This week, U.S. News and World Report ran an excellent story about the rise of openly-licensed educational materials. Simon Owens’ article touches on many of the open education landmarks we’ve been celebrating over the past year, including the Department of Labor’s TAA-CCCT grant program and open textbook legislation in British Columbia and California. Owens interviewed CC director of global learning Cable Green as well as David Wiley, the Twenty Million Minds Foundation‘s Dean Florez, and several other experts in the space.
Upon its launch a decade ago, Creative Commons was embraced by the artist and literary community, and its iconic logo began appearing on the sidebars of thousands of blogs, web pages, and Flickr photos. By 2005, the nonprofit estimated there were 20 million works that utilized the license, and by 2009 that number had climbed to 350 million. But while the organization has always embraced its grassroots enthusiasm, it continually sought recognition and adoption from larger, more traditional institutions.
The philosophy behind this goal is simple. “The public should have access to what it paid for,” says [Cable Green]. “Free access and legal access to what it bought. The tagline is ‘buy one get one.’ If you buy something, you should get access to it.” And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Creative Commons activists have identified education materials as a prime target for their view. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that student loan debt had surpassed auto loans and credit debt, coming in at an estimated $1 trillion. And a not-insignificant contribution to this burden has been the rising cost of textbooks.
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David Wiley, an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham University in Utah, has been immersed in the OER community predating the creation of the Creative Commons license. He was inspired by a group of technologists who met in 1998 to rebrand the free software movement as “open source,” and he later worked to develop an “open content” license that would allow content creators to share and distribute their content easily. “The only difference was that all of us who were initially involved weren’t lawyers,” he recalls. “We were just making stuff up. It was scary, because there were hundreds of thousands of people who were using these licenses, and if any of them actually went to court, who knows what would have happened?” Imagine his relief then when the Creative Commons license was formed. “I put a big notice on our website saying, ‘please everyone, run away from our licenses as fast as you can. Here are real lawyers that have done something similar but way better.’”
Dan Gillmor talks about the challenges and rewards of publishing “Mediactive” under Creative Commons
Dan Gillmor is a journalist and established author, having previously published We the Media back in 2004 under a CC BY-NC-SA license. His subject is the changing landscape of media, and the focus of his first book was on distributed, grassroots journalism and its effect on the Big Media monopoly of news. Six years later, We the Media is still in print, and Dan talks about how this encouraged him to stick to his principles when publishing his second book, Mediactive, under Creative Commons as well. Dan turned down a publishing deal with a major New York publisher because they would not allow the CC license. In a reflection well worth reading, he writes,
“Almost a decade after Creative Commons was founded, and despite ample evidence that licensing copyrighted works this way doesn’t harm sales, book publishers remain mostly clueless about this option, or hostile to it. As David explained to editors, the main reason I’m still getting royalty checks for We the Media is that the book has been available as a free download since the day it went into bookstores. This is how word about it spread. Had we not published it that way, given the indifference (at best) shown by American newspapers and magazines, the book would have sunk without a trace.”
Also Mediactive “isn’t just a book; at least, not in the way most publishers understand books, even as they dabble online. And if a principle means anything to you, you stick by it when doing so is inconvenient, not just when it’s easy.”
Sticking by his principles seems to have paid off, as just three days after publishing Mediactive under CC BY-NC-SA online, 1,500 visitors to his site downloaded the book, and more viewed pieces of it online. At this point, Dan notes that “Far few have purchased the book, of course, but it’s selling — and I’ve barely begun the real marketing process, which will take place in the new year.”
Without Creative Commons and the internet, Mediactive would still be on the publishing floor somewhere:
“Incidentally, had I signed with a traditional publisher, the book would not have reached the marketplace for a year or more from the date when I signed. With a company like Lulu, you wrap up the project and you’re off to the races. In a fast-moving area like media, that’s a huge benefit to foregoing the standard route.”
Last week, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) sent a fundraising letter to its members calling on them to fight “opponents” such as Creative Commons, falsely claiming that we work to undermine copyright.*
Creative Commons licenses are copyright licenses – plain and simple. Period. CC licenses are legal tools that creators can use to offer certain usage rights to the public, while reserving other rights. Without copyright, these tools don’t work. Artists and record labels that want to make their music available to the public for certain uses, like noncommercial sharing or remixing, should consider using CC licenses. Artists and labels that want to reserve all of their copyright rights should absolutely not use CC licenses.
Many musicians, including acts like Nine Inch Nails, Beastie Boys, Youssou N’Dour, Tone, Curt Smith, David Byrne, Radiohead, Yunyu, Kristin Hersh, and Snoop Dogg, have used Creative Commons licenses to share with the public. These musicians aren’t looking to stop making money from their music. In fact, many of the artists who use CC licenses are also members of collecting societies, including ASCAP. That’s how we first heard about this smear campaign – many musicians that support Creative Commons received the email and forwarded it to us. Some of them even included a donation to Creative Commons.
If you are similarly angered by ASCAP’s deceptive tactics, I’m hoping that you can help us by donating to Creative Commons – and sending a message – at this critical time. We don’t have lobbyists on the payroll, but with your support we can continue working hard on behalf of creators and consumers alike.
Creative Director, Creative Commons
A couple years ago, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab developed a Web 2.0 programming platform for kids called Scratch. Scratch allows kids, and virtually anyone else, to create and remix rich media of all kinds—video, video games, even simple photo animations. The programming behind Scratch focuses on building blocks, like Legos, to get kids not only friendly, but adept at the technology that dominates our world. Each user can create a project, whether it be a video or a video game, and upload it to share on the Scratch website. Scratch currently exceeds more than 400,000 projects, all licensed CC BY-SA, allowing any youth to flex her creative muscles and enhance a peer’s project by remixing it with her own.
The School Library Journal wrote up an excellent article about them last week, emphasizing that “Literacy in the 21st century encompasses the full range of skills needed to engage in our global society—computer, information technology, media, and information literacy skills.” The SLJ reports that Scratch is now being tested in libraries in the Minneapolis area, “to determine if the workshops and classes for young people are replicable and sustainable for a range of libraries.” Unsurprisingly, library staff are finding that kids quickly learn the program on their own, and are guided more by their own intuitions than an “expert’s” instruction.
I decided to try out Scratch myself, and found some cool projects along the way. One project by “cougars” is a photo animation of a human skateboard. Another is a video game simulation of the Buggers war from Ender’s Game by PetertheGeek. (How cool is that?)
What’s more, the Scratch program is global, available in more than 40 languages, and the code itself is free for anyone to copy, publish, or distribute.1 Comment »
Photo by-sa Freddy B. Used with permission from Photographer.
I’m in Sapporo for the CC Legal Day, Commons Research Mini-conference which the Metrics Project is but part, and to further promote the CC Case Studies project. As Greg outlined so clearly last week and I presented at the launch of CC Singapore a few days ago, this project is doing quite well with 112 submissions from around the world assisted by a great system for supporting this community project, and even better brilliant people adding case studies daily!
Also, you kind readers might have noticed that we have launched and/or refreshed several projects over the last few weeks to prepare for a coming change. As of August, my role with Creative Commons will change from managing community and business development to being liaison in ongoing similar affairs. This also means that I will be spending most of my time on projects outside of Creative Commons — most still involve using Creative Commons licensing and technology.
I’m not leaving the culture of free and open, nor Creative Commons, both of which I have been involved with for some time. Rather, I will be, as of August 2nd, devoting most of my energy to projects I’ve been delaying or couldn’t do as effectively since I have been living and breathing Creative Commons. My job and peers at Creative Commons are amazing and working for CC, in my capacity at least which I can speak to, is a dream job. If anything, I will be pushing Creative Commons even more by action, projects, and facilitation in another capacity.
Thus, if you want to find out more about what I will be doing, you know where to find me. And, if I’ve been working with you, your business, your community, and/or organization, email@example.com still works (and will so). I am continuing work on a couple of projects that have not launched in relationship to Open Library/PDWiki project. I also am on-demand still for speaking at events and conferences globally – particularly in Asia since I will be spending most time in China from August – December 2008. I’m still on the books and will facilitate any discussions to the appropriate people. I’m more excited that ever to keep growing the commons!Comments Off
Super cool video conversation site Seesmic just rolled out its most requested feature today, Creative Commons licensing of course! Seesmic added all 6 primary licenses as option and CC Attribution 3.0 as default license for videos uploaded. “This means you determine how other people can use your content. Your choices are now between six combinations of Creative Commons licenses, and “All Rights Reserved,” says Jeremy Vaught from Seesmic.
Joi already beat me to the punch in blogging about this and posted up a video. If you head over to my site or Joi’s and you can see also the video that Loic shot with me at the CC office in San Francisco yesterday.
And, if you head over to Seesmic’s main page right now, they have a community video discussion with a fair use and copyright expert (~3:30 PM PST).
Tim “ROFLcon” Hwang and I have been working with Seesmic to add this over the last few weeks and they rocked it out pretty quick! Joanne and Loic followed up with me noting where they added CC support, which is cool for others in similar position to note as well because Seesmic relies heavily at present on Flash video (like Youtube and others) and Flash-based interface elements:
- Either logged in or out you see a link where it says’s Some Rights Reserved at www.seesmic.com
- When a community member goes to post a video there is a small icon that defaults to the Attribution license, but one may click, scroll down to see the other license options and learn more.
- Community members also access CC on their profile page and in the embeddable player, where the license option links out to the selected CC license deed page.
- You can read more about our announcement at http://blog.seesmic.com/.
- Also added to CC our Terms of Service (ToS) with links to CC’s site where appropriate: http://www.seesmic.com/docs/TOS.html
As such, IANAL, and CC doesn’t provide legal support. These are just notes on how Seesmic has integrated CC licensing.
CC integration should be rewarded with traffic, right! Head on over there and start posting videos. Oh, and if you want to know the verb form of Seesmic, its to Seesmic.2 Comments »