free software foundation

Announcing the Liberated Pixel Cup: an epic contest for gaming freedom

Chris Webber, April 11th, 2012

Liberated Pixel Cup banner

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 outdoor example artwork
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 outdoor example artwork
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 development@creativecommons.org.

Contact
Christopher Allan Webber
Senior Software Engineer
Creative Commons
+1 (773) 614 2279
cwebber@creativecommons.org

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.

Contact
Joshua Gay
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
campaigns@fsf.org

About OpenGameArt

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/.

Contact
Bart Kelsey
Founder, OpenGameArt.org
bart@opengameart.org

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Using CC0 for public domain software

Mike Linksvayer, April 15th, 2011

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

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.

[...]

Public Domain

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.

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Massively Multiplayer Game Ryzom Released as Free Culture and Free Software

Chris Webber, May 6th, 2010

Ryzom's Windfall
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.

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Congratulations to John Gilmore and the Internet Archive, winners of the 2009 Free Software Awards

Mike Linksvayer, March 23rd, 2010

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.

Congratulations and thanks to John Gilmore, the Internet Archive, and the Free Software Foundation.

John Gilmore
John Gilmore by Joi Ito / CC BY
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CC and the Google Book Settlement

Mike Linksvayer, November 16th, 2009

The is probably the copyright story of the year — it’s complex, contentious, involves big players and big subjects — the future of books, perhaps good and evil — resulting in a vast amount of advocacy, punditry and academic analysis.

It’s also a difficult item for Creative Commons to comment on. Both “sides” are clearly mostly correct. Wide access to digital copies of most books ever published would be a tremendous benefit to society — it’s practically an imperative that will happen in some fashion. It’s also the case that any particular arrangement to achieve such access should be judged in terms of how it serves the public interest, which includes consumer privacy, open competition, and indeed, access to books, among many other things. Furthermore, Creative Commons considers both Google and many of the parties submitting objections to the settlement (the Electronic Frontier Foundation is an obvious example) great friends and supporters of the commons.

We hope that a socially beneficial conclusion is reached. However, it’s important to remember why getting there is so contentious. Copyright has not kept up with the digital age — to the contrary, it has fought a rearguard action against the digital age, resulting in zero growth in the public domain, a vast number of inaccessible and often decaying orphan works, and a diminution of fair use. If any or all of these were addressed, Google and any other party would have much greater freedom to scan and make books available to the public — providing access to digital books would be subject to open competition, not arrived at via a complex and contentious settlement with lots of side effects.

Creative Commons was designed to not play the high cost, risk, and stakes game of litigation and lobbying to fix a broken copyright system. Instead, following the example of the free software movement, we offer a voluntary opt-in to a more reasonable copyright that works in the digital age. There are a huge number of examples that this works — voluntary, legal, scalable sharing powers communities as diverse as music remix, scientific publishing, open educational resources, and of course Wikipedia.

It’s also heartening to see that voluntary sharing can be a useful component of even contentious settlements and to see recognition of Creative Commons as the standard for sharing. We see this in Google’s proposed amended settlement, filed last Friday. The amended version (PDF) includes the following:

Alternative License Terms. In lieu of the basic features of Consumer Purchase set forth in Section 4.2(a) (Basic Features of Consumer Purchase), a Rightsholder may direct the Registry to make its Books available at no charge pursuant to one of several standard licenses or similar contractual permissions for use authorized by the Registry under which owners of works make their works available (e.g., Creative Commons Licenses), in which case such Books may be made available without the restrictions of such Section.

This has not been the first mention of Creative Commons licenses in the context of the Google Book Settlement. The settlement FAQ has long included an answer indicating a Creative Commons option would be available. Creative Commons has also been mentioned (and in a positive light) by settlement critics, for example in Pamela Samuelson’s paper on the settlement and in the Free Software Foundation’s provocative objection centering on the tension between the intentions of public copyright licensors and the potential for settlements to result in less freedom than the licensor intended.

Independent of the settlement, we happily noted a few months ago that Google had added Creative Commons licensing options to its Google Book Search partner program. This, like any voluntary sharing, or mechanism to facilitate such, is a positive development.

However you feel about the settlement, you can make a non-contentious contribution to a better future by using works in the commons and adding your own, preventing future gridlock. You can also make a financial contribution to the Creative Commons annual campaign to support the work we do to build infrastructure for sharing.

If you want to follow the Google Book Settlement play-by-play, New York Law School’s James Grimmelmann has the go-to blog. We’re proud to note that James was a Creative Commons legal intern in 2004, but can’t take any credit for his current productivity!

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Free Software Award nominations due October 31

Mike Linksvayer, October 28th, 2009

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!

If you’re not familiar with free software, some good places to start are our post on the movement’s 25th anniversary, the FSF home page, and Wikipedia’s Free Software Portal.

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Free Software Foundation introduces RDF for GNU licenses

Mike Linksvayer, June 22nd, 2009

We’re very happy to note that the Free Software Foundation has introduced RDF for GNU licenses. This means the FSF has described each of its licenses at a high level in the same “machine readable” framework that CC uses to describe our licenses.

CC worked with the FSF to extend our vocabulary for describing copyright licenses in RDF, but it’s key to understand that no collaboration was required. They could have extended our vocabulary without asking or published their own without reference to ours, leaving it to third parties to describe mappings between the two (also using RDF). As with free software, using the semantic web means users have the freedom to innovate without asking for permission. Perhaps it is no surprise that cutting edge semantic web software tends to be free software. It feels like there may be under-exploited connections to be drawn between the free software and semantic web communities, e.g., hinted at in Evan Prodromou’s keynote at the FSF’s LibrePlanet conference, somewhat as it feels there may be under-exploited connections between the free software and free culture communities.

Less philosophically, we hope this small affordance helps others build tools which make it easier to find and use free software. For example, this list of free software hosting facilities is only the tip of the iceberg, and rapidly growing due to the rise of distributed version control systems. More project metadata will help computers help make sense of it all.

It’s also worth noting that RDF descriptions of licenses such as CC’s and now the FSF’s give users an additional tool to use to find and manage information, in contrast with Digital RightsRestrictions Management, which gives the publishers of information a tool to abuse users. For more on the latter, of course see the FSF’s Defective By Design campaign.

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Wikimedia Foundation board approves license migration

Mike Linksvayer, May 21st, 2009

The Wikimedia Foundation board has approved the licensing changes voted on by the community of Wikipedia and its sister sites. The accompanying press release includes this quote from Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig:

“Richard Stallman’s commitment to the cause of free culture has been an inspiration to us all. Assuring the interoperability of free culture is a critical step towards making this freedom work. The Wikipedia community is to be congratulated for its decision, and the Free Software Foundation thanked for its help. I am enormously happy about this decision.”

Hear, hear!

Earlier today we blogged that results of the Wikipedia community vote on adding the CC BY-SA license. Over 75% of votes were cast in approval of the change, but as has been pointed out by Wikimedia Foundation Deputy Director Erik Moeller and board member Kat Walsh, this number understates the level of support for the change. 14% voted “no opinion”, while only 10% opposed.

In any case we are deeply gratified that such an overwhelming majority (88% of those who voted with an opinion) approved this change worked on over several years by the Free Software Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, and Creative Commons, are proud to stand with such trusted organizations, and will live up to that trust!

The addition of the CC BY-SA license to Wikimedia sites should occur over the next month. Now is a good time to start thinking about whether your works and projects ought to interoperate with Wikipedia. If you’re using (or switch to) CC BY-SA, content can flow in both directions (your work could be incorporated into Wikipedia, and you can incorporate Wikipedia content into your work). If you use CC BY or CC0, your work could be incorporated into Wikipedia, but not vice versa. If your work isn’t licensed, or is under a CC license with a non-commercial or no derivatives (NC or ND) term, nothing can flow in either direction, except by fair use or other copyright exception or limitation.

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FSCONS 2009: Call for Participation

Michelle Thorne, May 20th, 2009

fscons09

Free Culture, Free Software, and Free Content will again join forces under the banner of “Free Society” at FSCONS 2009 in Gothenburg, Sweden, 13-15th November.  The organizers, Creative Commons Sweden, Free Software Foundation Europe, and Wikimedia Sverige, have just announced the conference’s Call for Participation.

Last year’s conference featured a host of workshops and speakers, including CC’s Mike Linksvayer on “How far is free culture behind free software?” and Victor Stone on ccMixter‘s solution to online attribution via Sample Pool API.

We’re looking forward to what this year’s FSCONS has in store. Submissions close on June 21, so send in your proposal soon!

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Creative Commons wins the 2008 Free Software Foundation Award for Project of Social Benefit!

Mike Linksvayer, March 24th, 2009

Saturday at Libre Planet, the Free Software Foundation’s annual conference, Creative Commons was honored to receive the FSF’s Award for Projects of Social Benefit:

The FSF Award for Projects of Social Benefit is presented annually 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.

Since its launch in 2001, Creative Commons has worked to foster a growing body of creative, educational and scientific works that can be shared and built upon by others. Creative Commons has also worked to raise awareness of the harm inflicted by increasingly restrictive copyright regimes.

Creative Commons vice president Mike Linksvayer accepted the award saying, “It’s an incredible honor. Creative Commons should be giving an award to the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman, because what Creative Commons is doing would not be possible without them.”

Congratulations also to Wietse Venema, honored with the Award for the Advancement of Free Software for his “significant and wide-ranging technical contributions to network security, and his creation of the Postfix email server.”

FSF president Stallman presented a plaque by artist Lincoln Read commemorating the award to Creative Commons.

It is worth noting that the FSF Social Benefit Award’s 2005 and 2007 winners are Wikipedia and Groklaw both because it is tremendous to be in their company and as the former is in the process of migrating to a CC BY-SA license (thanks in large part to the FSF) and the latter publishes under a CC BY-NC-ND license.

Only last December CC was honored to receive an award from another of computing’s most significant pioneers, Doug Engelbart.

Thanks again to the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman. Please join us in continuing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his founding of the free software movement. As Stallman would say, “Happy Hacking!”

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