2008 May

The (potential) U.S. copyright czar and you

Mike Linksvayer, May 9th, 2008

Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “” 410 to 11. The bill, if also passed by the U.S. Senate and made law, could create a “copyright czar” office and greatly expand copyright enforcement in and outside of the U.S.

Slashdot is of course running the story. A comment by Slashdot user analog_line lays out (with a brashness to be expected in a Slashdot comment thread) voluntary responses to increasingly onerous copyright restrictions — responses which you can participate in:

Don’t get me wrong, I think this is insane, and I hope it goes the way of similar bills before it, but the tighter the so-called “content cartels” grip on their copyright, the more persuasive the arguments for Creative Commons, GPL (v2 or v3), and other similar copyright-related social movements become. The same laws that protect the iron grip of Disney on Mickey Mouse for as long as they can legislate it, also protect those who participate in the Creative Commons (like Nine Inch Nails to take a totally non-random example) from the Disneys, the Time Warners, and the Sonys of the world. They can only be the gatekeepers of “the culture” if YOU choose to pay the entry fee. There’s plenty enough out there that they don’t control, that they CAN’T control anymore. All this sound and fury is trying to make people focus on them instead of looking for alternatives. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, and all that.

The onus is on those who claim that art should be for love and not money to put up or shut up. If you’re an artist, go make some art under something like Creative Commons that both allows you to make money off it when someone else is making money off it (and sue the pants off them if they don’t pay you for it), and allows people who aren’t making money off it to spend as much money as they want spreading the word about how awesome you are. If you’re not an artist, don’t forget that artists need to eat as much as you do. Actually reach into that wallet and give money to artists that take a chance and produce work that you like under a Creative Commons license (or some other license with terms that aren’t crazy) and be as generous as you can afford. Every Tom, Dick, and Sally that releases something under Creative Commons isn’t worth supporting just because they’re releasing as Creative Commons. There is a TON of freely distributable junk out there. However there ARE people out there that every one of us reading this story would feel comfortable supporting, and rather than shovel money on a monthly basis into Comcast’s, or Sirius’, or Time Warner’s or whomever’s bank account for content that isn’t worth using as toilet paper, a small fraction of that money could make a world of difference for one of the people that IS taking a risk and releasing good content under terms that are reasonable.

Where the hell is the Creative Commons Foundation of the Arts, taking donations and patronizing quality artists that release work under the Creative Commons like the foundations supporting free software? Do you think this stuff grows on trees?

Regarding analog_line’s last paragraph, there are many experiments with “crowd funding” of art, now mostly still small experiments. While those are exciting, and I hope to see much more innovation in this area, there is a vast infrastructure for patronage of the arts (more private in some jurisdictions, more state-run in others). Perhaps some of these patrons will encourage funded artists to release work under CC licenses — what is the point of funding creation (where the funding is publicly spirited) if that creation is not legally accessible to the public without a copyright czar watching over their shoulders?

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2008 Sparky Video Contest: “MindMashup: The Value of Information Sharing”

Jane Park, May 9th, 2008

SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), along with other sponsors, is organizing the second annual Sparky Awards, “a contest that recognizes the best new short videos on the value of sharing and aims to broaden the discussion of access to scholarly research by inviting students to express their views creatively.”

Last year’s winners were announced earlier this year; the winners and runners up were all university students. Though this contest is ideal for college students with time on their hands, anyone can enter, as long as the video is:

  • two minutes or less
  • completed between January 1 and November 30, 2008
  • narrated or subtitled in English
  • publicly available on the internet on a web site or digital repository
  • open for use under one of several Creative Commons licenses (details here)
This year’s theme is “MindMashup: The Value of Information Sharing.” The winner receives $1,000 along with a nifty Sparky statuette, while the runners up get $500 each along with an almost as nifty personalized certificate. Educators, this is a perfect assignment for class, summer or fall, since the deadline isn’t until November 30, 2008. Everyone else, happy mashing!
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Building an Australasian Commons

Michelle Thorne, May 9th, 2008

CC Australia announces:

Registration is now officially open for the Creative Commons ‘Building an Australasian Commons’ Conference. The conference will be held on Tuesday 24th June 2008 from 8.30am – 5pm at the State Library of Queensland, South Brisbane, and is proudly supported by Creative Commons Australia, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, and the State Library of Queensland.

It provides an opportunity for those interested in the free internet to come together to exchange ideas, information and inspiration. It brings together experts from Australasia to discuss the latest developments and implementations of Creative Commons in the region. It aims to be an open forum where anyone can voice their thoughts on issues relating to furthering the commons worldwide.

Attendance is free and open to all. To register, please download this form and return via email to CC Australia. The conference will be followed on the day at 6pm by the second CCau ccSalon, a showcase of Creative Commons music, art, film and text from Australia and the region.

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CC supports video on the Web

Mike Linksvayer, May 8th, 2008

Huh? Isn’t video on the web ubiquitous already?

Sort of. Video on the web today is seriously lacking when it comes to things like addressability (e.g., a standard way to link to a specific time segment or frame region), standard codecs, and metadata. All of these are really important if video (and other media types) are to fully take advantage of the web’s architecture — among other things making video more amenable to reuse — legally enabled by most CC licenses, but not exactly facilitated by today’s video-on-the-web technologies.

So Creative Commons is a supporter of the W3C’s Video on the Web Activity Proposal, appropriately subtitled as such:

Video on the Web is not just what you see — it’s what you can search, discover, create, distribute and manage.

There are actually several efforts included in the proposed activity. Not all will bear fruit; others may take years. However, upgrading video and other media to first class on the Web is important, so we wish these efforts the best, as well as (open in nature) efforts outside of the W3C.

A workshop report linked from the proposal makes for excellent background reading.

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Zombie DRM

Mike Linksvayer, May 8th, 2008

I hate to beat a dead horse, but the horse’s promoters provide a convenient excuse when they claim the dead horse is making a comeback. The horse in question of course is DRM (emphasis added):

“(Recently) I made a list of the 22 ways to sell music, and 20 of them still require DRM,” said David Hughes, who heads up the RIAA’s technology unit, during a panel discussion at the Digital Hollywood conference. “Any form of subscription service or limited play-per-view or advertising offer still requires DRM. So DRM is not dead.

CC using record label Magnatune just announced a DRM-free subscription service.

Another jewel from the same News.com article:

Fritz Attaway, executive vice president at the Motion Picture Association of America said: “We need DRM to show our customers the limits of the license they have entered into with us.”

If you needed DRM to show users the limits of a license, CC licenses would require DRM. Instead, CC licenses repudiate (known forms of) DRM. No, the only thing the RIAA and MPAA are showing their customers is disrespect.

Of course this is a really old story.

We need Digital Asset Management tools that help our computers help us manage content, not DRM that turns our computers against us.

Via TechDirt.

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Upcoming Events!

Allison Domicone, May 8th, 2008

Jonathan Zittrain has recently released his new book, The Future of the Internet — And How To Stop It. In honor of this important work, CC has teamed up with the EFF and Stanford to hold an event for people to come hear him speak about his book and to meet others interested in and committed to openness in this digital age. Of course, refreshments will be served. If interested, please rsvp to the address below.

When: Tomorrow, Friday, May 9th from 6-8pm
Where: Ritz Carlton, 600 Stockton St., San Francisco, CA
RSVP: alumni.relations@law.stanford.edu

And if that’s not enough openness for you, check out CC’s Salon next Wednesday, May 14, from 7-9 pm at the Shine Bar. Our stellar line-up features:

Erik Möller, Wikimedia Foundation’s Deputy Director, talking about all things Wikipedia

Alexis Rossi, Internet Archive’s Manager of Collections, presenting on the Open Library Project

Hannes Gassert and Giorgio Pauletto, to close the night, will team up to present on Swiss Open Systems User Group and the State of Geneva’s vision for open standards, open source, and open data.

Come out for a good time and a chance to mingle with folks who are passionate about, supportive of, or just plain curious to learn more about what it means to be open!

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italki Knowledge—Wikis for Language Learners

Jane Park, May 8th, 2008

The language learning website, italki.com, has been around as a social networking site since 2006. Starting in April, they decided to develop a new version of italki: italki Knowledge. italki Knowledge is made up of a bunch of wikis functioning as open textbooks—free for anyone to access and edit. The wikis span a multitude of languages, learnable in almost as many (you can learn Korean using German, Spanish using Mandarin, vice versa and more). The Wired Campus reports that the site really only took off this month, so make sure to check it out and contribute if you can.

All wiki pages are dedicated to the public domain using the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication

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The only “all you can eat” DRM-free (and CC licensed) music subscription service

Mike Linksvayer, May 8th, 2008

Magnatune, the online record label that has been pioneering open business practices for years, has now launched a subscription service. Read the announcement for lots of interesting information about the service and the business.

In other Magnatune news, there’s now a Magnatune plugin for Songbird, a nice addition to those for Amarok and Rhythmbox. It’s also worth mentioning that ccMixter maestro Victor Stone AKA Four Stones has a new album of ccMixter remixes out on Magntune: Chronic Dreams 2.

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Total Recut Video Remix Challenge

Cameron Parkins, May 7th, 2008

Total Recut, an online social network for fans and creators of video remixes we blogged about earlier here, is holding a Video Remix Challenge over the next month in which aspiring filmmakers/remixers are asked to create a 3 minute short to respond to the theme, ‘What is Remix Culture?’. CC Founder Lawrence Lessig is one of the judges (among others) and there are some great prizes for the winners, including a laptop computer, digital camcorder, as well as t-shirts, books, DVDs, and CDs. From Total Recut:

TotalRecut.com is hosting a Video Remix Challenge over the next two months and we want you to create a short video using the theme: ‘What is Remix Culture?’ You can you use any footage you can find, including Public Domain and Creative Commons work, but the finished video cannot be longer than 3 minutes or shorter than 30 seconds long. The prizes include a Laptop computer loaded with video editing and conversion software, a digital camcorder, a digital media player, as well as Special Edition Total Recut T-Shirts, Books, DVDs and CDs. We have an amazing lineup of judges for the contest including Lawrence Lessig, Henry Jenkins, Kembrew McLeod, Pat Aufderheide, JD Lasica and Mark Hosler. You can find out more information here. Entries will be accepted from the 1st of May until the 2nd June 2008 when public voting will begin. The best 10 videos at the end of the 2 week voting period will be put forward into the final, where they will be voted on by the judging panel. The winners will be announced around the 1st of July. So get busy making those videos!

Check out the promotional YouTube to get your creativity flowing and get started on your shorts – the deadline for submission is quickly approaching on June 2nd!

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Cameron Parkins, May 5th, 2008

GreenYour.com is a new website that aims to create an easily accessible database of simple ways to make your everyday choices more environmentally friendly. This is accomplished through a listing of broad categories – appliances, personal care, clothing, etc. – with a variety of sub-categories – air-conditioning, face wash, shoes, etc. – that contain professional ‘green’ tips. All the tips are licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA license and users are encouraged to contribute comments, feedback, and even their own tips to the site’s database. From GreenYour:

Leveraging open-source content development tools, we’ve built a platform on which writers and researchers can collaborate around specific issues and share their expertise. So far, we have developed more than 100 subject areas with more than 500 green tips. However, we know we have only scratched the surface. There are many more subjects to address, plenty of products and resources to add, and areas that require additional research and guidance.

This is where you come in. We are inviting individuals and organizations with deep environmental backgrounds to contribute their expertise. We also encourage anyone passionate about green living to share tips or products with us. So join us as we work together to expand this resource for a greener anything — and everything!

By using CC licenses, GreenYour.com is able to create a vibrant and dense resource that is easily shared over the net. The environmental movement thrives off the pervasion of knowledge – the more people know, the more conscious they can be. By creating a system that makes this knowledge dynamic (i.e. user submitted, community driven), GreenYour.com becomes a more ‘sustainable’, and thus more powerful, resource online.

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