Microsoft

Cloud Commons

Mike Linksvayer, March 26th, 2009

Creative Commons licensing has been highlighted in a couple prominent discussions of “” documents recently.

Last week Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote about Sun’s cloud computing strategy:

Second, we announced the API’s and file formats for Sun’s Cloud will all be open, delivered under a Creative Commons License. That means developers can freely stitch our and their cloud services into mass market products, without fear of lock-in or litigation from the emerging proprietary cloud vendors.

The API specification Schwartz writes about is released under a CC Attribution license.

Today Microsoft’s Steven Martin wrote critically of a cloud computing “manifesto” that has apparently been developed behind closed doors:

To ensure that the work on such a project is open, transparent and complete, we feel strongly that any “manifesto” should be created, from its inception, through an open mechanism like a Wiki, for public debate and comment, all available through a Creative Commons license. After all, what we are really seeking are ideas that have been broadly developed, meet a test of open, logical review and reflect principles on which the broad community agrees. This would help avoid biases toward one technology over another, and expand the opportunities for innovation.

Of course a document can be at first developed in private, then released in public under a CC license, but Martin is certainly correct that a document that is open in its development and in what can be done with it upon release ought to be published under a CC license, as should the debate and comment surrounding document creation.

The manifesto Martin discusses apparently is still private, though a commenter on his post notes that the Cloud Computing Community Wiki has taken up the challenge to develop its own cloud computing manifesto in public under a CC Attribution-ShareAlike license. Of this, Sam Johnson commented on Martin’s blog:

Here’s hoping that when this consortium reveals itself their work will also be available under a CC-BY-SA license so we can cherry pick the better parts, but in the mean time if you have anything to add then please feel free to do so.

It’s really great that the necessity of releasing specifications, manifestos, and other documents under liberal CC licenses has such broad buy in. Among other things, the practice probably saves lots of money and frustration — big companies don’t have to spend on lawyers to negotiate copyright terms on the documents they collaborate on nor to develop onerous terms that individuals and others must agree to in order to contribute to such documents — to say nothing of the opportunity cost of not pre-clearing documents for translation and inclusion in educational materials.

However, it’s also important to note that applying a liberal CC license to a specification or other computing-related document is only one of a number of steps required to ensure that a computing technology is and remains really open. For example, is the technology patent encumbered? Is there an open source reference implementation? We sketched this out in a bit more detail almost a year ago in a post titled What good is a CC licensed specification?

Consider the above an opportunistic public service announcement rather than a criticism of Sun or Microsoft in these particular instances. Martin’s post is about a manifesto about interoperability — so a CC license may be all that is needed for that document to be open, at least after publication — though perhaps the document should recommend more than that of cloud computing initiatives that develop specifications intended to be interoperable. The rest of Schwartz’s post (actually it is 4th in a series of 4 posts) talks a lot about the free software community and building on open source software, so it is possible Sun is doing everything possible to make the cloud API it proposes open — I just haven’t evaluated whether that is the case.

It’s also worth noting here that not only big companies are thinking about keeping cloud computing open (if you’re annoyed by use of the fuzzy “cloud” term and have managed to read this far, congratulations) — many in the free and open source software community have related concerns and have begun to develop their own manifestos and guidelines (unsurprisingly, available under CC Attribution-ShareAlike), which interestingly address all of the above and other issues of software freedom and free culture.

Now go forth and make the cloud interoperable, open, and free (as in speech), understanding that CC licensing specifications and manifestos is a necessary step, but only one of many steps toward fulfilling your mission.

Update 2009-03-30: The Open Cloud Manifesto is now available, and it is indeed published under CC BY-SA.

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Thank you!

Joi Ito, January 7th, 2009


Joi Ito / Photo by Mizuka / CC BY

One week ago I asked for support in helping us reach our $500,000 goal. At that time, we had $12,000 left to raise with only 2 1/2 days left in the campaign, and we were all wondering how we were going to make it. Today, I’m proud to say that our community went above and beyond — raising CC a grand total of $525,383.73.

I want to send a special thank you to all of the individuals and companies that are long time supporters of CC. We’ve had hundreds of people continue to support CC over the years and I wish I could thank each and everyone of you publicly for your continued support. However, I don’t want to take up the entire CC main page, so please know how appreciated your commitment to CC is. To Digital Garage, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Tucows, Consumer Electronics Association, and wikiHow, thank you for your continued commitment to CC – I look forward to working with each of your companies in bringing more global awareness about CC, and I feel confident that together we will continue to enrich the digital commons we’re all investing in.

And to all the new individuals and new corporate supporters (Attributor, DotAsia, Ebay, Nevo Technologies, Safe Creative) – thank you for choosing to support CC this year. CC is only as strong as the community that supports it and we’re thrilled to see this community thriving. Think of all we can do over the next year by coming together and supporting each other.

I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the following companies and foundations who are committed to sustaining CC and the open movement. To the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla, IETSI, Red Hat, Google, and the Omidyar Network – thank you.

Thank you all from the bottom of my (and the rest of the CC staff’s) heart — we know how difficult it is right now and are deeply honored that you would choose to support CC this year. This doesn’t just help us continue our work but also reaffirms the growing strength of our community and the belief in a more fair and accessible digital world.

The CC staff, the board of directors, and I all look forward to what will surely be an exciting 2009.

– Joi

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Microsoft jumps in to put us over the top!

Melissa Reeder, December 30th, 2008

We’ve just gotten word that Microsoft has upped its pledge by $15,000 to put us over the top for the year. Microsoft has been a corporate sponsor of Creative Commons for the past 4 years and we’re delighted to have their continued support.

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Late yet great news — Photosynth launches with CC support

Mike Linksvayer, September 16th, 2008

Last year you probably saw a video demo of Photosynth at TED, and forwarded and/or were forwarded the video many times (the video is even licensed under CC BY-NC-ND, like all TED videos). Lots of people forwarded it to me anyway — I apparently do something with computers :) and Photosynth is computer technology anyone can immediately connect with — it “synths” or stitches together collections of photos, creating a model one can navigate as if one were “there” — the demo video includes an incredible model of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, created from many normal photos.

Obviously this technology creates a whole new way to relate to photography, one that treats photos more as data that contributes to a model than as individual creative works. How should such ‘data’ and works rendered from the same be restricted? No doubt such questions will become increasingly relevant — Photosynth hints at futuristic new mediums and interfaces that massive and expected increases in storage, compute power, and sensor ubiquity will bring.

Photosynth opened to the public late last month, and it is great that Microsoft chose to encourage synthers to release their work under a CC license (see screenshot at end of this post). ReadWriteWeb and the Seattle Times were two of many publications to note the Creative Commons feature in Photosynth.

Below is a screenshot of my first attempted synth, composed of 98 photos taken from the windows of the CC office in San Francisco. Although one could do better with more experience or simply more photos, a screenshot really doesn’t do justice at all to this or any synth — click on the image to navigate around. Unfortunately this currently requires a plugin only available on Windows XP or Vista.

cc-sf-office-photosynth-shot

For anyone who wants to create a bigger or better synth, I’ve uploaded the original 98 photos to the Internet Archive and placed them in the public domain.


Synth creation window, showing CC license recommendation and selection.

A completely different part of Microsoft has also just announced CC licensing — the Microsoft Operations Framework 4.0, an IT guidebook and worksheet, is now released under CC BY. The MOF blog has a nice rationale:

One of the first things people realize when looking at implementing a service management framework, whether it is ITIL, MOF, or another, is that they must not only be adopted but also adapted to your individual organization’s needs.  You have to decide which of the described processes are relevant to your requirements and to what depth to apply them.  this is true whether you are a consultant trying to make a living assisting others in their implementations, or a IT Manager trying to decide how improve upon your organization’s existing change control.

MOF 4.0 now fully supports this need for flexibility and the ability to remix, adapt, and shuffle the content with the adoption of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. This license allows you to freely Share (copy, distribute, or transmit) any of the MOF content and Remix (adapt) that content to suit your needs.  For a full legal explanation of the terms of the license, please refer to the Creative Commons website.

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