First Interdisciplinary Research Workshop on Free Culture program announced

Mike Linksvayer, July 6th, 2008

The program for the First Interdisciplinary Research Workshop on Free Culture has been announced:

We received 29 submissions for research presentations and each submission was reviewed by at least 3 reviewers, sometimes more! So the total was about 90 reviews written in a rather short amount of time. Of course we’re talking about extended abstracts here so reviews were sometimes very short, but this is still quite an achievement I believe. After careful consideration of the review results and other factors (having a good mix of presentations, diversity, inclusion, expected interest) we decided among the chairs to accept 16 papers for presentation (55% acceptance rate) and another 5 for posters.

Generally many papers received favorable reviews, even if some reviews were quite critical, so we opted for a model of maximum inclusion, where we want to give everyone with a sufficiently interesting submission a chance to present their work. The inevitable downside is that the research track will dedicate a fair amount of time to traditional “academic” presentations, but we have made space for a 1-hour speedgeeking session and a 1.5 hour open discussion on setting a commons research agenda. Also, all participants will naturally be able to mingle with every other isummit participant during breaks, social events, etc, so overall there should be a fair balance between ad-hoc participation and structured presentations.

Congratulations to researchers with accepted submissions and the workshop chairs, Giorgos Cheliotis, Tyng-Ruey Chuang, and Jonathan Zittrain.

The workshop runs for three days, July 30-August 1 in Sapporo, Japan in conjunction with iSummit’08. We posted about the workshop CFP in April.

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Very open microblogging service launches

Mike Linksvayer, July 2nd, 2008

Identi.ca, an open source/free software + open content = open service microblogging service launched today. From the FAQ:

How is Identi.ca different from Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Plurk, others?

Identi.ca is an Open Network Service. Our main goal is to provide a fair and transparent service that preserves users’ autonomy. In particular, all the software used for Identi.ca is Free Software, and all the data is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, making it Open Data.

The software also implements the OpenMicroBlogging protocol, meaning that you can have friends on other microblogging services that can receive your notices.

The goal here is autonomy — you deserve the right to manage your own on-line presence. If you don’t like how Identi.ca works, you can take your data and the source code and set up your own server (or move your account to another one).

Identi.ca is a project of Evan Prodromou, featured at Creative Commons previously for his work on Wikitravel and other open content initiatives.

Now you can microblog with less guilt. Follow Evan.

Creative Commons’ Jon Phillips is quoted in the press release:

Response from initial testers has been enthusiastic, both for the software’s design and functionality, as well as the site’s openness. “It makes me feel alive again to see the resurgence of free/open on the web,” said Jon Phillips, Community Manager with Creative Commons in San Francisco, CA.

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On Distinguishing Between Creative Commons, The Public Domain, and All Rights Reserved

Fred Benenson, July 2nd, 2008

Over the last week we’ve noticed at two instances where editors from mainstream newspapers have confused whether a particular image is licensed under Creative Commons, is in the public domain, or is all rights reserved. In one case, Technology Editor Charles Arthur of The Guardian blogged about a dust up between some photographers and eBay:

Last Thursday we ran a piece about a new (to us) wrinkle on copyright infringement, detailing how some people who had put photos on Flickr under a Creative Commons non-commercial licence (oops – they weren’t) found that they were being sold on eBay by someone who was claiming the rights to them.

Fortunately Mr. Arthur was quick to correct his error (the strike through is his, not ours) as we could find no evidence that the original photos were licensed under CC. While some of the CC licenses would explicitly allow someone to resell the work on eBay (Attribution, Attribution-ShareAlike, and Attribution-NoDerivatives), the default rule of copyright, all rights reserved, however, prevents such transactions.

In other news, The New York Times’ Lede Blogger Mike Nizza improperly associates a public domain image by Henry Holiday as being licensed under Creative Commons:

The Holliday illustrations are from the original 1876 version of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony, in Eight Fits which is available from Project Gutenberg for download here. Project Gutenberg is able to host the book as the work is in the public domain and not subject to copyright due to its creation date being prior to 1923.  Since copyright is a precondition for Creative Commons licensing (and any other licensing for that matter), it is meaningless to say that a public domain work is licensed under Creative Commons.

The New York Times’ link points to a version of the file hosted on Wikimedia Commons which functions as the media ‘backend’ for all of the Wikipedia projects. Wikimedia Commons only contains images and media which are freely licensed or are in the public domain and is an excellent resource for those looking for media that they they can use freely.

Taking a step back, we are excited to see mainstream media using and attempting to understand free works while properly attributing them.  But it remains clear that paying attention to not only the provenance, but the copyright (and sometimes lack thereof) of images found online is an increasingly important aspect of being a digital publisher.

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And the results are in…

Greg Grossmeier, July 1st, 2008

Just one week after the big release of the Case Studies project, things are doing great!  The project has garnered a lot of attention as can be seen from this example list. Some of the things said about the project include these two excerpts.

Ruth Suehle from Red Hat Magazine said:

Despite having just launched, the site is already full of studies.

And Marshall Kirkpatrick from ReadWriteWeb echos the sentiment with:

If your organization is interested in making your content easier to distribute, this database is a great place to learn from the experiences of others. … The breadth of examples already available is very commendable and many of them are quite well developed.

All of the support and positive reviews of the projects are great, but what is really showing us how much this project is appreciated is the fact that people are adding and editing Case Studies!  If you haven’t found your favorite photographer, filmmaker, musician, or writer who uses CC licenses on the list, take a moment and add them.

We have also started to put together some Professions pages to be used to help people find examples of case studies and other information for their discipline more easily.  Right now the pages include a featured list of case studies per profession and even some links to notable works in those areas.  There is a page for Photographers, Musicians, Writers, and Filmmakers. Be sure to check them out.

And, like any other part of this project, if you find anything missing, incorrect, or out of date, feel free to change it.  If you have any suggestions as to what can be added feel free to mention that as well.

Thank you everyone for making this project so successful!

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ImageStamper

Cameron Parkins, July 1st, 2008

ImageStamper is a free tool “for keeping dated, independently verified copies of license conditions associated with creative commons images.” You can see an example of how it works here. From ImageStamper:

ImageStamper can act as your witness when you inspect the copyright license of an image that you want to download and use. You can ask ImageStamper to look at the web page with the image to independently verify what exact license conditions apply to that image. ImageStamper will visit this webpage from one of its servers and produce an image ‘timestamp’ — a dated record of image contents and of the license conditions that apply to that image. This timestamp will then be permanently stored in your account and you can present it as evidence that you were given appropriate rights to use the image.

You can help with the development of the project (still in BETA) by giving feedback at the ImageStamper forum.

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Wordle

Cameron Parkins, July 1st, 2008

Wordle is an awesomely fun new tool (read what the TEDBlog had to say about it) that makes aesthetically pleasing text-images out of any block of text, a site’s RSS feed, or a user’s del.icio.us bookmarks. Check out a ‘wordle‘ we made of CC’s “Share, Remix, Reuse — Legally” text found on the front page of our website:

All of the images created by Wordle are released under a CC BY license, meaning that you can reuse them as you see fit as long as you provide proper attribution. Some seriously cool ideas are sure to follow – for instance one great idea (UPDATE: link fixed!) for using MOO, Wordle, and Flickr to create some eye-catching business cards.

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Adam Gnade Releases Hymn

Cameron Parkins, June 30th, 2008

Adam Gnade, a musician based in Portland, OR, recently published his first book, Hymn California, through CC-friendly distribution group CASH Music (blogged earlier here and here). Released under a CC BY-NC-ND license, the book is being serialized online in PDF form, one chapter a month over the next year along with a piece of music by Gnade.

Hymn California’s characters witness a strange wide-sweeping, panoramic America unfolding before them, while its 200 pages examine having an abusive relationship with a place (California) rather than a person. It shows displaced characters scattered across the continent, burdened by fear and homesickness while fighting to live unencumbered by bourgeois ideology. Death stalks at every intersection and on every riverbank. Lives sway in the delirium of wartime. Says Gnade, ‘A friend of mine asked me if I was trying to write ‘American magic realism’ with the book and I didn’t really have an answer for him. If it is, it was an accident’.

You can get more info on ordering the book in primary physical form here – one recently found its way into the CC offices and we are comfortable attesting to its stunning nature. Outside of purchasing the book itself, CASH suggest you support Gnade by seeing him live or by leaving a small donation at his CASH music page. Similarly, you can read an excerpt from the novel at Drowned in Sound.

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Severed Fifth

Cameron Parkins, June 27th, 2008

Severed Fifth is a new project from Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon in which he plans to document the process of becoming a musician in the ‘new music economy’, something he hopes to accomplish largely through using CC licensing. Two goals of the project, from Severed Fifth:

One. Severed Fifth is the name of my new musical project. For the last four months I have been writing a full solo metal album, which is nearly complete in the writing stages. In addition to writing the album, I will record and mix it in my studio, while also performing all of the instruments and vocals on the album. I will then release all of the final pieces from this new album online at www.severedfifth.com under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license. This will allow anyone to download, listen to, share and re-mix the songs freely, with the only condition that suitable attribution and credit is placed.

Two. To test the new economy of the recording industry, I will be starting an extensive campaign to see just how far I can take this new album while ensuring my project is fair to my listeners, and that the music is free. I will be exploring different approaches to promoting it in different mediums, and to different demographics, different methods of fund-raising to support other elements such as CDs, DVDs, tours etc, trying to build a strong community of regular listeners as well as free-culture fans around the project and more. Throughout this entire process I will be reporting, writing and speaking about the things I learn, which can be read at www.severedfifth.com. Even if this project nets so measurable success, one of my core aims is to be able to answer some of the questions that bands and artists in coming years will consider when evaluating how they approach their own musical ambitions. Importantly, this project is not designed to be primarily of interest to free culture fans – if it were, the results and expectations would be inaccurate; Severed Fifth is targeting real music fans, people who have probably never heard of free culture, and to really see if the economy works in a realistic setting.

You can hear or read the whole announcement at the Severed Fifth website as well as read a great write-up of the project at Ars Technica. In lieu of our recentlly launched Global Case Studies Project, in-depth documentation of how CC licences work for a relatively unknown artist will be illuminating to say the least. We can’t wait to see how things progress for Bacon and Severed Fifth!

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Google Book Search Adds Copyright Renewal Data

Cameron Parkins, June 27th, 2008

Google Book Search recently did a great service for those interested in the public domain by digitizing a huge amount of copyright renewal data for books dating as far back as 1923. From Inside Google Book Search:

How do you find out whether a book was renewed? You have to check the U.S. Copyright Office records. Records from 1978 onward are online (see http://www.copyright.gov/records) but not downloadable in bulk. The Copyright Office hasn’t digitized their earlier records, but Carnegie Mellon scanned them as part of their Universal Library Project, and the tireless folks at Project Gutenberg and the Distributed Proofreaders painstakingly corrected the OCR.

Thanks to the efforts of Google software engineer Jarkko Hietaniemi, we’ve gathered the records from both sources, massaged them a bit for easier parsing, and combined them into a single XML file available for download here.

This allows for a much clearer (although still somewhat problematic) understanding of which books have maintained their copyright status and which have gone in to the PD. Jakob Kramer-Duffield speaks well to the implications of Google’s efforts in pointing out “there’s a danger […] that our great knowledge resources from the past are ignored or left to molder, and the difficulty of determining copyright status has been something of a hurdle to digitization efforts thusfar.” Peter Suber more succinctly states, “I love the way we can now use free information to free information.”

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CcTeamspace: a collaborative project management software

Steren Giannini, June 26th, 2008

The CC staff has been developing and using their internal project management tool for too long, now has come the time for a release!

To sum up, CcTeamspace is nothing more than a clever combination of different open source tools with a solid data structure. It’s mainly powered by Semantic MediaWiki, an extension which adds semantic abilities to the well known MediaWiki software (the engine behind Wikipedia).

I recently developed an extension to add e-mail notifications and reminders to the system. I really think this tool can be useful for many organizations, that’s why I handled its public release.

CcTeamspace is free software, you can freely download and install it. It has been developed for internal needs, you’re welcomed to add and share your own features.

Visit this page to learn more.

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