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2008 September

The Websters’ Dictionary

Cameron Parkins, September 24th, 2008

The Websters’ Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World is a newly released book on “how to create communities of thousands [...] and channel their energy to effect political, social and cultural transformation.” Written by tech-advocate and political theorist Ralph Benko, The Websters’ Dictionary aims to educate on the web’s potential to motivate groups and enact change on broader issues, all while keeping in mind the complexities inherent in organizing movements online.

While the book is aimed at those with mid-level web experience, The Websters’ Dictionary has salient points that should resonate across technical prowess and familiarity. The Websters’ Dictionary is available for free PDF download – after taking the “Websters’ Oath” – and is being released under a CC BY-NC license, meaning that it can be reused in any number of ways, as long as future works credit Ralph Benko and are noncommercial in intent. Hardcover and paperbacks versions of the book should be available in October.

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CC Talks With: The Indie Band Survival Guide

Cameron Parkins, September 24th, 2008

Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan are true polymaths – founders of the pop band Beatnik Turtle, authors of The Indie Band Survival Guide, and a computer engineer and attorney respectively, they continuously have their hands in a bevy of different projects. Their most recent project, the wide publication of The Indie Band Survival Guide – originally and still available as a CC-licensed PDF – is a tome of knowledge that any independent musician, well-known or budding, would do well to have. We caught up with Chertkow and Feehan recentlly to find out more about the Indie Band Survival Guide, their experience as CC-license advocates, and how they manage to juggle their various roles with seeming ease.


(IndieBandSurvivalGuide.com logo (c) IndieBandSurvivalGuide.com, LLC, All Rights Reserved)

Can you give our readers a bit of background on yourselves? You are both active musicians, have jobs outside of music making, and are now published authors. How did you get to where you are today?

Jason Feehan: We’re both indie musicians who are in an active Chicago band called Beatnik Turtle. We’ve been writing, recording, and playing live for over 11 years. But beyond that, professionally, I’m an attorney and Randy has a Master’s in Computer Science: Data communications.

Randy Chertkow: Our fields really influenced how we ran the band, and, later, what we wrote about in the book. There was an advantage that neither of us were in the same field. So I was able to help put the legal stuff into human-readable form, and Jason was able to tame my technical jargon and into friendly explanations. Regarding music, I’ve got a formal music education, starting in grade school. I am a reeds player (primarily sax, but I double on flute and clarinet, which is very common for sax players.) I had a lot of training in music and jazz theory, and improvisation. Jason didn’t learn formally at all, yet is an incredibly prolific songwriter and natural talent. He’s written over 1000 songs.
Read More…

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COMMUNIA: A growing European network

Michelle Thorne, September 24th, 2008

Earlier this month, Mike gave us a sneak preview of several not-to-be-missed conferences in Europe this October. COMMUNIA kicks off the list with its 3rd Workshop, this time held in Amsterdam on October 20-21. The Amsterdam workshop will tackle Marking the public domain: relinquishment & certification, and the CC0 beta/discussion draft 3 will be one of the main items on the agenda.

The workshop follows the successful COMMUNIA Conference 2008, held at the University of Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium on June 30 and July 1. The conference furthered COMMUNIA’s mission to enrich and inform the debate about various (and often under-represented) issues related to today’s copyright. In particular, the COMMUNIA network continues to improve understanding about the true value of the public domain and open licensing.

All materials produced by the COMMUNIA network can be downloaded from the COMMUNIA website, which is in itself a great resource for the latest news in intellecutal property, copyright and public domain issues around the world.

Image from COMMUNIA Conference 2008 by Politecnico di Torino, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

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Report on the First Interdisciplinary Research Workshop on Free Culture

Mike Linksvayer, September 22nd, 2008

Giorgos Cheliotis has written a report on Free Culture 2008, last mentioned here when the program was announced. Here’s an excerpt describing the final session, A Research and Action Agenda for Free Culture:

This was the most important session for the future of research on free culture. The aim of the session was to (a) identify future directions that would be ripe with research challenges but also promising to yield insight that would be useful to the practice of free culture advocacy, and (b) make an assessment of the workshop and decide whether to repeat it and in what format.

The session started with a discussion of potential areas of research, where the collection of more data and the visualization of this data for intuitive exploration and communication of findings was proposed as one potential area of focus. Action research was also mentioned as a methodology that would be relevant in the context of practice-inspired and practice-informed research. Global-scope studies and comparative studies across multiple jurisdictions were also favored by some participants as areas needing much more development. But the discussion quickly turned to practical issues, such as how to organize a network for continuous communication and collaboration among interested researchers and whether we should plan a journal special issue, or a special track in an existing research conference.

Participants tried to propose solutions to the perennial problem of engaging in interdisciplinary collaborations while at the same time being respected in one’s own scientific community. There was some consensus that we should not attempt to create a new discipline, but that we nevertheless need venues and opportunities to engage in cross-disciplinary dialogue and do research across disciplinary boundaries, as the phenomena that interest us the most tend to cut across multiple dimensions of the Internet, including law, IT, economics, communications, media studies and policy (just to name a few).

The most concrete and positive outcome of the entire workshop was the unanimous agreement of all participants to the idea of repeating this gathering on an annual basis. Epitomizing the positive assessment of this year’s proceedings was Lawrence Lessig’s proposal to help find a venue for the workshop next year and also to help turn it into a larger and more substantive academic conference, a proposal that was greeted with enthusiasm by the rest of the participants in the session.

The rest of the discussion focused on what the envisioned conference should look like, in light of the lessons we learned from Free Culture 2008. It was tentatively agreed to raise the bar for participation at the conference next year by requiring that presenters submit a full paper at some stage in the process (this year it was optional and selection was based solely on extended abstracts). This, along with having more time dedicated to research presentations and research-focused discussion will help ensure that next year’s event will be more focused and session participation will be more consistent, which will be essential to building rapport and promoting genuine dialogue among participants.

Some participants also voiced concerns with respect to the conference potentially attaining too much of a traditional academic character and losing the relative spontaneity and participatory nature of the iSummit. It was therefore suggested that we maintain some slots for open discussion and seek to synthesize perspectives and findings in the form of panels or by any other means, instead of focusing only on single-person presentations. Finally, several potential publishing venues were brought up but it was agreed that it is somewhat premature to be concerned with this at the moment and we should rather focus our energies in planning Free Culture 2009.

Read the whole report and look forward to Free Culture 2009!

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Seeking a ccLearn Counsel

Jane Park, September 22nd, 2008

ccLearn has re-opened the search for a ccLearn counsel. Note that the job title has been changed from the previous search to better reflect our high priority for someone with relevant and reasonably deep experience in intellectual property and copyright law. Though we had many superlative candidates for our initial round, we found that no one person could be expected to have all of the qualifications we needed on all fronts; hence, we have decided to re-issue the call for applicants. If you or someone you know is interested, we strongly encourage you to apply!

The primary duties for the presumptive ccLearn counsel will be to help us in minimizing the legal barriers that stand in the way of open education. Knowledge and interest in many aspects of intellectual property law, including an understanding of the international dimensions of open licensing agreements and protocols, is crucial. However, it is important to note that this position will primarily be seeking solutions within the existing constraints of the law, rather than actively seeking to change the laws to better reflect our needs. In this vein, the new ccLearn counsel will not only work on the legal side of things, but will also work on substantial communications (written and verbal, formal and informal), networking and engagement with a diverse communities of interest, strategic planning regarding pursuits of greatest impact for ccLearn, and close collaboration on a variety of related initiatives with the ccLearn and CC staff. In addition, we have access to great intellectual and legal resources associated with our organization which can be leveraged as necessary. It is expected that the candidate for this position will play a significant role in helping ccLearn to achieve its global mission, and will serve as a primary spokesperson for ccLearn and the open education movement generally.

To learn more or apply, see our Opportunities page!

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Castle Crashers Soundtrack Released Under CC License

Cameron Parkins, September 22nd, 2008

Castle Crashers, an action/RPG video game, was released a few weeks ago on the XBox Live Arcade service and has been receiving rave reviews for its gameplay, graphics, and sound design. Of note to the CC-community is that the soundtrack has been released online for free under a CC BY-NC-SA license, meaning that fans of the game can now freely enjoy the excellent soundtrack outside of their consoles.

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“Publishing Open Content”, Short Film On CC Business Models

Cameron Parkins, September 22nd, 2008

Publishing Open Content is a short documentary by Frances Pinter and David Percy that looks at how Creative Commons licenses can be utilized in a commercial setting. The film features interviews with Tom Reynolds, blogger behind Random Acts of Reality and author of Blood, Sweat, and Tea, Timo Hannay, Publishing Director at nature.com, and John Buckman, founder of netlabel Magnatune.

The interviews provide some key insights into how these three disparate individuals combined CC licenses with a successful business plan, a common thread being that by giving away something for free another commodity can be sold. Filmmaker Pinter also heads a CC-based publishing project in Africa titled Publishing and Alternative Licensing Model of Africa (PALM), of which the information discussed in the documentary has major interest (via Ad Astra).

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Wikis Take Manhattan!

Fred Benenson, September 22nd, 2008

After the fantastic success of Wikipedia Takes Manhattan, Wikipedia, The Open Planning Project, Free Culture @ Columbia, Free Culture @ NYU and Creative Commons have all teamed up to organize another free culture photo scavenger hunt hunt for this Saturday, September 27th!

This time we’ve really stepped up the awards. The grand prize for the team with the most photos is now a dinner with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia and CC board member, at the fantastic Pure Food & Wine restaurant in downtown Manhattan.

The photos will go directly into Wikimedia Commons and the Livable Streets Streetswiki and all photos will be released under our Attribution-ShareAlike license to allow for easy remixing and reuse in any future projects.

The day starts at 1pm and ends with a party after sunset. Register now and we’ll see you on Saturday!

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Software Freedom Day 2008

Mike Linksvayer, September 20th, 2008

Today is Software Freedom Day, a worldwide celebration of free and open source software. See our post on SFD2007.

For context on Creative Commons and software freedom, see these slides on free culture and free software (pdf) (I’ll be giving an updated version of this talk at FSCONS next month), our recent post wishing happy birthday to the GNU project, or better yet, check out our software, all of which is free (as in freedom).

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World Council of Churches Release “Love to Share”

Cameron Parkins, September 19th, 2008

The World Council of Churches (WCC), an international Christian ecumenical organization, recently released a free PDF, Love To Share, that explores the role Christianity and the church play in relation to intellectual property. Love To Share is released under a CC BY-NC-ND license and contains some incredibly well-written text that explains our licenses and how they intersect with the goals of the WCC:

[T]he present copyright legal system tends to emphasize the protection of an author/creator’s work rather than promoting a “bridge” to let ideas flow [...] Creative Commons licences give you the ability to dictate how others may exercise your copyright rights, such as the right of others to copy your work, make derivative works or adaptations of your work, to distribute your work and/or make money from your work. They do not give you the ability to restrict anything that is otherwise permitted by exceptions or limitations to copyright—including, importantly, fair use or fair dealing—nor do they give you the ability to control anything that is not protected by copyright law, such as facts and ideas.

Creative Commons licences are attached to the work and authorize everyone who comes in contact with the work to use it consistent with the licence. This means that if Bob has a copy of your Creative Commons-licensed work, Bob can give a copy to Carol and Carol will be authorized to use the work consistent with the Creative Commons licence. You then have a licence agreement separately with both Bob and Carol.

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