mozCC Updated for the upcoming beta

Nathan Yergler, September 8th, 2005

Just a quick note to let people know that we’ve updated mozCC in preparation for the Firefox 1.5 Beta next week. The updated version should also work with all current alpha releases (aka “Deer Park” releases). If you want some more details, check out this entry on my blog.

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ccPublisher 2 Developer Preview 1

Nathan Yergler, September 6th, 2005

Today we’re launching the first packaged release of ccPublisher 2, Developer Preview 1 (DP1). DP1 is exactly what it sounds like — a preview. This isn’t even beta code, folks, but we need to get stuff tested and we need to get feedback. So what’s new in ccPublisher 2? Well, most of the code is completely new, and we’ve done lots of work to make it easier to extend, customize and maintain ccPublisher. End users will probably see lots of regressions in this release, and that’s something we need help identifying.

So, to answer your questions:

  • Where can I get this wonderful code?
    I’m working on releases as I write this, and I’ll be updating this post throughout the day as new builds are tested and uploaded. Right now you can find Linux download links in the wiki. Windows and Mac OS X will be available within a day, tops. real soon now; we’ve run into a couple packaging problems which I’m working on. If you want the gruesome details, check out this blog entry.
  • What should I expect?
    We’ve done some basic, end-to-end testing, and have been able to successfully upload some items to the Internet Archive with these releases. That said, I’m sure there are bugs, so give the code a try, but back up the media files you’re uploading ifrst. Seriously.
  • Hey, I found a bug!

    Great! You can help by adding it to the list in the wiki. I’ll be watching that page and using it to plan fixes and updates; I’ll also add notes as I confirm bugs or fix them. You can also add suggestions or regressions there.
  • So what’s next?

    First, we need to get Windows and Linux builds out the door. Then we’re on to improving the code. We’ll have at least one (probably two) more releases before 2.0 ships. Depending on how many bug reports come in, we’ll try to ship the next pre-release next week.
  • How can I help?

    Try the code, report bugs, or try to confirm bugs others report. If you want to help with the actual guts, find me in the #cc IRC channel (nathany) or email the cc-devel mailing list. We’ll use your help.

Thanks to everyone who’s tried, used and abused ccPublisher up to this point — I’m excited about new developments, and I hope you are too.

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CC Talks With: Public Library of Science

Glenn Otis Brown, September 1st, 2005

The Public Library of Science is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the world’s scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. PLoS emerged in October 2000 through the effort of three dynamic and highly respected scientists: Nobel Laureate and former head of the National Institutes of Health Harold Varmus, molecular biologist Pat Brown of Stanford University, and biologist Michael Eisen of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and UC Berkeley. This trio’s dream, as the L.A. Times put it, is to build “a world in which the many thousands of scientific journals . . . are placed in an electronic library open to the public.”

This week, PLoS moved closer to realizing this dream with the release of its first open access publication: PLoS Biology, a world-class, peer-reviewed scientific journal.

We had the opportunity to speak with Michael Eisen recently about the launch of PLoS Biology, its publication under a Creative Commons license, and its promise to transform open access models, the scientific community, and the world.

featured Public Library of Science work
PLoS Biology, Volume 1 Number 1
Attribution 1.0
[view articles]

Creative Commons: How did PLoS come into existence?

Michael Eisen: Science depends on the free flow of ideas and information. In the late ’90s most of the research journals that scientists used to communicate with each other moved online. The technological change offered scientists myriad opportunities to expand and improve the ways we use scientific literature, and made it possible to bring our treasury of scientific information available to a much wider audience.

We grew increasingly frustrated that the publishers of scientific journals were blocking these advances by applying to their online journals business models developed for print publication — thus unnecessarily and unfairly restricting access to subscribers. We formed PLoS to promote and implement a better model for scientific publishing that offers anyone free and unrestricted access to scientific literature and facilitates the creative use of the knowledge it contains.

CC: What’s the ultimate goal of the organization?

ME: Our goal is to see that every scientific and medical research publication is available free of charge for anyone to read, use, incorporate in databases, redistribute, etc. To do this we want to shift how the publishers are paid for the role they play in communicating scientific ideas and discoveries — to switch from a model in which publishers are given permanent, exclusive control over the scientific literature and allowed to charge for access to a model in which the literature is effectively placed in the public domain and publishers are paid a fair price for the service they provide in getting the literature there.

CC: Have you encountered any resistance from the scientific community?

ME: Most scientists agree strongly with the general principles we are advocating. What remains a challenge is convincing them that they should forego publishing in established journals to support our new model. Publication records play a major role in landing jobs, getting grants, and achieving tenure, and the more prestigious the journal, the better it looks on your resumé. Many scientists who support what we are doing perceive publishing in a new journal — no matter how much they agree with its principles — as a risky career move. This is why we have put a tremendous amount of energy into creating an open access journal — PLoS Biology — with the highest editorial and production standards that publishes outstanding works from all areas of biology. Once we have established PLoS Biology as a prestigious journal scientists will no longer feel they have to choose between what is right for them and what is right for science. They will get both in one place.

CC: What do you see as your role in changing the landscape of scientific journal publishing?

ME: We’ve all put a tremendous amount of time, effort, and energy into promoting the idea and importance of open access, and gathering support within the scientific community, publishing world, and public. Now we want to make it work. I publish the work from my lab only in open access journals. As a young scientist who is still not tenured, I think this serves as a role model for students and other scientists to see that you can have a successful science career without publishing your papers in Science, Nature, Cell or other prominent, fee-for-access journals.

CC: What are the benefits of open access scientific journals?

ME: First, if we succeed, everyone who has access to a computer and an Internet connection will have unlimited access to our living treasury of scientific and medical knowledge. This will be an invaluable resource for science education, will lead to more informed healthcare decisions by doctors and patients, and will level the playing field for scientists at small or less wealthy institutions and in the developing world by ensuring that no one will be unable to read an important paper just because his or her institution does not subscribe to a particular journal. Open access will also enable scientists to begin transforming scientific literature into something far more useful than the electronic equivalent of millions of individual articles in rows of journals on library shelves. The ability to search, in an instant, an entire scientific library for particular terms or concepts, for methods, data, and images — and instantly retrieve the results — is only the beginning. Freeing the information in scientific literature from the fixed sequence of pages and the arbitrary boundaries drawn by journals or publishers — the electronic vestiges of paper publication — opens up myriad new possibilities for navigating, integrating, “mining,” annotating, and mapping connections in the high-dimensional space of scientific knowledge.

We hope to do for scientific literature what freely available archives of DNA sequences did for genetics. With great foresight, it was decided in the early 1980s that published DNA sequences should be deposited in a central repository, in a common format, where they could be freely accessed and used by anyone. Simply giving scientists free and unrestricted access to the raw sequences led them to develop the powerful methods, tools, and resources that have made the whole much greater than the sum of the individual sequences. If we succeed, we expect an even bigger creative explosion to be fueled by open access to the much larger body of published scientific results.

CC: Have you encountered any resistance from traditional journal publishers?

ME: A ton. Traditional publishers have not led the open access movement in any way. With a few notable exceptions, they’ve firmly resisted it. Scientific publishing as it exists today is an extremely lucrative business, and many publishers have placed their own narrow profit motive ahead of the good of the scientific community and the public. Even some nonprofits have stubbornly clung to the old publishing model to protect journal revenues that fund other activities. A major goal of PLoS is to prove to even the most reluctant publisher that open access is a viable way of publishing scientific journals and a viable economic model. Once this happens I suspect many publishers will respond positively either on their own or in response to the market pressure of scientists supporting the open access model.

CC: How broad-based is the open access movement among the scientific community?

ME: It depends on how you measure it. In terms of people who know about and support open access it’s a broad movement. Over 30,000 people signed an open letter supporting PLoS. Although only about five percent of the papers published this year will be in journals offering something approximating open access, the numbers are rising quickly and open access is starting to take off.

CC: Do you see any parallels between access issues in scientific publishing and copyright in other areas?

ME: Authors of scientific papers assigning copyright to journals, thereby giving publishers ownership of scientific literature, is a central problem in scientific publishing today. The monopoly control enjoyed by publishers over specific publications allows them to charge exorbitant access fees to individuals and institutions that need access to this material — which they cannot get anywhere else.

Publishers often try to cast PLoS as being no different than file-sharers. While it is true that PLoS and groups like Creative Commons and the EFF are involved in trying to reform copyright, the peculiar nature of scientific publishing places PLoS largely above this fray. In the creative arts, copyright protects the rights of content producers who need to make money from their song, book, or film, and there is a fundamental tension between the producer’s interest to profit from their labor and the consumers’ desire to get it as cheaply as possible.

In scientific publishing this tension is nonexistent. First, the producers and consumers of information are largely the same people. And, second, scientists don’t make money from the sale of their work. In scientific publishing today, copyright is used almost exclusively as a means to restrict access to information. Copyright protects the interests of publishers and the works they publish, and not the rights of scientists.

In fact, the way that publishers wield copyright actually weakens authors’ protection against misuse of their works. While copyright offers some legal protection against plagiarism, there are few cases in which copyright has been used to prosecute plagiarists. The real protection against plagiarism in scientific publishing comes from a scientific culture that does not tolerate these practices — scientists’ careers are ruined when it is discovered that they have stolen someone else’s work. Therefore the best protection against plagiarism is detection, and detection is infinitely easier when the original is freely available.

It’s important to view the issues in scientific publishing in light of the other issues going on in copyright, but the issues are very different. Scientific works don’t have an isolated meaning; they exist only in reference to the broader scientific community, and the whole reason you publish them is so that other people will read and use them. If research is paid for by the public through a federal agency or public-minded institution, it’s likely the scientists doing the research are public-minded people interested in producing public knowledge. If the product of that research doesn’t belong in the public domain, then the public domain doesn’t have any meaning.

CC: Why did you decide to use Creative Commons licenses?

ME: Creative Commons and PLoS share the common goal of strengthening the science commons, and we want to take advantage of all the work Creative Commons and the growing number of Creative Commons license users are doing to create, defend, and internationalize licenses that define the commons.

We chose the attribution license because it ensures the optimal accessibility and usability while preserving the one thing that scientists value the most: attribution for their work.

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Cause commune – online release under a Creative Commons license

Mia Garlick, August 31st, 2005

A new book by author Phillipe Aigrain“Cause commune : l’information entre bien commun et propriété” (or, in English, “Common Cause: Information Between Commons and Property”) has been released online in French under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license. Selected extracts in English are also available online. Editions Fayard may be one of the first major mainstream French-speaking publishers to facilitate Creative Commons licenses. Let’s hope it serves as an example to open up more French-speaking (and other) content by mainstream publishers for freedom of use.

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Upcoming Artist & Musician Expo in San Francisco

Mia Garlick, August 31st, 2005

The Independent Media & Arts organization is holding its Sixth Annual Expo for Artists & Musicians on September 10, 2005 from 11:00am to 6:00pm at SomArts in San Francisco. The Expo is Bay Area’s only grassroots connection festival for independent arts, music and culture. It features over 100 arts organizations, free workshops, performances and hundreds of local artists and musicians and is designed to assist creative people and organizations to find resources and learn more about other people and organizations that are available to assist them in their endeavors. Creative Commons is holding a workshop at 11:30am. Feel free to stop by, participate in the workshop & say ‘hi!’

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ccMixter open source

Mike Linksvayer, August 31st, 2005

Monday night Victor switched ccMixter over to the GPL-licensed ccHost codebase and yesterday made the first stable release of that code on SourceForge.

Now you can run your own remix contest (and remix context–ccHost tracks remix sources and derivatives) site out of the box.

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New Web Services Available

Nathan Yergler, August 30th, 2005

I just turned on the new version of Creative Commons Web Services. The new version, 1.5, has lots of new features. The most important to me as a developer is the test suite — we can now run automated tests on the server software when we make changes to make sure the services still behave properly. The most important to users, however, is probably localization. Just like our license engine lets users select a language, application developers can now choose to show their users a localized interface from the web services.

More details and documentation are available here.

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The other Science Commons

Mike Linksvayer, August 18th, 2005

Since Will posted a brief survey of CC-licensed science fiction and fantasy novels last month I’ve noticed three more exciting CC-licensed SF items:

  • Charlie Stross won the Hugo award for best novella for his CC-licensed The Concrete Jungle.
  • Orion’s Arm is a CC-licensed post-singularity “shared world” where authors are collaborating on fiction and games based in the shared world.
  • NYC 2123 is a CC-licensed graphic novel described on Boing Boing as “a sweet little hard-boiled post-apocalyptic cyberpunk thing. It reads like Neuromancer with less flash and more computer-savvy.” (More CC-licensed comics.)

Orion’s Arm and NYC 2123 both use licenses that allow remixing. You got your post-apocalypse in my post-singularity!

All this SF is good, but don’t forget science reality. Check out Science Commons. Real scientists (and you) are creating the future we’ll live in…

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53 million pages licensed

Mike Linksvayer, August 9th, 2005

Yesterday Yahoo! announced that their search index had grown to 20 billion documents. That, along with continued adoption of Creative Commons licenses, explains 53 million linkbacks to our licenses according to Yahoo! linkback queries. In May, when Yahoo!’s index apparently consisted of 8 billion documents, we found 16 million pages with license links. So discounting the growth of Yahoo!’s index, the number of Creative Commons license links have increased by approximately one third in the past three months alone — 53/(16*(20/8)) = 1.325. Take the exact numbers with a lump of salt, but the indication of growth is impressive nonetheless.

You can search for Creative Commons licensed content at Yahoo! Search for Creative Commons.

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New Featured Commoner – Kembrew McLeod

Mia Garlick, August 3rd, 2005

Check out our new Featured Commoner Kembrew McLeod who has had quite the all-round Creative Commons experience: CC-licensing his book – Freedom of Expression® and excerpts from his forthcoming documentary – Copyright Criminals; to also using our ccPublisher tool and inspiring new tracks on ccMixter.

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