Wikimedia Foundation

Happy birthday Wikipedia!

Mike Linksvayer, January 15th, 2009

Wikipedia began 8 years ago today and now exists in 265(!) languages with over 10 million articles among them. In those 8 years Wikipedia has grown from an outlandish dream and into a reality far more outlandish than the original dream — it now seems silly to compare Wikipedia to past encyclopedias, for while Wikipedia and sibling sites run by the Wikimedia Foundation are encylopedic in nature, they are 1,000 times more useful than anything previously conceived as an encyclopedia. Happy birthday and congratulations!

Almost exactly 1 year and 11 months after the birth of Wikipedia, Creative Commons launched. As many know, a process is underway that may result in Wikipedia migrating to CC BY-SA as its main license, which would be a great thing for the growth of free culture. However, see Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’ letter in support of CC’s recently ended annual fundraising campaign for other connections. And day to day, media under appropriate CC licenses is being utilized by Wikipedians — who for example immediately began using video and stills from the Al Jazeera CC repository launched just two days ago.

Here’s to many more years of free culture!

For context, we celebrated Mozilla’s 10th birthday last April and the GNU project’s 25th last September. It’s very difficult to draw comparisons, but the longevity of the free software movement and the relatively recent massive success of Wikipedia should inspire and humble the rest of the free culture and related movements.

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Final Commoner Letter: Jimmy Wales

Melissa Reeder, December 23rd, 2008

Our final commoner letter of this campaign comes from Jimmy Wales, who needs no introduction.

If you haven’t contributed, now is the time. Please help spread this letter far and wide. Now, Jimmy Speaks…


—————–

Dear Creative Commoner,

Creative Commons recently celebrated its 6th birthday, and I want to take a moment to ask for your support of CC’s vital role in building a commons of culture, learning, science, and more, accessible to all.

When I founded Wikipedia in 2001, Creative Commons unfortunately did not yet exist. However, as by far the most wildly successful projects for the creation of and legal infrastructure for free knowledge in the world, our paths are inevitably intertwined.

For example, we have Wikinews publishing under CC BY, Wikimedia Commons curating thousands of quality images and other media, many under CC BY or BY-SA, Wikimedia chapters in Serbia and Indonesia as the Creative Commons affiliate organizations in those jurisdictions, Wikimedia Sweden and Creative Commons Sweden collaborating with Free Software Foundation Europe to put on FSCONS, and Creative Commons’ international office in Berlin just moved in with Wikimedia Germany.

Most importantly, we have people working to build free knowledge around the world, collaborating mostly informally. Some see themselves as part of one or more movements and communities, others just want to share and collaborate.

I’ve been pleased to personally serve on the CC board of directors since 2006 and am happy that after years of work, the Wikimedia community has obtained the option to update its primary license to CC BY-SA. This would remove a significant barrier to collaboration among people and communities creating free knowledge, a barrier that only exists due to the timing mentioned above.

As I explain in Jesse Dylan’s A Shared Culture, Creative Commons is about building infrastructure for a new kind of culture  — one that is both a folk culture, and wildly more sophisticated than anything before it. Think about how quaint a traditional encyclopedia appears, now that we have Wikipedia. How much better would the world be if we allow education, entertainment, government, science and more to be transformed by the web? If we do not support Creative Commons, the realization of these dreams about what the Internet can and should become are at risk. By supporting Creative Commons, we build those dreams.

Allow me to close with a borrowing. Eben Moglen, chief lawyer of the free software movement, without which neither Wikipedia nor Creative Commons would exist, wrote the following at the end of the first letter of this campaign:

Supporting Creative Commons isn’t just something I feel I ought to do; it’s something we all have to do. I hope you will join with me in supporting Creative Commons with your money, with your energy, and with your creative power. There’s nothing we can’t do if we share.

Thank you,
Jimmy Wales

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Global CC Birthday Parties

Michelle Thorne, December 21st, 2008

CC Birthday Party in Manila

CC Birthday Party in Manila

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.

Entry for 2nd CC Photography Contest in Mainland China

Entry for 2nd CC Photography Contest in Mainland China

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.

Ann Arbor, Michigan organized a CC Birthday Happy Hour at a local bar, and guests at the party in Washington, D.C. contributed to a CC multimedia potluck coordinated by Public Knowledge.

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.

Berlin‘s Content Sprint & Birthday Party invited guests to vie for a Goopymart T-shirt in a competition to document CC Case Studies in Germany.

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.

San Francisco wrapped up the global parties in 111 Minna Gallery with music by Ripley and Kid Kameleon and an improv performance from dublab as part of the Into Infinity installation.

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.

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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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CCi and Wikimedia Germany in closer collaboration, shared office space

Michelle Thorne, December 9th, 2008

Creative Commons International (CCi) is moving! Leaving our office in Berlin-Mitte, we’ll be moving to Berlin-Schöneberg to share workspace with Wikimedia Germany. Our move builds upon existing collaborations with local Wikimedia projects and the hope of continued support and unified efforts. To date, CCi has teamed up with Wikimedia Serbia, one of the institutional hosts of the CC Serbia project, and Wikimedia Indonesia will soon begin overseeing the porting of the CC licenses to Indonesian law. Nordic CC and Wikimedia communities are also strengthening ties, as demonstrated by the recent “free society” conference FSCONS, organized by CC Sweden, Wikimedia Sweden, and the Free Software Foundation Europe.

It is our hope that the office share will build bridges across projects, people, and resources. As reported last month, the Wikimedia/Wikipedia community is now deciding whether to offer wiki content under CC BY-SA 3.0. These discussions follow the Free Software Foundation’s release of version 1.3 of its Free Documentation License containing language which allows FDL-licensed wikis to republish FDL content under the CC Attribution-ShareAlike license until August 1, 2009.

Read more about the move in our press release.

100,000 Attribution-ShareAlike Images for Wikimedia Commons

Good news reaches another Wikimedia project, Wikimedia Commons, which hosts hundreds of thousands of freely licensed Creative Commons media and serves as the multimedia back-end of Wikipedia. Everyone is encouraged to upload as much educational free media as they can in order to benefit the commons, and this is exactly what the German Federal Archive has decided to do.

Since December 4th, the archive is uploading around 100,000 photos to Wikimedia Commons, all licensed under our Attribution-ShareAlike license. The subject matter varies from not-so-ordinary street scenes to famous German sights, but all of the photos are high quality and offer great snapshots of modern German history. Check out the contributions from BArchBot to keep an eye as the uploads progress over the next couple of weeks.

A very warm congratulations to our new office mates, Wikimedia Germany, and to the German Federal Archive for organizing such a significant and valuable contribution to the commons!

Image: “Schwerin, Neujahr, Feuerwerk” by Ralf Pätzold, made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License by the Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), Bild 183-Z1228-001.

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Reminder: CC Salon SF this Wednesday (11/19/08)

Allison Domicone, November 17th, 2008

To the Bay Area CC community: we hope you can make it to our next CC Salon SF this Wednesday, from 7-9 pm. The theme is “CC and Citizen Journalism,” and we’re very excited about the presenters we’ve got lined up:

From Wikinews: Volunteer Coordinator Cary Bass and Bay Area “Wikinewsie” volunteer Jon Davis will talk about their experience at Wikinews, a global citizen journalism effort and project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

From Spot.us: David Cohn, who has been involved with myriad citizen journalism projects, the likes of which include NewAssignment.net and his current endeavor, Spot.us – a crowdfunding journalism project of the nonprofit Center for Media Change.

Music for the evening will be provided by DJ qubitsu.

The Salon will be at Shine Bar (21+): Map and directions.

For more information, contact salon [at] creativecommons.org

Remember: CC Salons are community-driven and can pop up anywhere. We encourage you to consider starting a salon in your area!

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Wikipedia/CC news: FSF releases FDL 1.3

Mike Linksvayer, November 3rd, 2008

The Free Software Foundation has just released version 1.3 of its Free Documentation License containing language which allows FDL-licensed wikis to republish FDL content under the CC Attribution-ShareAlike license until August 1, 2009. Excepted from this are FDL documents originating elsewhere unless they have been incorporated into the wiki prior to November 1, 2008.

This is a crucial step toward de-fracturing the free (culture) as in (software) freedom world, which should have the impact of greatly accelerating the growth of that world. Last December the Wikimedia Foundation requested that the FSF make this step.

Thanks and congratulations to the WMF and FSF (if you haven’t wished the latter a hearty 25th anniversary yet, please do so) and to the free world.

The next step is for the Wikipedia/Wikimedia community (and other FDL-licensed wikis) to decide to offer wiki content under CC BY-SA 3.0.

We hope that these communities find CC the best steward for free culture licenses to be relied upon for massively collaborative works. See our Statement of Intent for Attribution-ShareAlike Licenses and Approved for Free Cultural Works branding rolled out in February and April of this year respectively for some background on this.

In the longer term (i.e., in a future version of the CC BY-SA license, which as the FSF does their licenses, we version very carefully and deliberately) we will address other issues of particular interest to communities creating massively collaborative works, in particular attribution for such situations (our version 2.5 licenses begin to do this) and how strongly copyleft (ShareAlike in CC parlance) attaches to the context in which CC BY-SA licensed images are used (as we did for video synced to music in version 2.0).

Thanks again to the FSF and WMF, which as CC does, build critical infrastructure for a free world. All of these organizations are nonprofits deserving of your support. CC is running its annual fundraising campaign right now. :)

Also see Lawrence Lessig’s post on Enormously important news from the Free Software Foundation.

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CC Salon SF (11/19/08): CC and Citizen Journalism

Allison Domicone, October 22nd, 2008


Save the date! Announcing the next CC Salon SF on Wednesday, November 19th, from 7-9 pm. The theme for the salon will be “CC and Citizen Journalism,” and we are very excited about the presenters we’ve got lined up:

From Wikinews: Volunteer Coordinator Cary Bass and Bay Area “Wikinewsie” volunteer Jon Davis will talk about their experience at Wikinews, a global citizen journalism effort and project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

From Spot.us: David Cohn, who has been involved with myriad citizen journalism projects, the likes of which include NewAssignment.net and his current endeavor, Spot.us – a project of the nonprofit Center for Media Change – that allows an individual or group to take control of news by sharing the cost (crowdfunding) to commission freelance journalists.

We hope you’ll join us for what is sure to be a great evening of exploring the ways in which CC helps facilitate citizen news and media outlets – vital resources for sustaining a healthy culture of sharing!

The Salon will be at Shine Bar (21+): Map and directions.

For more information, contact salon [at] creativecommons.org

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THE “IP” Court Supports Enforceability of CC Licenses

Brian Rowe, August 13th, 2008

The United States Court of Appeals held that “Open Source” or public license licensors are entitled to copyright infringement relief.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), the leading IP court in the United States, has upheld a free copyright license, while explicitly pointing to the work of Creative Commons and others. The Court held that free licenses such as the CC licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on the use of copyrighted work.  As a result, licensors using public licenses are able to seek injunctive relief for alleged copyright infringement, rather than being limited to traditional contract remedies.

Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig explained the theory of all free software, open source, and Creative Commons licenses upheld by the court: “When you violate the condition, the license disappears, meaning you’re simply a copyright infringer. This is the theory of the GPL and all CC licenses. Put precisely, whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license.” Lessig said the ruling provided “important clarity and certainty by a critically important US Court.”

Today’s ruling vacated the district court’s decision and affirmed the availability of remedies based on copyright law for violations of open licenses.  The federal court noted that ignoring attribution requirements contained in the license caused reputation and economic harm to the original licensor. This opinion demonstrates a strong understanding of a basic economic principles of the internet; attribution is a valuable economic right in the information economy.  Read the full opinion.(PDF)

Creative Commons filed a friends of the court brief in this case. Thanks to all the cosponsors Linux Foundation, The Open Source Initiative, Software Freedom Law Center, the Perl Foundation and Wikimedia Foundation.  Significant pro bono work on this brief was provided by Anthony T. Falzone and Christopher K. Ridder of Stanford’s Center for Internet & Society. Read the full brief.

Full Press Release

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