Wikipedia

Thank You to Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales

Mike Linksvayer, January 5th, 2010

Wikipedia also wrapped up a wildly successful fundraiser at the end of the year. See below for Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’ thank you letter to the community, reproduced in full under CC BY-SA, the license Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites migrated to last June. Note “support our friends” at the end — it is a great honor for CC to be in such esteemed company!

Wow. What can I say? Thank you.

We’ve just ended the most successful fundraiser in our history, $7.5 million USD raised in less than 8 weeks.

Incredible. But I’m not surprised.

In 2001, I took a bet on people, and you’ve never let me down.

You have created the largest collection of human knowledge ever assembled: 14 million encyclopedia articles in 270 languages, still growing and getting better every day. You have supported, funded and protected it.

Advertising doesn’t pay for Wikipedia. You do. Wikipedia is the fifth most visited website on earth – 340 million people last month – and we run our servers and pay our lean staff entirely with donations.

Your donations keep Wikipedia free to use and free of ads. Your donations keep spreading free access to knowledge all across the earth.

Thank you for everything you give to make Wikipedia a reality. I’ve been inspired by your comments, and feel privileged to witness your passion for Wikipedia.

  • “When I’m at a loss for answers in life, you are always here to rescue me!” – Lauren Sierra
  • “To my 6-year-old son, Wikipedia is a wonderful window into the world’s knowledge.” – Pilgrim Beart

  • “Wikipedia é muito importante para todos. É uma conquista da humanidade.” – Fernando Borba
  • “Wikipedia is all about fulfilling one simple need: immediate access to high quality information on any topic you can think of. That is why I’m glad to support it.” – Joao Nunes

It’s an amazing story. There’s nothing else like it.

And if you haven’t yet made a contribution to support Wikipedia, it’s not too late. You can still make a gift to support the free and open sharing of knowledge. Just click here.

I also encourage you to support our friends:

Thank you again.

Wikipedia forever,

Jimmy Wales

Founder, Wikipedia

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CC licensed photos and the International Olympic Committee

Mike Linksvayer, October 12th, 2009


Weezie’s Birthday Ballooning by Richard Giles / CC BY-SA

Richard Giles, a social media specialist in Australia who frequently posts and CC licenses photos on Flickr, received a threatening letter from the International Olympic Committee last week, mentioning a set of photos he had taken at the 2008 games in Beijing.

Giles posted a rundown of the story so far on his blog. It is not clear the situation is resolved yet, and initially there was confusion about which photos or licenses are at issue, but there are many worthwhile posts about it to check out, including these:

Regarding Ross’ post, of course the UK merchant that used the photo in an advertisement that eventually attracted the IOC’s notice may have discovered the photo directly on Flickr as well. In either case, the value of moving to a more liberal license if you want your works to spread is highlighted — Giles’ Usain Bolt photo is under CC Attribution-ShareAlike, while his other Beijing photos are under CC Attribution-NonCommercial.

cc-shepard-fairey-logo-mediumWhatever the resolution of this particular dispute, there’s no question that the IOC’s attempt to control how photographers use their own photos is symptomatic of the permission culture and tragedy of the anticommons we are facing. Creative Commons can’t directly influence the IOC’s policies, but we’re creating an alternative to ensure a non-gridlocked future of creativity and innovation, an alternative that offers benefits to those who participate in the commons now, and whose successes will change minds. Please support us — we’re in the midst of our 2009 campaign to raise $500,000 to fund this work.

The photo at the top of this post by Richard Giles is not of the Olympics, but does look fun. Note that even such an innocuous photo could be under threat as we move in the direction of a permission economy — building owners attempt to control public photography, why not balloon owners or designers? Give now.

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Software Freedom Law Show on the history of documentation licensing

Mike Linksvayer, October 10th, 2009

The Software Freedom Law Show, Episode 0×16 contains numerous bits of interest to CC geeks and is well worth a listen. The show’s hosts, Karen Sandler and Bradley Kuhn of the Software Freedom Law Center, discuss among other things:

  • How the GFDL turned out suboptimally — a key point is that developing good public licenses is very hard, the the GFDL was one of the very first for software documentation or other non-software works.
  • The migration of Wikipedia and sister projects from GFDL to CC BY-SA, successfully completed this June.
  • The importance of public license stewardship by mission-driven nonprofits — Bradley Kuhn’s writing on stewardship has been noted previously on this blog.
  • The license used for the show itself, which is CC BY-ND.
  • A promise to talk about the public domain and specifically CC0 in a future episode. Looking forward to it.

One quick addendum to the show, in which the hosts wonder if CC has a public versioning process. The answer is yes — see a a list of CC blog posts over the course of development of our 3.0 licenses. The next, eventual versioning will be even more public and rigorous, just as the GPLv3 had a development process far more in depth than that of any public software license that preceded it.


Download: ogg | mp3

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Wikis Take Manhattan III is this Saturday!

Fred Benenson, October 5th, 2009

Wikis_Take_Manhattan

Wikis Take Manhattan is a scavenger hunt and free content photography contest aimed at illustrating Wikipedia and StreetsWiki articles covering sites and street features in Manhattan and across the five boroughs of New York City.

Scheduled for Saturday, October 10, 2009, this event will be a sequel to the spring 2008 Wikipedia Takes Manhattan (WTM-1) and last fall’s Wikis Take Manhattan (WTM-2) event. Check out the hoppin’ Wikipedia page for full details.

The day will be sponsored by Free Culture @ Columbia, the Columbia University chapter of Students for Free Culture, in cooperation with Free Culture @ NYU, The Open Planning Project, Wikimedia New York City and Wikipedia volunteers.

If you’re attending, make sure to register online here.

All Wikipedians and non-Wikipedians are invited to participate in teams of up to three (no special knowledge is required at all, just a digital camera and a love of the city).

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Wiki* milestones and mania

Mike Linksvayer, August 17th, 2009

ReadWriteWeb* writes that English Wikipedia just passed the 3 million article mark. While this is a great accomplishment that will surely be widely reported, RWW correctly highlights that “Wikipedia” is much more than the English site:

The family of sites as a whole has more than 13 million articles in more than 260 languages, not counting discussion pages and other errata.

As RWW also notes, Wikimedia Commons, the media repository sibling of Wikipedia, is about to pass the 5 million file mark.

And it just happens that the vast number of wikis hosted by the commercial wiki platform Wikia will cumulatively surpass the 3 million article mark soon.

All Wikipedia articles are now available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, all media hosted at Wikimedia Commons is under this or another free license or in the public domain, and most of the wikis hosted by Wikia are also under CC BY-SA, as are many other wikis, for example Wikitravel, WikiEducator, Planet Math, and Appropedia. Read about why this interoperability is a win for free culture.

Numbers alone are impressive enough and hint that Wikipedia has blown up the encyclopedia category and that other wiki projects will supersede other existing categories of cultural and educational artifact. However, the numbers only begin to tell the story. One place to see this unfold in highly concentrated form is Wikimania, the annual international conference of the Wikimedia Foundation. See the conference schedule, including panels featuring CC France and CC Taiwan co-founders Melanie Dulong de Rosnay and Shun-ling Chen (Authorship, Licenses, and the Wiki Borg) and me (OER Content Interoperability for WikiMedia platforms).

* Thanks ReadWriteWeb for all your awesome CC coverage!

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The Reality of Professional Photography on Wikipedia

Fred Benenson, July 23rd, 2009

Noam Cohen’s piece in the New York Times over the weekend highlighted some of the issues surrounding photography on Wikipedia:

At a time when celebrities typically employ a team of professionals to control their images, Wikipedia is a place where chaos rules. Few high-quality photographs, particularly of celebrities, make it onto this site. This is because the site runs only pictures with the most permissive Creative Commons license, which allows anyone to use an image, for commercial purposes or not, as long as the photographer is credited.

But what Cohen somehow misses is the staggering amount of high quality professional photography (of celebrities and otherwise) that does make it on to Wikipedia. Take for example, the Davos World Economic Forum’s choice to release its entire Flickr stream, over 2,600 professional shot photos, under our Attribution-ShareAlike license. The result is a professional, high quality, and informative entry on the conference and organization filled with photos of celebrities that was entirely curated by volunteers. WEF didn’t even have to upload the photos themselves, they just made them available under the right license:

World Economic Forum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Obviously, the WEF is in the business of running a meeting and not licensing celebrity photos, but there is no doubt about the value in the works they’ve contributed to the commons; value that could have been, but wasn’t, exploited using standard all-rights-reserved copyright licenses and stock photo agencies.

In other words, the WEF realized the obvious advantages of being the provider of a certain set of free photos that would otherwise be difficult to capture professionally. As Wikipedia continues its ascent toward being a cultural necessity (if not the nth wonder of the world), these advantages will only accumulate, thus further cementing the argument for free culture.

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Wiki-Conference NYC 2009

Fred Benenson, July 20th, 2009

Wikipedia LogoIn New York this weekend? Head on over to NYC for the 1st Wiki-Conference.  Here are the details:

The 1st Wiki-Conference New York will be held over the weekend of July 25-26 2009 at New York University, and hosted by Free Culture @ NYU and Wikimedia New York City.

The location for the conference is Vanderbilt Hall, part of NYU law school, in the Village. This hall is opposite the southwest corner of Washington Square Park.

Plans are still gestating, and more schedule details should appear soon; participants are encouraged to give your own ideas for topic sessions. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales will be giving a keynote, and we will also have a second keynote speaker TBA.

You can register for the Wiki-Conference here.

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UK National Portrait Gallery threatens Wikipedia user over public domain images

Joe Merante, July 14th, 2009

Museums, archives, and cultural institutions have been forced to re-examine their relationship with the digital presentation of public domain works in their collections. This has brought the issue of “copyfraud” to the forefront. Recently, the UK’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) threatened legal action under UK law against a Wikipedia user for, among other things, copyright infringement of digital photos of public domain works by uploading them to Wikipedia.

This raises some interesting legal issues related to copyright, jurisdiction, and enforcement. In the U.S., the Bridgeman v. Corel decision would probably bar NPG’s claims. Similarly, the U.S. Supreme Court in Feist held that copyright protection is not based on a “sweat of the brow” theory. UK courts have not necessarily agreed. However, there is the strictly legal, and then there is the practical. In the 2005 article Public Domain Art in an Age of Easier Mechanical Reproducibility, Kenneth Hamma, former Exec. Dir. for Digital Policy, J. Paul Getty Trust, highlights the collision of traditional approaches to control over museum collections and the digitization of the public domain:

[R]esistance to free and unfettered access may well result from a seemingly well-grounded concern: many museums assume that an important part of their core business is the acquisition and management of rights in art works to maximum return on investment. That might be true in the case of the recording industry, but it should not be true for nonprofit institutions holding public domain art works; it is not even their secondary business. Indeed, restricting access seems all the more inappropriate when measured against a museum’s mission – a responsibility to provide public access.

Restricting access via copyfraud or DRM defeats the purpose of the public domain, and damages the reputation and mission of the institution holding the original copies of these works. However, the NPG’s disappointing actions should not overshadow the many institutions working to make the public domain accessible to you, the public. The Commons on Flickr is a great example of 27 private and public institutions from all over the world who are making works available with “no known copyright restrictions”. Working with, not against, cultural institutions highlights some of the ways cultural heritage institutions and communities can work together to mutual benefit.

We hope that institutions will increasingly see the the mission value (and financial value — attracting visitors to see original works) of working with communities to open up access to curated public domain works and of proactively marking public domain works as such for humans and computers, e.g., with our public domain tools.

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Wikipedia + CC BY-SA = Free Culture Win!

Mike Linksvayer, June 22nd, 2009

As anyone following this site closely must know, the Wikipedia community and Wikimedia Foundation board approved the adoption of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license as the main content license for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites. A post about the community vote has many links explaining the history and importance of this move.


Detail of Win win relationship by Alex Brollo / CC BY-SA

Starting last week with English Wikipedia (there are over 700 Wikimedia sites in over 250 languages — the image to the right is sourced from one of them), the copyright notice on Wikimedia sites is being changed to CC BY-SA. See the Wikimedia Foundation Terms of Use.

The outreach effort to non-Wikimedia wikis to take advantage of this migration opportunity is ongoing. Help if you can. One very important milestone was reached June 19, when most wikis hosted by Wikia (there are thousands, including some big ones) converted to CC BY-SA.

Hooray for Jimmy Wales, founder of both Wikipedia and Wikia! (Note the two organizations are unrelated.) CC is fortunate to also have Wales as a member of our board of directors. Without his vision, this unification of free culture licensing would not have been possible.

Here’s to a huge win for Wikipedians, all of free culture, and everyone who made it possible! Already the licensing change is enabling content to flow between Wikipedia and other projects. Will you interoperate? See a post on my personal blog for a long-winded conjecture about long-term impacts of the licensing change.

Finally, note that this is only one instance of the Wikipedia community showing great foresight and leadership. For example, clearly the Wikipedia community’s steadfast commitment to open formats played a major role in giving open video (effectively meaning Theora) a chance for wide adoption, which it now appears on the verge of. Hooray for visionary free culture communities and many wins to come!

Addendum 2009-06-30

Erik Moeller writes on the Wikimedia Foundation blog that the licensing update has been rolled out on all Wikimedia wikis:

Perhaps the most significant reason to choose CC-BY-SA as our primary content license was to be compatible with many of the other admirable endeavors out there to share and develop free knowledge: projects like Citizendium (CC-BY-SA), Google Knol (a mix of CC licenses, including CC-BY and CC-BY-SA), WikiEducator (CC-BY-SA), the Encylcopedia of Earth (CC-BY-SA), the Encyclopedia of the Cosmos (CC-BY-SA), the Encyclopedia of Life (a mix of CC licenses), and many others. These communities have come up with their own rules of engagement, their own models for sharing and aggregating knowledge, but they’re committed to the free dissemination of information. Now this information can flow freely to and from Wikimedia projects, without unnecessary legal boundaries.

This is beginning to happen. A group of English Wikipedia volunteers have created a WikiProject Citizendium Porting, for example, to ensure that high quality information developed by the Citizendium community can be made available through Wikipedia as well, with proper attribution.

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REMINDER: CC Salon NYC / OVC Pre-party is Thursday Night (+music & beer)

Fred Benenson, June 16th, 2009

CC Salon NYC Logo
Open Video Conference

Just a reminder that the Creative Commons Salon NYC / Official Open Video Conference Pre-party is happening Thursday night!

I’m also excited to announce that we’ve added a live acoustic set from CC musician Adam McHeffey (of FrostClick fame) as well as lots of cold beer sponsored by blip.tv!

Here’s all the info:

June’s Salon will feature an in depth chat with Brett Gaylor, writer and director of RiP! A Remix Manifesto, a presentation by Erik Moeller, Deputy Director of the Wikimedia Foundation WMF on Wikipedia’s switch to Creative Commons licenses, and a live acoustic set from singer song writer Adam McHeffey.

Thursday, June 18th, from 7-10pm
For Your Imagination Loft
22 W. 27th St., 6th Floor
Between Broadway & 6th Ave.
New York, NY

We’ll have free (as in beer) beer for the reception afterward. If you’ve didn’t make it to any past CC Salons, don’t miss this one, and if you did, you’ll know to come early as space is limited.

RSVP to the event via Facebook or by e-mailing me: fred [at] creativecommons.org.

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