Linux Format Interviews Red Hat’s Jack Aboutboul

Timothy Vollmer, January 10th, 2008

Check out this great Linux Format interview (pdf download) with Red Hat Community Engineer Jack Aboutboul. Jack and the folks at Red Hat’s Fedora Project have been leaders in producing quality free and open source software, and have been central in helping CC build LiveContent. Jack says,

“Fedora’s dedication to opening everything is not just for hackers – it has a wider importance in that our approach is an agent for social change. That’s the reason that we love to work with Creative Commons, as it pushes copyright reform: and the changes that are needed there will effect everyone, way beyond those of us who like to hack our computers.”

He goes on to say: “Whether we innovate ourselves, or can enable and encourage others to do so, that’s important. Putting the tools into people’s hands is what we do.” Well put, Jack. Creative Commons works hard to emulate this idea in the development of free, easy-to-use tools that allow creators to share their creativity with the world.

Thanks again to Linux Format for sharing the article!

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New York Times Continues Polling Place Photo Project

Timothy Vollmer, January 9th, 2008

Signs in the snow
Photo by Jodi Sperber / CC BY-ND

The New York Times has reignited its Polling Place Photo Project, a “nationwide experiment in citizen journalism that encourages voters to capture, post and share photographs of this year’s primaries, caucuses and general election.” All participant photos are published under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives license. This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the author.

Alongside the photos, contributors are encouraged to submit additional information like polling place descriptions, voting conditions and personal experiences. The Times says, “By documenting local voting experiences, participants can contribute to an archive of photographs that captures the richness and complexity of voting in America.” Browse some of the photos and then help document democracy by sharing your own.

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LiveContent Available Through

Timothy Vollmer, January 8th, 2008

Creative Commons is now offering LiveContent through the Open Source product distribution service On-Disk sells a variety of software packages conveniently contained on a CD or DVD. On-Disk provides “burn-on-demand” service and works with open source and smaller software and media developers — “helping low-budget or no-budget organizations publish their software and digital media products with no out of pocket expenses.”

On-Disk is currently carrying LiveContent 1.0 and will roll in 2.0 upon its release. In addition to CC’s distros, the site offers various flavors of Linux as well as educational and productivity applications. On-Disk aims to support the non-technophiles among us by helping bridge technology gaps:

“We tend to assume everyone can download, install or stream live media. However, a large percentage of computer users have trouble with basic operations. Offering a CD or DVD increases the number of people able to participate.”

Naturally, users can still download the CC LiveContent ISO for free from the Fedora site and then burn the image to a disc.

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More CC Cinema 2.0

Mike Linksvayer, January 7th, 2008

Following up on today’s post on a short about “Cinema 2.0”, made with presumably Cinema 2.0 techniques … more links on CC Cinema 2.0 and nearby.

The A Swarm of Angels collaborative film project is moving into its third phase, advanced development.

The folks behind ASoW have also posted their ideas on 7 rules for open source media, including what they call “Open Plus”:

Open Plus adds more opportunities for participation and involvement in the work whether as a creator, or as part of what used to be called ‘the audience’.

  • 6. Reveal the process
    Allowing access to not only the final source media, but work-in-progress material and software files, adding another layer of transparency and documentation.
  • 7. Open contribution
    Adding ways to influence and participate in the creation of the original work through various types of community/audience involvement (opportunities such as open crewing, direct feedback or contribution mechanisms).

There are different flavours of open media, and these states can accommodate most Pioneering open movie projects like Blender’s Elephants Dream and Modfilm’s Sanctuary count as open source media because they allow you to access the source files. The recent release of the copyright documentary, Steal This Film, illustrates extreme openness rejecting any copyright and licensing restrictions, but doesn’t provide source media. The same is true for the Creative Commons-licensed machinima feature film Bloodspell.

Next generation projects like the upcoming Peach animated film from Blender team, our own A Swarm of Angels feature film project, and the documentary illustrate the more transparent and flexible end of the open content spectrum.

Open source media is not open source technology. It doesn’t have the same rules but some common properties. It should have some minimum requirements, so it is easier for everyone to immediately figure out how open the media you want to enjoy really is.

The “Plus” part of their delineation (quoted above) concerns the community processes around media creation, a topic often left out of formal definitions of openness, though very much part of the longstanding conversation carrying over from the software world (cf. The Cathedral and the Bazaar). In other ways “Open Plus” does not go as far as the Definition of Free Cultural Works, which does not allow for usage restrictions.

Speaking of Elephants Dream (mentioned in the quote above, and code-named Project Orange when it was under development), we’ve been incredibly remiss in not mentioning two very cool follow on projects — Project Peach, another open movie, and Project Apricot, an open game built using many of the same technologies. These are incredibly exciting projects from the Blender Institute with the dual goals of creating excellent product and tuning up the open media creation toolchain. All of the non-software components of these projects are available under the non-restrictive CC BY license with source materials available in an open format — clearly free cultural works.

Finally, news about two films on copyright in the digital age:

Steal This Film 2, which we mentioned back in November, is now available. Unfortunately it isn’t under a CC license, supposedly “so you can still steal it”, though the material is highly relevant.

CopyCat will be under a CC BY-SA license, but is still in the planning stages:

The focus of the web series will be the Internet itself and the effects it has had on society, US and global. It will make use of pop culture references, wit, and satire of current events. (The humor, however, will be a delivery system for the information, not the end-all of the series.) It will be fast-paced, much like the documentary style of the films Loose Change and Good Copy, Bad Copy. It will use elements of the personal nature of Michael Moore’s filmmaking (following one person’s opinion) with the cineme verete qualities of narrator-less films like Jesus Camp, and it will switch between the two based on the subject covered.

Read about how to participate in and follow the progress of CopyCat.

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2007 CC Swag Photo Contest Winners

Melissa Reeder, January 7th, 2008

Carpeted Commons Creative Commons Swag Contest 2007_2

The two overall winners of the 2nd annual CC Swag Photo Contest are (drum roll please) — Glutinx and Tyler Stefanich. Congratulations to you both!

Thank you to everyone who participated – we greatly appreciate your support. And again – thanks to everyone who helped us reach our 2007 fundraising goal!

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RightsAgent and CC+

Cameron Parkins, January 7th, 2008

RightsAgent, a “provider of copyright management solutions for user-generated content”, launched a little over a month ago with much promise. RightsAgent is built specifically with CC in mind and aims to streamline commercial transactions for CC NC licensed works, giving content creators a platform to “perform copyright transactions with those who wish to license their work” commercially. This is an implementation of what we recentlly coined CC+.

RightsAgent currently supports both Flickr and Revver users, with more content directories on the way. Although a month late (but nonetheless informative), check out this interview with RightsAgent co-founders John Palfrey and Rudy Rouhana to get a better idea for RightsAgent has in store:

Creative Commons itself, five years ago when it was founded, filled an extraordinarily important gap in the marketplace. It was very difficult if not impossible for somebody to give away some rights [to their work] and retain other rights. CC became an extremely simple way to do that. Five years later, what’s clear is that there is great value in what some people are generating online, and the gap we think RightsAgent will fill now is that sometimes you want to give away some rights and sometimes you want to get compensated for what you’ve done. In some context, you might want to license your work freely under CC, and in other contexts you might want to get paid. This system allows you that flexibility. In the same way that Paypal created a simple platform for paying for any e-commerce item on the Web, our idea is to create the same kind of mechanism for the sale of Web 2.0, “user-generated content.”

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Creative Commons Cinema 2.0

Cameron Parkins, January 7th, 2008

Check out this great YouTube clip we got e-mailed over the holidays, cut entirely of footage and sound from The Tracey Fragments. It was made to celebrate what the creator and editor, Toi Matteucci, saw as “Cinema 2.0.”, the reuse of footage from one film (in this case The Tracey Fragments) to create a new work with an entirely different purpose.

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New Year Resolution: Free(v.) stuff

Mike Linksvayer, January 7th, 2008

Craig Neilson writes about his three 2008 resolutions at WorldChanging — (1) Be vegetarian, (2) Walk, (3) Free stuff, where free is a verb:

This year I want to set stuff free, which is easier than it sounds. I’m contributing to Wikipedia, publishing more helpful personal web pages and licensing my Flickr photos with the most generous Creative Commons license available.

This is the kind of group activity that causes massive change. Information can be an unlimited resource when we free it – a move that costs little and benefits many. What’s exciting about freeing stuff is that you don’t know how your stuff could be used.

Read the whole article, including some insightful comments on the value of setting stuff free.

Here’s Craig’s Flickr stream, with photos indeed licensed under CC BY.

Creative Commons — wholesome like walking.

Craig Neilson / CC BY

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CC Talks With: BloodSpell

Cameron Parkins, January 7th, 2008

Although we took a little break in our “Featured Commoner” series over the holidays, we are back in action with many more stories and interviews for the new year. First up in 2008 is Hugh Hancock, Artistic Director ad Co-Founder of Strange Company, the “world’s oldest pro ‘Machinima‘ production company” and producers of acclaimed full-length machinima BloodSpell. We’ve talked about the film before, but further enlightenment was due.

What’s BloodSpell/Strange Company all about? What’s its history? How did it come about? Who’s involved?

Strange Company is the world’s oldest professional Machinima (real-time 3D filmmaking using computer game engines or similar tools – basically puppetry on a computer) production company – we’ve been around since 1997, when I quit pursuing a computer science degree to go play with this new “Quake Movies” thing. It turned out to be a better idea than it looked – we’ve been making films for 10 years now and havve been praised by Pulitzer winner Roger Ebert, worked for some of the most respected companies in the world (like the BBC and BAFTA), and have’ve produced some fantastic films.

BloodSpell is a feature-length Machinima film, one of the few that have ever been made. It’s what we’re calling a “punk fantasy” – an epic fantasy film about a world where people are infected with magic in their blood, but without all of the pompousness, “Olde Worlde” feel and posh English accents that most fantasy films feel they have to have.

BloodSpell happened because we’d been spending a while trying to develop a really huge film project, and we’d kinda lost sight of what makes Machinima great – the fact that it’s fast and cheap enough to make a Machinima film that you can just do it. A collaborator of mine pointed out, in his inimitable way, that we had “lost the punk edge”. So we promptly turned around and decided to put together a fast, cheap film.

Of course, then mission creep set in. But four years later, we’re very proud of the result, and the response we’ve had – praise from major newspapers (The Guardian and USA Today), top interweb/storytelling types (like Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow), and great reviews all across the world.

How are you using CC licenses with BloodSpell? Which CC licenses are you using and why?

BloodSpell is released under a CC BY-NC-SA license. Essentially, we chose CC for brutally commercial reasons – we weren’t going to make money with BloodSpell (it’s basically the world’s largest market research project), we knew that basically every first feature film doesn’t make its creator money, no matter how it’s licensed, and we wanted to make sure that as many people as possible got to see it. From that standpoint, CC was a no-brainer. Likewise, there was no reason to limit the uses people make of our work – I’d love to see BloodSpell fan-fiction, for all that I probably can’t read it myself for legal reasons.

Can you talk about any interesting instances of reuse that have arisen from your choice of CC licensing? What benefits have you seen from using CC licenses?

Actually, we’ve not seen a lot of reuse and remixing, although a couple of people have done some very cool fan-art and remixed trailers. The major benefit we’ve seen is simply that people know they’re free to watch and give away BloodSpell, and that’s made us very popular – to the extent that we’re currently the second most watched Scottish feature film this year, on a budget that’s more than 100 times lower than the next most watched film!

What’s next for BloodSpell/Strange Company?

We’ll be releasing a BloodSpell DVD pretty soon – also under CC – and we’re going to be working on developing tools and technology for our next productions.

The other thing I’m likely to be doing is helming a CC cookery show called “Kamikaze Cookery”, teaching people to cook using modern, molecular gastronomy techniques, but that’s a different story…

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Video intro to RDFa

Mike Linksvayer, January 7th, 2008

If you remember Manu Sporny’s Intro to the Semantic Web … for noobs, released on December 25 and that whetted your appetite for something more technical, Manu has just released a video intro to RDFa, one of the metadata technologies Creative Commons is using. Like the previous video, this one and its source material is licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike.

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