We’re pleased to announce the launch of the Liberated Pixel Cup, a free-as-in-freedom game authoring competition being launched in cooperation between Creative Commons, the Free Software Foundation, and OpenGameArt!
Liberated Pixel Cup example outdoor artwork / Lanea Zimmerman / CC BY-SA 3.0
Liberated Pixel Cup is a two-part competition: make a bunch of awesome free culture licensed artwork, and program a bunch of free software games that use it. Hopefully many cool projects can come out of this… but that will only happen if people like you get involved!
Technically the project will run in three phases. One of the major goals of the project is for the community to be able to produce content that’s stylistically consistent. To that end, “phase zero” of the project is to produce a style guide that people can work off to produce content that meshes together nicely, something along the lines of what the Tango style guide does for icons. We’ve been working with a few excellent artists to commission a base example set to build the style guide out of, and we’re fairly thrilled with where things are going!
Liberated Pixel Cup example indoor artwork / Lanea Zimmerman / CC BY-SA 3.0
And this is where you come in: “Phase one” of the competition will then be building artwork that matches that guide that should then be uploaded to OpenGameArt and dual licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 and GPLv3. This part of the project will run from June 1st through June 30th. “Phase two” of this competition will be building GPLv3 or later games that incorporate artwork from the artwork building phase of the project. People can work in teams or individually, and this portion of the contest will run from July 1st through July 31st.
Afterwards will be judging entries and handing out awards. We’re planning on giving out some prizes for both the content building and the game programming phases. To see more details about all this, check out the rules page.
We’re very proud to be working on this collaboration with OpenGameArt, but especially the Free Software Foundation, a true ally of ours in the quest for user freedom in all domains. And it seems that feeling is mutual:
The FSF is happy to join with our peers and support this contest. We’re already excited about the new free software games that will come out of it — not only because we like games, but because this is an area that is still very much in the grips of proprietary software companies using nasty Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), and an area holding back free software adoption for many users.
– John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation
We think Liberated Pixel Cup is a great opportunity for the commons in many ways! Right now it’s hard to find free culture content to bootstrap games that match a consistent style and hard for artists to collaborate on such. We’re also very interested in areas where free software and free culture directly intersect, which we don’t always see enough of (and which sometimes can even get a bit complex, so it’s good to have opportunities to think about them when we can), and games are a great example of this overlap. We hope you’ll participate!
And on that note, there’s several things we’d like to fund with this project. First of all, we’d like to pay the artists that have we’ve commissioned for this style guide actual money, as laying down a set of fundamentals for the artwork is a lot of serious work. Second, we’d like to be able to do cool things like give out prizes for people who win the various stages of the competition.
To that end, we’re trying to raise some money for the Liberated Pixel Cup. So please help make that happen, and donate today!
About Creative Commons
Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org) is a globally-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Creative Commons provides free licenses and other legal tools to give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions and get credit for their creative work while allowing others to copy, distribute and make specific uses of it. Donations to support Creative Commons work can be made at https://creativecommons.net/donate/ and also by contacting email@example.com.
Christopher Allan Webber
Senior Software Engineer
+1 (773) 614 2279
About the Free Software Foundation
The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users’ right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software — particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants — and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF’s work can be made at http://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
OpenGameArt.org was founded in 2009 for the purpose of archiving art for use in free and open source games. Since then, OGA has grown into a vibrant community of artists and developers who are passionate about games and free culture. You can join the community or explore by visiting http://opengameart.org/.
Congratulations to Mozilla on the release of the Mozilla Public License 2.0 after a two year versioning process. As Mozilla chair Mitchell Baker writes “Version 2.0 is similar in spirit to the previous versions, but shorter, better, and more compatible with other Free Software and Open Source Licenses.”
MPL 1.1 is one of the more popular free and open source software licenses, most famously used for Mozilla’s own Firefox browser. That MPL 2.0 is now compatible with the GPL, the most popular free and open source software license, is a big step forward for software. Why? Read Make Your Open Source Software GPL-Compatible. Or Else. which we link to in our FAQ explaining why CC licenses shouldn’t be used for software (except CC0). But the principle of lessening incompatibility among licenses is a general one, and applies to licenses used for cultural and scientific works, public sector information, databases, and more, as well as software. Thus one of our highlighted goals for version 4.0 of the CC license suite:
Interoperability – maximize interoperability between CC licenses and other licenses to reduce friction within the commons, promote standards and stem license proliferation;
This is a difficult goal, requiring long-term thinking and collaboration with other license stewards. We have a number of other goals for version 4.0 of the CC license suite as all; we hope the cumulative effect will make for a much better license suite than 3.0. Of course each license (e.g., BY-SA) will also remain similar in spirit. Shorter? We’ll see, balanced with everything else.
As the MPL 2.0 announcement notes, numerous people made valuable contributions to the development of that license. Possibly a first for a software license, even making the license look nice was addressed — something CC thinks is important, and another opportunity for people with different skills to help make licenses more useful. With a far greater diversity of projects using CC licenses, our need for community-wide feedback is even greater. We urge you to get involved in the CC 4.0 process.2 Comments »
Faces of Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 by Tom Lechner / CC BY-NC-SA
I wanted to underline how key it is for all those in Open ____ (Open Content, Open Source, Open etc) get together at some point to see each other physically, as often it’s only virtually.
It’s now 2011 and Jon Phillips is a CC alumnus but still active in Libre Graphics Meeting every year. This year Jon Phillips invited me to attend and speak as CC representative and community member about Blender and about free network services. I spoke three times:
- At the Montreal Python usergroup giving a talk on Blender and Python very similar to the talk I gave at PyCon this year and similarly well received (slides here). I also gave a lightning talk on my new project, GNU MediaGoblin.
- Another talk on Blender, this one focused more on artists and advocacy animations.
- An autonomo.us panel on free network services. I strongly believe that licensing that permits copying and modification is essential to the success of free network services and we addressed this a bit but not as strongly as I’d hoped. Aside from this, the conversation was very good, especially in the second half of the talk which was mostly driven by audience participation. It seems clear to me that the Libre Graphics Meeting community understands why distributed free software network services matter, even to artists. GNU MediaGoblin was introduced formally to Libre Graphics Meeting during this talk also.
If I were to describe Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 in one phrase it might be “2011 is the year of the innovative libre graphics desktop.” Of course, in saying this I am making a joke, but there is some truth to it. It’s unfortunately true that libre graphics are unlikely to become the dominant software tools for graphics authoring in the near future, but even still, Libre Graphics Meeting demonstrates that people are clearly doing great and innovative things in the libre graphics world.
And just as Free Software Needs Free Tools, free culture also needs free tools. If culture is going to be reworked, remixed, and even simply survive the dangers of obsolescence, we need unencumbered formats and tools to empower current and future authors and artists. And so the libre graphics community plays a critical role here.
Free culture and free software don’t mix often enough, but when they do the result is powerful. In few places does this mixing happen as clearly as it does in the libre graphics community, and so it’s good that we have Libre Graphics Meeting as a gathering point for powerful intersections such as these.1 Comment »
The basic idea of Creative Commons, offering free copyright tools, is copied from the free software movement. However, CC licenses are not intended to be used to release software, as our FAQ has always said.
One important reason why Creative Commons licenses should not be used to release software is that they aren’t compatible with existing free software licenses, most importantly the GPL from the Free Software Foundation, which is used by over half of free software projects. A commons fractured by legal incompatibilities is a weak commons, and it would be deeply contrary to our mission to fracture the commons of software. (It should also be noted that the FSF helped unfracture the non-software commons by facilitating Wikimedia’s migration to CC BY-SA as the main content license of Wikipedia and its sibling sites.)
While the vast majority of contemporary free software is released under the GPL or another free software license, there is also a long tradition of public domain software, which was free before the term free software existed. Indeed, prior to the 1970s, copyright did not apply to software. Currently, SQLite, an embedded database that you almost certainly use, is probably the most popular software that is dedicated to the public domain.
There are a variety of public domain dedications used to release software, which is mostly not a problem — to the extent such dedications are well-crafted, they don’t present a legal interoperability problem. This means it is possible to improve the state of the art in public domain dedications without harming the ecosystem. (Though this doesn’t mean an infinite variety of public domain dedications is optimal — at the extreme having to determine whether a new dedication is well-crafted each time one encounters a new public domain work would make using public domain works unattractive.)
In addition to licenses, Creative Commons also offers public domain tools. In creating the CC0 public domain dedication, we did set out to improve the state of the art in public domain dedications, and we think we’ve been pretty successful. Users seem to think so — ranging from governments and institutions to musicians.
We hadn’t set out with CC0 to improve on public domain dedications for software. However, since the release of CC0, we’ve been approached a number of times about using CC0 to dedicate software to the public domain. While we were happy to hear of this unanticipated demand, we wanted to tread very carefully so as to not create any unintended consequences for the free software ecosystem. This led to discussions with the Free Software Foundation, the steward of the GPL and moral leader of the free software movement.
We’re really happy to announce that the Free Software Foundation has added CC0 to its free software licenses list (which includes public domain terms). As usual, the FSF’s language is extremely clear, so we simply quote two sections from their list:
CC0 is a public domain dedication from Creative Commons. A work released under CC0 is dedicated to the public domain to the fullest extent permitted by law. If that is not possible for any reason, CC0 also provides a simple permissive license as a fallback. Both public domain works and the simple license provided by CC0 are compatible with the GNU GPL.
If you want to release your work to the public domain, we recommend you use CC0.
If you want to release your work to the public domain, we encourage you to use formal tools to do so. We ask people who make small contributions to GNU to sign a disclaimer form; that’s one solution. If you’re working on a project that doesn’t have formal contribution policies like that, CC0 is a good tool that anyone can use. It formally dedicates your work to the public domain, and provides a fallback license for cases where that is not legally possible.
We’ve also added an entry to the CC0 FAQ about using CC0 to release software, which you ought read if you’d like to do that. If you’re only familiar with the way CC licenses and public domain tools are typically used on web pages and other media, be aware that with free software, the full license (or public domain terms) are usually included with the software. In order to make this easy to do, we’ve taken this opportunity to fulfill a longstanding request — plain text copies of the “legalcode” for CC0 and CC’s six main international licenses. See CC software engineer Chris Webber’s post for details.
Special thanks to Chris Webber and the FSF’s Brett Smith for their persistent work to make the CC0 software recommendation possible.2 Comments »
Sintel poster by Blender Institute / CC BY
Sintel is the Blender Institute’s third “open movie”. Could you describe what “open movie” means to the Blender Institute?
Oh… many things. First, I love to work with artists, which goes much easier than working with developers! And making short animation films with teams is an amazing and very rewarding activity. With this large creative community of Blender artists, the financial model enables it even; not many short film makers have this opportunity.
But the practical incentive to do this is because it’s a great development model for Blender. Putting artists together on a major challenge is the ultimate way to drive software like Blender forward. That way we can also ensure it fits ambitious targets weeding out the ‘would be cool features’ for the ‘must need’ ones. And it’s quite easier to design usability with small diverse teams, than have it done online via feedback mechanisms, which easily becomes confusing with the noise of hundreds of different opinions.
It’s also a fact that the Blender Institute was established for open movie projects, so for me (and the Blender Institute) it means our core business.
Blender Institute projects have a rare but heavily developed intersection between free and open source software (Blender the software and its developer community) and free culture (the films the Blender Institute produces). How related and similar are these worlds?
I don’t consider myself much related to “free culture” really, and certainly not in the political sense. For Blender projects it’s just a natural way to deliver it in open license like with [the licenses provided by] CC. We want our users to learn from them, to dissect our tricks and technology, or use them for other works. And not least: to allow everyone who works on a project to freely take it with them; as a portfolio, or companies who sponsor us who need demos or research material. So in that sense we are free culture!
But each time I meet people who work in this field, it’s mostly theorists, not practicists. so I’m a bit biased [...] people who talk about free culture don’t seem to make it (at least here in the Netherlands, at conferences or meetings). I get regular invitations to talk on this topic. I do it sometimes, but the blah-blah level disturbs me a bit. Free culture is about doing it.
So at the Blender Institute, you have artists working on these works, and you have programmers working on this code. How similar are those worlds?
For Blender, I think we have a great mix, with a lot of cross-overs. Several of our coders started as users, and we involve artists closely in design for tools or features.
This doesn’t always go perfectly, especially when it’s highly technical, like simulation code. But if you visit our IRC channel, or mailing list, or conferences… it’s always a great mix. Maybe this is because 3d art creation is quite technical too? I dunno… not many users will understand how to construct bsp trees, yet they use it all the time.
In general compared to other open source projects, I think we’re quite un-technical and accessible. A big reason for that is because I’m not even a trained programmer. I did art and industrial design. When coders go too deep in abstract constructions I can’t follow it either and can simply counter it with an “Okay, but what’s the benefit for using this?” And when the answer is “It makes coders’ lives easier” I usually ignore it. In my simple world, coders suffer and artists benefit! But one coder can also do some stuff — taking a few hours — that saves hundreds of thousands of people a few seconds in a day. And that’s always good.
What’s the development of a film like Sintel like as in terms of internal development vs community involvement in production? Has that dynamic changed at all from work to work? I partly ask this because some people think “Oh, open movie, they must have their SVN repository open the whole time and just get random contributions from everywhere,” but Blender Institute films don’t tend to work that way.
Right, we keep most of our content closed until release. I’m a firm believer in establishing protective creative processes. In contrast to developers — who can function well individually online — an artist really needs daily and in-person feedback and stimulation.
We’ve done this now four times (three films and one game) and it’s amazing how teams grow in due time. But during this process they’re very vulnerable too. If you followed the blog you may have seen that we had quite harsh criticism on posting our progress work. If you’re in the middle of a process, you see the improvements. Online you only see the failures.
The cool thing is that a lot of tests and progress can be followed now perfectly and it suddenly makes more sense I think. Another complex factor for opening up a creative process is that people are also quite inexperienced when they join a project. You want to give them a learning curve and not hear all the time from our audience that it sucks. Not that it was that bad! But one bad criticism can ruin a day.
One last thing on the “open svn” point: in theory it could work, if we would open up everything 100% from scratch. That then will give an audience a better picture of progress and growth. We did that for our game project and it was suited quite well for it. For film… most of our audience wants to get surprised more, not know the script, the dialogs, the twists. Film is more ‘art’ than games, in that respect.
You also did the sprints this time, which pulled in some more community involvement than in previous projects. Do you think that model went well? Would you do it again?
The modeling sprint was great! We needed a lot of props, and for that an online project works perfectly. The animation sprint (for animated characters) was less of a success. Character animation doesn’t lend itself well for it, I think. There’s no history for it… ehh. Like, for design and modeling, we have a vocabulary. Most people understand when you explain visual design, style, proportions. But for animation… only a few (trained) animators know how to discuss this. It’s more specialist too.
How has the choice of the Creative Commons Attribution license affected your works?
How would it affect our works? Do you mean, why not choose ND (no-derivatives) or NC (noncommercial)? Both restrictions won’t suit well for our work. And without attribution it’s not a CC license.
I did get some complaints why not choose a FSF compatible license, but the Free Software Foundation has no license for content like ours either.
What kinds of things have you seen / do you expect to see post-release of a project such as Sintel?
A lot of things happened with previous films, Elephants Dream and Big Buck Bunny, ranging from codec research in companies, showcases on tradeshows, to student composers using it to graduate. Even wallpaper!
We are working now on a 4k resolution of the film (4096 x 2160). The 4k market is small, but very active and visible in many places. They’re dying for good content. I’m also very interested in doing a stereoscopic ’3d’ version. As for people making alternative endings or shots; that hasn’t happened a lot, to my knowledge. Our quality standard is too high as well, so it’s not a simple job.
But further, the very cool thing of open content is that you’re done when you’re done! A commercial product’s work stress only starts when the product is done. That’s what I learned with our first film. Just let it go, and move on to next.
And at least one “free culture” aspect then: it’s quite amazing how our films have become some kind of cultural heritage already. People have grown fond of them, or at least to the memory of them. It’s part of our culture in a way, and without a free license that would have been a really tough job.
Might there be a Sintel game (Project Jackfruit?) using the Blender Game Engine like there was a game following Big Buck Bunny (Yo Frankie)?
Not here in the Blender Institute. But there’s already a quite promising online project for it.
You can watch Sintel online and support the project (and get all the data files used to produce the film, tutorials, and many other goodies) by purchasing a DVD set. You may also wish to consider supporting Creative Commons in our current superhero campaign.2 Comments »
Ryzom's Windfall by Winch Gate / CC BY-SA
Today brings an exciting announcement… Winch Gate Properties Ltd. is releasing Ryzom, an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), with its code under the GNU AGPLv3 and its artistic assets under CC BY-SA.
Games are almost unique in how tightly the medium requires the interweaving of software and culture. Amongst the many genres of video games that exist today, the MMORPG is probably the most complex and requires the most depth both on the side of the code and content. Since Ryzom is a mature, well developed project, the scale of this release and its significance for both free culture and free software are both truly incredible. In the words of Winch Gate’s own press release:
By freeing Ryzom code, Winch Gate is transforming the MMORPG marketplace and is setting a precedent for how gaming software should evolve–in freedom. The source code released totals over two (2) million lines of source code and over 20,000 high quality textures and thousands of 3D objects.
Some components aren’t released yet to the public (notably the music and sounds, although this is apparently in progress) and the world data for the main server isn’t being released to keep the player community from fracturing. Notably also, the current tools for creating game data require proprietary software, but the Free Software Foundation notes that there are efforts under way to make these actions editable incorporating free software tools such as Blender. However the components that are already available: the server code, the client code, and the many models, animations, textures and etc, already bring many great community opportunities. The freeing of these resources opens them for study, modification, and incorporation into other works and games of compatible licenses. And of course the existence of all these components also means that one can run a fully free-as-in-freedom virtual universe of one’s own. If you ever dreamed of the carving of virtual worlds, here’s your great chance.1 Comment »
The Free Software Foundation has announced the winners of its 2009 Free Software Awards: John Gilmore (Advancement of Free Software Award) and the Internet Archive (Project of Social Benefit Award).
Last year Creative Commons won the Project of Social Benefit Award. As we noted then, many past free software award winners have been important participants in free culture as well — and free software is both an inspiration for and girds the freedom of the network and application layers needed for free culture to thrive.
This year’s winners continue in that fashion, even more than past winners. John Gilmore’s work in free software and free software business inspires, while his work as a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation girds many freedoms that the knowledge layer relies upon. The Internet Archive was the most important digital repository for free cultural materials before Creative Commons existed and has been a crucial host for CC-licensed works since Creative Commons launched.1 Comment »
Creative Commons depends on a lot of free software to scale our activities on the web. One of the most important pieces is CiviCRM which we use to manage our contributions and contacts. CiviCRM has been on an amazing trajectory since we first started using it in 2006: new releases continue to bring functionality our users ask for, and the developers and community have been great to work with.
If you’re a CiviCRM user, or looking for a CRM/Donor Management package for your organization, you should attend the first ever CiviCon, taking place April 22 in San Francisco. I’m very proud that Creative Commons is taking part in the event: Nathan Kinkade will be presenting on our work to streamline the contribution process, and I’ll be presenting the opening plenary session.
Register here for CiviCon — I hope to see you next month!No Comments »
Creative Commons was deeply honored to receive 2008′s Free Software Foundation Award for Project of Social Benefit, presented “to a project that intentionally and significantly benefits society by applying free software, or the ideas of the free software movement, in a project that intentionally and significantly benefits society in other aspects of life.”
The FSF is currently accepting nominations for the 2009 Award for Project of Social Benefit, as well as the Award for the Advancement of Free Software, presented “to an individual who has made a great contribution to the progress and development of free software, through activities that accord with the spirit of free software.”
Free software and in particular the FSF’s pioneering use of public copyright licenses to protect the freedom of computer users inspired and made possible the free culture movement and in particular Creative Commons — and the use of free software girds the freedom of the network and application layers needed for free culture to thrive.
If you already know free software well, please reflect and make a nomination for one or both awards. We’re particularly eager to see what great project wins the social benefit award!No Comments »
It should be no surprise that here at CC, we’re huge fans of Free Software. Every bit we release, from our JS Widget to the code running the CC Network itself to our Facebook Application is free software. That’s why we think its important to celebrate Software Freedom Day on Saturday, September 19th. There are numerous celebrations happening around the world, but I”ll be attending the one in NYC:
6pm to 10pm.
148 Lafayette St, 12th Floor.
New York, NY
If you’d like to attend the NYC event, please RSVP required to joshlevy.ny AT gmail. Have a great Software Freedom Day!2 Comments »