Commons News

“Why Open?” course now open for sign-up

Jane Park, July 22nd, 2014

Project 365 #303: 301009 Blink And You'll Miss It!
Project 365 #303: 301009 Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY

Another run of School of Open courses is starting up in August, September and October! The first course to kick things off is a second iteration of “Why Open?” “Why Open?” was collaboratively developed and facilitated one year ago in August 2013; now the facilitators are back to run it a second time from 10 August to 5 September 2014. What is “Why Open?” From its About page,

Why Open? What does open mean? Does it mean free? Does it mean without restriction? What is the role of the producer? What is the role of the consumer? Why is open important? How does open relate to you and your area of expertise?

In this course, we will discuss and answer these questions. With your help, we will explore the different meanings of open in various contexts as well as its benefits and issues. Participants will use open practices to complete a series of open activities that builds into a final project.

Facilitators include Christina Hendricks (Philosophy lecturer at the University of British Columbia), Simeon Oriko (School of Open Kenya Initiative), Jeanette Lee (English lit and writing teacher), and myself.

Read more about the course over at the School of Open blog.

Sign-up is open now through 10 August; to join, simply click the ‘Start Course’ button on the lower left of the course page.

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Wattpad upgrades to Version 4.0 of CC licenses

Elliot Harmon, July 21st, 2014

Fiction-writing community Wattpad has upgraded to the Creative Commons Version 4.0 licenses and unveiled several improvements to its CC implementation. As of today, there are 300,000 CC-licensed stories on Wattpad, making this one of the largest adoptions of Version 4.0 to date.

From the press release: (72 KB PDF)

“The biggest question facing new writers today isn’t how to protect their work; it’s how to find a readership for it, said Cory Doctorow, science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger. “It makes complete sense that so many Wattpad writers are gravitating toward Creative Commons licenses: by giving others permission to share your writing, you can open doors to new audiences and new creative opportunities.” Cory Doctorow has shared five stories on Wattpad under CC licenses, including New York Times best-selling novels Homeland and Little Brother. Today, to coincide with the roll out of CC 4.0, he will share his first novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom on Wattpad.

“All knowledge and culture owes something to what came before it – it’s this public commons of ideas that forms the foundation of our society,” said Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley. “I’m excited that the Wattpad community will have Creative Commons’ simple, free tools to share their work, to re-use the works of others, and to contribute to the global creative community.”

Read the full press release and find more information in Wattpad’s announcement. Congratulations to Wattpad and its community of 30 million writers and readers!

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School of Open’s CC4Kids at the Code4CT Maker Party

Kelsey Wiens, July 18th, 2014

Code4CT girls with cc4kids certificates
Code4CT girls with cc4kids certificates / Kelsey Wiens / CC BY

#Code4CT is a three-week training program from Innovate South Africa with twenty-four grade 10 and 11 girls from Centre for Science and Technology (COSAT) in Khayelitsha (Cape Town, South Africa). The three-week course consists of sessions on how the web works and actively participating in building web content. Running over the girls winter school break, they learn about the design process, HTML and CSS programming languages – skills they use to build WordPress sites for their clients. The girls then take their new skills and create mobile sites for local community organizations to benefit their communities.

We were lucky enough to be invited with Obami (learning platform) to test out the School of Open CC4Kids program. The program was funded through a Creative Commons Affiliate Project Grant. We have run the course through a self-study platform but this was the first time running it in real life. We were inspired by how quickly the girls took to the course content. The course’s modules focus on basics of Copyright and CC licenses – by the end of the hour, the girls were creating their own CC licensed material!

It was an inspiring day. A highlight of the day was the girls remixing the Pharrell Williams dance steps from “Happy” as a remix exercise Hack the Happy Dance. We are also attending their “pitch” sessions today to see what mobile apps they designed.

Thanks to Code4CT and Mozilla for the opportunity to be part of Maker Party! And stay tuned for more Maker Parties to be hosted by us and other CC/School of Open volunteers as part of the School of Open Africa Launch in August and September.


About Maker Party

School of Open and Creative Commons is excited to be partnering with Mozilla to celebrate teaching and learning the web with Maker Party. Through thousands of community-run events around the world, Maker Party unites educators, organizations and enthusiastic Internet users of all ages and skill levels.

We share Mozilla’s belief that the web is a global public resource that’s integral to modern life: it shapes how we learn, how we connect and how we communicate. But many of us don’t understand its basic mechanics or what it means to be a citizen of the web. That’s why we’re supporting this global effort to teach web literacy through hands-on learning and making with Maker Party.

About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community for developing and running free online courses.

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European Commission endorses CC licenses as best practice for public sector content and data

Timothy Vollmer, July 17th, 2014

Today the European Commission released licensing recommendations to support the reuse of public sector information in Europe. In addition to providing guidance on baseline license principles for public sector content and data, the guidelines suggest that Member States should adopt standardized open licenses – such as Creative Commons licenses:

Several licences that comply with the principles of ‘openness’ described by the Open Knowledge Foundation to promote unrestricted re-use of online content, are available on the web. They have been translated into many languages, centrally updated and already used extensively worldwide. Open standard licences, for example the most recent Creative Commons (CC) licences (version 4.0), could allow the re-use of PSI without the need to develop and update custom-made licences at national or sub-national level. Of these, the CC0 public domain dedication is of particular interest. As a legal tool that allows waiving copyright and database rights on PSI, it ensures full flexibility for re-users and reduces the complications associated with handling numerous licences, with possibly conflicting provisions.

The Commission’s recommendations warn against the the development of customized licenses, which could break interoperability of public sector information across the EU. The guidelines clearly state that license conditions should be standardized and contain minimal requirements (such as attribution-only).

In order to proactively promote the re-use of the licenced material, it is advisable that the licensor grants worldwide (to the extent allowed under national law), perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable (to the extent allowed under national law) and non-exclusive rights to use the information covered by the licence… it is advisable that [licenses] cover attribution requirements only, as any other obligations may limit licensees’ creativity or economic activity, thereby affecting the re-use potential of the documents in question.

This is a welcome outcome that will hopefully provide a clear path for data providers and re-users. It’s great to see this endorsement after our efforts alongside our affiliate network to advocate for clear best practices in sharing of content and data. The recommendation benefits from CC’s free international 4.0 licenses, saving governments time and money, and maximizing compatibility and reuse.

Kudos to the Commission and the assistance provided by LAPSI, Open Knowledge, and others.

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Michael Carroll to Congress: “Copyrights have to expire.”

Elliot Harmon, July 17th, 2014

This week, Creative Commons US lead and CC board member Michael Carroll addressed the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. In his address, he emphasized that the success of Creative Commons tools doesn’t eliminate the need for copyright reform; it underscores it. He also laid out the case for why Congress should not extend copyright terms again.

Congress, copyrights have to expire. The constitution says so.

Congress’ power to grant the exclusive right to authors in their writings is for a limited time. That limited time currently lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. From an economic perspective, to promote the progress of science means to provide a sufficient incentive for both the creator and the investors in the creative process to make a fair return on that investment. Life plus 70 is far longer than necessary to achieve that goal.

Professor Carroll’s testimony begins at 1:30:

Professor Carroll asked Congress to consider a move to the way copyright law in the US functioned prior to the Copyright Act of 1976, which went into effect in 1978. The pre-1978 system offered creators an initial term of 28 years and an option to opt in to a second 28-year term. You can read Professor Carroll’s written testimony on the Creative Commons US blog.

Correction: This post previously referred to the Copyright Act of 1976 as the Copyright Act of 1978. The Act passed in 1976 and went into effect on January 1, 1978.

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WikiProject Open Barn Raising this Saturday

Jane Park, July 16th, 2014

WikiProject Open is an online School of Open training program for new and seasoned Wikipedia volunteers to collaborate on improving Wikipedia articles related to openness. The aim of the project is two-fold: in addition to improving Wikipedia articles related to openness (such as open access publishing and open educational resources), volunteers seek to improve Wikimedia content generally with the aid of openly licensed materials.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-54440-0001_Altgolßen_Bau_eines_Stalls_für_LPG_cropped
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-54440-0001 / CC BY-SA

This Saturday, WikiProject Open’s Pete Forsyth and Sara Frank Bristow invite you to join their Barn Raising event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time, at the Oakland Impact Hub on 2323 Broadway, Oakland, California. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. You can also join the event online. Sara says:

“At the Barn Raising, we will focus on high priority Wikipedia articles: articles that are widely read, but that — despite ongoing efforts — remain poorly sourced, incomplete, or out of date. (In the wiki world, we often borrow the term “Barn Raising” to evoke the idea of a community coming together to build something substantial in a short time. It’s been described as a way to “make the impossible possible.”)

This event is open to all! Our goal is to make significant improvements to OER related articles; so those who are brand new to Wikipedia and/or open education might want to take a little time to prepare. We will send out helpful resources for beginners as the date gets closer.”

Register here.
Visit the wiki page here.

And read more about School of Open training programs here!


About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community for developing and running free online courses.

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CC Signs Bouchout Declaration for Open Biodiversity

Puneet Kishor, July 11th, 2014

Bouchout CC stampCC is supporting the Bouchout Declration for Open Biodiversity Knowledge Management by becoming a signatory. The Declaration’s objective is to help make biodiversity data openly available to everyone around the world. It offers the biodiversity community a way to demonstrate their commitment to open science, one of the fundamental components of CC’s vision for an open and participatory internet.

In April 2013 CC participated in a workshop on Names attribution, rights, and licensing convened by the Global Names Project which led to a report titled Scientific names of organisms: attribution, rights, and licensing that concluded:

“There are no copyright impediments to the sharing of names and related data. The system must reward those who make the contributions upon which we rely. Building an attribution system remains one of the more urgent challenges that we need to address together.”

Many of the attendees of the workshop and of the report cited above are among those who met in June in Meise, Belgium and released the Bouchout Declaration.

Donat Agosti Bouchout Declaration

Donat Agosti introducing the Bouchout Declaration at the OpenDataWeek, RMLL, Miontpellier, France, July 11, 2014. Photo by P. Kishor released under CC0 Public Domain Dedication

The declaration calls for free and open use of digital resources about biodiversity and associated access services and exhorts the use of licenses or waivers that grant or allow all users a free, irrevocable, world-wide, right to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly as well as to build on the work and to make derivative works, subject to proper attribution consistent with community practices, while recognizing that providers may develop commercial products with more restrictive licensing. This is not only aligned with the vision of CC itself, CC is also the creator and steward of the legal and technical infrastructure that allows open licensing of content.

Phylogeny viewer

Screenshot of phylogeny from PhyLoTA as displayed in BioNames. The user can zoom in and out and pan, as well as change the layout of the tree from BioNames: linking taxonomy, texts, and trees by Roderick D. M. Page used under a CC BY License.

The declaration also promotes Tracking the use of identifiers in links and citations to ensure that sources and suppliers of data are assigned credit for their contributions and Persistent identifiers for data objects and physical objects such as specimens, images and taxonomic treatments with standard mechanisms to take users directly to content and data. CC has participated from the beginning in the activities that led to the Joint Declaration of the Data Citation Principles and that promotes the use of persistent identifiers to allow discovery and attribution of resources.

Finally, the declaration calls for Policy developments that will foster free and open access to biodiversity data. CC works assiduously on creating, fostering, nurturing and assisting in the promulgation of open policies and practices that advance the public good by supporting open policy advocates, organizations and policy makers.

We have a few concerns: most copyright laws around the world treat data as not protected by copyright, thus would not require licensing. We are also aware that some cultures wish to preserve and protect traditional knowledge, so we want to make sure information is released by only those who have the right to do so without impinging on the rights of such segments that might otherwise be negatively affected by its release. However, overall we believe that open biodiversity information is crucial for science and society. Mancos in the App Store Be it heralding the Seeds of Change, participating in the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), or assisting the Paleobiology Database to move to CC BY license, CC is playing a vital role in the progress of open science in the areas of biodiversity and natural resources. CC has committed to assisting organizations joining Google in the White House Climate Data Initiative. On a personal front I have released the entire codebase of Earth-Base under the CC0 Public Domain Dedication making possible applications such as Mancos on the iOS App Store.

bouchout_signatories

Bouchout Signatories. Image by Plazi released under a CC0 Public Domain Dedication

Most of the world’s biodiversity is in developing countries, and ironically, most of biodiversity information and collections are in developed countries. Agosti calls this, “Biopiracy: taking biodiversity material from the developing world for profit, without sharing benefit or providing the people who live there with access to this crucial information.” (Agosti, D. 2006. Biodiversity data are out of local taxonomists’ reach. Nature 439, 392) Opening up the data will benefit the developing counties by giving them free and easy access to information about their own biological riches. Friction-free access to and reuse of data, software and APIs is essential to answering pressing questions about biodiversity and furthering the move to better understanding and stewarding our planet and its resources. Signing the Bouchout Declaration strengthens this movement.

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CC Welcomes New Teams in India, Mongolia and Bangladesh

Jessica Coates, July 10th, 2014

CC is very proud to announce three additions to its Asia-Pacific community – two new affiliate teams in Mongolia and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and a revitalised team in the Republic of India. This boosts our Asia-Pacific community to 16 members and adds a great deal of valuable expertise to our affiliate network.

Rajshahi / Bangladesh / 2012

Rakib Hasan Sumon / CC BY

The first of these new groups to join us was CC India, which had its re-launch in November 2013. CC has had affiliate representation in India previously; however, the new team represents a substantial expansion of our Indian community following many years of networking and outreach by key people locally and internationally. It brings together three groups each of whom are already lead advocates for open culture and its benefits in India – the Centre for Internet and Society, based in Bangalore, will be be providing legal expertise; Acharya Narendra Dev College, who will take the lead in Open Education Resources; and Wikimedia India, who will focus on social outreach and community development. Each group contributes its own lead to help manage the governance of the team – Dr. Savithri Singh (Public Lead, Acharya Narendra Dev College), Sowmyan Tirumurti (Public Lead, Wikimedia India), Pranav Curumsey (Public Lead, Wikimedia India), Pranesh Prakash (Legal Lead, The Centre for Internet & Society). This new team has achieved a great deal over the past year, including workshops, translations and a collaborative competition for their own logo.

Mongolia - Mongolei

alles-schlumpf / CC BY-NC-SA

The next to arrive on the scene was CC Mongolia. Based out of the New Policy Institute’s DREAM IT and the Open Network for Education, ONE Mongolia, this team began to self-organise through a series of seminars designed to spur open culture in Mongolia, including a workshop lead by CC’s then Regional Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific, Chiaki Hayashi. Spurred by the energy from these events, as well as the success of the 2012 UNESCO OER Declaration, a team formalised late last year with leads drawn from across several organisations: Mr.Z.Batbold (Executive Director, New Policy Institute), Dr.D.Enkhbat (Public Lead), Ms.D.Nergui (Legal Lead), Ms.Baasansuren Burmaa (Technology Lead), and Dr. N.Norjhorloo (Community building in civil society). Following on from the founding workshops, they have begun their first project releasing open material through ONE Academy.

Life

Nasir Khan / CC BY-SA

Last but not least, the very newest members of the CC family are CC Bangladesh. Once again, this team grew out of an enthusiastic group of people who were already working to encourage the adoption of open principles in Bangladesh, in this case the Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN), which has been operating locally since 2005. The team will be led by Nasir Khan Saikat (Public Lead) and Munir Hasan (Lead, (BdOSN). Their goal is to create a broad organization where the open source and open content communities can exchange ideas and embark on new initiatives designed to raise awareness and encourage people to share information and resources.

Both CC Mongolia and CC Bangladesh plan to hold formal launch events later this year.

We welcome these new members of our community, and will seek to assist them in any way we can to achieve their goals. We look forward to great things from these already very active and experienced teams. Welcome to the family!

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An Open Letter to TPP Negotiators: Copyright Term Extension Makes No Sense

Ryan Merkley, July 9th, 2014

Today, Creative Commons and over 35 other organizations published an open letter urging negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to rescind a proposal to extend copyright terms by another 20 years beyond its current, mandatory term.

This week, 12 Pacific rim countries are meeting in Ottawa, Canada, to continue secret negotiations of the widely criticized TPP trade agreement. Under the current TRIPS agreement, signatories are required to enact legislation granting copyright protection to individuals for the life of the author plus another 50 years. TPP negotiators, under the influence of large rights-holding companies, want to add another 20 years to the minimum copyright term.

If adopted, this extension would work to keep creative works out of the public domain for decades beyond the current term. It’s essentially a double-life sentence for all new works. This would be an incredible loss for the commons.

All creativity and knowledge owes something to what came before it – every creator builds on the ideas of their predecessors. Copyright is a limited right that is given to creators, but it also has a term limit to ensure we all benefit from culture and knowledge. Both the rights granted to creators and rights afforded to the public are necessary for a vibrant culture and the proliferation of knowledge. And the “Commons” in Creative Commons starts with the public domain. It’s the original corpus for remix. It’s why we’ve developed tools to better mark and dedicate content to the public domain. Together with hundreds of millions of works whose creators have chosen to share under generous terms of reuse with CC licenses, the commons is growing richer everyday.

Extending the term of copyright will undermine the potential of the public commons and needlessly limit the potential for new creativity. There is no logical reason to increase the term of copyright – an extension would create a tiny private benefit at a great cost to all of us. Most people agree that the existing term already lasts far past the amount of time required to incentivize creation (the original purpose of copyright) by granting creators a limited monopoly over a creative work. Copyright should strike a balance, giving an incentive to create while also giving the public permission to use and build on that creativity. In 2002, CC co-founder Lawrence Lessig argued against an additional 20 years of copyright protection in Eldred v. Ashcroft. Even Milton Friedman opposed the copyright term extension, calling it a “no-brainer.” Nearly all contemporary economists agree.

Increasing the term of copyright protection harms the commons. Any public policy that will further delay their entry into the public domain is contrary to the values we support – realizing the full potential of the Internet through universal access to the creativity that promotes active participation in culture and society.

Participating countries should should reject any measure in the Trans-Pacific Partnership introduced to increase the term of copyright protection. And TPP negotiations should be held in public and with the input of a broad set of stakeholders that include civil society and public interest representatives.

Although the letter has been presented to TPP negotiators today, they will remain open for further signatories to express their support. Interested organizations can endorse the letter here. Everyone can speak out by signing the petition at ourfairdeal.org.

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New report from CC: The future is open

Elliot Harmon, July 2nd, 2014

Today, we’re excited to launch our new annual report, The future is open. In this report, you’ll learn about:

  • Why the 4.0 CC licenses were a truly global effort.
  • The astounding community-building work that CC affiliates are doing all over the world.
  • Our work in open policy and support for global copyright reform.
  • How software developers are using CC licenses to make sharing on the internet easier.
  • The cool things you’re doing with CC licenses.

The report features illustrations by the awesome webcartoonist Luke Surl.

Check it out!

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