public domain

Public Domain Day 2009

Mike Linksvayer, January 1st, 2009

Recent link offerings in celebration of Public Domain Day, which is January 1…

Creative Commons Switzerland informs us of a Public Domain Day jam session/brunch in Zurich:

Short English Summary: We will celebrate the public domain day on January 1 in Zurich. We will read, perform, transform works from authors whose work are in the public domain.

Tuesday CC board member Michael Carroll blogged about the meaning and potential of the Digital Public Domain and last month about things made possible by the public domain.

CC board chair James Boyle’s recently published must read book is titled The Public Domain.

LibriVox just reached 2000 recordings of books in the public domain. The recordings are also in the public domain. We noted their 1500 recording milestone in June, 2008. Number 2000 is The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Vol. VI. Listen to all six volumes in 2009!

Watch for much more about the public domain around the world in 2009 and revisit Public Domain Day 2008.

Addendum: Also see PDD2009 posts by John Mark Ockerboom and Elizabeth Townsend on works now in the public domain.

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Latam Commons 2008 is a Success

Jane Park, December 1st, 2008

Latam Commons 2008: The Public Domain, Creative Commons, and Open Education in Latin America, held Nov 19-21 in Santiago, Chile, was a great success. The event was co-hosted and excellently managed by NGO Derechos Digitales, and representatives from all over Latin America were present and actively participated in the meeting. Project Leads of Creative Commons jurisdictions first held a one-day meeting to discuss their projects, possible strategic initiatives and collaborations across the region, and shared challenges. These conversations are just the beginning of what is planned to become a regular regional gathering to leverage the expertise and resources that are distributed throughout the region. The next day was devoted to a highly interactive “unconference” on open education which brought together leading international advocates for open education with key figures in libraries and ministries of education in Chile and beyond. The goal of the meeting was to gather information regarding top concerns and key projects involved in the growth of the open education movement, to be synthesized and then leveraged for collaborative opportunities both within and beyond the region. Look for a report on this event in the coming months. Finally, Derechos Digitales orchestrated a seminar on the public domain which included cutting-edge research reports and discussions regarding the legal and practical elements of both defining and utilizing the public domain in Latin America. The philosophical and legal issues pertinent to consideration of the public domain is clearly of broad interest in the region, and we are hopeful that these ideas will continue to serve as organizing themes for ongoing conversation and action to enhance access to knowledge and improved scholarship in the future.

Additional details will be forthcoming from ccLearn, CCi, and Derechos Digitales.

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Must-read: The Public Domain

Mike Linksvayer, November 29th, 2008

Creative Commons Board Chair James Boyle’s new book is out — The Public Domain: Enclosing of the Commons of the Mind, published by Yale University Press. Read and comment online or download and share the the PDF under a CC BY-NC-SA license. Buy a hardcopy.


The Public Domain cover, evolved from excellent contest entries. We blogged about the contest in April.

The Public Domain covers the history, theory, and future of the public domain, taking a broad conception of the meaning and import of the public domain:

When the subject is intellectual property, this gap in our knowledge turns out to be important because our intellectual property system depends on a balance between what is property and what is not. For a set of reasons that I will explain later, “the opposite of property” is a concept that is much more important when we come to the world of ideas, information, expression, and invention. We want a lot of material to be in the public domain, material that can be spread without property rights. “The general rule of law is, that the noblest of human productions—knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions, and ideas—become, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use.” Our art, our culture, our science depend on this public domain every bit as much as they depend on intellectual property. The third goal of this book is to explore property’s outside, property’s various antonyms, and to show how we are undervaluing the public domain and the information commons at the very moment in history when we need them most. Academic articles and clever legal briefs cannot solve this problem alone.

Instead, I argue that precisely because we are in the information age, we need a movement—akin to the environmental movement—to preserve the public domain. The explosion of industrial technologies that threatened the environment also taught us to recognize its value. The explosion of information technologies has precipitated an intellectual land grab; it must also teach us about both the existence and the value of the public domain. This enlightenment does not happen by itself. The environmentalists helped us to see the world differently, to see that there was such a thing as “the environment” rather than just my pond, your forest, his canal. We need to do the same thing in the information environment.

We have to “invent” the public domain before we can save it.

That’s from the preface. I encourage you to read on, to chapters about Creative Commons (of course), evidence-based policy and the public domain (my favorite), a movement for the public domain, and much history, theory, and wit leading up to those.

You can also read and subscribe to Boyle’s blog on The Public Domain, which includes an excellent post on authors, academic presses, online publishing and CC licensing. Brief excerpt, emphasis added to the truth that will be so obvious to readers of this blog that one might wonder why it would need to be said:

The one piece of advice I would offer is to make sure that you really talk it through with everyone at the press and get them to understand the way the web works. While university presses might want to experiment only with a few titles, when it comes to those titles they need fully to embrace the idea — creating an excellent website for the book (or allowing the author to do so), allowing multiple formats of the book to be made available (pdf, html etc), being excited rather than horrified if the book gets mentioned on a blog and downloads spike. The last thing you want is a publisher who has grudgingly agreed to a Creative Commons license but who then sabotages every attempt to harness the openness it allows.

Unfortunately how the web works and what that means for copyright and publishing still needs to be explained. Repeatedly. Every day. That’s one reason Creative Commons needs your support to meet our $500,000 annual public campaign goal. Every day we explain how the web works, how to work with the web, and how to keep the web open, for scientists, educators and learners, and everyone else. And we do our bit to improve the open web.

On those notes, see the CC Network badge on every page of The Public Domain website and James Boyle’s CC Network profile. Join Boyle in supporting Creative Commons and get your own CC Network badge and profile (and other goodies).

Then send this post to your friends. Or if you’re old school, send a hardcopy of The Public Domain with a printout of this post and a personal note enclosed. :-)

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The New York Times: Making Use of Public Domain

Eric Steuer, November 20th, 2008

In yesterday’s Personal Tech Q&A section of The New York Times, there was a useful item called Making Use of Public Domain (registration required, although I was able to see the page at first without logging in) that describes a bit about how images that are found online can be used. The article points to a few good sources of public domain images and also mentions Creative Commons-licensed works as a source of legal-to-use material.

Just because a photo or document is available online does not mean it is automatically in the public domain, so check for copyright notices or a Creative Commons license before grabbing something to reuse. (A Creative Commons license works alongside a copyright and allows writers and artists more flexibility in sharing their creations with the world …)

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CC Talks With: MusicBrainz

Cameron Parkins, October 28th, 2008

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Robert Kaye, “lead geek” at MusicBrainz, a community music database that “attempts to create a comprehensive music information site.” Kaye fills us in on what is happening at MusicBrainz, including extensive background on the project, how they use CC licenses, and their goal to add broader support for classical music.

Where does MusicBrainz fit in the open content ecology?

MusicBrainz plays an important role in blazing the path for open databases. We know how to play with open source and music, and we have few examples of how to work
with open structured data. We work hard to make our data useful and available to people, as we believe that Metcalfe’s law also applies to data. Thus, getting lots of people to use our data makes MusicBrainz vastly more useful and valuable. With that in mind, we want to be the de-facto standard for music metadata in the open content ecology.
Read More…

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Registries and the public domain at the 3rd COMMUNIA Workshop

Mike Linksvayer, October 23rd, 2008

Monday the 3rd COMMUNIA Workshop on Marking the Public Domain: Relinquishment and Certification included a panel on marking and tagging public domain works, featuring presentations by Safe Creative‘s Mario Pena (Safe Creative’s approach to registering public domain works), Patrick Peiffer of the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg (and CC Luxembourg), Jonathan Gray (OKF), and me (certifying public domain works).

In the future we will work with Safe Creative and others on registry standards to ensure openness and interoperability — see both Mario and my slides for some of this.

Soon all presentations from the workshop will be available for download.

Remember that Safe Creative is generously matching contributions to the CC fall fundraising campaign. Thanks again to Safe Creative!

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Latam Commons 2008

Jane Park, October 6th, 2008

Santiago, Chile: ccLearn is hosting a three day conference on “open licensing, open technologies, and the future of education in Latin America” from November 19th to the 21st. The conference is split up into three meetings over the three days. 

Nov 19 is for Creative Commons International, where CC affiliates will meet to discuss the latest developments in licensing and other CC-related issues. Though this day of the conference is only CC, the latter two days are open to all. From the Latam Commons 2008 invitation:

“We are writing to invite you to join us in Santiago, Chile, on Nov 20-21, for a ground-breaking meeting about open licensing, open technologies, and the future of education in Latin America. The meeting on Nov 20 is called Latam Commons 2008: Creative Commons, Open Education, and the Public Domain. It is being co-hosted by ccLearn, the education division of Creative Commons, and Derechos Digitales.”

You can register for the Nov 20 meeting on Open Education here. Registration is free and open to anyone until we reach our capacity of 60. So register now to reserve your spot.

Derechos Digitales is also hosting a seminar on the public domain on Nov 21, to which everyone is welcome.” There is no attendance limit on this day.

“Latam Commons 2008 is expected to include representatives of different organizations and projects in open education from throughout the Latin American region. The meeting will be a participatory gathering in which all attendees will be able to discuss a range of issues relevant to open education in Latin America, with the goal of developing a broad understanding of major education issues in the region and a focused vision of how open education and widely available educational resources can address these needs. As the workshop will be dynamic and discussion-based, we are inviting anyone interested in these issues to attend and contribute.

Please visit the registration page at: http://accesoalacultura.cl/registros-cclearn/ You can sign up for one or both of the meeting days at this site. Registration is free, and some meals will be provided for all registered participants. Visit the meeting wiki (http://derechosdigitales.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_Learn) for additional information about travel, lodging, and the meeting agenda.

This meeting is intended to catalyze conversations and projects that will continue after the meeting is over, and to build relationships among people and organizations so that we can bring our collective energies and resources to bear on common challenges for open education. Future meetings are already planned, and we look forward to seeing the progress on this global effort that grows out of Latam Commons 2008.

Please direct any questions or concerns to Ahrash Bissell, Grace Armstrong, or Claudio Ruiz. We hope to see you in Santiago.”

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Ordering an Espresso at the U of Michigan Library

Jane Park, September 18th, 2008

is now an entirely different process. The University of Michigan is the first university to have installed the Espresso Book Machine, also termed “the ATM of books,” in one of its libraries. The wait time is about the same, but you’re ordering books now instead of Italian coffee, and the product price is a bit higher—averaging at 10 bucks a pop. But 10 bucks for a printed and bound book that is made in seven minutes is a pretty good deal, especially when you’ve got almost 2 million books to choose from. How is this possible? Or even legal?

The University of Michigan libraries have nearly 2 million books digitized for on demand printing, in addition to thousands of more books from the Open Content Alliance and other sources. But trust me when I say that these books are all very legal; in fact, they have been out of copyright for 85 years, or more. As a result, they are in the public domain, available for anyone to print, read, and repurpose—for free. The espresso version is simply covering printing costs. Compared to the average price of books these days, especially textbooks, ten bucks is pocket change. Online sites like Lulu.com already offer print versions of CC licensed works for cheap—remember the OER Handbook for Educators? It’s only 19.99 for 284 pages. Of course, ordering online is a bit slower than ordering from the EBM. 

Once the machine is installed, it is capable of being connected to other digital collections not limited to the U of M’s. Props to the University of Michigan for yet again leading the way on copyright issues.

While we’re on the topic, the Open Content Alliance has the similar goal of “building a digital archive of global content for universal access”. The Open Content Alliance is “a group of cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world that [helps to] build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content. [It] was conceived by the Internet Archive and Yahoo! in early 2005 as a way to offer broad, public access to a rich panorama of world culture.”

ccLearn is very excited to attend this year’s Internet Archive conference in San Francisco where an OCA meeting will take place in October. The theme for this year’s conference is “Using Digital Collections.”

Thanks to Peter Suber and The Wired Campus for alerting us to the EBM. You can even watch a video of how the machine works.

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CCO Beta/Discussion Draft 3

Diane Peters, August 29th, 2008

We are pleased to release for public comment the next beta draft of CC0 Waiver, which comes several months after the last draft of CC0 was published in April.  You can view the beta draft 3 at ccLabs.

While this draft is being released later than planned (more on that, below), we are very excited about the progress we’ve made on CC0 in the interim.  We look forward to receiving your comments and suggestions for improving CC0 still further.  Read on to hear more about what has changed and our plans for finalizing CC0 this fall.

In our April beta 2 release, we made two significant changes to CC0 that drew a number of comments. The first change was to separate the “waiver” tool, intended for use by copyright owners wishing to relinquish their rights under copyright to a work, from the “assertion” tool, intended for use by others to mark a work as being free from copyright and in the public domain.  This eliminated confusion the combined tool was causing, and allowed us to push ahead with CC0 while planning the more complicated assertion piece. This change was received favorably by commentators.

The other significant change made in the April draft was to position CC0 as a “Universal” legal tool, capable of being used in all jurisdictions without the formal porting process CC traditionally uses for its core licenses.  In making this change, we recognized that the legal effect of CC0 would differ depending on the jurisdiction.  After further consideration, however, we concluded that the benefits of having a Universal tool outweighed that concern.

This attempt at Universality attracted the bulk of the comments we received after posting the April draft.  It was also the key issue underlying other comment threads raising enforceability issues and differences between legal systems.

Several commentators (accurately) pointed out that the language in CC0 beta draft 2 overstated the legal effect CC0 would have in their jurisdictions, as no waiver could completely eliminate moral and other rights granted authors and others in many countries.  Others noted that the mechanism of a waiver did not exist at all in their jurisdictions, or at best minimally, and so suggested alternative approaches like a covenant not to sue.  Still others asked for more clarity on the important point that others’ rights in the work were not affected by CC0 and may need to be cleared in advance of a particular use (including – by way of example – privacy and publicity rights held by an individual whose image is captured in a photo).

There were other comments and suggestions for improvement.  We’ve posted many on the CC0 Wiki.

All of the comments we received were incredibly valuable and caused us to re-evaluate not just the legal code but also the positioning of CC0 as a Universal legal tool.  We took this opportunity to consult in more depth with our CCi community during iSummit earlier this month and with other legal experts in an attempt to apply additional academic rigor to our drafting process.

So while this draft 3 was delayed, we feel it was for good reason. We remain dedicated to pursuing a Universal CC0, but with some substantial revision to the text. Here are a few of the changes you will see in draft 3 as a result of those comments and discussions:

  • Inclusion of a Statement of Purpose that provides context and explanation for issues CC0 attempts to solve while also identifying limitations inherent in such an attempt;
  • Clarifying language about the IP rights affected by CC0 through a new comprehensive definition of “Copyright Related Rights”; and
  • Emphasis on the possible existence of privacy and publicity rights of others with respect to a work, and the need for those to be cleared where appropriate.

We welcome your comments on these changes and your suggestions for other improvements.  The primary venue for discussion continues to be the cc-licenses mailing list.  We also encourage you to take a look at our newly-updated CC0 Wiki where you can find a summary of comments leading up to this draft 3 and links to their full text.  You can also find on the wiki a list of other tools and licenses that attempt to do in part what we are attempting to accomplish with CC0.  Please feel free to add other tools you may be aware of to the list.

We request that comments on this beta draft 3 be submitted within the next 30 days (by September 26th or thereabouts).  We plan to finalize CC0 in late October or early November, shortly following our participation in the 3rd Communia Workshop on Marking the Public Domain.

A special acknowledgment to Catharina Maracke (Director of CCi) for coordinating the international input at iSummit.  Thanks also goes to Science Commons and ccLearn for being patient (despite a growing need for CC0 in their domains) so we might get this right.

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Animasher Brings Commons Remixing to Animation

Fred Benenson, August 25th, 2008

Animasher is a site with a simple premise based on a powerful tool that helps anyone remix the commons. The core of the site is a flash tool that enables easy key frame based creation of animations complete with music and narration. In order to seed the site with remixable content, Animasher pulls Attribution licensed photographs from Flickr and Attribution and Public Domain music from other sources such as Jamendo and Opsound. Proper attribution is then automatically generated for each animation which is also licensed under CC-BY. All animations can be cloned and edited instantly by anyone visiting the site.

To get started, watch some of the animations created by other users, or create your own.

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