Genreal Fuzz Release “Soulful Filling”

Cameron Parkins, September 10th, 2008

General Fuzz, an artist who creates self-described “lush melodic instrumental electronica”, released his new album, Soulful Filling, at the beginning of this month, bringing his number of CC BY-NC-SA licensed albums to an amazing 5.

All the tracks, along with General Fuzz’s other music, are free to download at his website. What really sets Soulful Filling apart though, outside of its musical merit, is that General Fuzz has gone to the trouble of crafting a “multitrack flash mp3 player” that allows you to listen to a song’s individual audio stems either on their own or as a user-defined composite.

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CC Licensed Image on Rapid City/Gillete Phone Book

Cameron Parkins, September 10th, 2008

Sylvan Sunset | Scott Carpenter CC BY

It certainly isn’t the most publicized use of CC licences we have seen, but Scott Carpenter’s “Slyvan Sunsetappearing on the cover of the 2008/2009 Rapid City/Gillete Phone Book has us ecstatic nonetheless. While big names help gain wider exposure for CC, it is important to remember that these are tools meant for everyone, of which Carpenter’s photo re-use is an excellent example. From MTF.org:

Last September I received an email from someone at Yellowbook, saying that they were interested in using my picture for the cover of the Rapid City phone book [...] I said that they were already free and welcome to use it under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license with which it was published, but that I’d be willing to relicense it as Attribution only, which I did, and also signed a form giving them permission to use it. I often wondered if I should have held out for money also, but seeing the small role of the picture, it’s just as well I didn’t. Something tells me they wouldn’t have paid much for that, if anything, and I’m simply pleased to get some exposure and have an artifact of free culture–the CC license–appear right there on the cover of an old media phone book.

Carpenter’s experience highlights many of the things we love to see – licences increasing content visibility, the ability for a creator to reach a separate agreement outside their original CC license, and proper and thorough attribution (even if we have to agree with Carpenter that a graphic designer might “balk at this kind of verbiage [...] with the picture being such a minor part of the page”). Kudos to Carpenter and the countless others who use CC for everyday reasons and, every so often, experience surprising results.

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Open Design: Industrial Design under CC

Michelle Thorne, September 10th, 2008

CC Israel Project Lead Rotem Medzini writes about an initiative to combine computer numerical control (CNC) with CC-licensed design information:

Open-Design is an alternative way of designing art. In his M.A. thesis, Ronen Kadushin felt there was a problem with realizing creativity in industrial designs. Ronen, an Israeli designer that also lectures at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, saw that while in fields like music, graphic design, video, etc., creating became inclusive for all and also independent of publishers or producers — all thanks to the digital technology and the internet. But according to Ronen, it isn’t like that for industrial design. It is being left behind because it has material output that needs marketing investment and support from producers.

To solve all that he came up with Open-Design, which combines CNC production and CC design information for publication and distribution. “It is an alternative method to design and production that in my view, is in touch with the realities of information technology and economics,” noted Ronen. He added that while doing his research, he liked the flexibility, clarity, and simplicity of CC.

According to Ronen’s thesis, consumers today are design aware and often look for products with attribution to the designer, as an added value to the designer’s fees. Ronen sees Open-Design as a way in which the designer is also at the center of the customer-base, not only th producer or product. For him, Open-Design is an adventure, an experiment involving his profession and life.

CC-Israel wants to thank Ronen Kadushin for answering our questions and sharing with us his work.

Flat Knot – stainless” by Ronen Kadushin available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license.

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Launched! Creative Commons Romania Reports

Michelle Thorne, September 10th, 2008

Journalists, bloggers, and CC supporters gathered last week in Bucharest to celebrate the launch of the localized Romanian Creative Commons licenses. CC Romania Project Lead Bogdan Manolea reports on the event’s success and how popular Romanian artists such as HI-Q have embraced Creative Commons’ flexible and free licensing system.

The public was interested in details about the practical implementation of CC licences starting with the way attribution works and ending with the practical advantages of choosing CC licences for an artist.

Florin Grozea from the popular band HI-Q pointed out that the licences are a valid solution for some of the problems that artists face, as the licences provide a set of rules more flexible than the traditional copyright. He also presented a practical case with their older, very well-known song “Gasca mea (My Mob)”, for which they received a lot of requests from teenagers to use the song to make non-commercial videos to share online (example). Since the purpose of the song was to share the fun spirit of the HI-Q band, the artists decided that such a request should be granted directly. With a CC licence, the conditions for using a creative work are very simple and easy to understand.

On this occasion, the HI-Q band announced that the vocal tracks from the band’s next single will be released under the Romanian CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. Fans will be invited to create remixes of the tracks and upload them to music-sharing websites. The best covers may also be included in the band’s next album.

Regarding other speakers at the launch:

The band Travka was the first group in Romania to release an entire album under a CC licence. Band member Razvan Rusu explained that they looked for “a kind of an open source licence” that could be used for their music, which is how they found and agreed to use the CC licences.

Ioana Avadani, from the Center for Independent Journalism, emphasized the fact that today, attribution might be more important than all the other author’s rights. She also pointed out that small TV and radio stations are forced to close down because of the demand to pay several copyright royalties. Creative Commons could offer a viable alternative.

The national television station TVR featured the launch of CC Romania, as did a number of blogs (Drept & Internet, Transindex, and Nicu). The event was organized by EDRi-member Association for Technology and Internet (APTI Romania) with help from the Center for Independent Journalism.

Update: The national television station TVR Cultural featured the launch of CC Romania, as did a number of online news portals Hotnews (Romanian) and Transindex (Hungarian), and several blogs (e.g. Drept & InternetNicu, Hoinar pe web and Webservator).

George Gadei @ Travka” by LevyNagy, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommerical-Share Alike license. Photo from a prior concert.

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Cool open video news from Wikimedia

Mike Linksvayer, September 9th, 2008

The most frequently used audio and video formats on the web are not open (they’re software patent encumbered), which has hindered the development of free and open source media tools. Open audio and video formats face a tough chicken and egg problem: not interesting to publishers if not supported in software, and not interesting to software developers if not much published open format audio and video.

Wikipedia and its media repository, Wikimedia Commons, have long been an important piece in this adoption puzzle. Along with only accepting liberal copyright licensing, they accept only free file formats.

Late July the Wikimedia Blog featured two hopeful items regarding open media formats. Both are still developing and well worth checking out despite this late posting.

First, an announcement that MetaVid lead developer Michael Dale has been hired by the Wikimedia Foundation:

As many of you may know, Wikimedia is working with Kaltura, Inc. to explore collaborative video editing in the Wikimedia projects. I’m very happy to announce that Kaltura has decided to support the further development of a 100% open source video editing solution integrated into MediaWiki. To this end, Kaltura is sponsoring Michael Dale, lead developer of the MetaVid project, to work in the Wikimedia Foundation offices in San Francisco beginning in early August.

Michael will work on adding support for video editing operations and other video-related functionality to MediaWiki, with a rich user interface built entirely on open standards like Ogg Theora. Michael’s work priorities will be coordinated between Kaltura and WMF. I am hoping that we can make incremental improvements to Wikimedia’s video capabilities that will start to become visible to users soon. :-)

This is really excellent news. MetaVid impressed when presented at a CC Salon two years ago.

Second, a post on news that Firefox 3.1 to support open video and audio. This post also has an excellent summary of why open formats matter for free culture. Go read it!

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CC Talks With: Richard Stevens

Cameron Parkins, September 9th, 2008

Richard Stevens, known to many as simply rstevens, has been a major presence in webcomics for the better part of a decade, gaining notoriety through his popular webcomic Diesel Sweeties. In March of this year, he chose to release the entire archive for DS (nearly 2,000 comics) under a CC BY-NC license, opening up a collection of incredibly witty and sharply designed comics to the masses. We recentlly caught up with rstevens to learn more about his comics and work in general, why he chose to use CC, and what kind of effect it has had on Diesel Sweeties.

Can you give our readers some background on who you are and what you do? How long have you been working in the webcomic world? How did you end up there?

I’m a comic book nerd born a few months before Star Wars who studied and taught graphic design, but wound up getting to be a cartoonist. I’m a big Mac fan, even though they’re popular again and I spend most of my time walking around writing or making coffee.

I’ve been doing Diesel Sweeties on the web since early 2000 and it’s been my job since 2002. I did a parallel version for newspapers that ran from 2007-2008.
Read More…

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Ghostss: Nine Inch Nails CC-Licensed Video Remix App

Cameron Parkins, September 9th, 2008

Marco Hinic, ‘visualist engineer’ and founder of VJ application ArKaos, recentlly decided to experiment with the Nine Inch Nails Ghosts Film Festival, eventually creating Ghostss, a C++ powered online generative art project that creates infinite visual remixes by pooling over 1GB worth of video and select tracks from Ghosts: I-IV. The result might be one of the coolest video remixes to date and in lieu of the contest rules, Hinic’s videos are released under a CC BY-NC-SA license meaning you can share and remix them as well. From Create Digital Music:

A few days ago I released the web site ghostss.com; it’s my entry to the NIN Ghosts Film Festival.

It’s an online video remixing application. It builds playlists describing a mix of videos with effects and renders them as an .flv Flash Video file. All the content is on the web site — around 1 gig of video loops and a few mp3’s from NIN music.

In accordance to NIN music, all Videos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license.

The web site is a mix of c++, php and javascript for the client side. Basically the client builds a playlist with video references and effects, the playlist is translated into an xml request that is sent to the web site. The video

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Cory Doctorow Releases “Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future”

Cameron Parkins, September 9th, 2008

CC evangelist and acclaimed author Cory Doctorow announced today the release of his new book, Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future. Content is exactly what it claims to be – 28 essays on “everything from copyright and DRM to the layout of phone-keypads, the fallacy of the semantic web, the nature of futurism, the necessity of privacy in a digital world, the reason to love Wikipedia, the miracle of fanfic, and many other subjects”. If that wasn’t inciting enough, Content also boasts an introduction from EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow and book design by acclaimed typographer John D Berry.

Like his other novels, Doctorow has chosen to release Content both as a print book for sale and as a free-to-download CC BY-NC-SA licensed PDF. In his essay, “Giving it Away” (originally published in Forbes, December 2006 – republished in Content), Doctorow describes his decision to use CC licences and the benefit he has seen as a result:

When my first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, was published by Tor Books in January 2003, I also put the entire electronic text of the novel on the Internet under a Creative Commons license that encouraged my readers to copy it far and wide. Within a day, there were 30,000 downloads from my site (and those downloaders were in turn free to make more copies). Three years and six printings later, more than 700,000 copies of the book have been downloaded from my site. The book’s been translated into more languages than I can keep track of, key concepts from it have been adopted for software projects, and there are two competing fan audio adaptations online.

Most people who download the book don’t end up buying it, but they wouldn’t have bought it in any event, so I haven’t lost any sales, I’ve just won an audience. A tiny minority of downloaders treat the free ebook as a substitute for the printed book — those are the lost sales. But a much larger minority treat the ebook as an enticement to buy the printed book. They’re gained sales. As long as gained sales outnumber lost sales, I’m ahead of the game. After all, distributing nearly a million copies of my book has cost me nothing.

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“Open Educational Resources — Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education”

Jane Park, September 9th, 2008

The JISC CETIS (JISC Centre for Educational Technology & Interoperability Standards) is a JISC funded service that has long been researching educational technology and covering the field’s latest developments under a CC BY-NC-SA license. One of their latest publications is a briefing paper on open educational resources (OER) titled, “Open Educational Resources — Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education” and authored by Li Yuan, Sheila MacNeill, and Wilbert Kraan. According to Li, the briefing paper “[looks] at the latest developments and trends in Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives worldwide” and serves as “a quick introduction to funding bodies, institutions and educators who are interested in OER initiatives. The paper includes three sections: a) the conceptual and contextual issues of Open Educational Resources; b) current OER initiatives: their scale, approaches, main issues and challenges; and c) trends emerging in Open Educational Resources, with respect to future research and activities.”

He also explains their reasons for initiating and completing the study:
“It appears that OER will have a significant impact on managing and accessing the existing repositories and in taking these initiatives forward as part of a global movement. We thought it might be useful to carry out a review of OERs that might benefit the JISC community in planning funding programs and in opening up discussions on future research directions concerning the use and re-use of digital content.”

The paper can be accessed as a pdf directly from Li’s blog or the JISC CETIS Features page.

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Australian National Innovation Review recommends Creative Commons

Michelle Thorne, September 9th, 2008

CC Australia writes about an important report that advises Australian governments to follow open publishing standards and recommends using a Creative Commons license for government material released for public information.

Those interested in open access to public sector information will be excited to see the results of a recently released Australian Federal Government Review of the National Innovation System, http://www.innovation.gov.au/innovationreview.

The final report, titled VenturousAustralia, was prepared for Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, by consultants Culter and Co, headed up by industry consultant and strategy adviser Dr Terry Cutler. It places a strong emphasis on open innovation, stating in the introduction:

“Today innovation is understood to involve much more than the transmission of knowledge down the pipeline of production from research to development to application. In the age of the internet, with the opportunities for collaboration which it opens up, open innovation is increasingly important.”

Most importantly from an open access point of view, it was Recommendation 7.8 which is most exciting:

“Australian governments should adopt international standards of open publishing as far as possible. Material released for public information by Australian governments should be released under a creative commons licence.”

The full report is available at http://www.innovation.gov.au/innovationreview/Documents/NIS-review-web.pdf.

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