Park, August 31st, 2011

The Creative Commons Global Summit Poster Competition has been a huge success, with 38 entries from around the world!

We thank each and every one of you who submitted a design and participated in the voting process. Three winning designs were chosen based on popular vote and by a panel of judges from our CC Poland team (with a little help from other international affiliates).

The popular vote winner was:

GS-poster-PAOF
PAOF by shichigoro / CC BY

Meanwhile, our Polish judges came up with a tie – so we decided to award two judges prizes:

GS-poster-CC-Line
CC Line by Shinjirou / CC BY

GS-poster-Celebration
Celebration! by Amanpreet Singh / CC BY

Each poster will be printed and featured prominently at the lovely Primates Palace in Warsaw for our Global Summit, to be held from September 16-18. The posters will also be displayed as part of a digital CC visual arts exhibit at the venue.

Congratulations to the designers, and thanks to all of you who participated!

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Open Government Data in Austria

Jane Park, August 23rd, 2011

Vienna-Rathausv2
City Hall (Rathaus) by http2007 / CC BY

For a while now, government data for the City of Vienna has been open for reuse under the CC Attribution license. In a more national effort, the City of Vienna, along with the Chancellor’s Office and the Austrian cities of Linz, Salzburg and Graz, recently coordinated their activities to establish the Cooperation OGD (Open Government Data) Austria. The cooperation aims to “to forge common standards and develop conditions in which OGD can flourish to the benefit of all stakeholders.” In its first session, the group agreed to eight key points, which were reported at the Linz Open Commons blog. The first key point was also highlighted over at the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) blog in English:

“All public administration will be free under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), meaning it can be reused and shared for any purpose, with only attribution necessary.”

This is great news for Austrian PSI and open government in general. By using CC licenses and tools to communicate broad reuse rights to the content, data, and educational materials they create, governments are stimulating economic growth, promoting citizen engagement, and increasing the transparency of government resources and services.

We will be running several sessions on government data and PSI at the CC Global Summit in Warsaw speaking to these themes and engaging CC affiliates and community from around the world. One month after the summit, the OKF will also host Open Government Data Camp 2011 in Warsaw (now open for registration). Don’t worry if you can’t make it to either event, as we will be providing updates to both on our blog. In the meantime, you can find many more examples of CC use in government at creativecommons.org/government.

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Design the winning poster for the Creative Commons Global Summit!

Jane Park, August 10th, 2011

You may have heard about the Creative Commons Global Summit to be held in Warsaw, Poland this September. In the lead up to its public launch later this week, we want you, our community, to get involved!

Some of our CC affiliates in Asia are hosting a poster design competition for the summit, based on the theme, “Powering an Open Future.”

From the website,

The Creative Commons Global Summit 2011 provides an opportunity for volunteers, industry leaders and practitioners of the worldwide open content licensing movement to explore and showcase the past, present and future of Creative Commons, copyright and free culture. It will be an event focused on sharing, openness and collaboration, with an eye towards setting the path for the Creative Commons community over its next 10 years.

The winning designs (judged by an international panel and by popular vote) will be introduced at the Global Summit with people in attendance from all over the world, featured prominently at the venue and also as part of a CC visual arts exhibit. The designer will receive a gift of the printed poster from a professional publishing company in Warsaw.

All submissions must be licensed under the CC BY license and incorporate the CC Global Summit logo (see above for what that looks like). For the complete submission rules and to enter, visit the competition site. (In the case you are not fluent in Japanese, you can change the language to English in the upper right hand corner.)

The deadline is August 22 (Japan time & in less than two weeks!), so we look forward to seeing your creativity in action!

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Support for Creative Commons grows in Russia

Jane Park, July 11th, 2011

Since Creative Commons Russia was initiated in March of last year, our Russian Affiliates have been working to make the CC licenses compatible with Russian law. Here, we give an overview of CC progress in Russia to date, while also celebrating the recent contribution of valued wartime images to Wikimedia Commons by Russian news agency RIA Novosti as part of the “Eternal Values” Project.

RIAN_archive_+662733_Recruits_leave_for_front_during_mobilization.jpg
Recruits leaving for the front during mobilization, Moscow. by RIA Novosti archive, image #662733 / Anatoliy Garanin / CC BY-SA 3.0

Currently, certain provisions of Part IV of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation do not permit authors to voluntarily grant copyright permissions. Thanks to work by CC Russia, the Council on Codification and Improvement of the Civil Legislation under the President of the Russian Federation is considering proposed revisions to Part IV of the Civil Code, which will facilitate introduction and use of CC licenses in Russia.

Our Affiliates in Russia believe that use of CC licenses will positively influence the socioeconomic and innovative development of the country, stimulating growth of open content as well as broadening public access to it. The proposed amendments are strongly supported by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who gave instructions to prepare the legislative amendments to the Civil Code late last year. Medvedev wants the existing framework to be adjusted to reflect not only the interests of copyright owners, but also the needs of the users.

It is important to note, however, that the matter is less complicated for Russian creators who want to share their works with the rest of the world. Syb Groeneveld, a past CC volunteer in Russia notes, “Every CC license is intended to be effective on a worldwide basis, whether “ported” to a specific jurisdiction or not… CC’s Unported licenses were created using standard terms from the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and other international treaties related to copyright and intellectual property… If you are the author and the copyright holder of a specific work, it is safe to publish something under the unported CC license. In fact, this is what many Russian musicians like Timur Izhbulatov and Melnar Tilromen are already doing at websites like www.Jamendo.com.”

The foremost example of a Russian creator sharing his works is perhaps the Russian President himself; his presidential website, www.kremlin.ru, is licensed under the CC Attribution 3.0 Unported license in an official letter to Wikipedia.

President Medvedev also uploaded the above 100th image of the “Eternal Values” project to Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY-SA license. The “Eternal Values” project celebrates the 70th anniversary of RIA Novosti by releasing the most valued images from its archives to the public.

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