Richard Stevens, known to many as simply rstevens, has been a major presence in webcomics for the better part of a decade, gaining notoriety through his popular webcomic Diesel Sweeties. In March of this year, he chose to release the entire archive for DS (nearly 2,000 comics) under a CC BY-NC license, opening up a collection of incredibly witty and sharply designed comics to the masses. We recentlly caught up with rstevens to learn more about his comics and work in general, why he chose to use CC, and what kind of effect it has had on Diesel Sweeties.
Can you give our readers some background on who you are and what you do? How long have you been working in the webcomic world? How did you end up there?
I’m a comic book nerd born a few months before Star Wars who studied and taught graphic design, but wound up getting to be a cartoonist. I’m a big Mac fan, even though they’re popular again and I spend most of my time walking around writing or making coffee.
I’ve been doing Diesel Sweeties on the web since early 2000 and it’s been my job since 2002. I did a parallel version for newspapers that ran from 2007-2008.
Marco Hinic, ‘visualist engineer’ and founder of VJ application ArKaos, recentlly decided to experiment with the Nine Inch Nails Ghosts Film Festival, eventually creating Ghostss, a C++ powered online generative art project that creates infinite visual remixes by pooling over 1GB worth of video and select tracks from Ghosts: I-IV. The result might be one of the coolest video remixes to date and in lieu of the contest rules, Hinic’s videos are released under a CC BY-NC-SA license meaning you can share and remix them as well. From Create Digital Music:
A few days ago I released the web site ghostss.com; it’s my entry to the NIN Ghosts Film Festival.
It’s an online video remixing application. It builds playlists describing a mix of videos with effects and renders them as an .flv Flash Video file. All the content is on the web site — around 1 gig of video loops and a few mp3’s from NIN music.
In accordance to NIN music, all Videos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license.
Cory Doctorow Releases “Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future”
CC evangelist and acclaimed author Cory Doctorow announced today the release of his new book, Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future. Content is exactly what it claims to be – 28 essays on “everything from copyright and DRM to the layout of phone-keypads, the fallacy of the semantic web, the nature of futurism, the necessity of privacy in a digital world, the reason to love Wikipedia, the miracle of fanfic, and many other subjects”. If that wasn’t inciting enough, Content also boasts an introduction from EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow and book design by acclaimed typographer John D Berry.
Like his other novels, Doctorow has chosen to release Content both as a print book for sale and as a free-to-download CC BY-NC-SA licensed PDF. In his essay, “Giving it Away” (originally published in Forbes, December 2006 – republished in Content), Doctorow describes his decision to use CC licences and the benefit he has seen as a result:
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When my first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, was published by Tor Books in January 2003, I also put the entire electronic text of the novel on the Internet under a Creative Commons license that encouraged my readers to copy it far and wide. Within a day, there were 30,000 downloads from my site (and those downloaders were in turn free to make more copies). Three years and six printings later, more than 700,000 copies of the book have been downloaded from my site. The book’s been translated into more languages than I can keep track of, key concepts from it have been adopted for software projects, and there are two competing fan audio adaptations online.
Most people who download the book don’t end up buying it, but they wouldn’t have bought it in any event, so I haven’t lost any sales, I’ve just won an audience. A tiny minority of downloaders treat the free ebook as a substitute for the printed book — those are the lost sales. But a much larger minority treat the ebook as an enticement to buy the printed book. They’re gained sales. As long as gained sales outnumber lost sales, I’m ahead of the game. After all, distributing nearly a million copies of my book has cost me nothing.
The JISC CETIS (JISC Centre for Educational Technology & Interoperability Standards) is a JISC funded service that has long been researching educational technology and covering the field’s latest developments under a CC BY-NC-SA license. One of their latest publications is a briefing paper on open educational resources (OER) titled, “Open Educational Resources — Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education” and authored by Li Yuan, Sheila MacNeill, and Wilbert Kraan. According to Li, the briefing paper “[looks] at the latest developments and trends in Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives worldwide” and serves as “a quick introduction to funding bodies, institutions and educators who are interested in OER initiatives. The paper includes three sections: a) the conceptual and contextual issues of Open Educational Resources; b) current OER initiatives: their scale, approaches, main issues and challenges; and c) trends emerging in Open Educational Resources, with respect to future research and activities.”
He also explains their reasons for initiating and completing the study:
“It appears that OER will have a significant impact on managing and accessing the existing repositories and in taking these initiatives forward as part of a global movement. We thought it might be useful to carry out a review of OERs that might benefit the JISC community in planning funding programs and in opening up discussions on future research directions concerning the use and re-use of digital content.”
CC Australia writes about an important report that advises Australian governments to follow open publishing standards and recommends using a Creative Commons license for government material released for public information.
Those interested in open access to public sector information will be excited to see the results of a recently released Australian Federal Government Review of the National Innovation System, http://www.innovation.gov.au/innovationreview.
The final report, titled VenturousAustralia, was prepared for Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, by consultants Culter and Co, headed up by industry consultant and strategy adviser Dr Terry Cutler. It places a strong emphasis on open innovation, stating in the introduction:
“Today innovation is understood to involve much more than the transmission of knowledge down the pipeline of production from research to development to application. In the age of the internet, with the opportunities for collaboration which it opens up, open innovation is increasingly important.”
Most importantly from an open access point of view, it was Recommendation 7.8 which is most exciting:
“Australian governments should adopt international standards of open publishing as far as possible. Material released for public information by Australian governments should be released under a creative commons licence.”
The full report is available at http://www.innovation.gov.au/innovationreview/Documents/NIS-review-web.pdf.1 Comment »
Creative Commons and the makers of the independent film currently in production RIP: A Remixer’s Manifesto a co-production between Montreal-based production house Eye Steel Film and the National Film Board of Canada are making a Call for Soundtracks. The film itself is released under a CC license and has been produced collaboratively through hundreds of submissions and remixes at Open Source Cinema.
A mashup in its own right, RIP tackles the issue of Fair Use ─ broadly defined as the limited use of copyrighted material without requiring the permission of the rights holders ─ on its own uncertain ground. Pulling footage from a range of sources, filmmaker Brett Gaylor looks at cultural appropriation throughout history, from Muddy Waters to the Rolling Stones to the king of the remix, Walt Disney. With legal advice from Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig, Brett negotiates the tricky world of fair-use filmmaking.
Now the producers and CC are using ccMixter to host a Call for Soundtracks hoping to finish the music soundtrack for the film using remixes made from CC Attribution licensed source material. Instructions and details can be found at ccMixter.Comments Off
James Boyle, Chair of the Creative Commons board, has a column in the Financial Times that is always worth checking out. His most recent, on the recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision to uphold the theory on which open copyright licenses (including CC’s) are based, is a fun read, and gets right to the core of the importance of open licensing (and thus the case). In the column titled A creative coup for the trainspotters, Boyle writes:
Mr Jacobsen and his collaborators did not need to go out and make contracts individually with every person around a global network who might download their software, or create a contractual web reaching into the far future and touching everyone who might one day modify their work. The licence allowed them, at low legal cost, to set up the terms of a global collaborative exercise. It allowed to share their work under generous terms, to create a “commons” of shared material on the basis of which all could innovate, and yet still to insist on requirements that would preserve that commons in the future.
The court agreed, as Boyle explains:
In a remarkable sentence, the court made clear that it understood the stakes of its decision. “Open source licensing has become a widely used method of creative collaboration that serves to advance the arts and sciences in a manner and at a pace that few could have imagined just a few decades ago.” Advancing the arts and sciences is what intellectual property law is supposed to be about. And in a case about model railway enthusiasts, that is just what the court did. Our hats (or propellor-bearing beanie caps) should go off to it.
If you’ve followed the case, or read the full column (go do that now), you know that the openly licensed code in question is for controlling model railroads. How wonderful that this case upholding modern tools for building collaborative culture involves an age old (well, at least a century old) tinkering culture.Comments Off
Check out this cool new way to support CC by using eBay:
Thanks to eBay Giving Works, powered by the nonprofit MissionFish, you can now sell items on eBay and donate up to 100% of the final sale price to Creative Commons. All you have to do is select Creative Commons as the benefitting nonprofit organization for your item, and the listing will appear on eBay with a special logo indicating it’s for sale to benefit a good cause. When the item sells, MissionFish will collect the selected donation amount, send it to CC, and provide you with a tax receipt.
As always, we are grateful to have such an enthusiastic and dedicated community of supporters working with us to build a global digital commons. Thank you for making our work possible!Comments Off
Three excellent commons themed events will occur in northern Europe October 20-26 with no days between them! Each has a significantly different focus. All are highly recommended and will feature participants, speakers, and organizers from Creative Commons’ network throughout Europe and the U.S.
First comes the 3rd COMMUNIA Workshop, October 20-21 in Amsterdam. A workshop, this is probably the most specialized of the three events, titled Marking the public domain: relinquishment & certification. For an update on one part of CC’s work related to this, see the announcement of CC0 beta/discussion draft 3.
Next is the Nordic Cultural Commons Conference 2008, held October 22-23 at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Bringing together all Nordic Creative Commons scholars and practitioners, the conference explores open content licensing and its implications for law and policy, business, culture, and the public sector. This may be the event of the year to learn about open content licensing. Early bird registration ends September 21.
Wrapping up the week is the Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit 2008, held October 24-26 in Gothenburg. Co-organized by Creative Commons Sweden, Free Software Foundation Europe and Wikimedia Sverige, FSCONS aims to be a landmark event in bringing the different movements working for digital freedom together, including free culture, free software, and developments that further both. Early bird registration ends September 15.
See you at one, two, or all three!Comments Off
Just after I graduated from NYU, I went to work as the ‘free culture’ intern at Creative Commons during the summer of 2005. I had started the Free Culture @ NYU chapter that year and CC felt like a great fit, and still does. But one of the things that puzzled me that summer was that there weren’t more free culture student activists in the bay area at the time. Clearly, things have changed.
Through the help of Berkeley’s budding Free Culture chapter, Students for Free Culture been able to organize a great conference for Fall break.
We’ll have keynotes by CC founder Lawrence Lessig, copyright legend Pam Samuelson, and John Lilly of Mozilla.
Day 1 will be open to the public and consist of panels and presentations in conjunction with the keynotes, and Day 2 will be workshops, team building, and learning about effective activism.
We’re doing a pay-what-you-feel system reminiscent of the one made famous by Radiohead and Girl Talk, but with one extra twist: ours also shows publicly what the average amount paid is, and right now it is around $27.
Finally, we have raised money in order to fly students in active chapters out to Berkeley for the conference, so if you’re interested in attending and have registered your chapter with Students for Free Culture, please book your flights now and visit our Travel page for more information.
If you’re looking to get involved in the Free Culture movement, I couldn’t suggest a better way of getting involved in our community.
Registration opens today, so sign up now!Comments Off