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.No Comments »
It is one thing for the relatively nascent Wikipedia to embrace free culture as a way to create and share new cultural works, but it is another thing for established media players constrained by traditional markets and economic forces to embrace free culture.
Despite this, it is becoming less difficult to convince incumbent mainstream press and media to fully embrace the inevitability and ubiquity of free culture and there are a few key strategies that are emerging. Perhaps the most obvious lies in the the numerous cases of journalists using Creative Commons licensed photography to illustrate their articles. Faced with the complexities and cost of securing private digital licenses from stock agencies like Getty or Corbis, journalists and bloggers have discovered that eliminating those transaction costs (fiscal and otherwise) through the use of CC licensed photos can substantially increase the quality of their posts.
Some recent exciting examples include two New Yorker posts, one onliterary Halloween costumes and another on Obama’s victory; the LA Times featuring a flickr user’s photo of ex-Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin; and the New York Times’ Polling Place Photo Project which we’ve blogged about several times.
If you’re not already using CC licensed material in your posts and digital media, these examples should give you another reason to consider the choice.3 Comments »
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.1 Comment »
After the fantastic success of Wikipedia Takes Manhattan, Wikipedia, The Open Planning Project, Free Culture @ Columbia, Free Culture @ NYU and Creative Commons have all teamed up to organize another free culture photo scavenger hunt hunt for this Saturday, September 27th!
This time we’ve really stepped up the awards. The grand prize for the team with the most photos is now a dinner with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia and CC board member, at the fantastic Pure Food & Wine restaurant in downtown Manhattan.
The photos will go directly into Wikimedia Commons and the Livable Streets Streetswiki and all photos will be released under our Attribution-ShareAlike license to allow for easy remixing and reuse in any future projects.
The day starts at 1pm and ends with a party after sunset. Register now and we’ll see you on Saturday!No Comments »
The most frequently used audio and video formats on the web are not open (they’re software patent encumbered), which has hindered the development of free and open source media tools. Open audio and video formats face a tough chicken and egg problem: not interesting to publishers if not supported in software, and not interesting to software developers if not much published open format audio and video.
Wikipedia and its media repository, Wikimedia Commons, have long been an important piece in this adoption puzzle. Along with only accepting liberal copyright licensing, they accept only free file formats.
Late July the Wikimedia Blog featured two hopeful items regarding open media formats. Both are still developing and well worth checking out despite this late posting.
First, an announcement that MetaVid lead developer Michael Dale has been hired by the Wikimedia Foundation:
As many of you may know, Wikimedia is working with Kaltura, Inc. to explore collaborative video editing in the Wikimedia projects. I’m very happy to announce that Kaltura has decided to support the further development of a 100% open source video editing solution integrated into MediaWiki. To this end, Kaltura is sponsoring Michael Dale, lead developer of the MetaVid project, to work in the Wikimedia Foundation offices in San Francisco beginning in early August.
Michael will work on adding support for video editing operations and other video-related functionality to MediaWiki, with a rich user interface built entirely on open standards like Ogg Theora. Michael’s work priorities will be coordinated between Kaltura and WMF. I am hoping that we can make incremental improvements to Wikimedia’s video capabilities that will start to become visible to users soon.
This is really excellent news. MetaVid impressed when presented at a CC Salon two years ago.No Comments »
As opposed to a normal wiki where text is “flat”, the text and data inside a SMW can be structured in sophisticated ways that allow for meaningful querying of knowledge statements of the corpus. To give a more concrete example, a list of United States Vice Presidents by longevity must be maintained by humans on Wikipedia, whereas a similar list can be automatically generated via a query inside a semantic media wiki (supposing there are pages about the presidents in the first place). Or in the case of Creative Commons’ wiki, we use SMW to store information about case studies, which can then be recalled in interesting ways, such as listing all Creative Commons licensed projects that use text and are based in Australia. You can see the exact query used to generate that list by clicking “edit query” on the page. Try changing the country to something else to get a feel for how the search works.
One final aspect about SMW that makes it relevant to CC’s work is that it automatically creates RDF (the language of the semantic web) statements about pages. This gives any semantic media wiki a machine-readable output that allows for easy parsing by machines.
Sound familliar? That’s because Creative Commons encourages the use of RDFa to express license information about objects in webpages. RDFa is meant to be the “human readable” version of RDF which also contains machine readable statements. Think of it as extra-fancy XHTML with semantic sparkle dust.
Despite some real leaps in user-interface design for SMWs, editing and querying them remains a little confusing. Yaron Koren, the developer behind the essential Semantic Forms extension, has created a “quick reference guide” that he’s released under Creative Commons’ Attribution license.No Comments »