Over in Spain – Creating an Online Collaborative Database of Sounds

Mia Garlick, April 12th, 2005

In preparation for the International Computer Music Conference to be held in Barcelona in September 2005, the Music Technology Group and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, have created the freesoundproject. The freesound project is a collaborative database of sounds – not songs or compositions – but sounds: audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps. All sounds uploaded to the site must be licensed under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus license. The site has already collected a range of diverse sounds – from instrumental pieces to balloon sounds – and offers sample packs, remixes and groovy waveform images of the sounds. The database is going to continue to exist, collect sounds and make them available after the conference – the conference is just the impetus for getting the project started. It’s a great example of building out the creative commons!

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CC at Notacon

Nathan Yergler, April 12th, 2005

I spent the past weekend at Notacon in Cleveland, OH. While there was one talk devoted to a brief history of copyright in the US, the most exciting talk, for me, was completely unexpected.

Jerry Rockwell presented a talk called “Evolution of a Tune: My process of arranging and composing in a Home Studio.” I went because I have a MIDI keyboard hooked up to my iMac that doesn’t get nearly the use it should. Jerry’s talk was absolutely amazing, and it was done without the use of any props more advanced than a CD player. While I expected him to talk about the software and hardware he uses in his home studio, he instead focused on how he starts with a basic tune or melody, and builds layers and tracks on top of that. Coming from a folk and jazz guitar background, Jerry plays guitar, dulcimer and synth tracks (“my evolved click track”) to create amazing compositions. Did I mention he hand crafts his dulcimers without the aid of power tools?

So what’s the CC connection? Jerry demonstrated taking the traditional tune “Skip to my Lou”, and building completely transformative, derivative works from it. The final product was a Latin 8-8 beat dulcimer/guitar number that sounded nothing like the original work it was built on. You could still hear the chord structures underneath it all, but there was no denying that Jerry had created an original composition, drawing from culture in the public domain. Talking to Jerry afterwards, I commented on how the final composition sounded nothing like “Skip to my Lou”, but how it could not have existed without “Skip to my Lou” to build upon.

“Exactly! I chose Skip to my Lou because I hate that song, and wanted to appropriate it for something better,” Jerry enthusiastically responded. It was something of an epiphany for me: here was the reason CC is important, in the flesh. If “Skip to my Lou” wasn’t a public domain, traditional number, there’s no way Jerry would have come up with his composition. Or if he had, he would not have been allowed to contribute his work to our culture. CC is important in this respect because the Jerry’s of the future may have nothing to build on if copyright protections continue to grow unfettered. And that would be criminal.

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Creative Commons up for a Webby Award

Matt Haughey, April 12th, 2005

We were quite happy to hear that today the Webby Award nominations came out, and Creative Commons is up for “Best Home/Welcome Page.”

We couldn’t have done it without the crew at Adaptive Path leading the user research, prototyping, and testing, while Doug Bowman helped with the illustrations, and Ryan Junell with the logos. I completed the design and build out and we’ve gotten a lot of good feedback as a result. I look forward to seeing the results in June, but my money’s on one of the wiz-bang flash sites winning the webby. :)

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Ryan Junell

Glenn Otis Brown, April 10th, 2005

Ryan Junell and I first met at the University of Texas, where we both took a class about the Internet (Ryan designed UT’s first web site; I caught on more slowly) and saw each other at a lot of rock shows. It wasn’t until Creative Commons started up and needed a graphic designer that Ryan and I reunited and became friends. Ryan is responsible for, among other things, our tasteful and fetching logo, the amazing animations in Get Creative and Reticulum Rex (and the latter’s anagrammed title), our DVD, many of our t-shirt designs and printed materials, and CC’s close connections with the Bay Area electronic music scene (where Ryan is a sort of freelance video artist). Along with Matt, it’s Ryan we have to thank for Creative Commons’ bold visual identity.

If you haven’t checked out Ryan’s handiwork outside of Creative Commons, you ought to. His See the Elephant! video installation toured the country late last year, and his music videos for Spoon and The Natural History nail the aesthetics of those bands. (Ryan’s hilarious and sharp video for The Soft Pink Truth was, along with Anime, South Park, Hello Kitty, and Schoolhouse Rock, the inspiration for the look and feel of “Get Creative”.)

Ryan is pursuing more solo projects now, but I hope one day to team up with him again on some sort of media project. It’s extremely rare to find someone whose taste jibes so well with your own — or better put, who is able to read your mind, and then do you one better.

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Roland Honekamp

Glenn Otis Brown, April 10th, 2005

One of the many great decisions Christiane has made during her tenure at iCommons was to bring Roland Honekamp on to lend a helping hand in Berlin. Roland, a former Net entrepreneur, quickly made himself an indispensable utility player, attending iCommons launches on short notice, helping out with press relations and myriad internal iCommons matters, and developing, along with Christiane, Heather Ford, and Mary Rundle, tons of iCommons training and reference materials for the dozens of iCommons project leads. He’s also been a great source of ideas on the strategy and future shape of CC’s international efforts. The exponential growth of iCommons over the last year has been in no small part due to Roland’s joining the team.

Like Christiane, Roland has an infectious laugh and an easy way with just about everyone. I didn’t get the chance to meet Roland face-to-face until this September, when we were roommates in New York for the WIRED benefit concert, and again last month at the iCommons Europe summit, where I learned a lot about Roland’s long-standing interest in (and skill at) international relations and diplomacy.

I’m sad that I won’t get the chance to work more with Roland, on CC stuff anyway, but I look forward to keeping in touch with him. Here’s to Herr Honekamp and the passion and formidable business acumen he’s infused CC with.

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Christiane Asschenfeldt

Glenn Otis Brown, April 10th, 2005

When Christiane Asschenfeldt joined Creative Commons, in April 2003, Creative Commons offered one set of copyright licenses: in American English, based in good part on U.S. law. Two years later, CC offers fifteen different localized licenses, in thirtheen languages, from countries on four continents. (A couple dozen other localized licenses are in some state of draft.) Once a two-employee operation in the basement of Stanford Law School, CC is now an international network of law schools, thinktanks, nonprofits, and — most important — dedicated and expert volunteers. We have Christiane, and the many iCommons volunteers she personally brought together, to thank for this night-and-day difference. That Christiane until recently worked solo from Berlin, and is now raising a beautiful little girl, makes this accomplishment even more amazing.

Christiane met Larry and me at iLaw in Cambridge in the summer of 2002. We got along famously from the get-go, but little did I know that even then Larry was laying his plans for CC International. (He probably kept his vision for iCommons from me to prevent me, my hands already plenty full, from having a heart attack.) Looking back on it, I should have recognized then what I would come to appreciate when Christiane joined CC: Expert in the EU Directive on intellectual property, friendly and funny, and up-to-speed on the latest in film, scientific research, and pop culture, she was an obvious asset to the organization.

Apart from all she’s done for CC, I am particularly thankful to Christiane for her hospitality during my first and only visit to Berlin two years ago. I have fond memories of visiting the Reichstag and the Berlin Wall with her, and of getting to know her man Florian (a rising-star film director). I trust we’ll get to hang out more in the future, and I wish Christiane the best as her work on making CC a truly global force continues to bear fruit.

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View source added to Flash

Matt Haughey, April 8th, 2005

Earlier this week at the Flash Forward conference (centered around Macromedia’s Flash product), Creative Commons Chariman and CEO Lawrence Lessig gave a talk about bringing a culture of sharing to the Flash community like the one that exists for HTML. Every web browser can view source of any HTML document, and millions of online publishers got their start by looking at each others’ code, but Flash doesn’t directly allow for it. Although flash sharing sites have sprung up to fill the void, there was no easy way to share all your code in Flash.

Macromedia’s Mike Chambers answered the call and less than 24 hours later produced an actionscript file that adds a view source option to any flash movie. If you use Macromedia’s Flash product and want to share your work with others, by all means give it a try. I hope to see this functionality become an option in upcoming releases of the Flash authoring environment.

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Signal/Noise 2k5 – Creative Revolution at Harvard Tomorrow!

Mia Garlick, April 7th, 2005

For those people in the Harvard area, check out the Signal/ Noise 2k5: Creative Revolution conference being held at Harvard tomorrow April 8, 2005. Find details about it here.

The original and first Signal/Noise in 2000 was organized by none other than Creative Commons’ recently departed but dearly beloved Executive Director – Glenn Otis Brown. The conference has a great line-up of academics, musicians, practitioners and enthusiastic commentators from the reuse field – all of whom will be discussing questions such as: is all art derivative? how new technologies facilitate new genres, creators and business models (did someone say “Creative Commons”?) and how artists react to downstream uses of their work and how these reactions should be balanced with the public interest in facilitating downstream reuse. All interesting topics! The site also contains a useful Briefing Book and links to some great sites for those interested in remixing, mash-ups etc – including Creative Commons’ own ccmixter site.

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Nice uses of CC

Matt Haughey, April 6th, 2005

A couple quick things: I thought it was cool that blogging software company Six Apart republished an essay by Adaptive Path on the failings of Content Management Systems, all about software of the type Six Apart develops. It’s all in accordance with Adaptive Path‘s license, which allows commercial redistribution.

Another cool thing was seeing Blogcritics.org do a “featured content of the week” type feature we’ve done in the past here. Phillip Winn found eight amazing photos at Flickr, and posted links to check them out, all available under Creative Commons licenses.

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Mike Linksvayer

Glenn Otis Brown, April 5th, 2005

(Next in a continuing series of blurbs about Commoners I’m thankful to have worked with.)

If there is one person whose heroics are most unsung at Creative Commons, it could very well be Mike Linksvayer. Mike has been the CTO for about two years. He came on at a crucial time, when CC was growing jerkily from a loose network of contractors to a real organization, and he brought stability from the get-go. Stability isn’t sexy, and it’s not very visible from the outside. If CC is like a band, then Mike’s the drummer. People not in bands rarely ever get how much a tasteful, subdued drummer matters. But people in bands know that they’re impossibly valuable. And CC, when you boil it down, is all about the drums.

Mike is the force behind, among other things: the vibrant cc-metadata mailing list (our most active), our membership at the W3C, our amazing multi-language license interface and Commons Deeds (have you taken a good look at our stuff in Suomeski?, Dutch? — amazing!), the discovery and harnessing of the mighty talent called Nathan Yergler (profiled here earlier), the move to leverage CC Search off Nutch‘s open code base, countless tech developments and deals, a huge chunk of our blog posts, and who-knows-how-many other technological things that I don’t know about (because I simply don’t understand them). Something else you may not know: He also knows the the nitty-gritty of our licenses as well as anyone.

Mike’s got a fine, bleak sense of humor, which I for one appreciate. This year he sported the best, most efficient Halloween costume — shorts, and a tshirt declaring a single phrase — that I’ve seen in a while. Maybe the same fearlessness that fuels his humor also drives his ability to call anyone on their b.s. — a skill and a will that are rare and crucial in this “space.”

Another thing I love about Mike is his taste. I’m a firm believer in the notion that the more stuff you hate, the better taste you have. Mike, I can testify, hates a lot of stuff. Which means he loves the stuff only really worth loving. So I’ve learned a lot from him — about what arguments are too cheesy, what sentiments too sentimental, and not least, what Bay Area radio is actually worth listening to.

Here’s a toast to Mike Linksvayer, in the hope I get to work with him again very soon. All of you who still get to are luckier even than you might think.

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