fundraising

CC is looking for a Director of Strategic Partnerships

Jane Park, December 12th, 2011


Donor Strategy cake / HowardLake / CC BY-SA

Creative Commons is looking for a Director of Strategic Partnerships! The Director of Strategic Partnerships will be responsible for building and executing a comprehensive fundraising strategy, focusing mainly on individual and corporate donations. This position will report directly to the Controller and work very closely with the CEO and Board of Directors.

The Director will join our team and office in Mountain View—a collaborative, community-building atmosphere grounded in an environment of mutual respect and trust. Ideal candidates are familiar with open source technology, copyright, and issues relating to creativity on the Internet, not to mention 5-7 years of nonprofit development experience and a successful track record in short and long-term strategic planning and implementation, including recruitment and maintenance of past, present and potential donors. See the full job description at our opportunities page.

Please email any inquiries, your cover letter and résumé to jobs [at] creativecommons.org with the subject heading of “Director of Strategic Partnerships Application.”

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A personal appeal from CC CEO Cathy Casserly

Cathy Casserly, November 1st, 2011


Cathy Casserly by Shanti Duprez / CC BY

Dear CC Community,

The world is experiencing an explosion of openness. From artists inviting creative collaboration to governments around the world requiring publicly funded works be available to everyone, the spirit and practice of sharing is gaining momentum and producing results.

By supporting Creative Commons, you are advocating for openness and sharing on the web.

Recent CC accomplishments include:

  • Europeana’s new Data Exchange Agreement which releases the metadata for millions of cultural works into the public domain using CC0;
  • Flickr reaching the 200 million mark in CC-licensed photos;
  • YouTube adding a CC licensing option;
  • The US Department of Labor requiring CC BY for a $2 billion grant program;
  • Brazil and New Zealand introducing CC licensing for government-funded works;
  • CC releasing The Power of Open, a book showcasing phenomenal use cases of CC licensing. Make a donation and receive a hard copy of The Power of Open.

At the CC Global Summit in Warsaw, CC affiliates and supporters shared their plans and discussed the challenges we face in building the tools and support needed for an open future.

Creative Commons relies on donations to build and constantly improve the technical and legal tools that enable openness to flourish. The future for openness is bright. Please join us!

Yours truly,
Cathy Casserly
CEO

p.s. Donate now to receive your limited-edition “I Love to Share” t-shirt!

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CERN supports Creative Commons

Mike Linksvayer, July 15th, 2010

Creative Commons is deeply honored to announce CERN corporate support at the “creator level”. CERN is one of the world’s premier scientific institutions–home of the Large Hadron Collider and birthplace of the web. This donation comes on the occasion of the publication under Creative Commons licenses of the first results of LHC experiments.

Dr. Salvatore Mele, CERN Head of Open Access, provided the following statement:

The High-Energy Physics community in general, and the frontier experiments it runs at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN aim to unravel the mysteries of the universe. This major ambition can only be reached on foundations of technology and innovation, collaboration and partnership, and perhaps above all, on shared information, which is why this community has strived at Open Access to its scientific results since decades already.

The evolution of scholarly communication in the field, recently embodied by the SCOAP3 initiative, has reached an important milestone with the publication of the first results of the LHC experiments under a Creative Common license. These have appeared in the European Physical Journal (Springer) doi:10.1140/epjc/s10052-009-1227-4 (CC BY-NC); Journal of High Energy Physics (SISSA), doi:10.1007/JHEP02(2010)041 (CC BY-NC); Physics Letters (Elsevier), doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2010.03.064 (CC BY); and Physical Review Letters (APS), doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.022002 (CC BY).

CERN has become a supporter of Creative Commons to acknowledge the contribution that its licenses make to accelerating scientific communication and simplifying the way researchers share their work. The Creative Commons Attribution license is an important tool for the publication of CERN’s experimental results.

Please join CERN in using and supporting Creative Commons!

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Catalyst Grant campaign success! Over 130 project submissions, almost $50k raised

Michelle Thorne, July 6th, 2010

Last week our month-long Catalyst Grant campaign drew to a close with over 130 project applications and nearly $50,000 raised to make those ideas a reality.

The Catalyst Grant program wouldn’t be possible without the support of the 254 individual donors who helped us raise that amount, 100% of which goes to our grant program. If you’d like to contribute, you can still do so via our Donate page and designate “Catalyst Grant program” in the comment box for your contribution to go to this initiative.

The range of topics covered by the projects is quite impressive, and as we spend the next month reviewing the applications, we welcome you, the community, to join us in having a look as well. On each grant application page, there is a large “Discuss” button which allows you to share your input and read other comments. If you have suggestions for how to improve and develop these proposals, please feel welcome to add your thoughts.

In addition to the community’s input, Creative Commons will lead a review process together with a regional committee comprised of CC representatives from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Latin and North America. The Catalyst Grant campaign was inspired by the fantastic grant programs run by the Wikimedia Foundation and Rising Voices.

Thanks to all the grant applicants and donors for a successful campaign! We look forward to the results of the review, which will be announced in August.

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Peer 2 Peer University’s Philipp Schmidt on paying for (CC) infrastructure

Mike Linksvayer, June 7th, 2010

Peer 2 Peer University co-founder and director Philipp Schmidt (see our posts on P2PU, a cutting-edge open education project) has written an excellent post on his Sharing Nicely blog about supporting our Catalyst Campaign:

Today Creative Commons launches their catalyst campaign – brother to the recently announced catalyst grant programme. I like how they connect the two – funding their work AND raising money at the same time. On one hand, they offer small grants for projects that further their vision, and with the other hand they politely ask for donations to support it. It creates a connection between the donation and the purpose of that donation, even if it’s a very loose connection.

Well put — though in this campaign, the connection is very tight, 1:1 — the funds we raise go directly to the small grants.

However, the reason for highlighting Philipp’s post here is that he raises several important points that anyone who cares deeply about Creative Commons may be interested in. The first is simply that CC is crucial infrastructure that must be supported:

CC’s work is a very important foundation of a lot of the open content / commons movement – and I don’t think it’s easy to raise the funds necessary to support it. Hal Plotkin asked this question after his keynote at the recent OCWC Global conference. How should and can something that provides an important, but not very glamorous (my words, not Hal’s, with apologies to my lawyer friends at CC) enabling service be supported financially? Funding for infrastructure is difficult to raise. It’s a little bit like raising money for TCP/IP or HTTP. Everyone will agree that it’s important and we all benefit from having it – but we all hope that someone else will pick up the tab. We rely on that friend of a friend who got rich on stock options, sold his company, or house – or simply inherited a lot of money.

Having grown up in a social democracy that offers high-quality infrastructure and services to (almost) all of its citizens, my immediate response is that infrastructure should be paid for by the state from tax income. I personally would welcome a small part of my tax payments to be used to support important infrastructure projects that enable free flow of knowledge and information. Even more so, now that I live in a country where access to knowledge is scarce and expensive. I believe such would be an excellent investment in future development and well-being of all citizens.

The problem with writing blog posts about topics like this is – you end up getting stuck in a dilemma. I have now explained that I think CC’s work is important, that I suspect many people fail to support it, and that the government should consider doing so. However, pending major adjustments in the political landscape of South Africa, that doesn’t really help anyone. So I went ahead and donated a little money to CC today.

Please join Philipp. But it’s ok to consider infrastructure glamorous, because it is. You’re with a cool crowd. That realizes the Internet breaking is extremely anti-glamor.

Ponte estaiada Octavio Frias - Sao Paulo
Gratuitous infrastructure glamor shot: Ponte estaiada Octavio Frias – Sao Paulo by Marcosleal / CC BY-SA

Philipp continues:

The benefit of donating is the perceived authority to ramble on a little bit longer, and say a few things about what CC are doing what I think could be improved. In order to do that I think its worth looking at the licences as a service (or even a product) that has to be sold to a particular audience and designing it in order to provide maximum value to that audience. What I mean by that is that there is a tendency for organizations to turn inwards – and in the case of CC that means pay more and more attention to the opinions of legal experts – rather than listen to the customers who don’t understand the legal details, and in most cases don’t give a rat’s hat. Here is what I’d like to see:

I would like to see fewer licences and fewer versions – but more certainty that the licence will hold up in court. I believe simplicity beats choice and legal finesse.

It’s absolutely worth looking at Creative Commons licenses as products that serve customers, and without doubt any organization that turns inwards, ignoring what its customers desire from its products is doomed. This isn’t what Creative Commons does.

Most users of Creative Commons licenses may not care to understand the legal details (but you can bet that many policymakers and the legal departments of institutions do), but their desire to see the licenses hold up in court requires that someone does — that’s Creative Commons’ job, and it requires paying attention to the opinions of legal experts — we must make the licenses work not just for a particular audience in a particular jurisdiction, but across many domains and globally. The strength of our legal resources — on staff, an amazing affiliate network, board, and pro-bono — is what allows most users to rationally not give a rat’s hat about the legal details involved.

So the listening to the opinions of legal experts is crucial, but so is listening to users. Philipp’s request for more simplicity, especially in the form of fewer licenses and versions therof, is not uncommon. Creative Commons is doing alright here — especially considering potential user requests for more narrowly targeted licenses are at least as common. Here are some examples of doing well:

  • In a little over four years from its launch late 2002, Creative Commons released four versions (1.0, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0) of its core licenses. In the last nearly three and a half years, no new versions have been released — and none will be for some time. A version 3.x was briefly discussed in late 2007 due to concerns brought up by Wikipedians; instead of rushing a new version, we listened very carefully and took a number of steps, none legal, to assure Wikipedians that CC would be an excellent steward of the license used by Wikipedia — with the successful result of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites migrating to CC BY-SA as their main content license last year.
  • In 2004 CC launched two sets of specialty copyright licenses — sampling and developing nations. None have been launched since then — and sampling and developing nations were retired in 2007.
  • The CC0 public domain waiver, launched last year raises the bar for generality of CC tools — it was designed to be universal from the beginning so that porting to different jurisdictions is not desired — and demonstrates the value of legal expertise — making a public domain dedication work globally (our first attempt launched in 2002 only targeted U.S. law) is no small task.
  • Since the launch of Creative Commons there has been little “license proliferation” for content (arguably there has been de-proliferation, as the pre-CC pioneers have recommended or facilitated using CC), surely in large part due to CC’s demonstrated competence.

It’s also worth noting that while CC has and does listen very carefully to particular audiences, maximizing value for any particular audience is not good enough. Maximizing the global value of the commons requires a focus on interoperability — furthered by both getting legal details right and non-proliferation.

Suggestions regarding how we do do even better encouraged. Philipp concludes with:

I would like to see CC separate its core business (the licences) more clearly from other programme areas and especially things that fall broadly into the fostering of “creativity (cultural, educational, scientific and other content) in the commons”. This separation should include budgets – so that donors can choose what activities their money ends up supporting. Don’t get me wrong, I think creativity should be supported, and probably in a fairly vague and flexible way, but I think part of the funding challenge for CC is that people, especially those who are making small donations, are comfortable funding the licences but might not be as comfortable with CC using their donation to foster “creativity”. That applies to me for example.

Supporting creativity in a vague and flexible way would be massive mission creep for Creative Commons. Even supporting the creation of CC-licensed works is out of scope, and the Catalyst Grants description of fundable work specifically calls this out. However, we do a significant amount of work that could be characterized as communications, education, marketing, advocacy, evangelism, business development, tool building, etc. to support license adoption. This is crucial work for Creative Commons to do for the licenses are much, much more valuable with massive adoption. There’s more useful work to do here than we can do directly — thus our priority on developing our affiliate network and other means of scaling Creative Commons’ impact without adding substantially to our core cost structure. That’s fundamentally what the Catalyst Campaign and Catalyst Grants are about — raising a little bit of money to spur capacity for growing CC adoption massively beyond what CC can do directly.

Supporting Creative Commons (and our current Catalyst Campaign in particular) is much more highly targeted than “supporting creativity” — but there isn’t a bright line between “funding the licenses” and funding work done to support and promote the licenses. I would argue there shouldn’t be. The licenses are great products that requires support and promotion to realize their potential — like any great product. Creative Commons is a small organization, and among our small staff, most have overlapping duties that support the licenses in multiple ways. We do work hard to deploy our limited resources in the most scalable way possible. We also understand that the licenses are critical infrastructure that must be kept up and defended even if funding dries up, so we do make contingency plans for such scenarios.

Hopefully this addresses some of Philipp’s excellent and reasonable concerns. Again, specific suggestions for how we can do better are strongly encouraged! Now please join Philipp and his colleagues at P2PU in supporting this work!

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Nobel Prize in Economics to Elinor Ostrom “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”

Mike Linksvayer, October 12th, 2009

The 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded today to Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson for their research on economic governance. Ostrom’s award is particularly exciting, for it cites her study of the commons. Commons? That sounds familiar!

Ostrom’s pioneering work mostly concerns the governance of common-pool resources — resources that are rivalrous (i.e., scarce, can be used up, unlike digital goods) yet need to be or should be governed as a commons — classically, things like water systems and the atmosphere. This work is cited by many scholars of non-rivalrous commons (e.g., knowledge commons) as laying the groundwork for their field. For example, a few excerpts from James Boyle’s recent book, The Public Domain, first from the acknowledgements (page ix):

Historical work by Carla Hesse, Martha Woodmansee, and Mark Rose has been central to my analysis, which also could not have existed but for work on the governance of the commons by Elinor Ostrom, Charlotte Hess, and Carol Rose.

Notes, page 264:

In the twentieth century, the negative effects of open access or common ownership received an environmental gloss thanks to the work of Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Science 162 (1968): 1243–1248. However, work by scholars such as Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), and Carol Rose, “The Comedy of the Commons: Custom, Commerce, and Inherently Public Property,” University of Chicago Law Review 53 (1986): 711–781, have introduced considerable nuance to this idea. Some resources may be more efficiently used if they are held in common. In addition, nonlegal, customary, and norm-based forms of “regulation” often act to mitigate the theoretical dangers of overuse or under-investment.

Notes, page 266:

The possibility of producing “order without law” and thus sometimes governing the commons without tragedy has also fascinated scholars of contemporary land use. Robert C. Ellickson, Order without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991); Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

In 2003 Ostrom herself co-authored with Charlotte Hess a paper contextualizing knowledge commons and the study of other commons: Ideas, Artifacts, and Facilities: Information as a Common-Pool Resource. It includes a citation of Creative Commons, which was just about to launch its licenses at the time the paper was written:

An example of an effective grassroots initiative is that taken by the Public Library of Science (“PLS”), a nonprofit organization of scientists dedicated to making the world’s scientific and medical literature freely accessible “for the benefit of scientific progress, education and the public good.”126 PLS has so far encouraged over 30,888 scientists from 182 countries to sign its open letter to publishers to make their publications freely available on the web site PubMed Central.127 By September 2002, there were over eighty full-text journals available at this site.128 Another new collective action initiative is the Creative Commons129 founded by Lawrence Lessig, James Boyle, and others to promote “the innovative reuse of all sorts of intellectual works.”130 Their first project is to “offer the public a set of copyright licenses free of charge.”131

The entire paper is an excellent read.

Congratulations to Elinor Ostrom, and to the Nobel Prize committee for making an excellent choice, highly relevant in today’s world. Hopefully this will only be the first of many grand prizes for the study of the commons.

I might humbly suggest that one place to look for the next generation of such research is the Free Culture Research Workshop, held October 23 at Harvard. In July we posted the CFP.

If you want to support the commons in practice right now, I suggest a donation to our 2009 fundraising campaign!

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CC licensed photos and the International Olympic Committee

Mike Linksvayer, October 12th, 2009


Weezie’s Birthday Ballooning by Richard Giles / CC BY-SA

Richard Giles, a social media specialist in Australia who frequently posts and CC licenses photos on Flickr, received a threatening letter from the International Olympic Committee last week, mentioning a set of photos he had taken at the 2008 games in Beijing.

Giles posted a rundown of the story so far on his blog. It is not clear the situation is resolved yet, and initially there was confusion about which photos or licenses are at issue, but there are many worthwhile posts about it to check out, including these:

Regarding Ross’ post, of course the UK merchant that used the photo in an advertisement that eventually attracted the IOC’s notice may have discovered the photo directly on Flickr as well. In either case, the value of moving to a more liberal license if you want your works to spread is highlighted — Giles’ Usain Bolt photo is under CC Attribution-ShareAlike, while his other Beijing photos are under CC Attribution-NonCommercial.

cc-shepard-fairey-logo-mediumWhatever the resolution of this particular dispute, there’s no question that the IOC’s attempt to control how photographers use their own photos is symptomatic of the permission culture and tragedy of the anticommons we are facing. Creative Commons can’t directly influence the IOC’s policies, but we’re creating an alternative to ensure a non-gridlocked future of creativity and innovation, an alternative that offers benefits to those who participate in the commons now, and whose successes will change minds. Please support us — we’re in the midst of our 2009 campaign to raise $500,000 to fund this work.

The photo at the top of this post by Richard Giles is not of the Olympics, but does look fun. Note that even such an innocuous photo could be under threat as we move in the direction of a permission economy — building owners attempt to control public photography, why not balloon owners or designers? Give now.

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Online store relaunched! Now with shopping cart, fan photo gallery

Allison Domicone, September 25th, 2009

CCStickersoneyes

black and white buttons

superfrank

If you have not yet stocked up on any of our cool CC swag, now is the time to do so! We’ve relaunched our online store, now with shopping cart capabilities so you can order as many stickers, T-shirts, lapel pins, and buttons as you wish! All T-shirt sizes are fully restocked as well.

And, since CC would be nowhere without the valuable support and positive energy of our friends and fans, we want to feature YOU on our store site. Send as many pictures as you like of your CC swag (on you, your friends, your pets, in nature – get creative!) to store[at]creativecommons.org as an attachment or URL, and be featured in our online photo galleries. Check out the shining faces of these very well-dressed CC fans.

Head over to the online store today and pick up some swag for you or your friends. Not only will you be supporting CC, but you’ll be able to spread the word about us to all you meet!

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Anne Wojcicki and Sergey Brin Support CC with $500,000 Gift

Melissa Reeder, August 27th, 2009

Creative Commons is honored to have received an incredibly generous gift of $500,000 from 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki and Google co-founder Sergey Brin. We are delighted that the couple recognizes the importance of Creative Commons and has decided to invest in our work to support sharing, collaboration, and the spread of knowledge and creativity. This gift – made in addition to the financial support that Google offers CC annually – will be used to support Creative Commons generally, with a focus on developing our Science Commons project, which Wojcicki and Brin are particularly excited about.

Today’s challenging economic climate has made it difficult for nonprofit organizations like Creative Commons to raise funds, making Wojcicki and Brin’s wonderful gift all the more appreciated. CC is busier than ever – we’re working with artists, scientists, educators, students, programmers, entrepreneurs, companies, universities, governments, and cultural institutions around the world to increase sharing and improve collaboration in ways that benefit all parts of society. As a nonprofit, we simply couldn’t do this work without the generous support of people like Wojcicki and Brin, as well as the other private donors, foundations, and corporations that enable Creative Commons to operate. For information about support for Creative Commons – including how you can get involved – please visit https://support.creativecommons.org.

Thank you to Ms. Wojcicki and Mr. Brin, from the Creative Commons staff, board, and community. We are very happy to have your support.

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Funding CC is hard work

Melissa Reeder, April 29th, 2009

Last week an article in the Washington Post casued quite a stir among nonprofits who raise funds online. To Nonprofits Seeking Cash, Facebook App Isn’t So Green says that the “Causes” social network application available on Facebook, MySpace and other social networks hasn’t met expectations. This has provoked a lot of discussion and some deserved criticism of the article in the nonprofit fundraising blogosphere. CC supporter and leading social media expert Beth Kanter has a couple posts that serve as a great place to dive into the discussion if you’re interested.

CC’s experience with the Causes application is in line with most nonprofits mentioned in the WaPo article and subsequent discussion. We’ve raised $2,688 via the application on Facebook and a whole $45 on MySpace. This apparently puts us in the top “tiny fraction” of nonprofits who have used the application and rasied more than $1,000.

However, we don’t consider this a failure at all. Raising funds to support a public good is hard work, online or offline, and there is no magic bullet. It takes time to learn how to most effectively use each new tool. Simply raising money isn’t the only way to gauge the success of a fundraising tool — in fact financial contribution often only follows other forms of engagement. The almost 40,000 people who have “joined” our cause on Facebook have signaled to us (and their friends!) their support, and over the years we hope to earn the financial support of many of these people. Also,we feel it’s pretty important for an organization like Creative Commons to engage deeply with social media tools, because that’s a significant part of the universe we help enable.

We offer a whole range of ways to signal your support of Creative Commons, most importantly by using our licenses. Please explore the best means for you to support CC, and invite your friends to do so as well, on social networks such as Facebook and otherwise. If you can make a financial contribution now, please do so. We’ll ask again during our annual fall campaign!

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