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2007 October

CC at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Michelle Thorne, October 17th, 2007

One of the largest book fairs in the world, the Frankfurt Book Fair, was held this year on October 10-14th in Frankfurt am Main. The city’s fair is the annual host of 300,000 visitors to over 7,000 exhibitions celebrating literature and cultures from around the world. The event also functions as a global meet-up for authors, publishers, and other members of the book industry to chat over coffee and negotiate deals for publishing rights, licensing fees, and translation.

This year, Creative Commons was an active participant at the Frankfurt Book Fair and helped raise awareness about alternative licensing and literature online. Catharina Maracke joined a panel about licensing on the internet, in which she discussed possibilities for fostering a hybrid economy with literary texts and existing content curators.

CC Chairman Joi Ito presented his vision of an open internet and shared culture in a discussion with the Foreign Minister of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, at an event to promote the book “German Dream – Träumen für Deutschland,” a collection of essays about diverse wishes and expectations for Germany. Also on the panel was Hunter Lovins, co-founder of Rocky Mountain Institute; Hafsat Abiola, Nigerian human rights activist; and Dr. Monika Henzinger, Director of Research at Google.

Podcasts for the interviews are available in German.


On an Open Internet and Germany’s Future, photo by creativecommons licensed under CC BY.

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Thanks and congratulations to Wikimedia Commons

Mike Linksvayer, October 15th, 2007

Last week Wikimedia Commons reached two million media files (images, audio, video), many of which are available under liberal CC licenses.

Wikimedia Commons is “a central repository for freely licensed photographs, diagrams, animations, music, spoken text, video clips, and media of all sorts that are useful for any Wikimedia project.”

While Wikimedia Commons is surely one of the premier repositories of free cultural works on the web, it does live in the shadow of Wikipedia, which it (mainly) serves. In the words of Commons editor Brianna Laugher:

We live with being identified via Wikipedia, it’s like being Albert Einstein’s sister.

We slightly furthered this over-identification in the recent announcement of public discussion of version 3.01 of CC licenses in which we thanked the Wikipedia community for raising concerns about version 3.0’s treatment of moral rights. The concern was actually raised on Wikimedia Commons. Our characterization was not inaccurate, but lacked precision necessary to give full credit where deserved.

So thanks (and congratulations) to Wikimedia Commons!

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“creative commons” percentage by top level domain

Mike Linksvayer, October 15th, 2007

At the CC Greece launch Diomidis Spinellis presented a very interesting (but crude, with many caveats) look at CC adoption worldwide:

To compile the metrics I used the Internet Systems Consortium July 2007 list of top-level domain names by host count distribution. From that I selected the 71 domains with more than 100,000 hosts. I then run a Google search for all pages in each domain (for instance .edu) and a search for the pages in that domain containing the string “creative commons”. The results, ordered by the percentage of pages containing the consecutive words “creative commons”, (most of which are presumably licensed by a corresponding license) are striking.

Go check out the entire list, but a few tidbits:

  • Yugoslavia (.yu) has the highest percentage of pages containing the string “creative commons”, an amazing 16.56%. There is no CC Yugloslavia, though CC Serbia is an upcoming jurisdiction.
  • Greece (which only got jurisdiction licenses on Saturday) is at #11.
  • Luxembourg, which gets jurisdiction licenses today, follows at #12.
  • Of course “unported” licenses are available for use anywhere, and apparently are being used heavily in places without jurisdiction licenses. The next ranking top level domain without corresponding launched CC jurisdiction ported licenses is Morocco, at #15. CC Morocco, anyone?
  • Spain (at #5) and Latin American domains rank high, corresponding nicely with Giorgos Cheliotis’ research, which found (using completely different methods, and looking only at jurisdiction ported licenses) that Spainish licenses stand out in terms of CC adoption.
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Bob Ostertag: w00t (!)

Mike Linksvayer, October 15th, 2007

Last year influential avant garde musician and activist Bob Ostertag made all of his recordings that he has the rights to available as digital downloads under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Now he’s released a new recording under the even more liberal CC Attribution license. Ostertag writes about the new release, w00t:

In March of 2006, I put all my recordings to which I owned the rights (14 CDs) up for free download from this site. w00t is my first release to skip the CD-for-sale stage and go directly to free Internet download, under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Please download, copy, send to your friends, remix, mutilate, and mash-up. And please support this attempt to build free culture by sending a link for w00t to your friends. w00t consists of a 50-minute sound collage, a 4.5 minute sound “trailer,” and associated cover art. There is, however, no cover. w00t is a free, internet-only release.

As with most of Ostertag’s work, the art has a political purpose, which one can choose to hear, or not:

The w00t music began as the sound for Special Forces, a live cinematic performance by Living Cinema (Pierre Hébert and Bob Ostertag), which addressed the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006.

And for radical politics relevant to the copyright debate, check out Ostertag’s The Professional Suicide of a Recording Musician, an essay published one year after the release of his oeuvre. From the closing of that essay:

But that is just the beginning of the story, for the accelerating rate of technological change continues to push digital technology further and further into our lives in just about any direction you might look. To pick just one example, boundaries between our bodies and minds and our technology are blurring. Cochlear implants, for example, now allow deaf people to hear via computer chips loaded with copyrighted software which are implanted in their skulls and in response to which their brains reconfigure, growing new synapses while unused synapses fade. Cochlear implants are wirelessly networked to hardware worn outside the body which usually connects to a mic, thus allowing the deaf to hear the sound environment around them. But the external hardware can just as easily be plugged into a laptop’s audio output for a direct audio tap into the Web.

When the Web extends into chips in our skulls, where is the boundary between language that is carved up into words that are corporately owned and language that is free for the thinking?

I don’t wish to be sensationalist. We are not all about to turn into corporately-owned cyborgs. But I do wish to point out that the issues around turning culture into property are urgent, and far-reaching. Society is not well-served if we treat specific matters like downloading music on the Web as isolated problems instead of one manifestation of a vastly bigger struggle in which much more is at stake.

w00t home page; w00t trailer (4 min 14 sec mp3)

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CC Talks With: Strayform

Cameron Parkins, October 15th, 2007

Continuing with our Featured Commoner revival, we are pleased to present an interview with Brandt Cannici, founder of Strayform, a “creation network” that uniquely helps artists fund their works by utilizing Creative Commons licensing.

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What’s Strayform all about? What’s its history? How did it come about? Who’s involved?

Strayform is a new model for digital content. With the internet, distribution of digital goods is practically free; the true value is in their creation. Strayform allows people to pay for creation and lets distribution happen naturally and without restriction. Furthermore when you cut out middlemen who act as distributors, something amazing happens. Creators and consumers can now interact naturally as partners. No longer are you a passive recipient of a CD or film. With Strayform, you helped fund it, you watched it grow, you worked with the creator, you had input and could affect the final product. I believe because of this interaction the future will be full of all sorts of creative media projects that are not even imagined today.

I am the founder and I got the idea while working in Japan. My sister and I used to argue about piracy. She claimed that it hurts the artists while I said every dollar you pay to the big distributors is used to force artists into unfair contracts. About that time my friend’s band signed a multi-million dollar deal with EMI. But EMI sat on the contract and my friend went bankrupt. So I came up with an idea that cuts out the distributor, lets artists get paid more, and lets consumer use and file-share freely. I moved back to Texas and made the product, afterward moving to San Francisco to launch. In comparison to our competitors we are a tiny, boot-strapped team – a couple of guys in a coffee shop eating ramen to stay afloat. However, the site is quite sophisticated in what it does.
Read More…

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Commoner Letter #1 – Evan Prodromou

Melissa Reeder, October 15th, 2007

Hello, everyone! My name is Evan Prodromou. I’m excited and honoured to be able to talk to all of you through this email newsletter. When Creative Commons asked me to write for their fundraising drive, I simply couldn’t refuse.

In 2003, with my wife Maj, I started a project called Wikitravel – an effort to create a Free, complete, up-to-date and reliable world-wide travel guide. Inspired in part by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Wikitravel’s text, maps, and photos are all collaboratively developed by Internet users from around the world. Together, we’re making travel guides that are as good or better than those made by traditional, proprietary travel publishers.

Collectively, Wikitravellers have donated hundreds of thousands of person-hours to realize our shared dream. But they didn’t put in that time to make great travel guides just for me personally. They did that work for a common goal: so that every traveler in the world could have high-quality, practical travel information in their own language.

Because of Wikitravel’s liberal Creative Commons license (Attribution-ShareAlike), our contributors know that their work is free today and will remain available to all. The Creative Commons name and badge on every Wikitravel page lets our users know that they are free to use, share, and re-distribute our guides in whatever way their imagination takes them.

I think that travel guides and encyclopedias are just the beginning for collaboratively-created Free Content. For that reason, I’ve started two new projects this year: Keiki, a collaborative parenting manual, and Vinismo, a collaborative guide to the world’s wines. I’ve also launched an Open Content guidebook publisher, Wikitravel Press, to compete head-to-head with proprietary publishers. There are opportunities to create Free Cultural works in so many areas it’s mind-boggling.

We are on the cusp of an explosive revolution in human knowledge and culture. We now have the tools and the global infrastructure to let the billions of humans on Earth collaboratively create their own entertainment and reference works: films, textbooks, images, and music. Regular people, working together, are smashing apart the short-sighted, curmudgeonly cultural framework of micropayments, IP portfolios, walled gardens, and dot-com data silos to free up information for everyone to enjoy, use, and share. I truly believe that within a generation we can open the world’s knowledge to all of its inhabitants and reduce or eliminate the misery caused by lack of access to information.

And Creative Commons is a crucial part of the cultural compact that makes that revolution possible. Free Culture licenses, like those from Creative Commons, are a promise between global collaborators that indeed we are working for the good of all. Creative Commons licenses tell readers and listeners that they, too, can be participants in a global community of creators.

As Creative Commons passes its five-year anniversary, the “first generation” of CC-related projects, like Flickr, Magnatune, and yes, Wikitravel, are showing the world the advantage of Open Content and massive intercollaboration. But there are literally thousands of other Open Content projects in hundreds of countries that are just getting off the ground. They’ll have new challenges, new opportunities, and with your help they’ll have the tools and infrastructure of Creative Commons to lean on as they grow.

I hope that, as a friend to Free Culture, you’ll continue to support Creative Commons in all the ways you do: with your time, with your attention, and with your advocacy. But I also ask that you make an investment in the future by donating to Creative Commons in this, their annual fall fundraising drive. Like a wiki, each contribution by people like you and me builds into a powerful fund for advancing our collective goal.

Thanks for your time,

Evan Prodromou

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MIT Library Releases Scholarly Publishing Rights Tutorial

Timothy Vollmer, October 15th, 2007

MIT has been a leader in supporting ways in which educators can retain rights to their academic writings and open up those creations to the world. MIT Libraries has produced a series of videocasts entitled Scholarly Publication and Copyright: Retaining Rights & Increasing the Impact of Research.

Part 1 focuses on how copyright law intersects with the publication process.

Part 2 reviews why academic writers might want to retain rights when publishing, and how they can do so.

Part 3 provides information on increasing the impact of research by making it available through open access channels.

If faculty are able to retain rights, the tutorial explains how Creative Commons can be a useful tool to share scholarly work more widely. Creative Commons’ goals align well with the mission of most academic authors — share and reuse. MIT Scholarly Publishing Consultant Ellen Duranceau says the idea underpinning the tutorial is this: “we need to maximize the potential of research to be shared in the digital age by finding publishing models that realize the potential of the Internet to publish quickly, broadly and inexpensively.”

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Luxembourg 40th Jurisdiction to Offer Ported Creative Commons Licenses

Michelle Thorne, October 14th, 2007

The launch of the Creative Commons licensing suite in Luxembourg marks the 40th jurisdiction worldwide to offer Creative Commons licenses adapted to national law.

An event to commemorate the launch will be held on October 15th at the Public Research Center Henri Tudor (CRP) in Luxembourg, featuring speeches by John Buckman, founder and CEO of Magnatune.com and Board Member of Creative Commons; Paul Keller, Project Lead for Creative Commons Netherlands; Laurent Kratz, founder Luxembourg’s Jamendo, one of the largest music portals offering Creative Commons-licensed works; and Lionel Maurel, scientific coordinator from the National Library of France.

Press Release

Event on Yahoo! Upcoming


Luxembourg City, photo by nanand81 licensed under CC BY-NC-SA.

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Students for Free Culture in the news

Timothy Vollmer, October 12th, 2007

This week the New York Times ran an article about Students for Free Culture, a national student organization that promotes engagement and activism in various areas of digital technology: creativity and innovation, communication and free expression, public access to knowledge and citizens’ civil liberties.

Many active Creative Commons affiliates appeared in the article, including students Cameron Parkins and Fred Benenson. Former CC intern and Liblicense lead Scott Shawcroft contributed thoughts in an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In the Times piece, Harvard Law student Elizabeth Stark said that while file-sharing has thrust copyright into the public consciousness, Students for Free Culture work on a diverse range of issues related to freeing creativity and culture.

In a follow-up letter to the editor (licensed CC-BY), Stark disassociates the organization from portrayals of it as a group that champions piracy:

We deeply believe that authors and creators should be compensated for their work, and we are eager to promote ways to do so in an environment where the world can build upon their creations. . .We stand for a culture where everyone has the right to participate and where works are made available for all to legitimately access, share and remix. This is a culture that is “free as in speech” — not necessarily one that is free of charge.

While technology continues to evolve faster than the law, it’s important to support student activism that pushes back against restrictive copyright regulation that smothers innovation, expression and learning. At the same time, organizations like Creative Commons continue to offer viable alternatives for content sharing that enable others to use creative works that support a more free culture.

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WIRED NextFest/Spoon/CC Benefit Concert

Cameron Parkins, October 12th, 2007

A little over a month ago, WIRED Magazine held a concert to benefit Creative Commons in Los Angeles with Spoon, the Austin, TX based rock-quartet, headlining. The show was absolutely phenomenal – opener Kool Keith rocked the party hard and Spoon failed to disappoint with a killer set that spanned their varied discography. Oh, and need we forget Keepon, the lovable dancing robot, was in attendance?

It was really an amazing way to kick off both WIRED NextFest and to foster sustainability for CC in the longterm. A big thanks to WIRED Magazine for making it happen – there constant support is a huge help to CC and the CC community. Don’t forget to check out some amazing pictures by Dave Bullock (eecue) on flickr as well:

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