Urgent: Your input needed for “NonCommercial” questionnaire

Mike Linksvayer, December 2nd, 2008

As previously announced, we’re running a questionnaire on understanding “NonCommercial” use. The questionnaire runs through December 714. It takes 15-25 minutes to complete.

Click here to start the questionnaire.

Your input is greatly appreciated. CC CEO Joi Ito explains:

“The study has direct relevance to Creative Commons’ mission of providing free, flexible copyright licenses that are easy to understand and simple to use,” said Creative Commons CEO Joi Ito. “The NC term is a popular option for creators choosing a Creative Commons license, and that tells us the term meets a need. However, as exponentially increasing numbers of works are made available under CC licenses, we want to provide additional information for creators about the contexts in which the NC term may further or impede their intentions with respect to the works they choose to share, and we want to make sure that users clearly understand those intentions. We expect the study findings will help us do a better job of explaining the licenses and to improve them, where possible. We also hope the findings, which will be made publicly available, will contribute to better understanding of some of the complexities of digital distribution of content.”

You can also help by sending your friends and colleagues to the questionnaire.



If you don’t have time to help CC in this way, remember that we’re in the midst of our annual fundraising campaign.

Contributing in both ways would be ideal. :-)

CC licenses are an important* part of the digital infrastructure and debate. Your financial contributions and your feedback are both crucial to the ongoing development of this infrastructure.

Click here to start the questionnaire.

* The ‘important’ link above points out a recent extraordinarily important and visible use of the CC BY license, which does not include the NC term. As Joi points out in the quote above, we also want to provide information about contexts in which NC is not appropriate. So please take the questionnaire if you care about public copyright licenses, even if you don’t like or don’t use ones with the NonCommercial term. Thanks!

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Clive Thompson on the Hybrid T-Shirt Economy

Cameron Parkins, December 2nd, 2008

A great article in the most recent WIRED, Clive Thompson on How T-Shirts Keep Online Content Free, discusses the growing hybrid economy developed by purveyors of free content looking for a stable source of income. Their answer? Schwag in general, t-shirts in particular:

Increasingly, creative types are harnessing what I’ve begun to call “the T-shirt economy”—paying for bits by selling atoms. Charging for content online is hard, often impossible. Even 10 cents for a download of something like Red vs. Blue might drive away the fans. So instead of fighting this dynamic, today’s smart artists are simply adapting to it.

Their algorithm is simple: First, don’t limit your audience by insisting they pay to see your work. Instead, let your content roam freely online, so it generates as large an audience as possible. Then cash in on your fans’ desire to sport merchandise that declares their allegiance to you.

While Thompson doesn’t mention CC directly (he does mention Jonathan Coulton, a CC-staff favorite and current partner in our fundraising drive), he hints at the mentality behind our CC+ initiative and generally argues that openness is an important component of functional business models going forward.

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CC is Turning 6! SF Birthday Party Announced!

Allison Domicone, December 1st, 2008

To celebrate six exceptional years for CC and the December 31st wrap-up of our 2008 fundraising campaign, CC headquarters is hosting a birthday bash in San Francisco! The San Francisco party joins the ranks of other global birthday parties in Berlin, Brisbane, Guatemala, Seoul, and New York. The San Francisco event will be held on Thursday, December 18th, 2008, from 9pm – 2am at 111 Minna Gallery (Map and Directions).

We’re thrilled to announce that Into Infinity, the remixable art and music exhibition produced by dublab and Creative Commons, will make one of its first “real world” appearances as a physical installation at the party. Digital renderings of the show’s visual works will be run through a software program that melds random pieces together to create new combinations. The resulting feed will be delivered to a projector and displayed against a wall to provide ever-changing visual stimuli to our partygoers. Additionally, there will be a live performance by several dublab producers and DJs, who will use Into Infinity’s sound loops as the basis for an improvisational electronic music show.

And, of course, there will be dancing! Music will be provided by DJs Ripley and Kid Kameleon, both regulars at Surya Dub in San Francisco.

Tickets will be sold at the door, but please RSVP to rsvp[at]creativecommons.org so we know you’re coming.
From 9-11pm: $15 for CC Network members and $20 for non-members. Hosted bar: beer, wine, and well-drinks (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.

We hope you’ll join us for a fun and festive night of celebrating free culture and the future of Creative Commons! Everyone is welcome, but space is limited – so bring friends and arrive early!

Can’t make it to San Francisco or one of the other birthday party locales? No problem! We’re encouraging members of our community around the world to come up with fun and creative ways to celebrate CC’s six years: be part of the CC Video Project and make a 90-second video about why you love CC, screen a CC-licensed film, host a Salon, make a CC re-mix, design a birthday card or poster, or consider CC’s birthday an excellent occasion to eat cake! This is a time to celebrate participatory culture, creativity, and innovation – and whatever you decide to do, make sure to document it and share it with us and the world by uploading your pictures or video to flickr and tagging them “CC6.” Head over to the Birthday Party 2008 wiki page for details on the planned parties and find out how to add your own!

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Latam Commons 2008 is a Success

Jane Park, December 1st, 2008

Latam Commons 2008: The Public Domain, Creative Commons, and Open Education in Latin America, held Nov 19-21 in Santiago, Chile, was a great success. The event was co-hosted and excellently managed by NGO Derechos Digitales, and representatives from all over Latin America were present and actively participated in the meeting. Project Leads of Creative Commons jurisdictions first held a one-day meeting to discuss their projects, possible strategic initiatives and collaborations across the region, and shared challenges. These conversations are just the beginning of what is planned to become a regular regional gathering to leverage the expertise and resources that are distributed throughout the region. The next day was devoted to a highly interactive “unconference” on open education which brought together leading international advocates for open education with key figures in libraries and ministries of education in Chile and beyond. The goal of the meeting was to gather information regarding top concerns and key projects involved in the growth of the open education movement, to be synthesized and then leveraged for collaborative opportunities both within and beyond the region. Look for a report on this event in the coming months. Finally, Derechos Digitales orchestrated a seminar on the public domain which included cutting-edge research reports and discussions regarding the legal and practical elements of both defining and utilizing the public domain in Latin America. The philosophical and legal issues pertinent to consideration of the public domain is clearly of broad interest in the region, and we are hopeful that these ideas will continue to serve as organizing themes for ongoing conversation and action to enhance access to knowledge and improved scholarship in the future.

Additional details will be forthcoming from ccLearn, CCi, and Derechos Digitales.

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Dopplr Launches Autogenerated City Profiles

Fred Benenson, December 1st, 2008

The team at the travel community Dopplr has launched an autogenerative tool that magically creates city profiles utilizinginteresting” Flickr photos licensed under our free licenses.

Dopplr has aggregated thousands of travelers data and photos to create compelling pages that have autogenerated content. These pages expose fascinating trends of travelers visiting different cities. Take a look at Black Rock City’s profile:

The spike is from the famous Burning Man festival that happens at the end of the summer, and the photo is from brainsik’s flickr.

By utilizing our Attribution and Attribution-ShareAlike licenses, Dopplr has effectively avoided the transaction costs typically associated with negotiating rights to use a photo in a derivative work.

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Obama-Biden transition site Change.gov now under a Creative Commons license

Eric Steuer, December 1st, 2008

Change.gov, the website of US president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, has undergone some important and exciting changes over the past few days. Among them is the site’s new copyright notice, which expresses that the bulk of Change.gov is published under the most permissive of Creative Commons copyright licenses – CC BY.

Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Content includes all materials posted by the Obama-Biden Transition project. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Change.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

This is great news and a encouraging sign that the new administration has a clear sense of the importance of openness in government and on the web (there’s a bit more on this over at Lessig’s blog). The embrace of Creative Commons licensing on Change.gov is consistent with earlier support by both Obama and McCain for the idea of “open debates.” (It’s also in line with Obama’s decision to publish the pictures in his Flickr Photostream under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license – pretty cool!)

Tim O’Reilly has written a smart post (which has elicited some very thoughtful reader comments) recommending that Change.gov use revision control as a way to further improve transparency and make it possible for the public to review any changes that occur on the site. Of course, licensing is just one component of openness, but getting licensing right is necessary for enabling people to truly take advantage of technologies that facilitate collaboration.

Update: Several people have pointed out that “works created by an agency of the United States government are public domain at the moment of creation” (see Wikipedia for more on this). Change.gov is not currently the project of a government agency, but a 501(c)(4) that has been set up to manage the Obama-Biden transition. Also, the public is being invited to contribute their own comments and works to the site, and it is important to have a clear marking of the permissions that other people have to this material.



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Must-read: The Public Domain

Mike Linksvayer, November 29th, 2008

Creative Commons Board Chair James Boyle’s new book is out — The Public Domain: Enclosing of the Commons of the Mind, published by Yale University Press. Read and comment online or download and share the the PDF under a CC BY-NC-SA license. Buy a hardcopy.


The Public Domain cover, evolved from excellent contest entries. We blogged about the contest in April.

The Public Domain covers the history, theory, and future of the public domain, taking a broad conception of the meaning and import of the public domain:

When the subject is intellectual property, this gap in our knowledge turns out to be important because our intellectual property system depends on a balance between what is property and what is not. For a set of reasons that I will explain later, “the opposite of property” is a concept that is much more important when we come to the world of ideas, information, expression, and invention. We want a lot of material to be in the public domain, material that can be spread without property rights. “The general rule of law is, that the noblest of human productions—knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions, and ideas—become, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use.” Our art, our culture, our science depend on this public domain every bit as much as they depend on intellectual property. The third goal of this book is to explore property’s outside, property’s various antonyms, and to show how we are undervaluing the public domain and the information commons at the very moment in history when we need them most. Academic articles and clever legal briefs cannot solve this problem alone.

Instead, I argue that precisely because we are in the information age, we need a movement—akin to the environmental movement—to preserve the public domain. The explosion of industrial technologies that threatened the environment also taught us to recognize its value. The explosion of information technologies has precipitated an intellectual land grab; it must also teach us about both the existence and the value of the public domain. This enlightenment does not happen by itself. The environmentalists helped us to see the world differently, to see that there was such a thing as “the environment” rather than just my pond, your forest, his canal. We need to do the same thing in the information environment.

We have to “invent” the public domain before we can save it.

That’s from the preface. I encourage you to read on, to chapters about Creative Commons (of course), evidence-based policy and the public domain (my favorite), a movement for the public domain, and much history, theory, and wit leading up to those.

You can also read and subscribe to Boyle’s blog on The Public Domain, which includes an excellent post on authors, academic presses, online publishing and CC licensing. Brief excerpt, emphasis added to the truth that will be so obvious to readers of this blog that one might wonder why it would need to be said:

The one piece of advice I would offer is to make sure that you really talk it through with everyone at the press and get them to understand the way the web works. While university presses might want to experiment only with a few titles, when it comes to those titles they need fully to embrace the idea — creating an excellent website for the book (or allowing the author to do so), allowing multiple formats of the book to be made available (pdf, html etc), being excited rather than horrified if the book gets mentioned on a blog and downloads spike. The last thing you want is a publisher who has grudgingly agreed to a Creative Commons license but who then sabotages every attempt to harness the openness it allows.

Unfortunately how the web works and what that means for copyright and publishing still needs to be explained. Repeatedly. Every day. That’s one reason Creative Commons needs your support to meet our $500,000 annual public campaign goal. Every day we explain how the web works, how to work with the web, and how to keep the web open, for scientists, educators and learners, and everyone else. And we do our bit to improve the open web.

On those notes, see the CC Network badge on every page of The Public Domain website and James Boyle’s CC Network profile. Join Boyle in supporting Creative Commons and get your own CC Network badge and profile (and other goodies).



Then send this post to your friends. Or if you’re old school, send a hardcopy of The Public Domain with a printout of this post and a personal note enclosed. :-)

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Second Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase

Greg Grossmeier, November 26th, 2008

After the great success of the first Ubuntu FreeCulture Showcase just 4 months ago the great people at Ubuntu have opened up the door for submissions for the latest Showcase. The Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase is a way to show off the high-quality creativeness of the Free/Open Source community.

The winners of the competition are given more than just bragging rights as well. As Jono Bacon, Community Manager for Ubuntu, has put it in his announcement, “with each development cycle we present the opportunity for any Free Culture artist to put their work in front of millions of Ubuntu users around the world.” That is millions of new eyeballs and ears to experience your creative work. The deadline for submissions is February 6th, 2009 so get to work on your submission now!

Also, this time around the competition is not limited to only music and video as they have added the Image category to the mix. The image can be any type of photography or computer generated still art.

All submissions for the Showcase will be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. The choice of license shows Ubuntu’s commitment to the ethos of Free Software and Free Culture. The Attribution-ShareAlike license is Approved for Free Cultural Work license and also the same license that Wikipedia is considering transitioning to in the future. This is a really great choice on behalf of Ubuntu to use the BY-SA license and help build the commons of free as in freedom material.

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Non-Commercial study questionnaire

Mike Linksvayer, November 25th, 2008

As previously announced, Creative Commons is studying how people understand the term “noncommercial use”. At this stage of research, we are reaching out to the Creative Commons community and to anyone else interested in public copyright licenses – would you please take a few minutes to participate in our study by responding to this questionnaire? Your response will be anonymous – we won’t collect any personal information that could reveal your identity.

Because we want to reach as many people as possible, this is an open access poll, meaning the survey is open to anyone who chooses to respond. We hope you will help us publicize the poll by reposting this announcement and forwarding this link to others you think might be interested. The questionnaire will remain online through December 714 or until we are overwhelmed with responses — so please let us hear from you soon!

Questions about the study or this poll may be sent to noncommercial@creativecommons.org.

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Reminder: December Technology Summit Registration – Now with Student Rates

Nathan Yergler, November 25th, 2008

Just a quick reminder that registration is still open for the December Technology Summit taking place in Cambridge, MA.  The program looks like a great set of presentations about technology that touches CC: RDFa, digital copyright registries, embedded metadata and more.

Registration is available online and we’ve added student rates at about half the normal rate: $40 or $25 for students who are also CC Network members (plus the option to buy both at the same time). Hope to see you there!

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