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2008 January

ACIA: Asia Commoners meet in Taipei

Michelle Thorne, January 24th, 2008

Reports are pouring in from ACIA: the International Workshop on Asia and Commons in the Information Age, held on January 19-20 in Taipei, Taiwan. The resounding conclusion: it was a phenomenal success!

The workshop, organized by CC Taiwan and hosted at Academica Sinica, focused on bringing together members of the “Asia Commons” to meet and discuss regional strategies and initiatives. The program opened with a keynote by Terry Fischer on “Solutions to the copyright crisis,” in which he sought to combine legal reforms and business models with digital technologies that compensate creators while enabling cultural and economic benefits. Both Ts’ui-jung Liu, VP of Academia Sinica, and Der Tsai Lee, director of the Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica, were at the opening ceremonies and delivered greetings to the workshop participants.

CC Vice President Mike Linksvayer chaired a session featuring plans for “The Making a Totally Open Phone”, Sony’s integration of CC licensing for their eyeVio video sharing service, techniques in musical collaboration with “Jamming with Machines”, and “Making Creative Commons Common in Asia” by CC’s Jon Phillips (slides).

Later in the day, CC Australia Project Manager Jessica Coates presented open licensing compatibility in “Playing Well With Others” at a panel with Chunyan Wang from CC China Mainland and Alina Ng from CC Malaysia. The CC Team from Australia and the Creative Commons Clinic also announced the release of the Asia and the Commons case studies booklet, a fantastic collection of reports on individuals and organizations engaged in the commons in the Asia-Pacific region.

Their work was followed by Lawrence Liang and his debate about concepts, “How Does An Asian Commons Mean.” The ACIA workshop drew to an close with Chu-Cheng Huang’s final remarks on the changing phases of property in “From res nullius to res communis,” a session chaired by the event’s organizer, Tyng-Ruey Chuang from CC Taiwan.

The social program picked up as the sun set with the CC Asia Mega Mix Concert featuring acts by Monbaza; Pig Head Skin; MoShang (video), Kuo Chou Ching, Chang Jui-chuan, and André van Rensburg, Bust This, Sudev Bangah, and Lisa Diy.

There are plenty of pictures here and here. Formal proceedings from ACIA are available for download, and of course the case studies and discussion summary are well worth a read.

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Asia and the Commons Case Studies 2008, presented at the ACIA workshop. The project, initiated by CCau and the Creative Commons Clinic, represents an effort to uncover exemplary individuals and organizations engaged in the commons in the Asia-Pacific region.

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SPARC Announces SPARKY Winners

Timothy Vollmer, January 23rd, 2008

Congratulations to the winners of the first annual SPARKY Awards. The SPARK(IES) challenge entrants “to imaginatively illustrate in a short video the value of sharing ideas and information.” Check out the winning videos over at Blip.tv.

SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication.

Press release here.

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Make Textbooks Affordable campaign launched

Ahrash Bissell, January 23rd, 2008

It was a busy day yesterday for campaigns to open up educational access and opportunities. In addition to the Cape Town Declaration, the Student PIRGs in the United States just launched a major campaign to encourage faculty to adopt open educational resources in their classrooms, which will provide significant benefit to students in making college education more affordable. ccLearn and members of the Creative Commons board have been advising on this campaign, and of course the texts being recommended would carry a CC license.

A press release is below:

January 22, 2008: Textbook costs can be a huge financial burden on students, and considering new low-cost options can help keep higher education affordable and accessible.

Although most of the textbooks on the existing market are expensive, an emerging number of free, online, open-access textbooks presents one of our best hopes for more affordable, comparable options. While the supply of these textbooks is still small, existing open textbooks have already won adoptions at some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, including Harvard and Caltech. Instructors who use open textbooks have affirmed that high-quality textbooks are not necessarily expensive textbooks.

The statement below is an effort to build faculty interest and demand for affordable and still comparable course materials, including open textbooks.

http://www.maketextbooksaffordable.org/statement

Signers state their intent to consider open textbooks in the search for the most appropriate course materials, and their preference to adopt an open textbook in place of an expensive, commercial textbook, if the open textbook is the best option.

Please consider signing it!

For more information, to view a list of signatories, and to submit your signature, visit the Make Textbooks Affordable campaign website.

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Teachers, Students, Web Gurus, and Foundations Launch Campaign to Transform Education, Call for Free, Adaptable Learning Materials Online

Ahrash Bissell, January 23rd, 2008

ccLearn, the education division of Creative Commons, was one of the core participants in the drafting of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, publicly launched yesterday. Creative Commons’ CEO, Lawrence Lessig, is a leading signatory, as are many CC friends and affiliates the world over. We encourage you to share the news and to sign on yourself. The press release is below.

Cape Town, January 22nd, 2008—A coalition of educators, foundations, and internet pioneers today urged governments and publishers to make publicly-funded educational materials available freely over the internet.

The Cape Town Open Education Declaration, launched today, is part of a dynamic effort to make learning and teaching materials available to everyone online, regardless of income or geographic location. It encourages teachers and students around the world to join a growing movement and use the web to share, remix and translate classroom materials to make education more accessible, effective, and flexible.

“Open education allows every person on earth to access and contribute to the vast pool of knowledge on the web,” said Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and Wikia and one of the authors of the Declaration. “Everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn.”

According to the Declaration, teachers, students and communities would benefit if publishers and governments made publicly-funded educational materials freely available online. This will give students unlimited access to high quality, constantly improving course materials, just as Wikipedia has done in the world of reference materials.

Open education makes the link between teaching, learning and the collaborative culture of the Internet. It includes creating and sharing materials used in teaching as well as new approaches to learning where people create and shape knowledge together. These new practices promise to provide students with educational materials that are individually tailored to their learning style. There are already over 100,000 such open educational resources available on the Internet.

The Declaration is the result of a meeting of thirty open education leaders in Cape Town, South Africa, organized late last year by the Open Society Institute and the Shuttleworth Foundation. Participants identified key strategies for developing open education. They encourage others to join and sign the Declaration.

“Open sourcing education doesn’t just make learning more accessible, it makes it more collaborative, flexible and locally relevant,” said Linux Entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, who also recorded a video press briefing (http://capetowndeclaration.blip.tv/). “Linux is succeeding exactly because of this sort of adaptability. The same kind of success is possible for open education.”

Open education is of particular relevance in developing and emerging economies, creating the potential for affordable textbooks and learning materials. It opens the door to small-scale, local content producers likely to create more diverse offerings than large multinational publishing houses.

“Cultural diversity and local knowledge are a critical part of open education,” said Eve Gray of the Centre for Educational Technology at the University of Cape Town. “Countries like South Africa need to start producing and sharing educational materials built on their own diverse cultural heritage. Open education promises to make this kind of diverse publishing possible.”

The Declaration has already been translated into over a dozen languages and the growing list of signatories includes: Jimmy Wales; Mark Shuttleworth; Peter Gabriel, musician and founder of Real World Studios; Sir John Daniel, President of Commonwealth of Learning; Thomas Alexander, former Director for Education at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; Paul N. Courant, University Librarian and former Provost, University of Michigan; Lawrence Lessig, founder and CEO of Creative Commons; Andrey Kortunov, President of the New Eurasia Foundation; and Yehuda Elkana, Rector of the Central European University. Organizations endorsing the Declaration include: Wikimedia Foundation; Public Library of Science; Commonwealth of Learning; Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition; Canonical Ltd.; Centre for Open and Sustainable Learning; Open Society Institute; and Shuttleworth Foundation.

To read or sign the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, please visit: http://www.capetowndeclaration.org.

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Public Broadcasters Opt for CC

Michelle Thorne, January 22nd, 2008

Public broadcasters often ask themselves: how to better enable tax payers to access the works that they have paid for? This was the question that the BBC, the public broadcaster for the United Kingdom, addressed in 2004 during the debate over its charter renewal. The result of their deliberations was a yearlong pilot, the Creative Archive Licensing Group project, launched in September 2005.

The objective of the Creative Archive was to make BBC material available online to UK citizens. The content was released under a Creative Archive Licence, a license similar in some respects to the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commerical ShareAlike License, but more restrictive in that it allowed only non-profit educational & personal use, forbade promotional or campaign use, and limited these rights to within the UK.

During the pilot period, the Creative Archive received much praise. At its conclusion in September 2006, the BBC had released nearly 500 clips, full programs, audio tracks, and images. As the recent director of the Creative Archive Paul Gerhardt noted in an interview, viewers respected the licenses, and during the trial period, only two minor licensing breaches had been reported. However, a hurdle for the initiative was the fact that the Creative Archive could only license simple rights material from the BBC, which meant that no third-party programming could be included in the Archive.

Still, as Herkko Hietanen points out in Community Created Content, “The [Creative Archive] was in line with BBC’s goal ‘ to turn the BBC into an open cultural and creative resource for the nation’.” The Creative Archive was indeed a significant step for public interest and one of the BBC’s most applauded initiatives. And so, although the Creative Archive is not longer in active use, the philosophy of open licensing has continued to grow within the BBC.

Today several departments in the BBC publish content under Creative Commons licenses: album reviews (for example) and a partnership with MusicBrainz, a community music metadatabase that uses CC licenses. Furthermore, under other licensing conditions, the BBC has opened up its website to developers at backstage.bbc.co.uk. It also offers television and radio programs to stream or download through its iPlayer, although the player’s format has been the source of some criticism.

The BBC’s dedication to public access has helped inspire several other open projects for European public broadcasters. In November 2007 the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), a public radio and television broadcaster in Germany’s national broadcasting consortium ARD, announced that they will use CC licenses for some of their programs. The six-month pilot has so far generated positive coverage, and it is hoped that its services will be continued.

Also, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation features CC-licensed images and content on its website, and it was the first broadcaster to purchase and air the CC-licensed documentary, Good Copy Bad Copy. In the Netherlands, the public broadcasting network VPRO has implemented CC licenses for its 3voor12 Plundert Musea project, which makes available samples from rare musical instruments, and furthermore the Dutch broadcaster also promotes CC music on its radio show Wissel. Also of note is Images for the Future, a joint project funded by the Dutch government to digitize nearly 3 million photos, 140,000 hours of audio, and 150,000 hours of video & film, which is another great example of efforts to preserve the commons through online public access to cultural resources.

However, despite many positive strides, creators working for public broadcasters still often find themselves at odds with their institutions’ more traditional copyright policies. In-house legal departments can be reluctant to embrace user-generated content, remixes, downloads, and third-party material, and at times, they may endorse restrictive DRM while resisting new and open media formats. As more and more publicly-funded content goes online, it is important enable and empower users, rather than leaving enriching material to digitally decay.

If readers have any additional examples of CC license usage in public broadcasting, we invite you to include them on our Content Directories wiki.

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Tone Releases Small Arm of Sea

Cameron Parkins, January 21st, 2008

Today marks the release of Small Arm of Sea, the debut album by female indietronica singer, songwriter and producer Tone (Sofie Nielsen). While the album itself is unique in its style and substance, seamlessly combining abstract electronic composition techniques with a clear pop sensibility, it is equally as intriguing in terms of distribution. Small Arm of Sea is available both in stores (on both combined CD/DVD w/ visuals or vinyl) and online (for free, non-DRM download), with physical copies containing the text “Copy this album for your friends, please!”.

The most interesting aspect of the album’s distribution is that Small Arm of Sea is both CC-licensed (BY-NC-ND) and backed commercially by KODA, Denmark’s music collecting society. This means that not only is Small Arm of Sea available for free and open sharing, but also operating within in the traditional Danish commercial structure, in which KODA collects royalties for commercial uses. This is the first album of its kind to be released in such a way, and label Urlyd, who are releasing the album, are understandably ecstatic:

Until recently the use of Creative Commons licenses was incompatible with services provided by collecting societies such as KODA (KODA administers Danish and international copyrights for composers, songwriters and music publishers when their musical works are performed in public). If a singer, musician, publisher, or producer wanted to distribute her work for free online under a Creative Commons license, she was forced to give up the right to receive compensation through royalties collected by the collecting agency. As a consequence, mostly bands without a recording contract and outside of the collective rights management have used the Creative Commons model.

“The novelty here is that our artists can collect commercial royalties through the traditional model while fully using the potential of the internet – giving fans the freedom to do what they ultimately do best.”

Small Arm of Sea is truly a phenomenal album, both in musical quality and as an experiment in new forms of content distribution. Download it for free here.

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Doctorow Completes Reading of Sterling’s “The Hacker Crackdown”

Timothy Vollmer, January 20th, 2008

Cory Doctorow has completed recording an audiobook version of Bruce Sterling’s The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier. This important book captures the rise of the hacker subculture and documents the beginnings of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Doctorow spent the last year recording installments of the book, releasing incremental podcasts on his website. Now the work is available in its entirety (28 sections) — all portions published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license.

Follow the links from the Boing Boing article to download the installments (from the Internet Archive) in mp3 or Ogg formats.

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Recut, Reframe, Recycle

Cameron Parkins, January 18th, 2008

We are a bit late in posting this, but check out “Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video” from the Center for Social Media at American University. They argue that fair use is likely much larger than we imagine, specifically in relation to online video, and the clip real they put together makes a convincing stance. This is a must see for anyone interested in the current state of copyright law in the United States – be sure to check it out!

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CC Talks With: Monk Turner

Cameron Parkins, January 18th, 2008

In our most recent “Featured Commoner” piece, we catch up with musician Monk Turner, who experiments not only with a variety of musical styles but also distribution techniques, having released a slew of concept albums through the internet archive (all CC licensed). His most recent album, Monk Turner’s Calendar, came out this past week and we were able to catch up with Monk and delve deeper into his unique sensibilities as a musician in the 21st century.

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Read More…

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Videos Posted from MIT OCW Landmark Event

Timothy Vollmer, January 16th, 2008

In December we reported on the great news that MIT’s Open CourseWare initiative had released their 1,800th course, thereby publishing the entire MIT curriculum on OCW. MIT has now released comprehensive video recordings of the celebratory event, all published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. The keynote address was given by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

View or download the videos here.

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