Video

CC Filmmakers and Festivals Change the Rules

Elliot Harmon, March 19th, 2013

During the Academy Awards a few weeks ago, we were reminded of an interesting piece of Creative Commons history:

In 2007, Donna Dewey’s A Story of Healing became the first Academy Award–winning film to be released under a Creative Commons license. The film follows plastic surgeons from Interplast, an organization that provides free reconstructive surgery to people with injuries and congenital deformities. Interplast (which produced the film and is now known as ReSurge International), recognized that sharing it under a CC license could allow its message to reach more people.

Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings the Blues / Nina Paley / CC0

Six years later, filmmakers all around the world are using Creative Commons licenses to bring their films to new audiences. And in the process, many of them are redefining how film production and distribution can work. No, CC-licensed films aren’t sweeping the Oscars, but maybe they’ve become a part of something even more exciting.

For example, take Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues. Most people reading this blog post have probably seen Paley’s amazing film. (If you haven’t, watch it right now. We’ll be here when you get back.) But you might not know that as of 2013, Paley has placed her film in the public domain. Paley explains why she made the unorthodox decision to waive her copyright under the CC0 Public Domain Declaration:

… I still believe in all the reasons for BY-SA, but the reality is I would never, ever sue anyone over SSTB or any cultural work. I will still publicly condemn abuses like enclosure and willful misattribution, but why point a loaded gun at everyone when I’d never fire it? CC0 is an acknowledgement I’ll never go legal on anyone, no matter how abusive and evil they are.

Gottfrid Svartholm

Gottfrid Svartholm (from TPB AFK) / Simon Klose / CC BY

A few weeks ago, Simon Klose released TPB AFK, the long-awaited, Kickstarter-funded documentary about the lives and legal difficulties of the founders of The Pirate Bay. Klose released two versions of the documentary, one licensed BY-NC-ND and one BY-NC-SA. According to Klose, the film includes six minutes of footage from a television network that wouldn’t allow adaptations, so he chose to release a remix-friendly version omitting that footage alongside the NoDerivs version. Both in Klose’s case and in Paley’s, the licenses invite types of reuse and creative participation that can get really problematic under traditional, All Rights Reserved film distribution.

This summer, members of the Nordic CC community are organizing the first Nordic Creative Commons Film Festival. Organizers are inviting anyone in the region to host a screening. Venues will range from full-size theatres to small gatherings in people’s homes. (The organizers are currently looking both for volunteer organizers and for film submissions. Visit their website for more information.)

The Nordic festival is the latest in a growing movement of CC film festivals that began with the Barcelona Creative Commons Film Festival. The BccN launched in 2010 with the slogan “COPY THIS FESTIVAL.” And copy it people did, with “copies” appearing in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Lima, Helsinki, and beyond.

In a video message to the organizers of the Nordic CC Film Festival, CC cofounder Lawrence Lessig suggests that the film culture of the future will look less like today’s film industry and more like this festival:

Another new direction in filmmaking — which, interestingly, also originated in Spain — is Pablo Maqueda and Haizea Viana’s #littlesecretfilm. Anyone can create a “#littlesecretfilm,” as long as her film follows a list of minimalistic rules (finish shooting in 24 hours, ad-libbed dialogue). It’s hard not to make comparisons to Dogme 95, but #littlesecretfilm’s organizers stress that they’re not trying to build a new movement (interview in Spanish). The project’s manifesto describes it simply as “an act of love for the cinema,” which could also describe the global spread of CC film festivals. And of course, #littlesecretfilms must be licensed under Creative Commons.

Around the world, CC filmmakers and festival organizers are changing the rules of every step in the process of filmmaking, from writing and shooting to editing, distribution, and monetization. At a time when the mainstream film industry is struggling to redefine and modernize itself, the CC community isn’t waiting up.

Attention CC filmmakers: Please add your projects to our Case Studies and post upcoming screenings to our Events page. We’d love to help promote your work!

Update (April 11, 2013): The Nordic Creative Commons Film Festival has just launched a crowdfunding campaign. Make a donation or visit the festival site to find other ways to get involved.

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#cc10 Featured Content: Global Lives Project

Elliot Harmon, December 9th, 2012

David Evan Harris

David Evan Harris / Joel Young / CC BY-SA

Video artist and activist David Evan Harris sees sharing as a key component of his work. “The fact that we use Creative Commons licenses to guarantee that our work is in the commons is an essential ingredient in the production itself,” he told me. “It communicates something to our volunteers and people who work with us. It communicates that it isn’t about enriching one person, and it’s not about producing a proprietary work that only a few people will see.”

David is the founder and executive director of the Global Lives project, an organization that produces videos documenting the lives of people around the world. The project’s first undertaking consists of ten videos – each following one person for 24 hours, with no cuts. Global Lives presents the videos in the form of gallery exhibitions, with the ten videos playing simultaneously. In essence, the visitor is creating her own remix of all ten videos by choosing what to watch as she wanders through the exhibition (if you were at the CC10 celebration in San Francisco, you got a taste of the exhibition on the fourth floor).

But Global Lives isn’t just a gallery exhibition: the videos are available online as complete, uncompressed downloads. Nor is it just art. Lately, in fact, David’s been most interested in its potential in the education world.

Global Lives

Global Lives / David Kindler / CC BY

Part of what’s striking about Global Lives is the possibilities for use that go far beyond its original context. Global Lives videos have been used by educators all around the world, some of whom have even gone so far as to create their own cuts of Global Lives videos to demonstrate certain ideas to their students – a video of all ten subjects eating breakfast, for example, or coming home from work. Peace Corps volunteers have used Global Lives videos as training before leaving on assignments. “One of our translators is a Malawian who lives in the UK, and she shows the Malawi video to her daughter as a bedtime story, so her daughter can get an idea of what it would be like to grow up in Malawi.”

Talking with David, his excitement about these uses is contagious. He showed me a mock up of a site redesign that he and his team are working on. In the new Global Lives site, users will be able to watch multiple videos at once, leave timestamped comments, and even create and share their own mixes of Global Lives content. It’s amazing to see so many possibilities for sharing and reuse grow out of a simple idea – that watching how people live helps you understand them.

Global Lives is now gearing up for a second set of videos – this one called Lives in Transit and focusing on the lives of people who work in transportation – and asking for donations through Kickstarter.

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#cc10 Featured Platform: Vimeo

Elliot Harmon, December 9th, 2012

In honor of Creative Commons’ tenth anniversary, we’re profiling several media platforms with CC integration. Vimeo has supported CC licensing since 2010, and has accumulated over two million CC-licensed videos. When I spoke with VP of creative development Blake Whitman, he told me that Vimeo’s staff and community had been talking about CC for years prior. “We knew that this would be perfect for the type of community that Vimeo has. There’s a lot of remixing going on, and it made a lot of sense for us to incorporate it. We thought it was a great web standard that needed to be solidified in our space.”

I also asked Blake to recommend some of his favorite CC-licensed videos on Vimeo. Two of those are embedded in this interview; the rest are listed below.

Tell me more about how CC licensing fits into the Vimeo community.

The beginnings of Vimeo were really about sharing and collaboration, doing projects together, and sharing life’s moments. It’s evolved over time – as we added HD and other featured that attract higher-end creators – but that ethos has always stayed the same. We’ve always given users the option to make their vidoes available for download. It’s important that when people make their content available for download, there’s a clear way for the creator to indicate how they’d like that content to be used.

For a long time, we didn’t have that. You could make it explicit in the description that there was a CC license on it, but since it wasn’t built into Vimeo, it wasn’t being used consistently. When people download videos, they should know what the rights are that the creators are intending.

The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

How much did you publicize the CC implementation? Were there any hiccups or pushback from the community?

There’s always a period of learning for anything new, but we work very hard to make it clear. It’s crucial that people understand how the licenses work – and not just for videos. I want users to understand CC licensing on a deeper level, as a part of sharing on the Internet at large.

Do you think that Creative Commons has changed the Vimeo community’s attitudes about sharing?

It’s always changing and evolving, as smaller communities within Vimeo expand and contract and branch out.

People are open willing to share, and CC is a model that makes sense. Look how many people are allowing their content to be used for commercial purposes. And that’s pretty amazing, that people are that open to allow for people to make money from the stuff that they create, as long as they’re cited. That’s great, and I think it’s really important.

Everything is a Remix Part 1 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Blake’s favorite CC-licensed videos on Vimeo:

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Four Million CC-Licensed Videos Uploaded to YouTube

Elliot Harmon, July 25th, 2012

Creative Commons just reached an exciting milestone. As of this week, there are four million Creative Commons–licensed videos on YouTube. That’s over forty years’ worth of footage to remix and reuse, all licensed under CC BY, the most permissive CC license.

One thing that makes this mass of CC-licensed content really exciting is that all four million of those videos can be imported into YouTube’s online video editor. By letting people remix and adapt videos without having sophisticated editing software or expertise, YouTube and CC are making it easier for anyone to build on the work of others. And that’s pretty cool.

In her guest blog post on the YouTube blog, CC CEO Cathy Casserly muses on what’s possible when YouTubers share their creativity:

Do you need a professional opening for your San Francisco vacation video? Perhaps some gorgeous footage of the moon for your science project? How about a squirrel eating a walnut to accompany your hot new dubstep track? All of this and more is available to inspire and add to your unique creation. Thanks to CC BY, it’s easy to borrow footage from other people’s videos and insert it into your own, because the license grants you the specific permissions to do so as long as you give credit to the original creator.

You can pass on the creative spirit when you publish your video, by choosing the option to license it under CC BY so that others can reuse and remix your footage with the YouTube Video Editor. This is where the fun really starts. Imagine seeing your footage used by a student in Mumbai, a filmmaker in Mexico City, or a music video director in Detroit. By letting other people play with your videos, you let them into a global sandbox, kicking off a worldwide team of collaborators. We all yearn to create and contribute — now you can join the fun, and open the door to collective imagination.

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Winners Announced! – Why Open Education Matters Video Competition

Timothy Vollmer, July 18th, 2012

Creative Commons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Open Society Foundations are pleased to announce the winners of the Why Open Education Matters video competition. The competition was launched in March 2012 to solicit creative videos that clearly communicate the use and potential of free, high-quality Open Educational Resources — or “OER” — and describe the benefits and opportunities these materials create for teachers, students, and schools everywhere. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the competition with a video on the Why Open Education Matters website. The competition received over 60 qualified entries. The winning videos are displayed below.

First Prize

Congratulations to Blinktower, an extremely talented creative agency based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Second Prize

Congratulations to Laura Rachfalski and her great team. Laura is an artist, videographer and photographer from Philadelphia.

Third Prize

Congratulations to Nadia Paola Mireles Torres and her collaborators from the design firm Funktionell. It’s also amazing to see that Nadia has made all the video assets available for download and reuse under CC BY!

The prize winners were decided by a panel of distinguished experts including Davis Guggenheim, Nina Paley, Liz Dwyer, Anya Kamenetz, James Franco, Angela Lin, and Mark Surman. Due to technical problems with the public voting on the Why Open Education Matters website which prevented some persons from submitting a vote, the third prize video has been awarded by the judging panel.

In addition to the winning videos, all of the qualifying videos are available for viewing on the competition website, http://whyopenedmatters.org. All of the videos are licensed CC BY, which means others may distribute, remix, and build upon them, even commercially, as long as they give credit to the creators.

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who submitted a video for sharing their creativity, talents, and passion in helping explain and promote Open Educational Resources.

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Vote now for your favorite Why Open Education Matters video

Timothy Vollmer, June 25th, 2012

We’re happy to see so many great submissions to the Why Open Education Matters video competition. You can now view all the qualifying videos and vote for your favorite. The goal of the competition is to raise awareness of Open Educational Resources (OER) and solicit short, creative videos that help explain what Open Educational Resources are and how they can be beneficial for teachers, students, and schools everywhere around the world. The competition closed on June 5.

Our panel of judges is currently reviewing the entries and will choose the first ($25,000) and second ($5,000) prizes. The winner of the Public Choice Award will win $1,000. Click on a video to view it, read the voting instructions, and vote. Public Choice Award voting will end July 11, 2012. We hope to announce all the winners on July 18, 2012. Good luck!

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Vimeo adds CC browse and search capabilities

Jane Park, February 14th, 2012

Vimeo has revamped their platform for video creators and users, including the creation of a Creative Commons landing page where you can browse and search for videos by CC license!

From http://vimeo.com/new:

“Our members love using Creative Commons licenses to rework, remix, and reimagine, which is why we built a whole new section to help you discover videos available with Creative Commons licenses. Browse and search millions of videos categorized by license type and learn about what you can (and can’t) do with other people’s videos on Vimeo.”

We were thrilled when Vimeo enabled the CC license suite in July of 2010; we are even more thrilled that the Vimeo team has since recognized the community’s needs to easily discover high quality CC-licensed videos. Blake Whitman, Vimeo’s VP of Creative Development, says,

“We know the many ways in which sharing can positively impact creativity. As such, we will continue to build features that enable people to exchange ideas, and that support the Vimeo community’s growing demand for creative sharing. Our partnership with Creative Commons is the backbone of this commitment.

Not only will this development help video creators and users everywhere, it will also help to improve our metrics on CC-licensed works on the web and assess their impact, so we can better help CC creators and users everywhere.

Three cheers to Vimeo! Check out the CC Vimeo portal — which anyone who has a Vimeo account can access by upgrading to the new Vimeo — at http://vimeo.com/creativecommons. Learn about out all new Vimeo features and changes at http://vimeo.com/new.

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Happy Birthday CC! “Building on the Past” creator re-releases video under CC BY and explains why

Jane Park, December 16th, 2010


Building on the Past by Justin Cone is licensed CC BY.

In 2004, designer and animator Justin Cone created “Building on the Past” as part of our Moving Images Contest and won. Justin originally made the video, which demonstrated Creative Commons’ mission in two minutes, available under CC BY-NC. At the encouragement of Wikieducator’s Wayne Macintosh, Justin decided to re-release “Building on the Past” under the most open CC license, CC Attribution (CC BY) and made a short video explaining why (also under CC BY). Both videos are featured in Creative Commons unplugged, a part of Wikieducator’s Open content licensing 4 educators workshop (a work in progress).

In the video, Justin talks about why CC is so important to him:

“Creative Commons is important to me for two reasons: The first reason is that it just makes life easier. I don’t have to worry about law suits or trying to secure permissions from people who might be impossible to get in touch with. It just makes creation easier and encourages the exchange of ideas; it encourages discussion and education. The second reason is a little more symbolic. By putting the CC license on my work, it basically says I care enough to share. I feel like I’m taking part in a community just by licensing my work with CC.”

He goes on to explain why he changed the license of his film:

“Originally I licensed my “Building on the Past” video with an Attribution-Noncommercial license. And I think the noncommercial part was there because I was just generally suspicious about corporate interest or something. It wasn’t very well thought out, but I think I was worried that somebody would take the video, re-contextualize it in a way that wasn’t appropriate for the video. Since then, I’ve kind of changed the way that I think about things. The video has been showed around the world; it has been translated and subtitled in different languages and it has taken on a life of its own. And I think that it deserves to be a little freer. There’s no reason to keep it from being used by a commercial interest because I think it has some educational value. I think it has a message that can be debated, discussed, disagreed with or agreed with, and by removing the noncommercial part of my license, it’s easier for people to now do all those things.”

At the end, he offers tips for other creators, saying we should ask ourselves two questions: “Is this project bigger than me?” and “When you finish a project, is this really the end of the project, or is this the beginning?” If your answer is affirmative in both cases, Justin notes that CC “makes it so much easier for your project to expand beyond you”:

“I like to think of projects as stories. So if you choose a traditional copyright, then the story of your project has just a limited number of possible endings. And sometimes those endings are fine and they work for the story. But a lot of times it’s more interesting to choose a different path for your story. And if you go with a Creative Commons license you’re basically saying, I don’t want this story to end. I want it to go on and on. I want it to have different endings, different twists and turns rather, and I want other people to tell this story. I think that’s a better story, it’s a more exciting story; it’s epic.”

Watch the whole meta-video here, and share “Building on the Past” under CC BY from the Internet Archive, Blip.tv, and Vimeo.

Wish CC a happy birthday by showing your support today!

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Video from CC Salon NYC: Opening Education

Jane Park, April 9th, 2010

For those of you who missed CC Salon NYC: Opening Education, we uploaded live recordings of the event to the CC blip.tv channel a while back. The video recording is split up into three parts in-line with the three sessions to make it easier for you to pick and choose what to watch:

All videos are available via CC BY, of course. I’d also like to point out that the Hewlett OER Grantees meeting is going on right now, which you can follow with the hashtag #oerhf.

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Daily life in Iraq—new footage at Al Jazeera

Jane Park, January 14th, 2010

Last year, Al Jazeera launched their Creative Commons Repository with 12 videos shot in Gaza under CC’s most open license, Attribution only. Since then, Al Jazeera’s collection has grown, and their most recent footage includes videos documenting everyday life and culture in Iraq.

Check out this video of an Iraqi artist sculpting a Minaret and painting a tree. The sculptures seem to be encased afterward in gold or some other substance—I’m not entirely sure since I’m not fluent in Arabic. The good news is that the video and all others in this repository are licensed CC BY, so someone can help translate this into English or other languages, for use by rival broadcasters or in documentaries.

There are also more videos about the communication network in Iraq, and Samarra’s pharmaceutical factories and poultry farms.

You can also start remixing these videos to tell a compelling story, whether it’s a 30 sec or twenty minute film clip, maybe laid with some CC licensed soundtracks. Be creative. There’s a lot of CC licensed stuff out there. All Al Jazeera CC repository videos are available via CC BY, which means you can edit, adapt, translate, remix or otherwise use them as long as you credit Al Jazeera. Interested persons can add the Al Jazeera repository to their Miro feeds.

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