government

Why Did the White House Choose Attribution and not Public Domain?

Fred Benenson, April 29th, 2009

obama_flickr
The microblogs have been a-buzz this morning about news of the launch of the official White House Flickr stream featuring photos from Obama’s first 100 days in office. While the photos are licensed under our Attribution license, one could make the very strong argument that they’re actually in the public domain and can be used without attribution (though one would have to be careful and respect the personality rights of the private citizens featured in some of the photos). The photos are likely in the public domain because they are works created by the federal government and not entitled to copyright protection. As you might recall, the Whitehouse.gov’s copyright notice indicates as much.

Why would the White House then choose Attribution for their Flickr stream? Simple, unlike communities like Wikipedia and Thingiverse, Flickr doesn’t allow their photographers to choose Public Domain as an option to release their work to the world. So the Obama team must have picked the next best option: Attribution only.

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The 3rd Party Content of Whitehouse.gov

Fred Benenson, March 25th, 2009

Whitehouse.govWhen Whitehouse.gov relaunched itself during Barack Obama’s inauguration it included a clause in its copyright policy mandating that all 3rd party content on the site be released under our Attribution license. Until yesterday, there wasn’t much third party content on the site. However, as of this writing, 13,785 people have submitted 16,561 questions and cast 508,450 votes in the site’s “Open For Questions” section. President Obama will answer some of these questions on Thursday morning in a special online town hall.

While the copyright status of each individual question may not seem significant, all of the questions taken in aggregate are of unquestionable value for current and future generations of journalists, historians and citizens. By placing this corpus under our most permissive license, the Obama Administration has secured that the public will always have access to this unprecedented part of American presidential history.

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Recovery.gov Following Whitehouse.gov’s Lead

Fred Benenson, March 20th, 2009

Recovery.govRecovery.gov is the site that provides US citizens with the the ability to monitor the progress of the country’s recovery via the The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As with Whitehouse.gov, the Obama administration is presciently using our Attribution license 3.0 for all third party content on the site, while all of the original content site created by the federal government remains unrestricted by copyright and therefore in the public domain.

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Michael Geist on Why Whitehouse.gov’s Copyright Policy Matters

Fred Benenson, January 22nd, 2009

Canadian copyright scholar Michael Geist explains why Whitehouse.gov‘s adoption of our Attribution license for 3rd party content is important in light of Canada’s policy on government works:

Now consider the Prime Minister of Canada’s copyright notice:
The material on this site is covered by the provisions of the Copyright Act, by Canadian laws, policies, regulations and international agreements. Such provisions serve to identify the information source and, in specific instances, to prohibit reproduction of materials without written permission. …

While this is better than some other Canadian government departments (who require permission for all uses), it is still not good enough. First, Canada should drop crown copyright so that there is no copyright in government-produced materials. Second, there is no need for a distinction between commercial and non-commercial – Canadians should be free to use the government-produced materials for either purpose without permission. Third, third-party materials, which are Creative Commons licensed in the U.S., are subject to full restrictions in Canada.

While the decision to use CC on Whitehouse.gov may appear uncontroversial in light of the fact that US federal works are not subject to copyright protection, very few other countries share this policy as evidenced by Geist’s post. This is precisely where Creative Commons can help. Obama’s far sighted choice should serve as an example for other governments around the world: now is the time to start sharing.

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Whitehouse.gov’s 3rd Party Content Under CC-BY

Fred Benenson, January 20th, 2009

Whitehouse.govAs you may of heard, the new Whitehouse.gov launched today at 12:01pm during Barack Obama’s inauguration. What you might not have noticed is that the copyright policy of the site stipulates that all 3rd party content is licensed under our most permissive Attribution license:

Pursuant to federal law, government-produced materials appearing on this site are not copyright protected. The United States Government may receive and hold copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.

Except where otherwise noted, third-party content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Whitehouse.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

(emphasis added)

Congratulations to the 44th President of the US for choosing CC!

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Bulgarian President Chooses CC BY ND

Michelle Thorne, December 4th, 2008

The official website of the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov is now available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 Bulgarian license. Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been releasing its material under the same license since 2006, but ordinarily, these websites would be under full copyright, explains CC Bulgaria Project Lead

Bulgaria has taken a step in the right direction to complete its image as a country where the politicians are aware of the most advanced technologies and use them for the good of the society,” Veni

Government leaders in other countries are also choosing similar paths. The Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan licenses his official website under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license, and governments in Australia and Mexico (pdf) use and recommend CC. Another licensing decision already bearing fruit is Change.gov, the website of US president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, which is published under the most permissive of Creative Commons copyright licenses – CC Attribution 3.0 Unported.

For a listing of more governmental uses of CC, please visit our wiki page: http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Government_use_of_CC_licenses.

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Obama-Biden transition site Change.gov now under a Creative Commons license

Eric Steuer, December 1st, 2008

Change.gov, the website of US president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, has undergone some important and exciting changes over the past few days. Among them is the site’s new copyright notice, which expresses that the bulk of Change.gov is published under the most permissive of Creative Commons copyright licenses – CC BY.

Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Content includes all materials posted by the Obama-Biden Transition project. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Change.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

This is great news and a encouraging sign that the new administration has a clear sense of the importance of openness in government and on the web (there’s a bit more on this over at Lessig’s blog). The embrace of Creative Commons licensing on Change.gov is consistent with earlier support by both Obama and McCain for the idea of “open debates.” (It’s also in line with Obama’s decision to publish the pictures in his Flickr Photostream under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license – pretty cool!)

Tim O’Reilly has written a smart post (which has elicited some very thoughtful reader comments) recommending that Change.gov use revision control as a way to further improve transparency and make it possible for the public to review any changes that occur on the site. Of course, licensing is just one component of openness, but getting licensing right is necessary for enabling people to truly take advantage of technologies that facilitate collaboration.

Update: Several people have pointed out that “works created by an agency of the United States government are public domain at the moment of creation” (see Wikipedia for more on this). Change.gov is not currently the project of a government agency, but a 501(c)(4) that has been set up to manage the Obama-Biden transition. Also, the public is being invited to contribute their own comments and works to the site, and it is important to have a clear marking of the permissions that other people have to this material.


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Presidential candidates show support for “open debates”

Eric Steuer, October 6th, 2008

Two recent posts on Lessig’s blog show that both of the major party US presidential candidates support the idea of debate footage being available to the public for free and legal use.

Last Thursday, Lessig posted a letter of reply he’d received from Trevor Potter, the general counsel of the McCain-Palin campaign. The letter says that the campaign “supports [the] suggestion that those who may own rights in the debate video dedicate those rights to the public domain.” Potter continues: “Barring that, copyright holders should at the very least give utmost respect to principles of fair use by allowing non-commercial use of debate excerpts, thus ensuring that spurious copyright claims do not chill vigorous public discourse.”

Then, on Saturday, Lessig blogged that Barack Obama had reaffirmed his support for open debates, which he’d earlier established during the primaries via a letter to DNC Chairman Howard Dean. Obama’s letter asks that debate footage “be available freely after the debate, by either placing the video in the public domain, or licensing it under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

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Former CC General Counsel to lead Australian government digital economy push

Mike Linksvayer, September 16th, 2008

Congratulations to former Creative Commons General Counsel Mia Garlick, who has joined the Australian government to lead its digital economy initiatives:

iTWire has learnt that Mia Garlick, an Australian lawyer who was most recently product counsel for YouTube, has been appointed to head the Australian Government’s drive for the digital economy future, as assistant secretary in the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (BCDE)

Her appointment is linked to communications minister Stephen Conroy’s announcement this week of plans to prepare Australia for the future ‘digital economy’. In preparation for this initiative the department advertised in May for “a talented and highly motivated senior manager to lead the Digital Economy Branch within the Department…[to provide] leadership and strategic direction to a branch with responsibility for the development of the digital economy in Australia.”

While at CC, Mia led development of the CC version 3.0 licenses and nearly every other project we undertook during her tenure, in addition to undertaking regular speaking engagements worldwide. Her intelligence, energy, and wit are certainly just what the Australian digital economy needs. Good luck!

It’s also worth noting that Creative Commons Australia has long been a leading CC jurisdiction project, especially in the field of public sector information. Just in the last week the National Innovation Review recommended CC and a minister immediately endorsed the recommendation.


Appropriately enough, a photo of Mia Garlick (far right) visiting Brian Fitzgerald, Stuart Cunningham, and Jessica Coates at CC Australia in 2006. Nic Suzor / CC BY-SA

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Australian National Innovation Review recommends Creative Commons

Michelle Thorne, September 9th, 2008

CC Australia writes about an important report that advises Australian governments to follow open publishing standards and recommends using a Creative Commons license for government material released for public information.

Those interested in open access to public sector information will be excited to see the results of a recently released Australian Federal Government Review of the National Innovation System, http://www.innovation.gov.au/innovationreview.

The final report, titled VenturousAustralia, was prepared for Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, by consultants Culter and Co, headed up by industry consultant and strategy adviser Dr Terry Cutler. It places a strong emphasis on open innovation, stating in the introduction:

“Today innovation is understood to involve much more than the transmission of knowledge down the pipeline of production from research to development to application. In the age of the internet, with the opportunities for collaboration which it opens up, open innovation is increasingly important.”

Most importantly from an open access point of view, it was Recommendation 7.8 which is most exciting:

“Australian governments should adopt international standards of open publishing as far as possible. Material released for public information by Australian governments should be released under a creative commons licence.”

The full report is available at http://www.innovation.gov.au/innovationreview/Documents/NIS-review-web.pdf.

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