Richard Stallman

Be The Media: Independent Media Handbook Featuring CC Chapter

Cameron Parkins, January 11th, 2010

BeTheMedia2008webBe The Media is a book for anyone looking to create, distribute, and engage with digital media. Compiled by David Mathison, the book features articles on how individuals are taking control of their own media production and distribution (Part One: The Personal Media Renaissance) and how communities are developing around these producers to showcase their work (Part Two: The Community Media Renaissance).

The book features a chapter on Creative Commons and the Open Source movement, with essays from former CC General Counsel Mia Garlick and Free Software Foundation President Richard Stallman. This chapter, along with nine others, is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike license.

You can download the chapter on CC for free (registration required) and purchase the entire book at Be The Media‘s website – a recommended read for those invested in new methods of online creation and distribution.

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Wikimedia Foundation board approves license migration

Mike Linksvayer, May 21st, 2009

The Wikimedia Foundation board has approved the licensing changes voted on by the community of Wikipedia and its sister sites. The accompanying press release includes this quote from Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig:

“Richard Stallman’s commitment to the cause of free culture has been an inspiration to us all. Assuring the interoperability of free culture is a critical step towards making this freedom work. The Wikipedia community is to be congratulated for its decision, and the Free Software Foundation thanked for its help. I am enormously happy about this decision.”

Hear, hear!

Earlier today we blogged that results of the Wikipedia community vote on adding the CC BY-SA license. Over 75% of votes were cast in approval of the change, but as has been pointed out by Wikimedia Foundation Deputy Director Erik Moeller and board member Kat Walsh, this number understates the level of support for the change. 14% voted “no opinion”, while only 10% opposed.

In any case we are deeply gratified that such an overwhelming majority (88% of those who voted with an opinion) approved this change worked on over several years by the Free Software Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, and Creative Commons, are proud to stand with such trusted organizations, and will live up to that trust!

The addition of the CC BY-SA license to Wikimedia sites should occur over the next month. Now is a good time to start thinking about whether your works and projects ought to interoperate with Wikipedia. If you’re using (or switch to) CC BY-SA, content can flow in both directions (your work could be incorporated into Wikipedia, and you can incorporate Wikipedia content into your work). If you use CC BY or CC0, your work could be incorporated into Wikipedia, but not vice versa. If your work isn’t licensed, or is under a CC license with a non-commercial or no derivatives (NC or ND) term, nothing can flow in either direction, except by fair use or other copyright exception or limitation.

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Creative Commons wins the 2008 Free Software Foundation Award for Project of Social Benefit!

Mike Linksvayer, March 24th, 2009

Saturday at Libre Planet, the Free Software Foundation’s annual conference, Creative Commons was honored to receive the FSF’s Award for Projects of Social Benefit:

The FSF Award for Projects of Social Benefit is presented annually to a project that intentionally and significantly benefits society by applying free software, or the ideas of the free software movement, in a project that intentionally and significantly benefits society in other aspects of life.

Since its launch in 2001, Creative Commons has worked to foster a growing body of creative, educational and scientific works that can be shared and built upon by others. Creative Commons has also worked to raise awareness of the harm inflicted by increasingly restrictive copyright regimes.

Creative Commons vice president Mike Linksvayer accepted the award saying, “It’s an incredible honor. Creative Commons should be giving an award to the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman, because what Creative Commons is doing would not be possible without them.”

Congratulations also to Wietse Venema, honored with the Award for the Advancement of Free Software for his “significant and wide-ranging technical contributions to network security, and his creation of the Postfix email server.”

FSF president Stallman presented a plaque by artist Lincoln Read commemorating the award to Creative Commons.

It is worth noting that the FSF Social Benefit Award’s 2005 and 2007 winners are Wikipedia and Groklaw both because it is tremendous to be in their company and as the former is in the process of migrating to a CC BY-SA license (thanks in large part to the FSF) and the latter publishes under a CC BY-NC-ND license.

Only last December CC was honored to receive an award from another of computing’s most significant pioneers, Doug Engelbart.

Thanks again to the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman. Please join us in continuing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his founding of the free software movement. As Stallman would say, “Happy Hacking!”

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Wikipedia licensing Q&A posted

Mike Linksvayer, December 16th, 2008

Erik Möller of the Wikimedia Foundation announced a questions and answers document concerning the possible licensing update for Wikimedia Foundation projects to CC BY-SA. On “What will happen next?”

We will present a proposal for dual-licensing all Wikimedia projects currently using the GFDL, by January 15, 2009. It will be published on the foundation-l mailing list. This proposal will be discussed and revised through open community discussion, leading to an open vote among all active Wikimedia contributors (to be defined using similar criteria as the Board elections). If a majority of community members favor migration to CC-BY-SA, it will be implemented.

This follows the enormously important November 3 move by the Free Software Foundation to enable FDL-licensed wikis to migrate to CC BY-SA. For more background and why this is so important for free culture, see our post on the FSF’s move.

FSF president and free software movement founder Richard Stallman has since written an open letter on the matter. Excerpt:

If a wiki site exercises the relicensing option, that entails trusting Creative Commons rather than the Free Software Foundation regarding its future license changes. In theory one might consider this a matter of concern, but I think we can be confident that Creative Commons will follow its stated mission in the maintenance of its licenses. Millions of users trust Creative Commons for this, and I think we can do likewise.

This is a great honor for Creative Commons, and a debt of trust we are compelled to uphold. We hope the Wikimedia community will come to the same conclusion. Regarding maintenance of CC BY-SA licenses, see our Statement of Intent, also cited by the Q&A linked at the top of this post.

For a more general take on license stewardship, please see Bradley Kuhn’s post on The FLOSS License Drafter’s Responsibility to the Community, prompted by Stallman’s letter:

The key quote from his letter that stands out to me is: “our commitment is that our changes to a license will stick to the spirit of that license, and will uphold the purposes for which we wrote it.” This point is fundamental. As FLOSS license drafters, we must always, as RMS says, “abide by the highest ethical standards” to uphold the spirit that spurred the creation of these licenses.

Far from being annoyed, I’m grateful for those who assume the worst of intentions and demand that we justify ourselves. For my part, I try to answer every question I get at conferences and in email about licensing policy as best I can with this point in mind. We in the non-profit licensing sector of the FLOSS world have a duty to the community of FLOSS users and programmers to defend their software freedom. I try to make every decision, on licensing policy (or, indeed, any issue) with that goal in mind. I know that my colleagues here at the SFLC, at the Conservancy, at FSF, and at the many other not-for-profit organizations always do the same, too.

CC does not create software licenses (we recommend existing excellent free software licenses, such as the FSF’s GNU GPL), but these are words to take to heart as closely as possible.

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Happy birthday to GNU!

Mike Linksvayer, September 2nd, 2008

25 years ago Richard Stallman started the GNU (“Gnu’s Not Unix”) project to create a computer operating system like Unix (then ascendant in computer labs like the one Stallman worked in), but with source code free for programmers to run, study, share, and improve.

Free software from the GNU project now powers in the range of billions of computers, from microcontrollers and mobile phones to the Googleplex. Even software at the core of notoriously proprietary Apple’s OS X comes directly from the GNU project. Often, software from the GNU project is paired with the Linux kernel to form the base of a free operating system. The software that runs the Internet, including the domain name system and most web, email, and other network servers, all run on or at least are compiled by GNU project software. While not similarly dominant on the desktop, there is little question that free software such as Firefox, again running on or at least compiled by GNU project software, has tremendously benefitted the web by spurring competition and innovation.

The GNU project has done much more than build software. It fueled the free software movement, also started by Stallman, and in turn inspired and enabled countless projects and movements. Over the long term (it will take much longer than 25 years for this to play out), it will make us rethink the contours of what is possible in the space of social cooperation and invidual autonomy, social justice and freedom.

Heady and heavy stuff, but ultimately unsurprising — consider that computers are now the driving force of change in the world today — movements concerning the production and control of software must become increasingly central.

One of the movements and projects directly inspired by GNU is Creative Commons. We’re still learning from the free software movement. On a practical level, all servers run by Creative Commons are powered by GNU/Linux and all of the software we develop is free software.

So please join us in wishing the GNU project a happy 25th birthday by spreading a happy birthday video from comedian Stephen Fry. The video, Freedom Fry, is released under a CC Attribution-NoDerivatives license.

If you’re a fan of free culture and Creative Commons, Freedom Fry is a great introduction to free software. If you’re already a free software know it all, please share Freedom Fry with your friends.

Thank GNU!

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