On Verifying the Commons

Fred Benenson, October 27th, 2008

One of the most substantial challenges when working with digital media is the effort required in preserving it and documenting its existence. Hard drives fail, DVDs crack, and servers are taken down. Anticipating and mitigating these inevitable failures has helped cement a culture of redundancy in our private information technology infrastructure, but what of the commons? Projects and features like Archive.org’s Way Back Machine, Google’s Cache, and Wikipedia’s history, all provide glimpses of what once was on the Internet, but what happens when you need to verify that a work was released under Creative Commons?

In this vain, Scott Carpenter ruminates on the issues invoked when a popular Flickr photographer switches his work back from attribution to All Rights Reserved:

I had saved a handful of his photos to my hard drive, and checking another one, it also had been “taken back.” I left a comment on the one photo, pointing out this change in licensing. Terry’s work receives lots of comments on Flickr and this picture was posted almost a year and a half ago, so I didn’t expect much in the way of a response, but he sent me an email thanking me for my comment and saying, “Yes I had to change the rights as I started finding my photography being used without my permission for advertising and other professional media.”

As you may or may not know, CC licenses are irrevocable, but this doesn’t mean creators can’t cease offering a work under the license. When a licensor changes the license of a work (whether it is Creative Commons or otherwise) it simply means that whomever comes across the work in the future will be bound by the new terms and not the older ones. It does not mean, however, that the older licenses are invalidated. For more information about this read our FAQ.

As for the question of verifying whether a work was ever released under a CC license, the innovative ImageStamper.com can provide this exact service for flickr photos. We used ImageStamper to time stamp all 157 photos used in Jesse Dylan’s ‘A Shared Culture‘ so that we would have proof, going forward, that a particular work was released under a given license. WebCitation.org‘s archive feature provides essentially the same functionality for any given webpage and also provides a permanent URL for the snapshot.

Ultimately, this is the exact question we were interested in answering by creating the Creative Commons Network. Instead of providing proof of others choice to use a CC license, you can use the Creative Commons Network to show the world that both Creative Commons and you have verified that you’ve released a work under CC.

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DJ Z-Trip’s Obama Mix

Fred Benenson, October 27th, 2008

Z-trip Obama Mix
The legendary mashup DJ Z-Trip has released a new mix under our Attribution license intended to help garner support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Z-Trip’s Obama Mix is a recording of the set he’s been playing at recent fundraisers he’s organized with the artist Shepard Fairey (creator of the ubiquitous OBEY campaign and more recently, the Obama HOPE posters). Z-Trip wants you to push the mix as far and wide as possible so it makes sense he chose our least restrictive license:

I encourage you to download it and pass it along to anyone you think should hear it. Feel free to burn copies, share it with friends, family, co-workers, strangers, and especially anyone you know is on the fence about this election. I’m also putting out a radio friendly version, in case anyone wants to broadcast it.

Regardless of your political affiliation, the mix deserves a listen for anyone interested in political speech and sound. Download Z-Trip’s mix here.

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First Romanian CC Remix Competition: Hi-Q “Me+U=Love”

Michelle Thorne, October 24th, 2008

Hi-Q, the hugely successful Romanian pop group, announced the first CC remix competition in Romania. Hi-Q’s unreleased song “Eu+Tu=Iubire” (“Me+U=Love”) will be included on the band’s upcoming album.

From CC Romania:

It is time for users to engage in this quest and test their talents in order to produce a song just the way YOU would like it to be. The voices are released under the Romanian CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license, and the challenge is hosted by eOk.ro.

The vocal tracks can be downloaded on Hi-Q’s profile page. The contest ends November 10 with plenty of prizes along the way from Tuatara.ro, Microsoft and Dj Super Store.

Hi-Q was one of the parteners for the CC Romania launch in September. It is the most popular pop band in Romania, known for its twelve year success in combining music, television and radio, and for its sustained support of social campaigns.

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First CC Salon in the Alps

Michelle Thorne, October 23rd, 2008

From CC Austria:

We proudly announce the first CC Salon to be held in the Alps in the net
culture labs of the cities Vienna and Dornbirn simultaneously, connected with
a video bridge.

CC licensing has become very popular in Austria and even found its way in
curricula of media design students. Together with the Austrian Chamber of
Commerce, the creative sector association just published 10.000 booklets,
explaining the pitfalls of the copyright in daily creative work, and
suggesting CC as a preferred licensing model.

We would like to welcome guests from surrounded areas. Any other city in the
alps is invited to follow up with a next salon event.

The CC Alps Salon will take place today, October 23, at 1930 CET.

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Hong Kong Promotes Education, Creativity with Creative Commons’ 50th Launch Event

Michelle Thorne, October 23rd, 2008

On October 25, the launch of the localized licenses in Hong Kong will mark the fiftieth Creative Commons jurisdiction to celebrate the license porting.

Creative Commons International (CCi) works to build CC’s free, multilingual licensing system in collaboration with legal experts and professionals around the worldwide. CCi has coordinated fifty jurisdictions to successfully adapt, or “port“, the core CC licenses. The international license porting project is an important aspect of Creative Commons, as the localized licenses provide extra legal certainty and ensure that the licenses are both legally and linguistically understood around the world.

The Hong Kong launch will be held during an event co-sponsored by the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre and the Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity. Prof. Lawrence Lessig and CC CEO Joichi Ito will hold keynotes, followed presentations about open courseware and strategies for Hong Kong to improve education through CC licensing. More details about the event and the CC Hong Kong project can be found on their website: http://hk.creativecommons.org/.

Press release (English and Chinese).

Congratulations and thank you to CC Hong Kong and Project Leads Rebecca MacKinnon, Dr. Yahong Li, Ms. Alice Lee, and to Mr. Pindar Wong and the many Hong Kong volunteers for their support!

Image selected from “CCHK Launch Programme (.pdf)” by Creative Commons Hong Kong, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

UPDATE: Catch the live webcast of the events on http://www.iresource.hk/v30/promo_cchk.php, courtesy of Cyberport.

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Registries and the public domain at the 3rd COMMUNIA Workshop

Mike Linksvayer, October 23rd, 2008

Monday the 3rd COMMUNIA Workshop on Marking the Public Domain: Relinquishment and Certification included a panel on marking and tagging public domain works, featuring presentations by Safe Creative‘s Mario Pena (Safe Creative’s approach to registering public domain works), Patrick Peiffer of the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg (and CC Luxembourg), Jonathan Gray (OKF), and me (certifying public domain works).

In the future we will work with Safe Creative and others on registry standards to ensure openness and interoperability — see both Mario and my slides for some of this.

Soon all presentations from the workshop will be available for download.

Remember that Safe Creative is generously matching contributions to the CC fall fundraising campaign. Thanks again to Safe Creative!

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WIRED on Arduino and Open Source Computing

Cameron Parkins, October 22nd, 2008

WIRED Magazine just published a fascinating article by Clive Thompson on Arduino, a company that manufactures an open source computing platform of the same name.

Schematics for the Arduino chip are released under a CC BY-SA license, meaning that home-brewed Arduino chips have popped up in “open source synthesizers, MP3 players, guitar amplifiers, and even high-end voice-over-IP phone routers”. The article is brimming with anecdotes and examples on how giving away these schematics ahs been a huge help to Arduino economically, ethically, and creatively. In regards to their initial motivations, Thompson writes:

[T]he Arduino inventors decided to start a business, but with a twist: The designs would stay open source. Because copyright law—which governs open source software—doesn’t apply to hardware, they decided to use a Creative Commons license called Attribution-Share Alike. It governs the “reference designs” for the Arduino board, the files you’d send to a fabrication plant to have the boards made.

Under the Creative Commons license, anyone is allowed to produce copies of the board, to redesign it, or even to sell boards that copy the design. You don’t need to pay a license fee to the Arduino team or even ask permission. However, if you republish the reference design, you have to credit the original Arduino group. And if you tweak or change the board, your new design must use the same or a similar Creative Commons license to ensure that new versions of the Arduino board will be equally free and open.

On the topic of open-source economics, the Arduino team has some phenomenal insight on lessons they have learned:

[Arduino] makes little off the sale of each board—only a few dollars of the $35 price, which gets rolled into the next production cycle. But the serious income comes from clients who want to build devices based on the board and who hire the founders as consultants.

“Basically, what we have is the brand,” says Tom Igoe, an associate professor at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, who joined Arduino in 2005. “And brand matters.”

What’s more, the growing Arduino community performs free labor for the consultants. Clients of Banzi’s design firm often want him to create Arduino-powered products. For example, one client wanted to control LED arrays. Poking around online, Banzi found that someone in France had already published Arduino code that did the job. Banzi took the code and was done.

The whole article is absolutely fascinating and worth a read for anyone in the CC community – interested in computer hardware or not. You can learn more about Arduino at their website.

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Creator of ‘The Bizarre Cathedral’ on CC Licenses

Cameron Parkins, October 22nd, 2008

Ryan Cartwright, creator of webcomic The Bizarre Cathedral, recently posted an insightful and thought-provoking piece on why he uses a CC BY-NC-SA license on all Bizarre Cathedral comics. From Cartwright:

[B]y restricting some freedom in distribution, it protects greater freedoms for the end-users. This is why I chose CC-BY-NC-SA for the Bizarre Cathedral.

  • BY because I want people who receive one cartoon to be able to enjoy the rest here at FSM.
  • SA because I want everyone to enjoy the same access to the strips
  • NC because I want people to enjoy these at no cost. I am paid for creating them, so I want them to be enjoyed at no cost.

Cartwright wrote the piece in response to criticism centered around the argument that his license choice (CC BY-NC-SA) was “non-free.” We’re always interested in this sort of dialogue, so insight like this – as well as insight from those critical of our licenses – is invaluable.

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CC Salon SF (11/19/08): CC and Citizen Journalism

Allison Domicone, October 22nd, 2008


Save the date! Announcing the next CC Salon SF on Wednesday, November 19th, from 7-9 pm. The theme for the salon will be “CC and Citizen Journalism,” and we are 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 project of the nonprofit Center for Media Change – that allows an individual or group to take control of news by sharing the cost (crowdfunding) to commission freelance journalists.

We hope you’ll join us for what is sure to be a great evening of exploring the ways in which CC helps facilitate citizen news and media outlets – vital resources for sustaining a healthy culture of sharing!

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

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

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CC Guatemala: “Free to Choose, To Create, To Innovate, To Learn, To Imagine”

Michelle Thorne, October 22nd, 2008

On October 23 in Guatemala City, the UFM‘s New Media Centre will host an event to celebrate the localized Guatemalan licenses, available soon online. Jimmy Wales, Creative Commons Board member, will hold the keynote address Free to choose, to create, to innovate, to learn, to imagine.

CC Guatemala’s institutional host, UFM and its New Media Center, will be releasing a vast amount of material and education resources under the Guatemalan licenses. The Lienzo de Quauhquechollan: A Chronicle of Conquest will be available under a localized CC license as well.

In other exciting news, the region’s first orphan works rescue program will be initiated by the University’s Ludwig von Mises Library. The program will scan twentieth-century Central American works in cooperation with the Internet Archive. More open content and open education programs in Latin America will be discussed this November 19-21 at the Latam Commons 2008 conference in Santiago, Chile.

Congratulations to CC Guatemala and Project Lead Renata Avila!

Press Release (English and Spanish).

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