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2008 November

NY Times Magazine on Lewis Hyde

Eric Steuer, November 18th, 2008

This past weekend, The New York Times Magazine published an excellent feature on author and scholar Lewis Hyde, best known for his book The Gift, a landmark assessment of the gift economy and the value of doing creative work in a commodity-driven culture. I read The Gift a few years ago, and pieces from it often pop into my head when I talk to artists who use Creative Commons licenses in their approach to distributing their work. The Times article is a great primer on Hyde and The Gift is highly recommended for anyone interested in beautifully-written and well-argued philosophy about the benefits of sharing.

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Spot.us: CC-Licensed Community Funded Reporting

Cameron Parkins, November 18th, 2008

Spot.us is a recentlly launched nonprofit project from the Center for Media Change that aims to pioneer “community funded reporting.” Stories are pitched online with an amount of money needed for publication – users and site visitors can donate to any pitch they deem worthy, with the resulting article released under a CC BY license. From Poytner Online:

Users create story ideas that they think should be investigated and submit them to the site. From these ideas, journalists choose to write story pitches and open the idea up to the public to make donations. Once the project reaches its funding goal, those who have donated pay up and the journalist produces the story. If the project doesn’t receive enough funding, no one is charged. After the story is complete, Spot.Us publishes it and offers it to news organizations for free (the site’s content is licensed under Creative Commons). There is an option for news organizations to buy exclusive rights to the story, with the funding money going back to the journalist.

Spot.us has been getting a ton of great press including a nice write-up in the New York Times. Check out the site – no articles have been published yet but there are plenty of great pitches waiting to be funded. Similarly, don’t hesitate to start your own.

Addendum: Spot.us and Wikinews are both presenting tomorrow at a special CC Salon San Francisco on citizen journalism. It’s cool that both sites use the permissive CC BY license — they could each reuse the other’s stories, so long as they give credit — and you could too.

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A letter (and very special offer) from Lawrence Lessig

Melissa Reeder, November 17th, 2008

Last week, CC founder Lawrence Lessig sent the following letter (and offer) to our email lists. However, I thought it was important that everyone who is interested enough in CC to read our blog, should have the opportunity to read this as well. If you’d like to sign-up for our ccNewsletter list, please do so here.

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Dear Creative Commoner:

It has been an exciting week in America. Many of us had been focused on this presidential election. Few have had the time to think about the other projects we have that are working hard to do good.

I’m writing today to ask you to think again about one of those projects that will always be important to me — Creative Commons. We’re in the middle of our annual drive. The success of this drive is essential to our ability to run. The vast majority of CC’s supporters, including of course its Board, and current CEO, are volunteers. But the organization depends upon a small number of wildly underpaid staffers, as well as modest infrastructure to keep the system alive.

This is a tough year to ask for support, I know. All of us are facing difficult decisions about what we can really afford to do. But as I looked out at the packed audiences in Hong Kong celebrating the launch of the 50th Creative Commons jurisdiction, I saw again just how critical it is to keep this movement growing. We have made important progress over the year, including most importantly for me, winning the confidence of the Free Software Foundation so that they will permit FSF licensed wikis (including Wikipedia) to relicense to a CC license. But there is an enormous amount of work left to be done.

Please help us in this. Whatever you can give is important. And if you’d like something tangible in return for your gift, I’m happy to send you a signed copy of my latest (and last in this field) book, REMIX, inscribed however you like. (I’m only going to sign a limited number for this purpose, and we’re going to charge an insanely high price, but if you’re interested, visit here. And if you’re ordering from outside the United States, you’ll get the Bloomsbury Academic version of the book, with the CC license explicit inside.)

I’ve not pestered you much this year. It has been important to me to see this organization thrive when I’ve not been at the center of its work. But Creative Commons remains the work I’m most proud of. And like any parent, it still keeps me awake with worry at night. Please help us make this year another success. Do what you can. Get 6 friends to do the same. We’ve been depending on small donations long before America could spell “Obama.” And we depend upon those donations still.

Please support Creative Commons today.

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Commoner Letter #3: Jonathan Coulton

Melissa Reeder, November 17th, 2008


Jonathan Coulton; photo by Del Far under CC BY 2.0

To our community – for our next commoner letter we are featuring an artist who has really proven that the CC model works for musicians. Jonathan Coulton has made a career out of sharing his music with his fans, not just aurally, but digitally and meaningfully through the prolific use of our licenses. We’ve also worked with Jonathan this year to offer an exciting new CC item — a custom USB jump drive stocked with his music and source tracks. Read on for his heartfelt commoner letter and for more information about our new jump drives. If you would like to receive these email letters, please sign-up here.

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Dear Creative Commoner:

I first learned about Creative Commons when I heard Lawrence Lessig speak at a conference in 2004. I had been invited there to sing a silly song about the future, revenge, and robot armies to an audience of futurists and super scientists. It was a little intimidating – I was not even Internet Famous then. I was still working at my day job, trying to figure out how a career software guy in his mid 30s could ever find a way to make a living writing songs. Lessig gave his standard presentation (to this day, still the most delicious Powerpoint kung fu I have ever seen) explaining the history of copyright and the goals of Creative Commons. As we all filed out for lunch, I remember feeling like my head was on fire, it was just the most exciting idea I had ever heard.

In those days one of the things that was keeping me from doing music full time was my lack of a coherent plan: I make music, something happens, I make money, that was about as far as I could think it through. Creative Commons filled in a lot of the gaps for me. I knew about the internet of course, I was aware of the rise of remix culture, file sharing, and fan-created content. But there was something so compelling about the Creative Commons license, the idea that you could attach it to a piece of art you had made and declare your intentions – please, share my music, put it in a remix, make it into a music video. I was thrilled and emboldened by the idea that I could give my songs legs, so that they could walk around the world and find their way into places I would never dream of sending them. I immediately started licensing my songs with CC, and a year later I quit my job to create music full time.

It’s hard to overstate the degree to which CC has contributed to my career as a musician. In 2005 I started Thing a Week, a project in which I recorded a new song every week and released it for free on my website and in a podcast feed, licensing everything with Creative Commons. Over the course of that year, my growing audience started to feed back to me things they had created based on my music: videos, artwork, remixes, card games, coloring books. I long ago lost track of this torrent of fan-made stuff, and of course I’ll never know how many people simply shared my music with friends, but there’s no question in my mind that Creative Commons is a big part of why I’m now able to make a living this way. Indeed, it’s where much of my audience comes from – there are some fan-made music videos on YouTube that have been viewed millions of times. That’s an enormous amount of exposure to new potential fans, and it costs me exactly zero dollars.

When you’re an artist, it’s a wonderful thing to hear from a fan who likes what you do. But it’s even more thrilling to see that someone was moved enough to make something brand new based on it – that your creative work has inspired someone to do more creative work, that your little song had a child and that child was a YouTube video that a million people watched. A Creative Commons license is like a joy multiplier. The art you create adds to the world whenever someone appreciates it, but you also get karma credit for every new piece of art it inspires. And around and around. This is my favorite thing about Creative Commons: the act of creation becomes not the end, but the beginning of a creative process that links complete strangers together in collaboration. To me it’s a deeply satisfying and beautiful vision of what art and culture can be.

This is why I’ve chosen to release a greatest hits album of my Thing-A-Week songs to help support Creative Commons’ 2008 campaign. We’ve teamed up to combine not only the unreleased “JoCo Looks Back” album, but all of the unmixed audio tracks for all of the 20 songs on a custom CC green 1gb jump drive. The drives, whose entire contents are licensed under CC’s BY-NC-SA license, will be available exclusively through Creative Commons’ support site until December 31st, and you can get one today when you donate $50 and above.

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Campaign Exclusive: Custom USB Drives & Unreleased Jonathan Coulton Album

Fred Benenson, November 17th, 2008

Mega Green FlashdriveThe ever innovative Brooklyn-based singer songwriter Jonathan Coulton has teamed up with Creative Commons to release his greatest hits compilation “JoCo Looks Back” on a 1gb custom Creative Commons jump drive to help support our 2008 campaign. If that weren’t enough, JoCo and CC have also included all of the unmixed audio tracks for every song on the drive. That’s over 700mb of JoCo thing-a-week goodness. Since all of JoCo’s music is released under our Attribution-NonCommercial license, this is an incredible opportunity for the public to remix and reuse his fantastic music. Song files are in 320kbps MP3 and unmixed audio tracks are in 256 VBR MP3.

We’ll be offering the drives exclusively at our $50 dollar donation level (and above) until December 31st. Also included are a CreativeCommons.net account, an OpenID identity, and a 2008 campaign sticker.

Jonathan also wrote a wonderful commoner letter speaking on how he, as a musician, uses Creative Commons to support himself and his career. Read it here.




Read More…

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Open Music Wire

Cameron Parkins, November 17th, 2008

Open Music Wire is a new initiative from Musik1 that promotes CC-licensed music from affiliated net-labels. Most readily seen as a music blog, OMW curates the music they feature on their home page in an effort to shine a light on the songs and artists they find particularly inspiring. All of the music on the site is released under a CC BY-NC-ND license.

OMW is still in beta, so many of the services aren’t fully launched. With that said, it is important to note that although there is a distinct emphasis on OMW’s affiliated net-labels, anyone can submit music to their Open Music Library as long as it is licensed correctly. Presumably, this music will not only be freely available but also pooled for the curated content on the main page.

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Stanford Courses Available via BitTorrent

Jane Park, November 17th, 2008

BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, has been embraced by Stanford University in distributing its online engineering courses. Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) launched back in September, offering its open courseware under CC BY-NC-SA. Thanks to Ernesto at TorrentFreak for the tip:

“While some universities restrict the use of BitTorrent clients, others embrace the popular flilesharing protocol and use it to spread knowledge. Stanford University is one of the few to realize that BitTorrent does not equal piracy. They use BitTorrent to give away some of their engineering courses, with some success.”

Why does BitTorrent make sense for Stanford Engineering courses? Because unlike some of their OCW (Open CourseWare) counterparts, SEE offers more than just video lectures; Stanford Engineering Everywhere “provides downloads of full course materials including syllabi, handouts, homework and exams. Online study sessions through Facebook and other social sites are encouraged” (Stanford News Service). In addition to BitTorrent, the courses are also available via iTunes and YouTube.

You, too, can learn robotics!

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Kaltura: Open-Source Video Platform

Cameron Parkins, November 17th, 2008

Kaltura, an “open-source platform for video creation, management, interaction, and collaboration”, boasts a robust platform uncommon among web-apps that includes the ability to annotate, remix, edit, and share video collaboratively over the web.

Of particular interest to the CC-community is Kaltura’s decision to require that all user-submitted media be licensed under a CC BY-SA license, creating a community of true sharing and remixing that is in line with our Free Cultural Works guidelines. From Kaltura:

Kaltura’s open source platform enables any site to seamlessly and cost–effectively integrate advanced interactive rich–media functionalities, including video searching, uploading, importing, editing, annotating, remixing, and sharing. Kaltura’s goal is to bring interactive video to every site and to create the world’s largest distributed video network.

Kaltura are also funding open video work at Wikimedia, great news we posted earlier here.

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Twidox launches private beta

Jane Park, November 17th, 2008

Twidox, “a free, user generated online library of ‘quality’ documents,” launched their private beta today. The “private” beta can be accessed with a beta-code, which virtually anyone can obtain by registering. For readers of this blog, you can simply type in the beta-code “creativecommons” to check out Twidox.

Twidox is a content repository where anyone can upload and publish their work under a Creative Commons license, donate it to the public domain, or retain “all rights reserved” copyright. They have built in CC licensing, so you can easily tag your resources under the license of your choosing. Twidox’s focus is on:

  • academic papers and articles
  • research material
  • professional and industry specific documents
  • coursework and dissertations
  • data and statistics
Like Scribd, IssueLab, and a host of other platforms that have built in CC licensing, ccLearn encourages the open publication of educational materials on the internet. We will follow the progress and evolution of Twidox, who “[does] not see similar sites as competitors.” They state that “Rather than trying to compete with organisations such as the ‘Max-Planck Institute’ and ‘Frauenhofer Institute’, for example, we see them as potential co-operation partners and welcome partnerships.” They also differ from other content repositories in that they are working to cull content on a wider scale by collaborating with various European organizations, versus simply hosting individually contributed materials. So far, Twidox is working with the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking and also their Office on Drugs and Crime.

Twidox was founded by Nicholas and Daniel MacGowan von Holstein and Jan Deppe. The idea for Twidox began in a university when they began “discussing the difficulty of searching for relevant quality documents for research purposes (access to knowledge). The greatest obstacle lay in the relevance of search results returned from search engines, getting access to subscription-paying sites that did have relevant information and the vast number of websites from different organisations that held documents on the same subject.”

We look forward to seeing collaborations occurring between Twidox and organizations with similar aims.
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Reminder: CC Salon SF this Wednesday (11/19/08)

Allison Domicone, November 17th, 2008

To the Bay Area CC community: we hope you can make it to our next CC Salon SF this Wednesday, from 7-9 pm. The theme is “CC and Citizen Journalism,” and we’re very excited about the presenters we’ve got lined up:

From Wikinews: Volunteer Coordinator Cary Bass and Bay Area “Wikinewsie” volunteer Jon Davis will talk about their experience at Wikinews, a global citizen journalism effort and project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

From Spot.us: David Cohn, who has been involved with myriad citizen journalism projects, the likes of which include NewAssignment.net and his current endeavor, Spot.us – a crowdfunding journalism project of the nonprofit Center for Media Change.

Music for the evening will be provided by DJ qubitsu.

The Salon will be at Shine Bar (21+): Map and directions.

For more information, contact salon [at] creativecommons.org

Remember: CC Salons are community-driven and can pop up anywhere. We encourage you to consider starting a salon in your area!

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