free culture

Free Culture Swimming Upstream

Fred Benenson, November 5th, 2008

It is one thing for the relatively nascent Wikipedia to embrace free culture as a way to create and share new cultural works, but it is another thing for established media players constrained by traditional markets and economic forces to embrace free culture.

Despite this, it is becoming less difficult to convince incumbent mainstream press and media to fully embrace the inevitability and ubiquity of free culture and there are a few key strategies that are emerging. Perhaps the most obvious lies in the the numerous cases of journalists using Creative Commons licensed photography to illustrate their articles. Faced with the complexities and cost of securing private digital licenses from stock agencies like Getty or Corbis, journalists and bloggers have discovered that eliminating those transaction costs (fiscal and otherwise) through the use of CC licensed photos can substantially increase the quality of their posts.

Some recent exciting examples include two New Yorker posts, one onliterary Halloween costumes and another on Obama’s victory; the LA Times featuring a flickr user’s photo of ex-Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin; and the New York Times’ Polling Place Photo Project which we’ve blogged about several times.

If you’re not already using CC licensed material in your posts and digital media, these examples should give you another reason to consider the choice.

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Report on the First Interdisciplinary Research Workshop on Free Culture

Mike Linksvayer, September 22nd, 2008

Giorgos Cheliotis has written a report on Free Culture 2008, last mentioned here when the program was announced. Here’s an excerpt describing the final session, A Research and Action Agenda for Free Culture:

This was the most important session for the future of research on free culture. The aim of the session was to (a) identify future directions that would be ripe with research challenges but also promising to yield insight that would be useful to the practice of free culture advocacy, and (b) make an assessment of the workshop and decide whether to repeat it and in what format.

The session started with a discussion of potential areas of research, where the collection of more data and the visualization of this data for intuitive exploration and communication of findings was proposed as one potential area of focus. Action research was also mentioned as a methodology that would be relevant in the context of practice-inspired and practice-informed research. Global-scope studies and comparative studies across multiple jurisdictions were also favored by some participants as areas needing much more development. But the discussion quickly turned to practical issues, such as how to organize a network for continuous communication and collaboration among interested researchers and whether we should plan a journal special issue, or a special track in an existing research conference.

Participants tried to propose solutions to the perennial problem of engaging in interdisciplinary collaborations while at the same time being respected in one’s own scientific community. There was some consensus that we should not attempt to create a new discipline, but that we nevertheless need venues and opportunities to engage in cross-disciplinary dialogue and do research across disciplinary boundaries, as the phenomena that interest us the most tend to cut across multiple dimensions of the Internet, including law, IT, economics, communications, media studies and policy (just to name a few).

The most concrete and positive outcome of the entire workshop was the unanimous agreement of all participants to the idea of repeating this gathering on an annual basis. Epitomizing the positive assessment of this year’s proceedings was Lawrence Lessig’s proposal to help find a venue for the workshop next year and also to help turn it into a larger and more substantive academic conference, a proposal that was greeted with enthusiasm by the rest of the participants in the session.

The rest of the discussion focused on what the envisioned conference should look like, in light of the lessons we learned from Free Culture 2008. It was tentatively agreed to raise the bar for participation at the conference next year by requiring that presenters submit a full paper at some stage in the process (this year it was optional and selection was based solely on extended abstracts). This, along with having more time dedicated to research presentations and research-focused discussion will help ensure that next year’s event will be more focused and session participation will be more consistent, which will be essential to building rapport and promoting genuine dialogue among participants.

Some participants also voiced concerns with respect to the conference potentially attaining too much of a traditional academic character and losing the relative spontaneity and participatory nature of the iSummit. It was therefore suggested that we maintain some slots for open discussion and seek to synthesize perspectives and findings in the form of panels or by any other means, instead of focusing only on single-person presentations. Finally, several potential publishing venues were brought up but it was agreed that it is somewhat premature to be concerned with this at the moment and we should rather focus our energies in planning Free Culture 2009.

Read the whole report and look forward to Free Culture 2009!

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Wikis Take Manhattan!

Fred Benenson, September 22nd, 2008

After the fantastic success of Wikipedia Takes Manhattan, Wikipedia, The Open Planning Project, Free Culture @ Columbia, Free Culture @ NYU and Creative Commons have all teamed up to organize another free culture photo scavenger hunt hunt for this Saturday, September 27th!

This time we’ve really stepped up the awards. The grand prize for the team with the most photos is now a dinner with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia and CC board member, at the fantastic Pure Food & Wine restaurant in downtown Manhattan.

The photos will go directly into Wikimedia Commons and the Livable Streets Streetswiki and all photos will be released under our Attribution-ShareAlike license to allow for easy remixing and reuse in any future projects.

The day starts at 1pm and ends with a party after sunset. Register now and we’ll see you on Saturday!

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Free Culture Conference 2008

Fred Benenson, September 8th, 2008

Just after I graduated from NYU, I went to work as the ‘free culture’ intern at Creative Commons during the summer of 2005. I had started the Free Culture @ NYU chapter that year and CC felt like a great fit, and still does. But one of the things that puzzled me that summer was that there weren’t more free culture student activists in the bay area at the time. Clearly, things have changed.

Through the help of Berkeley’s budding Free Culture chapter, Students for Free Culture been able to organize a great conference for Fall break.

We’ll have keynotes by CC founder Lawrence Lessig, copyright legend Pam Samuelson, and John Lilly of Mozilla.

Day 1 will be open to the public and consist of panels and presentations in conjunction with the keynotes, and Day 2 will be workshops, team building, and learning about effective activism.

We’re doing a pay-what-you-feel system reminiscent of the one made famous by Radiohead and Girl Talk, but with one extra twist: ours also shows publicly what the average amount paid is, and right now it is around $27.

Finally, we have raised money in order to fly students in active chapters out to Berkeley for the conference, so if you’re interested in attending and have registered your chapter with Students for Free Culture, please book your flights now and visit our Travel page for more information.

If you’re looking to get involved in the Free Culture movement, I couldn’t suggest a better way of getting involved in our community.

And for what its worth — when considering interns CC has been known to look favorably upon candidates who have demonstrated involvement in Free Culture chapters.

Registration opens today, so sign up now!

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