Weblog

2008 September

On Content Industries and Understanding Creative Commons

Fred Benenson, September 12th, 2008

A number of articles from CC insiders hit the blogs this week. I have one up at Media Rights, a site that focuses on social-justice documentaries and the activist filmmaker community. I focus my examples on how Creative Commons can help film makers reach greater audiences and media by framing them in light of the recent US Court of Appeals decision in our favor:

On August 13th, 2008 the United States Court of Federal Appeals handed down an opinion that further cemented the legal footing that gives “open content” licenses like Creative Commons (CC) their legal teeth. The decision of Jacobsen v. Katzer was monumental for the free culture and free software communities for a number of reasons. Public licenses, like CC’s six “Some Rights Reserved” copyright licenses and the one being litigated over, the Artistic License, grant rights to the public in general as opposed to a specific party. Where a private license between a filmmaker and a distribution company might stipulate that a particular distributor is given the exclusive rights to show a film, a public license might stipulate that anyone who comes across the film is allowed to show it so long as they give proper attribution and do not make modifications.

You can read my whole article here.

And over on BizCommunity.com, friend of the cause and South African lawyer Paul Jacobsen writes about some of the South African projects using Creative Commons in part 3 of his series about our licenses and the issues they implicate:

JoziKids, http://jozikids.co.za/, a wonderful child focussed website, uses Creative Commons licences to licence content created by its advertisers who create listings on the website rather than trying to take ownership of the content in order to provide the listings to visitors to the site. In this way Merle Dietrich strikes a balance between being able to publish rich listings on the site and not interfere unduly in the advertiser’s ability to exploit their content commercially outside the website.

Read on for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of Paul’s series.

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CC in the TypePad Widget Gallery

Mike Linksvayer, September 11th, 2008

We mentioned last year that SixApart had developed a CC licensing widget for their TypePad hosted blogging service, but it’s worth mentioning again, because it’s a really nice implementation. The CC widget is now available via the TypePad Widget Gallery.

If you have a TypePad blog you can visit the gallery or the widget directly to easily add a CC license to your blog.

Also cool to note that SixApart was one of the very first companies to add a CC license option to a product (their stand-alone blogging software, Movable Type) back in 2003, and the TypePad widget was developed using CC’s LicenseChooser.js code.

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Berkman Center for Internet & Society in San Francisco

Melissa Reeder, September 11th, 2008

If you’re around the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday Sept. 15th, definitely check out this event:
Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society is hosting a book talk and reception in honor of their newest publication Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. We hope to see you there!

Special thanks to these sponsors: David Hornik of August Capital, the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, Creative Commons, Tod Cohen of eBay Inc., the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Stanford’s Center for Internet & Society, and Meg Garlinghouse of Yahoo! Inc.

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The “Flexbook”

Jane Park, September 10th, 2008

We’ve all heard of the textbook. Some of us have read one or two in school. Others of us have stared blankly at pages filled with outdated information. Still, others of us are more resourceful and have used the bulky things to prop up rickety ends of tables. But all of us have had to carry one around at some point, which may or may not be the reason why our shoulders are slightly lower on the right. Well, according to the CK-12 foundation,

“It is that time of year where our nations school children are preparing their back packs ready to head back to start their new academic year. The contents of these bags has definitely evolved over years, considering now the average student’s back pack will contain more tech

nology than NASA had to take Apollo to the moon.

But one thing that has stayed constant is the good old fashioned text book. While it requires no batteries or boot up time, it still is the heaviest and most inflexible item in there.

Take for example, the current academic debate going on in the astromony world regarding the number of planets our solar system has. Is it 9, or is it 8?

“People in the know” decided that we actually have only 8 planets, based on the assumption that Pluto is too small to be a planet. Oh dear. Now we have all these text books that has the wrong information, and to make matters worse, depending on the State, it could take anywhere from 1 year to 6 to get it corrected. So not only are our children carry

ing around these heavy tombs, it turns out, the information inside of them is out of date!

The problem doesn’t end there, the same “people in the know” are being challenged by other “people in the know” and the Pluto debate is far from over.

But thats life. We live in an ever evolving world, where new discoveries are being made, old thinking rechallenged, as we increase our awareness and knowledge of the world and universe we inhabit. How is the humble back pack meant to cope?

The problem with our textbooks is that their granularity is simply too large. It only takes one paragraph to be wrong, for the whole book to have to be reprinted. So imagine when a whole discipline changes, in our Pluto example. They simply can’t take this level of change.

But here we are, asking our new students to carry around these tombs of outdated information in and out of school every day.

There has to be a better way no?”

It turns out there is a better way! The

The CK-12 Foundation‘s solution to the age-old problem of uneven shoulders. The Flexbook is a free and open source textbook platform where one can build and edit collaborative textbooks. This is the textbook of the next generation: “CK-12 allows one to customize and produce content by re-purposing to suit what needs to be taught, using different modules that may suit a learner’s learning style, region, language, or level of skill, while adhering to the local education standards. Flexibility + Textbook = Flexbook.”

All CK-12 content will be licensed CC BY-SA. We have been working with the CK-12 foundation for a while now and look forward to continuing collaboration. In related news, the Commonwealth of Virginia have also announced their partnership with the foundation to build an open physics flexbook for all of Virginia. Here is an excerpt from their press release:

“The Virginia Physics “Flexbook” project is a collaborative effort of the Secretaries of Education and Technology and the Department of Education that seeks to elevate the quality of physics instruction across the Commonwealth. Participating educators will create and compile supplemental materials relating to 21st century physics in an open–source format that can be used to strengthen existing physics content. The Commonwealth is partnering with CK–12 (www.ck12.org) on this initiative as they will provide the free, open–source technology platform to facilitate the publication of the newly developed content as a “Flexbook” — defined simply as an adaptive, web–based set of instructional materials.”

The resulting Virginia Physics Flexbook will also be available under CC BY-SA.

(Logos are © CK-12 Foundation.)

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Brad Sucks Releases “Out Of It”, CC-Licensed Pop/Rock

Cameron Parkins, September 10th, 2008

Brad Sucks, a CC-staff favorite musician, released his new album Out Of It this past Monday online, for free, and under a CC BY-SA license. From the Brad Sucks blog:

A lot’s changed since I started putting music on the Internet way back in 2001. Artist-endorsed free downloads were shocking. Flexible pricing was still an untested novelty. It was rare to find source files from artists and sharing music wasn’t encouraged by new artists.

Recently I was asked if I’d do anything different this time around […] and I honestly couldn’t imagine why I’d do things different. The only reason I, a dude who made an album by himself in a country basement, has had any sort of success is because people took it upon themselves to share my music with their friends. They remixed it, they used it in their videos, they played it on their podcasts, they included it in software and games and it took on a life of its own.

To coincide with the album release, ccMixter got Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan, authors of the “Indie Band Survival Guide” to conduct an interview with Brad Sucks. Brad is one of the most sampled artists over at ccMixter and the interview sheds much more light on his music in particular and opinions on the music industry as a whole.

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Genreal Fuzz Release “Soulful Filling”

Cameron Parkins, September 10th, 2008

General Fuzz, an artist who creates self-described “lush melodic instrumental electronica”, released his new album, Soulful Filling, at the beginning of this month, bringing his number of CC BY-NC-SA licensed albums to an amazing 5.

All the tracks, along with General Fuzz’s other music, are free to download at his website. What really sets Soulful Filling apart though, outside of its musical merit, is that General Fuzz has gone to the trouble of crafting a “multitrack flash mp3 player” that allows you to listen to a song’s individual audio stems either on their own or as a user-defined composite.

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CC Licensed Image on Rapid City/Gillete Phone Book

Cameron Parkins, September 10th, 2008

Sylvan Sunset | Scott Carpenter CC BY

It certainly isn’t the most publicized use of CC licences we have seen, but Scott Carpenter’s “Slyvan Sunsetappearing on the cover of the 2008/2009 Rapid City/Gillete Phone Book has us ecstatic nonetheless. While big names help gain wider exposure for CC, it is important to remember that these are tools meant for everyone, of which Carpenter’s photo re-use is an excellent example. From MTF.org:

Last September I received an email from someone at Yellowbook, saying that they were interested in using my picture for the cover of the Rapid City phone book […] I said that they were already free and welcome to use it under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license with which it was published, but that I’d be willing to relicense it as Attribution only, which I did, and also signed a form giving them permission to use it. I often wondered if I should have held out for money also, but seeing the small role of the picture, it’s just as well I didn’t. Something tells me they wouldn’t have paid much for that, if anything, and I’m simply pleased to get some exposure and have an artifact of free culture–the CC license–appear right there on the cover of an old media phone book.

Carpenter’s experience highlights many of the things we love to see – licences increasing content visibility, the ability for a creator to reach a separate agreement outside their original CC license, and proper and thorough attribution (even if we have to agree with Carpenter that a graphic designer might “balk at this kind of verbiage […] with the picture being such a minor part of the page”). Kudos to Carpenter and the countless others who use CC for everyday reasons and, every so often, experience surprising results.

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Open Design: Industrial Design under CC

Michelle Thorne, September 10th, 2008

CC Israel Project Lead Rotem Medzini writes about an initiative to combine computer numerical control (CNC) with CC-licensed design information:

Open-Design is an alternative way of designing art. In his M.A. thesis, Ronen Kadushin felt there was a problem with realizing creativity in industrial designs. Ronen, an Israeli designer that also lectures at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, saw that while in fields like music, graphic design, video, etc., creating became inclusive for all and also independent of publishers or producers — all thanks to the digital technology and the internet. But according to Ronen, it isn’t like that for industrial design. It is being left behind because it has material output that needs marketing investment and support from producers.

To solve all that he came up with Open-Design, which combines CNC production and CC design information for publication and distribution. “It is an alternative method to design and production that in my view, is in touch with the realities of information technology and economics,” noted Ronen. He added that while doing his research, he liked the flexibility, clarity, and simplicity of CC.

According to Ronen’s thesis, consumers today are design aware and often look for products with attribution to the designer, as an added value to the designer’s fees. Ronen sees Open-Design as a way in which the designer is also at the center of the customer-base, not only th producer or product. For him, Open-Design is an adventure, an experiment involving his profession and life.

CC-Israel wants to thank Ronen Kadushin for answering our questions and sharing with us his work.

Flat Knot – stainless” by Ronen Kadushin available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license.

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Launched! Creative Commons Romania Reports

Michelle Thorne, September 10th, 2008

Journalists, bloggers, and CC supporters gathered last week in Bucharest to celebrate the launch of the localized Romanian Creative Commons licenses. CC Romania Project Lead Bogdan Manolea reports on the event’s success and how popular Romanian artists such as HI-Q have embraced Creative Commons’ flexible and free licensing system.

The public was interested in details about the practical implementation of CC licences starting with the way attribution works and ending with the practical advantages of choosing CC licences for an artist.

Florin Grozea from the popular band HI-Q pointed out that the licences are a valid solution for some of the problems that artists face, as the licences provide a set of rules more flexible than the traditional copyright. He also presented a practical case with their older, very well-known song “Gasca mea (My Mob)”, for which they received a lot of requests from teenagers to use the song to make non-commercial videos to share online (example). Since the purpose of the song was to share the fun spirit of the HI-Q band, the artists decided that such a request should be granted directly. With a CC licence, the conditions for using a creative work are very simple and easy to understand.

On this occasion, the HI-Q band announced that the vocal tracks from the band’s next single will be released under the Romanian CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. Fans will be invited to create remixes of the tracks and upload them to music-sharing websites. The best covers may also be included in the band’s next album.

Regarding other speakers at the launch:

The band Travka was the first group in Romania to release an entire album under a CC licence. Band member Razvan Rusu explained that they looked for “a kind of an open source licence” that could be used for their music, which is how they found and agreed to use the CC licences.

Ioana Avadani, from the Center for Independent Journalism, emphasized the fact that today, attribution might be more important than all the other author’s rights. She also pointed out that small TV and radio stations are forced to close down because of the demand to pay several copyright royalties. Creative Commons could offer a viable alternative.

The national television station TVR featured the launch of CC Romania, as did a number of blogs (Drept & Internet, Transindex, and Nicu). The event was organized by EDRi-member Association for Technology and Internet (APTI Romania) with help from the Center for Independent Journalism.

Update: The national television station TVR Cultural featured the launch of CC Romania, as did a number of online news portals Hotnews (Romanian) and Transindex (Hungarian), and several blogs (e.g. Drept & InternetNicu, Hoinar pe web and Webservator).

George Gadei @ Travka” by LevyNagy, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommerical-Share Alike license. Photo from a prior concert.

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Cool open video news from Wikimedia

Mike Linksvayer, September 9th, 2008

The most frequently used audio and video formats on the web are not open (they’re software patent encumbered), which has hindered the development of free and open source media tools. Open audio and video formats face a tough chicken and egg problem: not interesting to publishers if not supported in software, and not interesting to software developers if not much published open format audio and video.

Wikipedia and its media repository, Wikimedia Commons, have long been an important piece in this adoption puzzle. Along with only accepting liberal copyright licensing, they accept only free file formats.

Late July the Wikimedia Blog featured two hopeful items regarding open media formats. Both are still developing and well worth checking out despite this late posting.

First, an announcement that MetaVid lead developer Michael Dale has been hired by the Wikimedia Foundation:

As many of you may know, Wikimedia is working with Kaltura, Inc. to explore collaborative video editing in the Wikimedia projects. I’m very happy to announce that Kaltura has decided to support the further development of a 100% open source video editing solution integrated into MediaWiki. To this end, Kaltura is sponsoring Michael Dale, lead developer of the MetaVid project, to work in the Wikimedia Foundation offices in San Francisco beginning in early August.

Michael will work on adding support for video editing operations and other video-related functionality to MediaWiki, with a rich user interface built entirely on open standards like Ogg Theora. Michael’s work priorities will be coordinated between Kaltura and WMF. I am hoping that we can make incremental improvements to Wikimedia’s video capabilities that will start to become visible to users soon. :-)

This is really excellent news. MetaVid impressed when presented at a CC Salon two years ago.

Second, a post on news that Firefox 3.1 to support open video and audio. This post also has an excellent summary of why open formats matter for free culture. Go read it!

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