2005 December

Get Involved – FreeCulture.org’s NorthEast Regional Summit

Mia Garlick, December 19th, 2005

Freeculture.org are holding their NorthEast Regional Summit on January 13 and 14, 2006, at Columnbia University’s Lerner Hall to encourage cooperation among Free Culture chapter leaders, to promote Free Culture chapter growth, and to create new initiatives on the local and national level. Our Summer ’05 intern – Fred – explains: “If you’re part of the university community in the area and are interested in FreeCulture, this would be a great opportunity to learn more about us and we would love it if you could attend. You’ll get to meet members who have started their own chapters (Swarthmore, NYU, etc) at schools in the region, and also the chance to learn about starting a Free Culture chapter of your own. There will be a lecture given by NYU’s Siva Vaidhyanathan and a demonstration in Times Square, as well as plenty of other events.” More details here.

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CC Response to List Comments re: Proposed FDL “one-way compatibility”

Mia Garlick, December 16th, 2005

A little while ago, CC posted a proposed amendment to the ShareAlike license provisions of CC licenses. The proposed amendment generated a considerable amount of very detailed discussion, debate and analysis on the list — all of which has been tremendously useful to assist in better framing the proposed language and, also, in understanding where the potential difficulties and issues with the proposed amendment may lie.

In an effort to try to respond to large volume of comments, I have attempted to distill the main arguments and concerns (that were not necessarily fully resolved by list members themselves) in a table and then included a specific response to each one that hopefully addresses each of them; this table has now been posted to our cc-licenses list. If there is an argument or concern that you think I have missed, then please let me know so that I can also prepare a response to it as well. Please feel free to comment on these responses by participating in the discussion on our cc-licenses list.

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Kristin Hersh and 50 Foot Wave go CC!

Eric Steuer, December 16th, 2005

50 Foot Wave, the excellent rock group fronted by Kristin Hersh of seminal post-punkers Throwing Muses has announced that its new EP, Free Music is available for — you guessed it — free under a Creative Commons Music Sharing License. Right on, 50 Foot Wave!

With “Free Music” 50FootWave is seeking new earballs. We thought it’d be interesting to ask for your energy & enthusiasm rather than your money and see what happens. To that end, please share this music in any and every way you see fit. Burn CDs, post the mp3s, seed Torrents — whatever’s comfortable for you.


New Featured Commoner – Pamela Jones

Eric Steuer, December 15th, 2005


Pamela Jones is December’s Featured Commoner. Jones is the founder and editor of Groklaw, an award-winning Web site that conducts complex legal research using an approach inspired by open source. What started out as a one-woman operation in 2003 has grown to a full-fledged community with hundreds of contributors and millions of daily visitors. We recently spoke with Jones about her site’s origins and how applying a Creative Commons license to her articles has helped her promote her work. Read our interview here.

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Redhat, Six Apart challenge the community to match their gifts to Creative Commons

Anne ???, December 15th, 2005

Creative Commons is pleased to announce that Six Apart is its newest Challenge Match Sponsor. Six Apart will match dollar for dollar all contributions to Creative Commons Fall Campaign up to $5,000. Join the challenge today and support Creative Commons!

Many thanks to Redhat for completing their Sponsor Challenge Match!

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CC in Review: Lawrence Lessig on CC Tools

Lawrence Lessig, December 14th, 2005

[This email is part of a weekly series written by Lawrence Lessig and others about the history and future of Creative Commons. If you would like to be removed from this list, please click here:
Alternatively, if you know others who might find these interesting, please recommend they sign up at
http://creativecommons.org/about/lessigletter ]

From last week’s email
And stay tuned next week when I’ll turn to some of the particular projects we’re working on right now — as well as ask again for your support.

The story continued
Creative Commons gives away code to offer creators a simple ability – to mark their creative work with the freedoms they want that work to carry. Code – both legal code (licenses) and technical code (software). I’ve spent a long time in these emails talking about the legal code. But most don’t know much about the technical code that we’ve created, even though, imho, it is some of the best stuff we’ve done.

But first, let’s be clear about our objectives here. We’re a small nonprofit. We can’t afford to be in the business of building and maintaining code. So all of our coding projects build code in the best way possible — we seed projects licensed under free software licenses (the GPL, in particular), support them, and hope that ultimately the projects take on a life of their own. We pick projects based on the functionality that we want to be available. Nothing would make us happier than to see the seeds we’ve planted become million dollar businesses for someone else.

The code that we’ve been building — tools, for example, to enable sites like Flickr to integrate our licensing engine into their own platform or the fantastic plug-in for Mozilla-based browsers that enables you to easily view license information about a page including tiny icons that appear on the bottom bar of the browser window.

Instead, the code that is less known is the stuff we’ve built for making the remix Internet easier.

The simplest, and perhaps most obvious, example is ccPublisher. ccPublisher is a desktop application that makes it easy for people to put their creative work — marked with a CC license — on the Internet. Once you install the application, you can simply drag a file to ccPublisher. It will launch a procedure to first ask you to specify a CC license to apply to the content and then upload it to a server.

The server currently specified is the Internet Archive. Internet hero Brewster Kahle has committed to giving anyone who licenses content under a CC license free storage and free bandwidth, forever. So through the Archive you’re given a permanent home for your content as well as a URL that you can give to others. In three simple steps, your work — however large, however difficult to carry — is available to everyone, forever.

We’ve also built a simple validator that one can use for MP3s that are marked with CC-licenses. A license embedded in a file is only valid if there’s a validating link-back to a website. This tool enables you to validate that linkback, to give you more confidence that the license is what it says it is.

But by far, the coolest code we’ve built was inspired by a bunch of MIT undergraduates and made real by the extraordinary musician and coder Victor Stone. We’ve called it ccMixter.

ccMixter is a kind of a “Friendster” for music (though without the commercial side of the real Friendster). You put your tracks in, and as others remix them, the system tracks the remix. So for any song within ccMixter, you can see what songs were mixed to make that song (if any), and what songs have remixed that song (if any). Users can rate songs, download them or stream them or podcast the work they select.

The idea was to build a technical platform for collaboration, built on top of a legal platform for collaboration (the CC licenses). The original content populating ccMixter was the 16 tracks from the Wired CD, including music from Gilberto Gil, the Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Chuck D, and others. There are now more than 1600 tracks on the site.

My favorite story from ccMixter is about one musician who goes by the name “Minus Kelvin.” “Minus Kelvin” is a high school physics teacher. He joined ccMixter in February, 2005. On his profile page, he said he was looking for “A Record Label.” In June, “Minus Kelvin” was signed by a label, who had discovered him on ccMixter. And while there is only one “Minus Kelvin” in the world, there are many stories like his growing out of ccMixter.

We intend to host ccMixter for a while. We’ll be porting it internationally to support iCommons, and in educational contexts as well. But our dream is that someone will simply take the code and turn it into a site with tens of thousands of creators legally re- creating each others’ work. In the mean time, check out http://ccMixter.org. And help support our work to spread it more broadly.

Next week: More new projects. And in the week after that, the last of these emails.

Before I end this email, I want to add a couple corrections to two earlier emails. The reactions I received made it evident that my meaning was not clear.

First, in last week’s email, in describing the battle that broke out between the “free” software and “open source” software movement, I said, “[t]o some, those were battles between a movement that believed in values and a movement that believed in pragmatism.” The qualification “to some” was not clear enough. In my experience, those pushing the open source software movement are among the most principled souls I know. However “some” perceived the battle, in my view the real battle was between two visions of value.

Second, in week two, I said “[l]ike the Free Software Movement, we believed [Creative Commons licenses] would help open a space for creativity freed of much of the burden of copyright law. But unlike the Free Software Movement, our aim was not to eliminate “proprietary culture” as at least some in the Free Software Movement would like to eliminate proprietary software.” Some read this to mean that I believed the Free Software Movement wanted to eliminate “proprietary culture.” I don’t mean that. I mean simply that while many of the leaders of the Free Software Movement would like a world where there is no proprietary software, leaders of the Free Culture Movement don’t seek a world where there is no proprietary culture.

News from the fundraising front:

Finally, a bit about the fundraising. We are closing in on our goal, but with only three weeks left, there is lots to be done. We are especially grateful to RedHat and Six Apart for their challenge grants. A couple more partners like these two and we’ll be certain to reach our goal.



Mike Linksvayer, December 14th, 2005

Science Commons announced the NeuroCommons project with generous support from Teranode to build the “first neurology repository for the Semantic Web.”

See commentary at eWeek (New Brain Trust to Work Like the Web) and from Andrew Newman (Model Driven, Semantic Web Enabled, Science Commons).

Subscribe to the Science Commons weblog feed.

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CC Talks With: Groklaw’s Pamela Jones

Eric Steuer, December 14th, 2005

Pamela Jones is the founder and editor of Groklaw, an award-winning Web site that conducts complex legal research using an approach inspired by open source. What started out as a one-woman operation in 2003 has grown to a full-fledged community with hundreds of contributors and millions of daily visitors. Focused primarily on issues that concern the FOSS community, Groklaw has become a must-read source of news and information for legal and technology professionals.

We recently spoke with Jones about her site’s origins and how applying a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license to her articles has helped her promote her work.

Creative Commons: What are the origins of Groklaw? What were your goals for the site when you started it?

Pamela Jones: I started by just trying to learn how to blog in connection with a job interview, and you have to write about something, so I wrote about what I knew and found most interesting, which is IP law, writing about cases in the news. I wasn’t expecting anyone to read what I was writing.

It wasn’t until people showed up in numbers that I realized the potential for applying open source principles to legal research. I understood that many of my readers knew more about tech than I did, and I knew more about the law than most of them did, being a paralegal. I also knew that lawyers are typically the last ones on the tech train, and I thought that it would be fun and creative to explain everything I knew about researching for a case and see if my tech readers would turn up information that would be useful. I was sure they could, if it was out there. At the same time, I thought lawyers reading Groklaw, and there are many of them, would benefit from understanding tech issues better. I saw myself as a mediator, introducing the two groups to each other, so they could be more effective together. It proved to be a successful experiment.

The idea was to follow a case daily, explaining as we went along. I started with several cases, and I watched to see which one seemed most interesting to people, and the SCO v. IBM case won hands down. So, after some time, I focused on that case, although we always had news of a general IP nature too, and eventually we covered patents and standards, anything that is of interest to the FOSS community. We actually have 8 or 9 topics now that we regularly cover, including one ongoing book, being written in installments for Groklaw by Dr. Peter Salus.

Our Groklaw Mission Statement explains what our goals were.

CC: How did you decide that Creative Commons licensing was right for your work?

PJ: Groklaw is a noncommercial site, and I knew I’d be keeping it that way, so it would always be independent. So my two interests were to disseminate information widely and to prevent others from making money from my work, when I wasn’t. I also wanted some measure of control over who used my hard work, but I wanted less than copyright provides, so it was a natural decision.

CC: What have been the benefits of using a CC license?

PJ: Groklaw’s articles, the ones under the CC license (sometimes individual contributors do choose a different license or straight copyright and comments are not under the CC license, so we provide an articles-only section for bots and those wishing to mirror) are widely mirrored and republished around the world. So my goal of widely disseminating the information was definitely achieved, remarkably so.

And another benefit is that I’m not annoyed with endless requests to reprint. Sometimes people who don’t understand the CC license will write anyway, so I truly see how time-consuming it would be to have to go through that with each and every person wishing to republish. It’s a real time-saver, well adapted to the Internet. And when Groklaw became popular, time became my least abundant asset.

It also has proven a protection. There have been a couple of times when articles were inappropriately reused by commercial entities, and I’ve been able to resolve such matters effectively.

CC: Are you surprised by Groklaw’s popularity?

PJ: Beyond words. I can’t tell you what a shock it is to see how many people really love Groklaw. I’m so shy by nature, it’s been an adjustment, a major adjustment, to learn to deal with it, but overall, I’d say it’s been good for me to have to grow. Or grow up. Finally.

It was a major, major adjustment for me, though, one that I still struggle with. I am sure, though, that part of Groklaw’s popularity is because of the depth of feeling people have for the subject. IP law has become important to everyone, because of the Internet and blogging. Anyone and everyone is now a publisher, so the laws affect us all, yet most people don’t understand the laws or worse, they misunderstand them. That’s not good. I thought about my family and all my friends, how they’d ask me to explain things in the news, and I thought, why not write just like that, to explain the process as if to a friend or family member over dinner who asks you, ‘Say, what’s this case all about? Why is such and so happening? What will happen?’ I might be just a paralegal, but I could at least explain the paralegal part. I love to write, it turns out, and I like helping and explaining, so it worked out. I do think that is the source of Groklaw’s popularity – that people are relieved to understand things that were like Greek to them before.

A half dozen of Groklaw’s readers have decided to go to law school, by the way. I love that, and I’m very proud of it, because part of my goal from day one was to share the love I feel for the law, and the respect I have for the process. And I think it’s terribly important that computer programmers and other tech-savvy people go to law school, so that someone can explain to judges (and later become judges) so decisions made will be based on tech comprehension and not on FUD or gross misunderstanding of how computers actually work.

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Radio Radicale to put archives online

Eric Steuer, December 13th, 2005

Radio Radicale, the official radio station of Italy’s Radical Party, recently announced that it is applying a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license to much of its archived audio content. What that means:

Thirty years of history, parliamentary sittings, political conferences, trials, intelligence scandals, interviews, declarations, denunciations; the material collected with ant-like patience by Radio Radicale, the well-know political radio station in Rome, is now available [online] … thanks to Creative Commons.

Read Radio Radicale’s press release for more information in Italian, or check out Hammer & Tongue for an English translation.


Geek Speak

Nathan Yergler, December 13th, 2005

What’s that you say? You don’t have enough opportunities to hear geeks talking about Creative Commons work? Well, let me see if I can help remedy that situation. The PyCon 2006 committee has announced the slate of papers for the conference, and I’m pleased to have had my proposal accepted. I’ll be presenting on “Extensible Desktop Applications: Abusing the Zope 3 Project”. The talk will cover how we’ve been using components from the Zope 3 project to create an extensible architecture for ccPublisher 2. PyCon 2006 is taking place February 24-26, 2006, in lovely Addison, Texas, which I’m told is near Dallas.

So that’s one opportunity to hear geeks. And there’s another. I’m very pleased to announce that the PLUG and the IEEE CSociety at Purdue are sponsoring a talk next semester. I’ll be presenting on Creative Commons, metadata, attaching metadata to works (and why that’s important), and finally how ccPublisher 2 makes that happen. The talk is scheduled for 6:30PM, Monday, January 23, 2006, in ME 161. For those of you keeping track, you’ll note that date is precariously close to my target launch date for ccPublisher 2, so if you want the goods and want them early, you might want to come on out. Maps of the campus and ME building are available here.

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