students for free culture

Free Culture Conference hits NYC April 20-21

Timothy Vollmer, April 5th, 2013

The Students for Free Culture conference will take place in New York City April 20-21. The conference–dubbed FCX 2013–will be held at New York Law School.

fcx13

The Students for Free Culture Conference is an annual gathering of student and non-student activists, thinkers, and innovators who are dedicated to advancing discussions on technology, law, and public policy. Through panels and keynote speakers, FCX 2013 will focus on current issues in intellectual property law, open access to educational resources, maker culture, and technology policy. Through workshops, the conference will revisit the core pillars of the free culture movement, examine the success stories from our movement, and identify new ways in which Students for Free Culture can advocate for a more free, open, and participatory digital environment.

Longtime SFC member Benjamin Mako Hill (who will be giving the opening keynote) says: “If previous years are any indication, the conference can serve as an incredible introduction to free culture, free software, wikis, remixing, copyright, patent and trademark reform, and participatory culture. For folks that are already deeply involved, FCX is among the best places I know to connect with other passionate, creative, people working on free culture issues.”

The event is open to all, with a suggested $15 donation to help defray costs. Registration is open, and some limited travel assistance may be available for students of active SFC chapters.

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Ongoing discussions: NonCommercial and NoDerivatives

Timothy Vollmer, August 29th, 2012

A few days ago the Students for Free Culture (SFC) published a provocative blog post called “Stop the inclusion of proprietary licenses in Creative Commons 4.0.” The article urged Creative Commons to deprecate (meaning “retire” or similar), or otherwise change the way Creative Commons offers licenses containing the NonCommercial and NoDerivatives terms, because they “do not actually contribute to a shared commons.”

The SFC blog post raises important questions about the opportunities and challenges presented by the NC and ND licenses. The NC and ND licenses currently make up four of the six licenses in the CC license suite:

These issues have surfaced frequently over the years, in varied forums and by a variety of stakeholders. CC studied the NC issue from 2008 to 2009, investigating how online populations understand noncommercial use in the context of the NC licenses. The previous year, CC acknowledged the differences between the NC and ND licenses on the one hand, and BY and BY-SA on the other, by announcing placement of the free cultural works seal on the BY and BY-SA deeds as part of an “effort to distinguish among the range of Creative Commons licenses”.

At the same time, CC celebrates successful adoption of the NC and ND licenses, in part because those licenses signal a desire to be more open than the alternative of “all rights reserved.” Moreover, those adopters may eventually migrate to more open licenses once exposed to the benefits that accompany sharing. But this duality opens CC to criticism (if not also confusion) about our identity and mission.

CC committed to addressing this issue most recently with the launch of the 4.0 license process following consultation with the CC affiliates at the 2011 Global Summit in Warsaw. We fully intend to engage in a manner that is inclusive of a wide range of voices and interests. In this way, CC will be best positioned to make informed, thoughtful decisions with the input of our community (defined in the broadest sense), our affiliates, and our adopters (both would-be and existing).

While the specific challenges to NC and ND are not tied to the 4.0 versioning process per se, they’ve been raised in the context of the 4.0 NonCommercial dialogue. The decision not to change the definition of NonCommercial itself in 4.0 now gives way to the broader policy discussion of the role that the NC (and ND) licenses serve, and CC’s stewardship of and communications around those licenses.

As license steward, we are accountable to our stakeholders and global community, and must be transparent about decisions and how we act (or not) on the proposals that have been put on the table. These proposals span a wide range and include more clearly differentiating the licenses aligned with the Definition of Free Cultural Works from those that are not, to providing more education to licensors about the consequences of license choice, to disassociating Creative Commons from the NC and ND licenses altogether, among others.

Here’s what you can expect from CC:

  • Please continue to use the CC-Community list (as opposed to the CC license development list) as the venue for discussions about the various options, proposals, and considerations for NC and ND.
  • CC will collect, analyze and synthesize ideas and proposals, identify possible policy changes, and communicate potential implications of each. CC will look to these various proposals with the recognition that any policy change cuts across the entire community and organization, including education, data and science, legal, technical, etc. CC will share this information publicly in an easy to understand fashion that includes the relevant historical and contextual framing.
  • CC will hold stakeholder consultations that include adopters, CC affiliates, funders, and the broader community. These might take the form of email discussions, community phone calls or IRC chats, etc.

Other suggestions for actions are most welcome.

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Free Culture X

Jane Park, February 1st, 2010

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.

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Students for Free Culture’s Open University Campaign

Fred Benenson, October 28th, 2009

Open University

Students for Free Culture plays a big part of the CC community and we frequently look to them for new hires and volunteers. That’s why we’re always excited to highlight the projects they’re working on. Kevin Donovan just posted on the SFC blog about their ongoing Open University Campaign, which is seeking to evaluate universities based on their openness in the following ways:

An open university is one in which:

  1. The research produced is open access;
  2. The course materials are open educational resources;
  3. The university embraces free software and open standards;
  4. The university’s patents are readily licensed for free software, essential medicine, and the public good;
  5. The university’s network reflects the open nature of the Internet,

where “university” includes all parts of the community: students, faculty and administration.”

The ultimate goal is to generate a report card for universities in order to help prospective students make informed decisions about the university’s copyright, patent, and technology policies.

SFC needs you to get involved if you fit into any of the following categories:

  • Are you a student who can research official university open access policies?
  • Are you passionate about FOSS and can develop a questionnaire for IT administrators about FOSS policy?
  • Are you statistically-inclined and can handle data on universities?
  • Are you a web developer who could create a public website for the Open University Report Cards?
  • Are you a graphic designer who could create posters to raise awareness on campuses?

You can join up by participating on the wiki, signing up for the Open University mailing list, or emailing board (at) freeculture (dot) org with suggestions or questions!

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Free Culture Conference 2008 Videos & T-Shirts

Fred Benenson, April 9th, 2009

Free Culture Conference Video
Before working for Creative Commons full time, I was a student activist in the Students for Free Culture movement. I’m still on the board of the organization (though this will change shortly as I am not seeking reelection in the upcoming board race), and I helped work on the Free Culture Conference 2008 at Berkeley. The Free Culture @ Berkeley team did a smash-up job of running the conference and recording all of the video for archival purposes and now all the videos are available online.

There are some really fantastic talks in here, including a keynote interview with John Lily Mozilla, Anthony Falzone on Fair Use, and many more. Check out the blip.tv channel here and download all the Attribution licensed videos.

sffc-shirts-by-patrick-moberg-300x142

We also commissioned a design for free culture t-shirts from Patrick Moberg. We are now retailing them through a modest PayPal storefront here for $20 + S/H, and all proceeds will go to help Students for Free Culture grow. The shirt designs are CC licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike, so feel free to download the files and make your own!

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