Weblog

2008 November

Must-read: The Public Domain

Mike Linksvayer, November 29th, 2008

Creative Commons Board Chair James Boyle’s new book is out — The Public Domain: Enclosing of the Commons of the Mind, published by Yale University Press. Read and comment online or download and share the the PDF under a CC BY-NC-SA license. Buy a hardcopy.


The Public Domain cover, evolved from excellent contest entries. We blogged about the contest in April.

The Public Domain covers the history, theory, and future of the public domain, taking a broad conception of the meaning and import of the public domain:

When the subject is intellectual property, this gap in our knowledge turns out to be important because our intellectual property system depends on a balance between what is property and what is not. For a set of reasons that I will explain later, “the opposite of property” is a concept that is much more important when we come to the world of ideas, information, expression, and invention. We want a lot of material to be in the public domain, material that can be spread without property rights. “The general rule of law is, that the noblest of human productions—knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions, and ideas—become, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use.” Our art, our culture, our science depend on this public domain every bit as much as they depend on intellectual property. The third goal of this book is to explore property’s outside, property’s various antonyms, and to show how we are undervaluing the public domain and the information commons at the very moment in history when we need them most. Academic articles and clever legal briefs cannot solve this problem alone.

Instead, I argue that precisely because we are in the information age, we need a movement—akin to the environmental movement—to preserve the public domain. The explosion of industrial technologies that threatened the environment also taught us to recognize its value. The explosion of information technologies has precipitated an intellectual land grab; it must also teach us about both the existence and the value of the public domain. This enlightenment does not happen by itself. The environmentalists helped us to see the world differently, to see that there was such a thing as “the environment” rather than just my pond, your forest, his canal. We need to do the same thing in the information environment.

We have to “invent” the public domain before we can save it.

That’s from the preface. I encourage you to read on, to chapters about Creative Commons (of course), evidence-based policy and the public domain (my favorite), a movement for the public domain, and much history, theory, and wit leading up to those.

You can also read and subscribe to Boyle’s blog on The Public Domain, which includes an excellent post on authors, academic presses, online publishing and CC licensing. Brief excerpt, emphasis added to the truth that will be so obvious to readers of this blog that one might wonder why it would need to be said:

The one piece of advice I would offer is to make sure that you really talk it through with everyone at the press and get them to understand the way the web works. While university presses might want to experiment only with a few titles, when it comes to those titles they need fully to embrace the idea — creating an excellent website for the book (or allowing the author to do so), allowing multiple formats of the book to be made available (pdf, html etc), being excited rather than horrified if the book gets mentioned on a blog and downloads spike. The last thing you want is a publisher who has grudgingly agreed to a Creative Commons license but who then sabotages every attempt to harness the openness it allows.

Unfortunately how the web works and what that means for copyright and publishing still needs to be explained. Repeatedly. Every day. That’s one reason Creative Commons needs your support to meet our $500,000 annual public campaign goal. Every day we explain how the web works, how to work with the web, and how to keep the web open, for scientists, educators and learners, and everyone else. And we do our bit to improve the open web.

On those notes, see the CC Network badge on every page of The Public Domain website and James Boyle’s CC Network profile. Join Boyle in supporting Creative Commons and get your own CC Network badge and profile (and other goodies).



Then send this post to your friends. Or if you’re old school, send a hardcopy of The Public Domain with a printout of this post and a personal note enclosed. :-)

Comments Off

Second Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase

Greg Grossmeier, November 26th, 2008

After the great success of the first Ubuntu FreeCulture Showcase just 4 months ago the great people at Ubuntu have opened up the door for submissions for the latest Showcase. The Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase is a way to show off the high-quality creativeness of the Free/Open Source community.

The winners of the competition are given more than just bragging rights as well. As Jono Bacon, Community Manager for Ubuntu, has put it in his announcement, “with each development cycle we present the opportunity for any Free Culture artist to put their work in front of millions of Ubuntu users around the world.” That is millions of new eyeballs and ears to experience your creative work. The deadline for submissions is February 6th, 2009 so get to work on your submission now!

Also, this time around the competition is not limited to only music and video as they have added the Image category to the mix. The image can be any type of photography or computer generated still art.

All submissions for the Showcase will be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. The choice of license shows Ubuntu’s commitment to the ethos of Free Software and Free Culture. The Attribution-ShareAlike license is Approved for Free Cultural Work license and also the same license that Wikipedia is considering transitioning to in the future. This is a really great choice on behalf of Ubuntu to use the BY-SA license and help build the commons of free as in freedom material.

3 Comments »

Non-Commercial study questionnaire

Mike Linksvayer, November 25th, 2008

As previously announced, Creative Commons is studying how people understand the term “noncommercial use”. At this stage of research, we are reaching out to the Creative Commons community and to anyone else interested in public copyright licenses – would you please take a few minutes to participate in our study by responding to this questionnaire? Your response will be anonymous – we won’t collect any personal information that could reveal your identity.

Because we want to reach as many people as possible, this is an open access poll, meaning the survey is open to anyone who chooses to respond. We hope you will help us publicize the poll by reposting this announcement and forwarding this link to others you think might be interested. The questionnaire will remain online through December 714 or until we are overwhelmed with responses — so please let us hear from you soon!

Questions about the study or this poll may be sent to noncommercial@creativecommons.org.

22 Comments »

Reminder: December Technology Summit Registration – Now with Student Rates

Nathan Yergler, November 25th, 2008

Just a quick reminder that registration is still open for the December Technology Summit taking place in Cambridge, MA.  The program looks like a great set of presentations about technology that touches CC: RDFa, digital copyright registries, embedded metadata and more.

Registration is available online and we’ve added student rates at about half the normal rate: $40 or $25 for students who are also CC Network members (plus the option to buy both at the same time). Hope to see you there!

Comments Off

Pratham Books joins the Commons

Jane Park, November 25th, 2008

Pratham Books is a nonprofit publisher started by the Pratham Education Initiative, which, since 1994, has been working to secure primary education for every child in India. “Pratham Books is a not-for-profit trust that seeks to publish high-quality books for children at a affordable cost in multiple Indian languages. Pratham Books is trying to create a shift in the paradigm for publishing children’s books in India.”

While working with One Laptop Per Child and the Open Learning Exchange in Nepal, Pratham Books decided to contribute educational books and other content for use in low cost laptops and an open eBook library. They released six books under CC BY-NC-SA, and they are available for download at Scribd. The children’s books include titles like The Moon and the Cap, Annual Haircut Day, and books that make mathematics fun—translated into Neplai for local use. Pratham Books also has an imprint, Read India, that publishes more children’s books in many different Indian languages and at low cost to make them more universally accessible.

Currently, the format of the books are in PDF, but Gautum John of Pratham writes that this will soon change, as they are working on a platform to remix books and they will also be available in HTML. Check out their official blog post about it here.

2 Comments »

Eighth Annual Media That Matters Film Festival DVDs on Sale

Fred Benenson, November 25th, 2008

The Media that Matters 8th Annual Festival DVDs have officially gone on sale. There are a number of facts that make these DVDs exceptional in the festival and documentary world:

If you’re interested in submitting your work to the 9th Annual Media that Matters Film Festival, check out their submission page here. Either way, consider buying a DVD today!

2 Comments »

Announcing December’s CC Salon NYC / 6th Birthday Party

Fred Benenson, November 25th, 2008

CC Salon NYC Logo

UPDATE: We’ve officially too big for TOPP, so we’re moving the Salon to the For Your Imagination Loft. Details below.

Creative Commons turns 6 in mid-December, and we’ll be celebrating Salon style (as has been the tradition in NYC for CC’s birthdays in years past) at The Open Planning Project once again For Your Imagination on December 16th with a Salon and free beer. Since its our birthday there will be some special birthday surprises as well.

December’s Salon will feature presentations by Michael Galpert from Aviary.com (who was unable to make it to September’s Salon but is joining us this time), LimeBits’ Jonathan Marshall & Ted Metcalfe, Spot from the Electric Sheep CC-licensed screen saver, and a special musical performance from Sarah Elizabeth Foster, whose new CD is CC licensed.

Here are the details:


Tuesday, December 16th from 7-10pm
For Your Imagination Loft

22 W. 27th St., 6th Floor

New York, NY

The Open Planing Project
349 W. 12th St., 1st Floor

We’ll also have free (as in beer) beer for the reception afterward. If you’ve didn’t make it to any past CC Salons, don’t miss this one, and if you did, you’ll know to come early as space is limited.

RSVP to the event via Facebook or by e-mailing me: fred [at] creativecommons.org.

2 Comments »

State Shirt Call for Remixes/Samples and Shannon Plays Live

Victor Stone, November 24th, 2008

Over a year and a half ago the ccMixter community decided to stop having formal remix contests in part because in a CC context, the traditional format seemed outdated. In a typical remix contest an artist would post the stems to one song, retaining all the rights to the samples as well as the remixes produced by the entrants. After the contest deadline, the samples are typically taken off the web site in order to take them out of official circulation.

By contrast, on ccMixter, we’ve turned to a ‘call for remixes’ model where we get the artist to put the stems for an entire album into the Commons and keep it there. Therefore the concept of a ‘deadline’ seems mute. The best part is that the rights to the remixes are retained by the artist. This has proven to be much more amenable to the community and it has responded with 1,000s of remixes to calls by DJ Vadim, Bucky Jonson, Trifonic,Calendar Girl, Brad Sucks and Shannon Hurley.

Shannon exemplifies the new hybrid sharing+business model because when we she was ready to put together an album of remixes she licensed, for a fee, the remixes from the producers for the album “Second Light: The Ready to Wake Up Remixes” (AMIE Street, CD Baby and iTunes).

She will be performing the remixes with Ben Eisen on bass, Sam Cunningham on drums, and “my apple notebook” in Los Angeles on December 10th. This gig will be quite the party as ccMixter producer DJ Doughy will be flying from Kansas City, Mo. and I’ll be making a special trip to LA for this event as well. (There is a $12 charge at the door.)

Shannon Hurley Remix Album Release Party
Wed. Dec. 10th
8pm sharp, all ages
Genghis Cohen (map)
740 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
$12 admission

Our latest call has special significance because we’ve been trying to get indie star State Shirt for a while and he’s come through in a big way. Not only did he put his entire “This is Old” album, stems, a cappellas and all, into the Commons but his plan is to use the remixes themselves as source material for a new album of original music. State is a master songwriter who writes and performs in an “energetic and ridiculously catchy” way according to DoKashiteru who should know: his DnB smasher remix was an Editor Pick minutes after upload.

The State Shirt call is: “Remix Me So I Can Remix You

He says: “Creative Commons is the perfect antidote for a collapsing landscape still clinging to traditional copyright. I hope more artists discover that freedom, flexibility, collaboration and community are now an option. I also hope that my fellow ccMixters would want to get involved with me, in both the creation and re-creation of music.”

Comments Off

CC + MIT + Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Melissa Reeder, November 24th, 2008

On Dec. 12th, 2008, CC will be pairing up with two of the most influential and innovative institutions in the “open” movement: MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

For those of you interested in the tech side of Creative Commons, MIT’s CSAIL is hosting CC’s second Tech Summit from 9-4:30. The first Tech Summit, held at Google this past summer, was a complete success; those archived presentations are here.

And for those of you interested in CC generally, CC and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society have joined forces to bring you the panel discussion: “The Commons: Celebrating accomplishments, discerning futures.” Panelists include James Boyle, The Public Domain; Lawrence Lessig, Remix; Joi Ito, Free Souls; and Molly S. Van Houweling, Creative Commons’ first Executive Director. Jonathan Zittrain, of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, will moderate. A reception will follow at 7:30 pm. Details are here.

We hope you will join us in celebrating Creative Commons’ sixth successful year and the culmination of our 2008 Annual Fundraising Campaign, “Build the Commons.” This event is open to the public, but because we’re closing in on the end of our campaign, we encourage you to bring your check books (or cash rather) and help sustain CC by donating at the door!

Space is limited. Please RSVP by December 1st to Melissa Reeder, Development Manager, at melissa@creativecommons.org.

Comments Off

Guide to Creative Commons Media for Videographers

Cameron Parkins, November 24th, 2008

Eugenia Loli-Queru recently published a Guide to Creative Commons Media for Videographers, providing a great overview of what videographers should look for in CC-licensed media. Lol-Queru gives background on our license conditions (explaining what each one means for videographers in particular), discusses sources for CC-licensed music, and touches on some general practices and marking standards videographers should abide by. It is a solid guide for anyone looking for free and open media to use in online video and something all CC-using videographers would do well to read.

Comments Off


Page 1 of 9123456...Last »