Commons News

Colombian student Diego Gomez is going to trial for sharing a research article online

Timothy Vollmer, June 29th, 2015

Last year several organizations highlighted the situation of Colombian graduate student Diego Gomez, who had a criminal complaint filed against him for sharing a research article online. Gomez is a student in conservation and wildlife management, and for the most part has poor access to many of the resources and databases that would help him conduct his research. He shared an academic paper on Scribd so that he and others could access it for their work. If convicted, Diego could face a prison term of 4-8 years. Gomez will appear in court on June 30.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sums up Diego’s situation well:

He posted the paper online because he was excited that he found it, because he wanted to share that knowledge with others who shared his passion. Copyright should not turn students like Gomez into criminals for reveling in their quest for knowledge nor for helping others to do the same.

As Gomez goes to trial this week, we must ask again: why are we prosecuting students for sharing knowledge? We know that this type of draconian leveraging of copyright law is not uncommon. From suing a student for downloading scholarly journal articles to issuing a takedown of a dancing baby video to pushing through secret international trade agreements that will extend the term of copyright and harm the public and the commons, large rights holders organizations continue to wield copyright law to punish those who attempt to do what comes naturally for them–sharing.

At the same time, with the dedicated work of individuals and organizations advocating for a sensible balance to copyright, there is hope that laws, regulations, and norms can be changed to support users and the public interest. For example, universities are adopting open access policies that preserve and make accessible the research of their faculty. The copyright reform debate in Europe has finally dropped a potentially dangerous provision that would have permitted rights holders to control how linking operates on the web. And WIPO adopted a treaty to increase global access to copyright-protected materials for the blind and visually impaired.

You can read what Diego has to say about his upcoming trial at Fundación Karisma. Fundación Karisma is the Colombian digital rights advocacy organization that is providing legal support to Gomez. And you can take action now to support Diego by signing the global declaration promoting open access to research.

diego_gomez-600
Image by EFF / CC BY.

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Ukrainian translation of : CC 4.0

Gwen Franck, June 24th, 2015

Congratulations to Creative Commons Ukraine on the completion of the Ukrainian translation of the CC 4.0 license suite!
After a draft stage and a public consultation phase, involving legal practitioners and IP experts, the licenses are published today, on June 23.

Read More…

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Global Summit Call for Participation and Proposals – Now Open

Paul Stacey, June 18th, 2015

The Creative Commons Global Summit takes place every two years bringing together our global affiliate network along with partners, activists, and collaborators in the open movement to celebrate and advance the Commons.

We’re pleased to announce the Call for Participation and Proposals for this year’s Global Summit in Seoul, South Korea, October 15-17 2015, is now open.

Seoul, South Korea
Seoul, South Korea by Doug Sun Beams CC BY

Proposals for talks, workshops, hackathons, panels, presentations, performances, showcases and other activities are welcome.

A logo competition for the Global Summit is also underway.
Registration is open and opportunities for scholarships to cover travel and accomodation costs available.

Submit your proposal now and join us in celebrating, working on, and building the future of the Commons.

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Why CC is making a mobile app

Ryan Merkley, June 11th, 2015

Today we’re pushing the latest beta release of our mobile app, The List powered by Creative Commons. It’s a mobile photography app that invites users to create a list of images they want, or submit photos to help a person or group who created a list. Every image is uploaded to the archive with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence, allowing anyone to use the images so long as they give proper credit to the author.

Our initial build was supported with a prototype grant from the Knight Foundation, which gave us the resources we needed to build a proof of concept. We built a team – from Creative Commons, our technical lead Matt Lee and senior counsel, Sarah Pearson – and Alexandra Bain and the team at Toronto agency Playground. We learned a lot in that process, and have shipped regular releases since then. It’s really starting to look great. We are now working to scope a consumer MVP (minimum viable product – the simplest version of the app that still meets all the core user needs) and to raise funds to bring the app to everyday users as well.

As Clive Thompson wrote in Wired, “only you can overthrow the tyranny of stock photos”. The commons is a collective creation, and we see the opportunity to create a dynamic and vibrant pool of available images from people who want to share – and to directly connect photographers and those who want images they can build upon. In the article, Thompson encouraged us to share our images with CC licenses. That will get us part of the way – but we need to be able to ask for what we want, and help users submit what’s needed. And the process needs to be engaging, fun, and rewarding.

When I read Thompson’s article, I was inspired to create The List. We see opportunities to use The List to enhance the content on platforms like Wikipedia, to share images for open journalism, to collaborate to build open textbooks, or to document observations in citizen science. And we know that users will come up with many more ideas of their own.

Why should CC build a mobile app? There are a few answers to that question:

  1. Most importantly, we believe there’s a need for the app, and that it will give value to those who use it, and those who use the images.
  2. Making it easier to contribute to the commons is one of our strategic goals, not only because it creates a better archive of resources to use and re-use, but also because each contribution deepens the investment and value of the commons. It grows the movement.
  3. We see an opportunity to pilot new approaches to CC, including one-click attribution, embedded licensing, content analytics, and more.
  4. The web is going mobile, and CC has to understand how that will impact what we do. Building on the platform is one great way to work through the issues and challenges, while supporting our partner platforms who are asking us for advice on issues they’re facing, like attribution on mobile.

We’re very grateful for the early support we received from Knight, and we’re optimistic that we can raise the funds necessary to develop the app and bring it to a mainstream audience. For now, I encourage you to try the latest build on your Android phone or tablet, give us your feedback ideas and suggestions, or even contribute some code.

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New affiliate chapters in Latin America

Carolina Botero, June 9th, 2015

We are glad to announce that during the last months the Latin American affiliates have 3 new affiliate chapters in the Creative Commons family. The CC teams of El Salvador, Paraguay and Uruguay signed their MoUs and are now officially in.

In El Salvador the affiliate institution is AccesArte, a NGO that seeks to promote the role of culture in the process of human development. The team is supported also by other NGOs related to culture, technology and education and by several individuals from cultural and technological background, lawyers, librarians and many others that share their interest in the access to knowledge and free culture ideas. The new public leaders are Claudia Cristiani -she works preserving cultural heritage and is the Director at AccesArte- and Evelyn Del Pinal, long time free culture advocate and one of the people responsible for Wiki Loves Monuments in El Salvador.

In Paraguay the CC affiliate institution is TEDIC, a multidisciplinary non-profit organization that brings together lawyers, journalists, political specialists, sociologists, Web developers and graphic designers. The organization aims to promote civic initiatives in education, communications, technology, development and research. CC Paraguay leaders are Maricarmen Sequera, Luis Alonzo Fulchi and Cilia Romero.

The working group of CC Uruguay began working to form the Uruguayan chapter in early 2013. The multidisciplinary team includes artists, educators, librarians, sociologists, cultural managers, programmers and lawyers. The team members have been heavily involved with the communities of authors, with cultural and educational institutions and also with government (Ministeries, Parliament) in order to promote the use of free licenses, copyright reform, open educational resources, the socialization of common cultural heritage and the digitization of public domain. The team is supported by a large group of volunteers and by the Uruguayan Librarians Association (Asociación de Bibliotecólogos del Uruguay), which was established as the affiliate institution in late 2014.

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Creative Commons France experiments with Ascribe to support copyleft through the Blockchain

Jessica Coates, June 5th, 2015

cc-ascribe

Guestpost by Primavera De Filippi (CC France)

Creative Commons France inaugurated the launch of the new website with a new tool that unlocks the value of the bitcoin blockchain for the benefit of the Free Culture movement. Ascribe enables creators to share their CC-licensed work without worry of loss of attribution.

Over ten years ago, Creative Commons revolutionized online artistic practices via licenses that promote attribution, free reproduction and dissemination of content, rather than focusing on scarcity and exclusivity. Today, hundreds of millions of works are licensed under these licenses.

Ascribe started in 2014 to help creators secure their intellectual property, with the help of the blockchain. It works with any type of licenses, including the Creative Commons licenses. Creators can ascribe CC-licensed works to the blockchain with the following simple process:

  • Go to cc.ascribe.io
  • Upload the work and enter all relevant metadata: title, author and year
  • Choose your CC license; and click “register”
  • The service will register and time-stamp the file on the blockchain — along with the terms and conditions of the selected license— and store it securely on a decentralized datastore. works for documents, images, text, and more – basically any digital file. This is possible because the time-stamping step (“hashing”) is independent of the file format.

    Creators can then benefit from the following advantages:

  • Secure attribution and simple verification: by registering the work on the blockchain, creators can easily communicate (and prove) the paternity of their works, as well as the terms and conditions under which they have been released.
  • Better accessibility: the works registered on the Ascribe platform will be stored in a peer-to-peer network (similar to BitTorrent) in a secure and decentralized manner.
  • Tracking usages:creators will obtain a unique ID for every work registered on the blockchain. The ID is actually an address on the blockchain which allows for people to track all usage of the work on blockchain explorers.
  • Share works easily: a single public url is created for each work, with the public address of the work, a link to download the work, the terms and conditions of the CC license, and all relevant metadata (title, creator, year)
  • Trent McConaghy, co-founder and CTO of Ascribe:

    “We love Creative Commons. The organisation has been a driving force to promote the dissemination of knowledge and content on the internet for over than a decade. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Creative Commons France, to help new authors and artists discover the new opportunities provided by blockchain technologies. This is just the start of what we hope will be a fruitful long-term relationship, to the benefit of the Free Culture movement worldwide.”

    Image credits: Harm van den Dorpel “OVERDRAWN INHERITANCE”, available under a CC BY-NC-ND license on https://cc.ascribe.io/piece/1JxsjgVpfRcV54DRmAzpnjPQEdQME6qX7b/

    Post uploaded by Gwen Franck, Regional Coordinator Europe.

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    Announcing the Open Policy Network grant-funded projects

    Timothy Vollmer, June 4th, 2015

    Last year Creative Commons and a global coalition of organizations launched the Open Policy Network in order to support the creation, adoption, and implementation of policies that require that publicly funded resources are openly licensed resources. When open licenses are required for publicly funded resources, there is the potential to massively increase access to and re-use of a wide range of materials, from educational content like digital textbooks, to the results of scholarly research, to valuable public sector data.

    The Network has expanded to include over 50 organizations. During the planning of the Open Policy Network, we identified a set of activities to work on in order to educate about and advance the adoption of global open licensing policies. Over the last few months Creative Commons was pleased to secure funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to provide modest grants to Open Policy Network members to work on these timely and important action areas. We solicited applications from interested organizations and ran a competitive funding process. We’re happy to announce the winners of the project grant funds, and we look forward to working with Open Policy Network members as they engage in these initiatives.

    Openness Guides for OER and open policy (Centrum Cyfrowe)

    This project will create guides that extend upon the existing “How Open Is it?” project originally developed for open access articles by the Public Library of Science (PLOS) in 2013. This guide is seen as an important educational tool for the open access community – including publishers and authors – which provides some nuance around a spectrum of openness and shows a roadmap to becoming “more open.” We see these guides being used in practice as something governments and advocates can use to advocate for open policies.

    Model open policies and advocacy / implementation resources (CC South Africa/re:share/Kelsey Wiens)

    This project will create and distribute model open policy resources, a task central to the mission of the Open Policy Network. Model resources may include:  model open policy language (sections and entire open education, research, and data policies); open policy implementation kits with slides and talking points; communications: media / public relations resources, case studies about open policies; research: evaluating existing open policies and writing open policy briefs. The majority of these resources will be targeted for policy making audiences (e.g. legislators, regulators, etc.), but there will also be a subset of meta-materials that provides some advice and recommendations for advocates in how to best work with policymakers around these issues

    Annual reports on the “state of open policy” (Consortia of Centrum Cyfrowe, CC South Africa/re:share, Karisma Foundation, SPARC, CommonSphere, AusGOAL)

    This project will develop, research, and produce a yearly “state-of-play” report on open policy around the world. The reports will document major open policy adoptions and updates tracked via the Policy Registry, and discuss future areas for intervention. The reports will leverage Open Policy Network members to collect and package an in depth (with useful graphs and analysis) report on the latest updates in open policy around the world covering: education (OER), research (OA), and open data. This report will be a way of measuring nations, provinces/states, and institutions commitments to open policy; and a tool to recruit new open policy advocates and generate interest in governments, foundations, and other funders.

    Open Government Partnership (SPARC)

    This project will examine the current state of the Open Government Partnership commitments and match member countries with relevant OER projects and individuals in country. Momentum for this idea is already building in a number of countries, including the United States, Slovakia, South Africa, Tunisia, and Sierra Leone, and Romania. The initiative will work to include OER and open policy in updated Open Government Partnership plans through education and outreach.

    If you’re interested in having your organization join the Open Policy Network, check out our website, Google Group, and follow us on Twitter.

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    edX makes it easy for authors to share under Creative Commons

    Cable Green, June 2nd, 2015

    EDX_logo

    edX has added the ability for authors to apply a Creative Commons (CC) license to their courses and videos on its platform. More than 50 academic institutions, including MIT and Harvard, use edX to offer free courses that anyone in the world can join. Now, authors at these institutions and elsewhere may license their courses for free and open reuse directly on the edX platform.

    edx snedX license chooser. edX has also developed this step-by-step guide for course authors and a learners guide on adding CC licenses to courses and videos.

    With the addition of the CC license suite, edX joins the global Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. The CC licenses make education content accessible and expand opportunities for innovation by providing everyone with the legal permissions to reuse, revise, remix, redistribute and retain educational resources.

    Since massive open online courses (MOOCs) were first launched, CC has advocated that MOOCs have both open admission (in the classic Open University tradition) and provide authors the option to share their content as OER under Creative Commons licenses.

    edX’s addition of the CC license suite is the result of demands for CC licensing options in edX from many schools and partner Universities who were already sharing their content under CC on other platforms. Special thanks goes to the Open Education Consortium’s OECx partners who pushed edX to add CC to the platform for their courses.

    The Delft University of Technology played a major role in this work. During Open Education Week 2014, Willem van Valkenburg of TU Delft organized an Open.EdX hackathon to create a CC license plugin for edX. The winning plugin — developed by FeedbackFruits — made it simple to add a CC license to an edX course.

    “TU Delft is all about open, so openMOOCs is what we prefer. Thanks to FeedbackFruits we can now publish our courses with a Creative Commons license.” — Willem van Valkenburg

    Congratulations to edX for its leadership in furthering the Commons. We hope Coursera, FutureLearn, and other education platforms will follow edX’s lead and offer the CC license suite for their authors and academic partners.

    edX joins CC’s new Platform Initiative, which works to create easy, clear, and enjoyable ways for users to contribute to the commons on community-driven content platforms. If you are a platform that would like to join this movement for the commons, please get in touch!

    See edX’s post.

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    Join us in Seoul, South Korea – Oct 15-17, 2015

    Ryan Merkley, June 1st, 2015

    Registration is now open for Creative Commons’ Global Summit. Space is limited, so please sign up today to be part of an international event celebrating the Commons, our affiliates, partners and collaborators in the open movement, and the 10th anniversary of CC Korea!

    The conference runs from Thursday Oct. 15 to Saturday Oct. 17, 2015.

    CC Korea Team

    We will be celebrating 10 years of CC Korea at the summit!

    This year, we are expanding our call to include organizations and individuals who want to work with us on shared projects that advance the cause of the Commons, free culture and open knowledge. I’m confident that a “bigger tent” strategy will help strengthen CC and grow our community globally.

    So if you’re active and engaged in the worlds of open content and knowledge — free software and free culture advocates, Wikipedians, Open Knowledge, galleries, libraries, museums, archives, governments and foundations, lawyers, and activists — we hope you’ll join us this year to build a stronger, more vibrant commons together.

    If you want to help us shape the conference program, there will be a public call for submissions soon. We look forward to your ideas — even better, we hope you’ll come and work with us in Seoul.

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    Happy Birthday to friend and ally Bassel Safadi

    Timothy Vollmer, May 22nd, 2015

    Bassel Safadi
    Bassel Safadi / Christopher Adams / CC BY

    Bassel Khartabil (also known as Bassel Safadi) is a computer engineer who, through his dedicated work in social media, digital education, and open-source web software, played a huge role in opening the Internet in Syria and bringing online access and knowledge to the Syrian people. Many people reading this blog know Bassel through his leadership for the Creative Commons Syria affiliate team. You’ll also know that Bassel has been imprisoned by the Syrian government at Adra Prison since 15 March 2012–over 1100 days without any charges being brought against him.

    Today is Bassel’s 34th birthday, the fourth birthday he’s spent in detainment. Creative Commons and the open community honor Bassel and continue to advocate for his immediate release from prison in Damascus.

    You can wish Bassel a Happy Birthday and share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #freebassel. For more information check out http://freebassel.org/.

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