November 16 the U.S. Congress will hold hearings on a bill that would unfairly, recklessly and capriciously enable and encourage broad censorship of the Internet in the name of suppressing distribution of works not authorized by copyright holders. As Public Knowledge aptly summarizes, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” would seriously “threaten the functioning, freedom, and economic potential of the Internet” by:
- short-circuiting the legal system, giving rightsholders a fast-track to shutting down whole websites;
- creating conflicts between Domain Name System (DNS) servers, making you more vulnerable to hackers, identity theft, and cyberattacks;
- sanctioning government interference with the Internet, making it more censored globally.
SOPA threatens every site on Internet, but would especially harm the commons, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains, focusing on free software. The same applies to free and open projects beyond software, which often use CC licenses. While standard public licenses have lowered the costs and risks of legal sharing and collaboration, SOPA would drastically increase both the costs and risks of providing platforms for sharing and collaboration (think sites ranging from individual blogs to massive community projects such as Wikipedia, from open education repositories to Flickr and YouTube), and vaporize accessibility to huge swathes of free culture, whether because running a platform becomes too costly, or a single possibly infringing item causes an entire domain to be taken down.
The trend that one can plot from the DMCA (1998) to SOPA, and continued extensions and expansions of copyright and related restrictions around the world, also demonstrate the incredible importance of the commons for healthy information policy and a healthy Internet — almost all other “IP” policy developments have been negative for society at large. The DMCA was decried by advocates of free speech and the Internet, and has over past 13 years had many harmful effects. Now, in 2011, some think that the U.S. Congress ‘struck the right balance’ in 1998, while big content is dissatisfied, and with SOPA wants to ratchet the ‘balance’ (watch out, 2024!) much further to their short-term advantage.
Techdirt has excellent coverage of the gritty details of SOPA, its ill effects, and the many constituencies alarmed (such as librarians and sports fans).
Please take action! If you aren’t already sharing works under a CC license and supporting our work, now is a good time. Bad legislation needs to be stopped now, but over the long term, we won’t stop getting new bad legislation until policymakers see broad support and amazing results from culture and other forms of knowledge that work with the Internet, rather than against it. Each work or project released under a CC license signals such support, and is an input for such results.7 Comments »
Free Culture X, a conference of Students for Free Culture, will be held February 13th at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Keynote addresses will be given by Harvard Berkman Center co-founder Jonathan Zittrain, the co-founder of the public interest group Public Knowledge, Gigi Sohn, and the director of American University’s Center for Social Media, Pat Aufderheide.
The conference is focused on developing greater openness among institutions of higher education by specifically investigating:
- The politics of open networks,
- Global access to knowledge, and
- Open education.
Attendees have the option to pay-what-you-want with prizes (such as signed copies of books by Lawrence Lessig and Henry Jenkins or custom voicemail recordings by Jonathan Zittrain) awarded for sizable donations. You can register at http://conference.freeculture.org/register/. CC will be in attendance in addition to many past and current CC supporters.
All contents of the Free Culture X site are dedicated to the public domain with CC0.No Comments »
We’re excited to announce the recipient of our Google Policy Fellowship for the Summer 2009 is Aurelia Schultz of Vanderbilt University Law School. You’ll hear more about what she’ll be working on shortly.
We also wanted to extend our congratulations to Brian Rowe, our 2008 CC legal intern for nabbing Public Knowledge‘s GPF position. You can read about all the other fellows over at the Google Policy blog. Congratulations to all the fellows and thanks again to Google for sponsoring such a fantastic program!1 Comment »
Public Knowledge cofounder David Bollier‘s new book Viral Spiral published by The New Press is not only available as free Creative Commons (BY-NC) download, but it will likely establish itself as a definitive guide for those seeking to understand and discover the key players and concepts in the digital commons. From the beginnings of the Free Software Movement, to Wikipedia’s Inception, to Lessig founding Creative Commons at Harvard Law School, Bollier thoughtfully examines the principles and circumstances that helped nurture our digital commons from idea to (meta)physical reality.
If you are looking for a book that both serves as an introduction to and argues for the ideals behind a digital commons, look no further. And if you’re planning on reading the book in the bed, bath or beach, purchase a hard copy at Amazon or other fine bookstores..No Comments »
The globe lit up last week to celebrate the birthday of a community and organization now in its sixth year. Creative Commons, as demonstrated by these events, is about more than just free legal tools — it’s a powerful idea that has spread the world over.
In Chennai the CC Birthday Party merged with the launch of the Wikipedia Academy on Dec. 12, coinciding with a visit from Jimmy Wales and Sue Gardener from the Wikimedia Foundation. Chennai’s Free Culture House, a co-working space founded by party planner Kiruba Shankar, hosted the celebration. Seoul joined in with a Birthday Party on the same day, organized by CC Korea.
An award ceremony for the second CC photography contest impressed guests at the Beijing party on Dec. 14, featuring a live remix of the photos. The next day Belgrade conducted a panel on the legal framework of Free Culture with presentations by CC Serbia, Wikimedia Serbia, and Free Software groups.
On Dec. 16, seven cities held CC Birthday Parties. In Guatemala writers released a special gift: 10 Christmas stories compiled in Aguinaldo Narrable, which will be illustrated by six award-winning photographs from CC Guatemala‘s Fiesta Callejera Contest.
The first anniversary of the ported 3.0 Licenses in the Philippines was commemorated in Manila, following a planning meeting for the upcoming CC Asia Pacific Conference. In Yuletide tradition and CC’s spirit of sharing, CC Philippines concluded the day by walking through Manila’s streets and sharing food and gifts to children.
CC Australia screened CC films and raised contributions for our annual fundraising campaign at the Brisbane CC Christmas Birthday Movie Night. New York City recounts that Happy Birthday may or may not have been sung at their Dec. 16 party in FYI, and Los Angeles teamed up LA’s Geek Dinner for an evening of free culture and internets in uWink.
California hosted the last CC Birthday Parties of the year, with co-housing and co-working community organizers initiating a round of discussions about Free Culture, free speech, and sustainable communities in Berkeley.
With 14 host cities and a stellar range of events, the CC community is demonstrating tremendous support for Creative Commons. A heartfelt thank you to all the party planners and guests!
Please take a moment and help make another year of CC possible!
Images: (Ann Arbor) “Long table full of revellers” and “Garin, Ted, and CC swag” by mollyali under CC BY NC; (Chennai) “121220082360” and “121220082330” by Kiruba Shankar under CC NC SA; (Beijing) 舞在山乡 优秀奖 under 作者：秦启胜 CC BY ; (Manila) “CC-PH Technical/Documentation / AUSL-ITC“ and “Outreach / Sharing” by CC Philippines under CC BY NC; (DC) “CC 6th birthday party Washington DC” by tvol under CC BY; (Education Network Australia) “Sparklers and cake to celebrate“ by edna-photos under CC NC; (CC Cupcakes) “P1070155“ by creativecommoners under CC BY; (LA) “Happy 6th Birthday Creative Commons!“ posted by felicity redwell from netZoo/revolute under CC NC ND; (Guatemala) “MBosque” by Renata Avila under CC BY.