CC Network and Interoperable Copyright Registry Exploration

Nathan Yergler, October 16th, 2008

Yesterday we launched The Creative Commons Network as part of our annual campaign. On the surface the CC Network is simple: it acts as a premium for supporting Creative Commons and gives supporters a way to tell the world that they support CC and Free Culture. But it’s also designed as a platform for exploring digital copyright registries.  If you were at the CC Technology Summit in June (or watched the video from it) you saw that there are lots of people working in this “Copyright 2.0” space. The conversations I’ve had about registries over the past year often start with the question, “how does someone with a photograph they downloaded off the web determine who owns it?”  That’s a question we want to be able to answer and that people such as Safe Creative, Registered Commons, Image Stamper, Attributor and others are working on different approaches to. But there’s an implied question underneath: “How do I take a photo and determine who claims to owns it? And how do I know if I should trust that claim?” That question of trust is one we’re looking at with the CC Network.

Let’s start at the beginning. When you select a license, Creative Commons doesn’t store that selection; it’s up to you, the owner to publish that information. To help you with that we generate some HTML you can paste into your web page that includes the license. Including that HTML is essentially a claim of ownership; it says “I’m offering this work under a license, and I can do so because I own the necessary rights to do so.” It may say other things, too, such as how you want to be attributed for re-use, but everything else hangs off that ownership claim. To date, short of contacting the creator directly to ask for some sort of verification, you’ve had to rely on context to help decide whether you trust the claim: is the claim published on site who’s name matches the name of the author or is it on a public, anonymous host like geocities? What’s my risk profile look like? The CC Network adds another piece of information to the decision making process.

A CC Network account has two relevant pieces: a badge you can include on your page that points back to your profile and a simple work registry where you can claim works you’ve created and made available under a CC license. The badge [unsurprisingly] includes embedded metadata that associates your CC Network profile with the work it’s on.  The work registration pages also include metadata about that relationship.  So now we have two pieces of information — one from each side — making mutually reinforcing assertions, so we have reason to trust the claim.  By itself this is just a claim of ownership — it still doesn’t tell us who owns the work.  After all, why wouldn’t I just create an account for my favorite band on the CC Network, post some of their tracks on my site and claim they’re licensed? This is where supporting CC financially can help you as a creator.

When you give to CC, your name is verified by PayPal and that information is passed back to us when the transaction completes. We store that with your profile as your name and display it on the license deeds when someone clicks through from a registered work. So when you’ve licensed your work, registered it with the CC Network and added the badge, your name — verified by making a contribution — shows up on the license deed.

Following a link from the licensed, registered work to the deed displays network membership information.

Following a link from the licensed, registered work to the deed displays network membership information.

If this were the end of the story it’d be of limited interest: another one-way, closed system for solving the problem. The most exciting part of this (for me) is that this system doesn’t actually rely on CC licenses or the CC Network at all — it’s all driven by metadata published with the work (on the network badge in this case) and with the registry (on your CC Network profile). We think the CC Network is a pretty good start but you can easily imagine other implementations that add even stronger assurances of identity: maybe one site implements web of trust, or another requires that creators show up in person with identification before becoming members. Yet another might also provide insurance backing up the claims. And applications — of which the license deeds are only one — can communicate this information to users, boosting their trust in the claim being made.

Since the beginning Creative Commons has made machine readable license information a “first-class” representation of the licenses. Because of that history and your support, we’re now in a position to continue building an infrastructure that allows creators flexibility and choice. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll join CC now and support the commons.

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RDFa now a W3C recommendation; message from Hal Abelson

Mike Linksvayer, October 16th, 2008

Yesterday RDFa, a technical standard Creative Commons has championed at the World Wide Web Consortium for five years, was made a W3C Recommendation — a standard for the web to build upon.

CC founding board member and MIT computer science professor Hal Abelson sends this message:

Dear Staff and Board,

I’m writing with some great news:

Today, the technical specification RDFa in XHTML Syntax and Processing was formally accepted as a Web Consortium Technical Recommendation by W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee.

Those the words might not mean much to any but the geekiest of us — but this is a big deal.

Creative Commons was a early adopter of Semantic Web standards. And yet, while the Semantic Web provided RDF as a standard for expressing metadata, it did not provide a standard for how that metadata should be integrated into ordinary Web pages.

The original concept of the Semantic Web did not encompass the notion that ordinary Web pages would be augmented with machine-readable metadata. Even today, that notion remains controversial. One considerable faction still holds that HTML should be purely a formatting language with no provision for any semantic information at all. Other factions, like microformats community, advocate metadata standards that do not integrate well into RDF and general Semantic Web applications.

CC licensing was the first use of the Web to envision Web publishers augmenting their pages with small amounts of machine-readable markup: the CC licensing attributes. It was our desire achieve this consistently with the Semantic Web that led to our involvement with the Web standards community; and the need to advocate for such a standard was why CC joined the Web Consortium in the first place.

RDFa is the standard that has emerged from this effort. RDFa is a general mechanism for expressing machine-readable attributes on Web pages in a way that is integrates with HTML. The most obvious example for us is the Creative Commons Rights Expression language (ccREL) — a machine-readable way to express CC licensing.

W3C’s adoption today of the RDFa recommendation solidifies the technical underpinning of ccREL and opens the door to the development and widespread support for CC-compliant tools on the Web.

There are many people who deserve credit for RDFa. Mike Linksvayer and Nathan Yergler certainly get kudos for their consistent support and development of the CC infrastructure to emphasize RDFa and ccREL.

But the lion’s share of the credit goes to Ben Adida, CC’s W3C representative, who led this effort creatively and tirelessly. Ben’s leadership in the technical design of RDFa and the negotiations and refinements to bring RDFa all the way through the complex Web standards process has been an effort of more than five years.

This work on RDFa not only has major benefit to CC, but it’s a significant example CC providing technical leadership in Web community and a contribution that will have implications far beyond CC’s own applications.

Ben deserves our sincerest thanks and congratulations.

== Hal

(Also check out Hal’s starring role in the new Jesse Dylan video about Creative Commons, A Shared Culture.)

Congratulations and thanks to Ben and everyone else who has worked so hard on this effort for so many years.

If you’re a web developer, check out RDFa and ccREL. A great place to start is Ben’s Introduction to ccREL talk from our first CC technology summit held in June (slides and video available at the link; also check out the CFP for our upcoming December tech summit at MIT). Ben also recommends a new post from the founder of Drupal on Drupal, the semantic web and search.

Otherwise (and even if you are a web developer), the best way to support this work is by supporting Creative Commons. Our annual fundraising campaign just kicked off yesterday, so now is an excellent time to give.


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Help us build a shared culture: CC’s annual fundraising campaign launched

Melissa Reeder, October 15th, 2008

Creative Commons has now officially launched its 2008 fundraising effort – our Build the Commons Campaign. Many skeptics think this is a precarious time to launch our major fundraising initiative; we disagree. This is an opportunity. An opportunity to call our community members to action – to help us make sure that the Commons continues to grow and be supported. These times demand creative problem solving and innovation on a global level – innovation that stems from collaboration and knowledge exchange, both of which are facilitated through access and sharing, and all of which are made possible by the Commons.

Since I started at CC, I’ve made sure that our annual campaigns (I can’t believe this is my third!) have always had two goals. The first is to raise a large sum of money from our community members (this year’s goal is $500,000) by the end of the year. The second, and in my opinion more important of the two, is to build awareness and community. The Commons is only as strong as the community behind it, and only by working together can we build a Commons that withstands the challenges of this generation and those to come. With this campaign, we’re asking that you help us Build the Commons by using CC licensed works and CC licensing your own work, educating others about the value of the CC approach to openness and access, and lastly – by joining the CC Network.

We are launching several cool things in conjunction with the campaign, and at the top of the list is the chance for you to join the CC Network. By joining, you will become part of a worldwide community dedicated to building the Commons and bringing open content to all corners of the globe. When you join you receive several benefits: a profile page where you can list your CC licensed works; an OpenID you can use at many different sites; and a button you can put on your work’s page to show you’re part of the CC Network. The button shows your support Creative Commons and allows us to add provenance information to the deed when people click through from your work.

We’re also launching the CC Video Project, where we’re asking you to produce a 90-second video that explains why you’re a Creative Commons supporter. So get creative and let the world know why you think what CC does is important. As the commons continues to grow, it’s important that we capture the stories of the community responsible for building it. Creative Commons has only succeeded because of the incredible work that you do. We want to hear and share your stories. How CC has helped you create, access, and collaborate?

This project happily coincides with the release of Jesse Dylan’s new video “A Shared Culture” which is an incredible short that features members of the Creative Commons board talking about the work we do and why we do it. Maybe you’ll choose to use Jesse’s video for inspiration. Maybe you’ll even take some of what he’s done and remix it, mash it up, or sample it in your own video. Whatever you make, be sure to let us know about it – we want to highlight all of the interesting people and stories out there. Check out the CC Video Project page for details on how to participate.

In addition to joining the CC Network and participating in our video project, there are many ways to support CC. Our financial goal is to raise $500,000 – a lot of money, I know, especially now; but any amount you can give makes a difference. You may even be able to double the value of your contribution by taking advantage of your company’s corporate matching gifts program. When you give to CC, you play a central role in helping to sustain the CC infrastructure, enabling us to continue our work maintaining and improving the existing tools and resources that millions of people use and rely upon.

As I said before, CC is around and important thanks to you and what you do with it. The livelihood of the Commons relies upon its community members – the builders, users, and supporters of the open web. If we don’t come together, and if CC is not sustained, the Commons runs the risk of stagnation and restriction – the antithesis of innovation, and innovation is so desperately needed right now. Help us make sure the Commons remains strong and continues to grow by taking part in the campaign today!

Stay involved and informed by signing up for our bi-monthly e-newsletter and by checking out upcoming CC events.

Check out the press releases for the CC Network and Jesse Dylan’s new video “A Shared Culture” for more information.

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Geograph British Isles Releases 1 Millionth Image

Cameron Parkins, October 15th, 2008

The Geograph British Isles project, which aims to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometer of Great Britain and Ireland, announced today that they have recieved their 1 millionth image submission. All images are licensed under a CC BY-SA license, meaning the images can be shared and reused as long as the author(s) are properly attributed and any derivative works are shared under the same license.

The White Lyne | David Liddle, CC BY-SA

Just three months ago, we were praising the GBI project’s effort to release torrents of their image database, which then totaled 860,000 images. Congrats to the GBI project on this huge milestone – read more about their project here, including their well articulated points on the benefits of remaining free and open.

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Nordic Cultural Commons Conference

Michelle Thorne, October 14th, 2008

In the wave of free culture gatherings this October, don’t miss out on the Nordic Cultural Commons Conference 2008, in Stockholm on October 22-23, organized by the Creative Commons Nordic network.

How is business created around open licensing? What benefits does the Creative Commons model provide for public broadcasting and archiving? How open licensing changes the production of cultural works? How does the common Nordic legal environment affect re-use of cultural works?

Nordic Cultural Commons Conference provides insight into these questions. Bringing together all Nordic Creative Commons scholars and practitioners, it is also a great opportunity to meet and discuss the latest open content practices and ideas.

Speakers include Mike Linksvayer (Creative Commons), John Buckman (Magnatune), Nicklas Lundblad (Google) and Paul Gerhardt (BBC Creative Archive), as well as Creative Commons Project Leads Henrik Moltke (CC Denmark), Prodromos Tsiavos (CC England & Wales), and Herkko Hietanen (CC Finland).

For more information, please visit the conference web site:

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IBM’s “Mastering the Creative Commons”

Cameron Parkins, October 13th, 2008

IBM, outside of their endeavors in personal computing and technology, is an active participant in the world of open source technology. It should come as no surprise then that IBM has an article on their website titled Mastering the Creative Commons. Filed in their “Web Development | Open Source” series, Uche Ogbuji does a nice job summing up what CC does:

Creative Commons (CC) is an organization of lawyers, technical experts, and managers, with a very broad community, whose goal is to “use private rights to create public goods”, by allowing creators to express degrees of licensing between the knee-jerk “all rights reserved” and public domain (in other words, “no rights reserved”). Creative Commons provides the legal framework and text of licenses that allow you to say that “some rights are reserved”, and allows this to be clearly discovered by others, so that they can determine whether their use is compatible with your reservations. The lawyers are involved when these reusable licenses are crafted and updated, with support and feedback from the community, with the idea that afterwards, the sharing can proceed on the Web with much less legal interference. In this article, learn how to express CC licenses for your work, how to use public services for finding work from others you can use, and how to identify such work yourself.

The article explains what our licenses do, how to license a work under CC, how to indicate that a work is CC-licensed (including a discussion of RDFa), and how to find CC-licensed works. While the article is available online and as a free PDF download, it is unfortunately not under a CC license. Regardless, it is great to see an organization like IBM support CC accurately and whole heartedly like this.

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Netwaves Bytes: Electro 1

Cameron Parkins, October 10th, 2008

Netwaves Records, a netlabel that focuses on genre-oriented compilations, just released their first album, Electro 1. Focusing on music that ranges from “electro-pop” to “electro-clash”, Electro 1 has been released under a CC BY-NC-SA license. this means it can be freely shared and remixed as long as proper attribution is given, the resulting and original works are not sold, and any derivative works are shared under the same license. Download it here for weekend listening.

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Cameron Parkins, October 10th, 2008

flickrleech is a great tool for those looking to search a large number of flickr photos at once – by utilizing Flickr’s API, flickrleech is able to display 200 images per page rather than the standard 10. As pointed out by Alvin Trusty, it simply “makes scanning for a picture much quicker.”

While flickrleech has been around for a while, a new update has added the ability to search for photos by CC license. For those who scour Flickr searching for the perfect CC-licensed image, this functionality should mean less time spent searching and an immediately wider selection to choose from. Check it out for yourself here.

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Two MIT OCW Courses Reach Million Visit Milestone

Jane Park, October 10th, 2008

A long-standing provider of open courseware, MITOpenCourseWare reached a million visit milestone yesterday for two of their online courses: 8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics and 18.06 Linear Algebra. The courses are two of MIT’s most popular to date, taught by renowned professors Walter Lewin and Gilbert Strang. From MIT’s media coverage on Lewin:

Professor Lewin is an international webstar. He is well-known at MIT and beyond for his dynamic, inspiring and engaging lecture style. His courses are also among the most downloaded at iTunes U. 8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics explains the basic concepts of Newtonian mechanics, fluid mechanics, and kinetic gas theory, and a variety of interesting topics such as binary stars, neutron stars, and black holes.

On Strang:

Strang is a 50-year mathematics veteran whose teaching style is recognized internationally. Linear Algebra introduces mathematical concepts that include matrix theory, systems of equations, vector spaces, and positive definite matrices. “Everyone has the capacity to learn mathematics,” says Strang. “If you can offer a little guidance, and some examples, viewers discover that a whole world is open.

8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics offers lecture notes, exams with solutions, complete videotaped lectures and their accompanying transcripts under CC BY-NC-SA. 18.06 Linear Algebra offers (interactive) Java applets with sound in addition to video lectures and translations into Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish, also under CC BY-NC-SA. CC BY-NC-SA allows for these kinds of adaptations and derivations of material—and translation is a crucial step in broadening access to a global audience. 

There are other and more interesting ways to adapt material, however, and we are curious to know how the visitors constituting the 1,000,000+ hits of these two courses (and others) have actually used the materials. Since educational needs vary contextually, it would be beneficial to know what types of adaptations are being made beyond translation. Of the 600 visits per day that these courses average, how many of them result in derivations? These, and other questions (such as visitor demographic, global reach, etc.) are things to consider as the OCW project continues to expand and evolve. The future impact of OER lie in the ways information is conceptualized, organized, and related; simply offering up free content on the web is no longer enough—remember David Wiley’s quote from OpenEd 08: “If my students can Google it, I don’t have to teach it.” As progressive models of OER develop and evolve, it will be interesting to see how OCW’s scope and impact also grows.

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RecombinaSOM: Brazillian Remix Contest

Cameron Parkins, October 8th, 2008

RecombinaSOM is a remix contest taking place as part of the São Carlos’s Federal University’s multimedia festival, “Contato“. The festival’s theme is recombination and will feature a number of discussions on new forms of licensing and exchanging content among audiovisual/music producers. RecombinaSOM itself will is being hosted by both ccMixter and overmundo, their collective effort being billed Overmixter:

Contato’s theme and curatorial leading concept in this edition is “Recombination” – a remix contest as well as the Creative Commons initiatives (already part of the daily routines of “Radio UFSCar”, one of the Festival promoters), fit well together. Beyond these facts, the copyright debate (one of the debate’s theme of the Festival) will join participants of the multimedia Brazilian website “Overmundo” (Golden Nica – Ars Eletronica winner) and CTS (Centro de Tecnologia e Sociedade da Fundação Getúlio Vargas), an institution that coordinates Creative Commons in Brazil.

The Contest will be host by ‘Overmixter”, a partnership between CCmixter and “Overmundo”, and will bring samples from the bands that are participating in the festival and material from the festival audio identity. The contest organization also will record and share samples during the festival – live presentations at the radio, live material from the gigs and more. 10 remixes chosen by the public will be part of the “Radio UFSCar” daily programming during he following three months and the first place remix chosen will be part of a compilation the station releases once a year called “Transmissoes Independentes” (its first edition is available on Jamendo). The compilation had 2 thousand copies downloaded this year and the media is distributed free of charge.

To find out more about what is going with Creative Commons in Brazil, click here.

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