free software foundation

Libre Planet and Libre Graphics

Mike Linksvayer, March 16th, 2009

This coming weekend (March 21-22) in Cambridge, Massachusetts the Free Software Foundation is holding its annual meeting, dubbed the Libre Planet Conference. Many of CC’s best friends and supporters will be there, as will CC staff Asheesh Laroia and I. If you aren’t familiar with the significance of the free software movement to free culture, start by checking out the links on our post celebrating the former’s 25th birthday, or better yet come to Libre Planet. The conference will feature the hottest issues in software freedom, some of which include a free culture component.

Another important conference is coming to the eastern part of North America — the Libre Graphics Meeting, May 6-9 in Montreal. Developers of the most important free software graphics applications will be represented. These applications are heavily used by contributors to free culture sites such as Wikimedia Commons and many of the developers engage in cutting edge free cultural productions themselves, e.g., Blender. CC staff have attended in years past and Jon Phillips is helping put together this one.

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Report from Creative Commons’ December 2008 board meeting online

Mike Linksvayer, January 13th, 2009

CC CEO Joi Ito notes that we’ve just posted a summary of CC’s December 2008 board meeting:

Highlights included the CC Network, progress with the Free Software Foundation with respect to CC and the GFDL, CC0, integration with additional tools such as Picasa, the “Defining Noncommercial” study, partnership with the Eurasian Foundation, the fall fund-raising campaign, website updates, updates from Science Commons and ccLearn and the launch of four new jurisdictions – Romania, Hong Kong, Guatemala and Singapore.

See our June 2008 board meeting summary, or for more excitement, video of the Berkman/CC event from the night before the December board meeting. Video from the CC tech summit of the same day will be up very shortly.

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Wikipedia licensing Q&A posted

Mike Linksvayer, December 16th, 2008

Erik Möller of the Wikimedia Foundation announced a questions and answers document concerning the possible licensing update for Wikimedia Foundation projects to CC BY-SA. On “What will happen next?”

We will present a proposal for dual-licensing all Wikimedia projects currently using the GFDL, by January 15, 2009. It will be published on the foundation-l mailing list. This proposal will be discussed and revised through open community discussion, leading to an open vote among all active Wikimedia contributors (to be defined using similar criteria as the Board elections). If a majority of community members favor migration to CC-BY-SA, it will be implemented.

This follows the enormously important November 3 move by the Free Software Foundation to enable FDL-licensed wikis to migrate to CC BY-SA. For more background and why this is so important for free culture, see our post on the FSF’s move.

FSF president and free software movement founder Richard Stallman has since written an open letter on the matter. Excerpt:

If a wiki site exercises the relicensing option, that entails trusting Creative Commons rather than the Free Software Foundation regarding its future license changes. In theory one might consider this a matter of concern, but I think we can be confident that Creative Commons will follow its stated mission in the maintenance of its licenses. Millions of users trust Creative Commons for this, and I think we can do likewise.

This is a great honor for Creative Commons, and a debt of trust we are compelled to uphold. We hope the Wikimedia community will come to the same conclusion. Regarding maintenance of CC BY-SA licenses, see our Statement of Intent, also cited by the Q&A linked at the top of this post.

For a more general take on license stewardship, please see Bradley Kuhn’s post on The FLOSS License Drafter’s Responsibility to the Community, prompted by Stallman’s letter:

The key quote from his letter that stands out to me is: “our commitment is that our changes to a license will stick to the spirit of that license, and will uphold the purposes for which we wrote it.” This point is fundamental. As FLOSS license drafters, we must always, as RMS says, “abide by the highest ethical standards” to uphold the spirit that spurred the creation of these licenses.

Far from being annoyed, I’m grateful for those who assume the worst of intentions and demand that we justify ourselves. For my part, I try to answer every question I get at conferences and in email about licensing policy as best I can with this point in mind. We in the non-profit licensing sector of the FLOSS world have a duty to the community of FLOSS users and programmers to defend their software freedom. I try to make every decision, on licensing policy (or, indeed, any issue) with that goal in mind. I know that my colleagues here at the SFLC, at the Conservancy, at FSF, and at the many other not-for-profit organizations always do the same, too.

CC does not create software licenses (we recommend existing excellent free software licenses, such as the FSF’s GNU GPL), but these are words to take to heart as closely as possible.

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CCi and Wikimedia Germany in closer collaboration, shared office space

Michelle Thorne, December 9th, 2008

Creative Commons International (CCi) is moving! Leaving our office in Berlin-Mitte, we’ll be moving to Berlin-Schöneberg to share workspace with Wikimedia Germany. Our move builds upon existing collaborations with local Wikimedia projects and the hope of continued support and unified efforts. To date, CCi has teamed up with Wikimedia Serbia, one of the institutional hosts of the CC Serbia project, and Wikimedia Indonesia will soon begin overseeing the porting of the CC licenses to Indonesian law. Nordic CC and Wikimedia communities are also strengthening ties, as demonstrated by the recent “free society” conference FSCONS, organized by CC Sweden, Wikimedia Sweden, and the Free Software Foundation Europe.

It is our hope that the office share will build bridges across projects, people, and resources. As reported last month, the Wikimedia/Wikipedia community is now deciding whether to offer wiki content under CC BY-SA 3.0. These discussions follow the Free Software Foundation’s release of version 1.3 of its Free Documentation License containing language which allows FDL-licensed wikis to republish FDL content under the CC Attribution-ShareAlike license until August 1, 2009.

Read more about the move in our press release.

100,000 Attribution-ShareAlike Images for Wikimedia Commons

Good news reaches another Wikimedia project, Wikimedia Commons, which hosts hundreds of thousands of freely licensed Creative Commons media and serves as the multimedia back-end of Wikipedia. Everyone is encouraged to upload as much educational free media as they can in order to benefit the commons, and this is exactly what the German Federal Archive has decided to do.

Since December 4th, the archive is uploading around 100,000 photos to Wikimedia Commons, all licensed under our Attribution-ShareAlike license. The subject matter varies from not-so-ordinary street scenes to famous German sights, but all of the photos are high quality and offer great snapshots of modern German history. Check out the contributions from BArchBot to keep an eye as the uploads progress over the next couple of weeks.

A very warm congratulations to our new office mates, Wikimedia Germany, and to the German Federal Archive for organizing such a significant and valuable contribution to the commons!

Image: “Schwerin, Neujahr, Feuerwerk” by Ralf Pätzold, made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License by the Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), Bild 183-Z1228-001.

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Wikipedia/CC news: FSF releases FDL 1.3

Mike Linksvayer, November 3rd, 2008

The Free Software Foundation has just released version 1.3 of its Free Documentation License containing language which allows FDL-licensed wikis to republish FDL content under the CC Attribution-ShareAlike license until August 1, 2009. Excepted from this are FDL documents originating elsewhere unless they have been incorporated into the wiki prior to November 1, 2008.

This is a crucial step toward de-fracturing the free (culture) as in (software) freedom world, which should have the impact of greatly accelerating the growth of that world. Last December the Wikimedia Foundation requested that the FSF make this step.

Thanks and congratulations to the WMF and FSF (if you haven’t wished the latter a hearty 25th anniversary yet, please do so) and to the free world.

The next step is for the Wikipedia/Wikimedia community (and other FDL-licensed wikis) to decide to offer wiki content under CC BY-SA 3.0.

We hope that these communities find CC the best steward for free culture licenses to be relied upon for massively collaborative works. See our Statement of Intent for Attribution-ShareAlike Licenses and Approved for Free Cultural Works branding rolled out in February and April of this year respectively for some background on this.

In the longer term (i.e., in a future version of the CC BY-SA license, which as the FSF does their licenses, we version very carefully and deliberately) we will address other issues of particular interest to communities creating massively collaborative works, in particular attribution for such situations (our version 2.5 licenses begin to do this) and how strongly copyleft (ShareAlike in CC parlance) attaches to the context in which CC BY-SA licensed images are used (as we did for video synced to music in version 2.0).

Thanks again to the FSF and WMF, which as CC does, build critical infrastructure for a free world. All of these organizations are nonprofits deserving of your support. CC is running its annual fundraising campaign right now. :)

Also see Lawrence Lessig’s post on Enormously important news from the Free Software Foundation.

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