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.No Comments »
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 »