“What Status for Open?” A ccLearn Publication

Jane Park, December 18th, 2008

ccLearn is pleased to announce the publication of a research report entitled, “What Status for Open? An Examination of the Licensing Policies of Open Educational Organizations and Projects.” We encourage you to read the whole report, which you can find in several formats, along with an FAQ, on the ccLearn website.

The report asks, “What makes an educational resource “open”? Is it enough that resources are available on the World Wide Web free of charge, or does openness require something more?” These questions have become more urgent as the open education movement has gained momentum and as potential users of open educational resources (OERs) increasingly face uncertainty about whether permission is required when they translate, reuse, adapt, or simply republish the resources they find.

With the support of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, ccLearn surveyed the copyright licensing policies of several hundred educational projects or organizations on the Internet to assess whether these legal conditions limit the usefulness of self-designated open resources from the user’s perspective.

The study reveals three principal findings:

  • The copyright licenses or terms of use associated with some OERs are difficult to find or to understand;
  • The majority of OER projects or organizations have adopted a standardized license created by an independent license provider, and of these, the large majority have adopted one or more of the six Creative Commons copyright licenses (“CC licenses”) to define the terms of openness. But, a sizable minority of OER providers have chosen to craft their own license – often borrowing terms from one of the standardized licenses. Thus, as a group, OER providers have adopted a diverse, and often customized, set of license conditions that in some cases require significant work by users to understand;


  • The usefulness of OERs as a group is limited by incompatible license conditions that functionally prohibit combination or adaptation of OERs provided by different sources.

This report concludes with a recommendation that creators of open educational resources consider using CC licenses to provide users with readily found, standardized terms of use. It recommends further that OER creators consider adopting the most open of CC licenses, the Attribution-only License (CC BY), to nourish the creativity of educators and learners alike by allowing the adaptation, combination, and republication of OERs from multiple sources.

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Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia Discussing License Drafts

Michelle Thorne, December 18th, 2008

Legal experts in the South Caucasus are making major strides in the Creative Commons license porting process with the completion of license drafts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Regional stakeholders are publicly discussing the three drafts on the CC South Caucasus mailing list. As with all ported CC licenses, the license discussions are aided by English re-translations and explanations of the necessary legal changes.

With the support of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, CC Project Leads in the South Caucasus have been  developing the CC licensing infrastructure in their countries since May 2008. Their efforts build upon base-line assessments of national copyright legislation and direct consultations with community members, the results of which were analyzed during a recent regional workshop in Tbilisi.

On behalf of CC Armenia, CC Azerbaijan, and CC Georgia, we warmly welcome you to join the public discussion. Congratulations to Project Leads Movses Hakobyan (AM), Elmari Mamishov and Ramil Iskandarov (AZ), Dr. Nino Kuntseva-Gabashvili, Merab Labadze, and Zviad Sulaberidze (GE), and to the Eurasia Partnership Foundation for their continued support!

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Brooklyn Museum Licenses Works Under CC

Cameron Parkins, December 17th, 2008

Egypt: Looking out to Sea, Port Said | The Commons: Brooklyn Museum Collection

Our new affinity for micro-blogging has been a huge success so far, allowing us to engage with those in the CC community in a more personal and exciting manner. One of the biggest rewards is that we are finding out about a bevy of cool projects using CC that would have otherwise slipped under our radar.

This tweet by The Brooklyn Museum got our particular interest – everything they hold the copyright to is released under a CC BY-NC-ND license, allowing for free sharing of their content. This should come as no surprise considering their contribution to Flickr: The Commons (joined today by the New York Public Library) and their new “socially networked museum membership”, 1st fans, but is an inspiring choice nonetheless.

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Google releases Browser Security Handbook under CC BY

Mike Linksvayer, December 17th, 2008

Last week Google published a 60 page equivalent Browser Security Handbook under the CC Attribution license:

In hopes of helping to make the Web a safer place, we decided to release our Browser Security Handbook to the general public. This 60-page document provides a comprehensive comparison of a broad set of security features and characteristics in commonly used browsers, along with (hopefully) useful commentary and implementation tips for application developers who need to rely on these mechanisms, as well as engineering teams working on future browser-side security enhancements.

Although this may sound dry, the handbook is effectively a highly readable and fascinating explanation of many of the reasons the web and web browsers work as they do. Highly recommended for deep reading by anyone remotely involved in web development, and for skimming by everyone else.

Hopefully publication under the most liberal CC license, allowing republication, modification, and commercial use, so long as credit is given, will help this important content find its way into developer, educational, and training resources around the world.

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Reminder: CC Birthday Party in SF TOMORROW 12/18

Allison Domicone, December 17th, 2008

Join us at 111 Minna Gallery (Map and Directions) tomorrow evening as San Francisco celebrates 6 phenomenal years for CC and the December 31st wrap-up of our 2008 fundraising campaign!

The party starts at 9pm, with music provided by DJs Ripley and Kid Kameleon.

At about 10:30, partygoers will be treated to a live improv performance from dublab DJs Jimmy Tamborello, frosty, Professor Cantaloupe, and matthewdavid, as part of the physical Into Infinity installation.

Tickets will be sold at the door, but please RSVP to rsvp[at]creativecommons.org so we know you’re coming.
The event is 21+.
From 9-11pm: $15 for CC Network members and $20 for non-members (feel free to give a further donation at the door to help support our annual campaign!). Hosted bar: beer, wine, and well-cocktails (cash bar otherwise). Join the CC Network today to secure your discount!
After 11pm: $5 for CC Network members and $10 for non-members. Cash bar.

Everyone is welcome, but space is limited – so bring friends and arrive early!

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CC’s 6th Birthday in NYC & Salon Followup

Fred Benenson, December 17th, 2008

Photos by Ben Sisto

Thanks to everyone who made it out to the FYI studio for our 6th Birthday last night in NYC. Despite battling the first snow storm of the season, the crowd enjoyed presentations from Ted & Jonathan of Limebits, Michael from Aviary, Spot of Electric Sheep and an fantastic performance by Sarah Elizabeth Foster.

Happy Birthday may or may not have been sung, and many free beers were consumed. Check out Ben Sisto’s free photos of the evening if you want to see more proof.

Special thanks goes to everyone who helped setup and break down, and especially to For Your Imagination for supplying their awesome studio space in the face of a intimidating RSVP list.

Most importantly, please take a minute to fill out our quick survey so we can solicit feedback about our Salons. You can also use the survey to give us your e-mail address so we can let you know about future events.

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Wikipedia licensing Q&A posted

Mike Linksvayer, December 16th, 2008

Erik Möller of the Wikimedia Foundation announced a questions and answers document concerning the possible licensing update for Wikimedia Foundation projects to CC BY-SA. On “What will happen next?”

We will present a proposal for dual-licensing all Wikimedia projects currently using the GFDL, by January 15, 2009. It will be published on the foundation-l mailing list. This proposal will be discussed and revised through open community discussion, leading to an open vote among all active Wikimedia contributors (to be defined using similar criteria as the Board elections). If a majority of community members favor migration to CC-BY-SA, it will be implemented.

This follows the enormously important November 3 move by the Free Software Foundation to enable FDL-licensed wikis to migrate to CC BY-SA. For more background and why this is so important for free culture, see our post on the FSF’s move.

FSF president and free software movement founder Richard Stallman has since written an open letter on the matter. Excerpt:

If a wiki site exercises the relicensing option, that entails trusting Creative Commons rather than the Free Software Foundation regarding its future license changes. In theory one might consider this a matter of concern, but I think we can be confident that Creative Commons will follow its stated mission in the maintenance of its licenses. Millions of users trust Creative Commons for this, and I think we can do likewise.

This is a great honor for Creative Commons, and a debt of trust we are compelled to uphold. We hope the Wikimedia community will come to the same conclusion. Regarding maintenance of CC BY-SA licenses, see our Statement of Intent, also cited by the Q&A linked at the top of this post.

For a more general take on license stewardship, please see Bradley Kuhn’s post on The FLOSS License Drafter’s Responsibility to the Community, prompted by Stallman’s letter:

The key quote from his letter that stands out to me is: “our commitment is that our changes to a license will stick to the spirit of that license, and will uphold the purposes for which we wrote it.” This point is fundamental. As FLOSS license drafters, we must always, as RMS says, “abide by the highest ethical standards” to uphold the spirit that spurred the creation of these licenses.

Far from being annoyed, I’m grateful for those who assume the worst of intentions and demand that we justify ourselves. For my part, I try to answer every question I get at conferences and in email about licensing policy as best I can with this point in mind. We in the non-profit licensing sector of the FLOSS world have a duty to the community of FLOSS users and programmers to defend their software freedom. I try to make every decision, on licensing policy (or, indeed, any issue) with that goal in mind. I know that my colleagues here at the SFLC, at the Conservancy, at FSF, and at the many other not-for-profit organizations always do the same, too.

CC does not create software licenses (we recommend existing excellent free software licenses, such as the FSF’s GNU GPL), but these are words to take to heart as closely as possible.

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Sundman returns

Mike Linksvayer, December 16th, 2008

John Sundman has published his third gonzo SF novel, The Pains, under a CC BY-NC-ND license. As usual when it comes to CC-licensed SF, Cory Doctorow has more on the story over at Boing Boing.

We published an interview with Sundman about his use of CC licenses back in 2006.

You can download, buy, or donate in support of all three of Sundman’s novels on his wetmachine.com site.

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Mike Linksvayer, December 16th, 2008

Creative Commons is working with Law & Technology Program at the University of Ottawa to create Canada jurisdiction-specific licenses from the generic Creative Commons licenses.

CCi Canada List

Project Leads:  Marcus Bornfreund, Andy Kaplan-Myrth, and Olivier Charbonneau

University of Ottawa

More About the Law & Technology Program at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law

The Law & Technology Program at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law was founded in 1998 and is the leading program of its kind in Canada. Providing specialized courses, practical experience and the opportunity to conduct innovative research, the program covers both the graduate and undergraduate level. From its location in Canada’s technology capital, the University of Ottawa Law & Technology Program acts as a central source of legal information and expertise for policy-making and judicial determination in Canada and has been instrumental in producing technology law practitioners that now occupy all facets of the technology law field.


CC Canada would like to thank and acknowledge the follow individuals for their contributions and support of the Canadian project. For more information on the past and present team, please visit CC Canada’s People page.

Justin Barca : Webmaster (Spring / Summer 2006)
Marty Finestone : Licence Drafter / Researcher (Winter 2004 / Fall 2005)
Philippe Gauvin : Researcher (Fall 2003)
Jeremy Hessing-Lewis : Volunteer (Fall 2005 – Winter 2008)
Ketai Hu : Technical Administrator (Summer 2004 – Winter 2006)
Ian Kerr : Licence Drafter / Researcher (Summer 2004 – Spring 2006)
Sabine Minsky : Volunteer (Summer 2006)
Monique Moreau : Intern (Winter 2005)
Tina Piper : Project Lead (Fall 2005 – Spring 2009)
Catherine Thompson : Volunteer (Summer 2005)
Michael Yang : Licence Drafter (Winter 2004)

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FairShare Challenges YOU to Support CC!

Melissa Reeder, December 15th, 2008

We’re thrilled to announce the third and final matching challenge of the 2008 annual campaign! This round’s matcher is FairShare, a new service from Attributor. FairShare is putting up $3000 in order to match every single donation (up to $3000) between now and the end of the campaign.

FairShare was previewed at CC’s 2nd Technology Summit on Friday. FairShare is a free service that lets you assign a CC license to your work and receive information on how and where it is shared with others. Results come back as an RSS feed and include information about the percentage of your work re-used, whether a link back exists and if ads are present. Support for Share-Alike and No Derivatives licenses are expected soon. FairShare is currently in beta, and they are looking for help testing http://www.fairshare.cc.

This is a great opportunity to double the value of your contribution to CC. The end of the campaign is quickly approaching and we need your help — donate today!

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