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2009 January

David Bollier’s Viral Spiral: A Definitive History of Our Movement

Fred Benenson, January 26th, 2009

viralspiralPublic Knowledge cofounder David Bollier‘s new book Viral Spiral published by The New Press is not only available as free Creative Commons (BY-NC) download, but it will likely establish itself as a definitive guide for those seeking to understand and discover the key players and concepts in the digital commons. From the beginnings of the Free Software Movement, to Wikipedia’s Inception, to Lessig founding Creative Commons at Harvard Law School, Bollier thoughtfully examines the principles and circumstances that helped nurture our digital commons from idea to (meta)physical reality.

If you are looking for a book that both serves as an introduction to and argues for the ideals behind a digital commons, look no further. And if you’re planning on reading the book in the bed, bath or beach, purchase a hard copy at Amazon or other fine bookstores..

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CC Talks With: The Global Lives Project

Cameron Parkins, January 23rd, 2009

The Global Lives Project is a project that aims to “record 24 hours in the lives of ten people that roughly represent the diversity our planet’s population.” Accomplishing this via a volunteer-network dispersed through out the globe, GLP aggregates video for these subjects based on a unique spreadsheet approach to understand global demographics. All of the work produced by GLP is released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, a decision explained in the following interview with Global Lives founder David Evan Harris. Read on to learn more about the project, how CC licenses are being used, and how to get involved yourself as a volunteer/contributor.

globalvoices

Give us a bit of background on the Global Lives project. How did you begin? What is your mission?

Global Lives’ mission is to reshape how people around the world perceive cultures, nations and people outside their communities by collaboratively building a video library of human life experience. The content of our video library “lives” online and is regularly presented to the public in unique open-source video installations and screenings. Our shoots so far have taken place in Malawi, Brazil, Japan, China, Indonesia and the US, and we’ve shown our work publicly in most of those countries and a few others.

The Global Lives Project all got started in 2002, during my third year in college, when I was lucky enough to spend eight months living and studying international development in Tanzania, India, the Philippines and the UK as part of the International Honors Program. For the majority of these eight months, I lived with host families. I stayed in a bamboo house in the Philippines, a squatter settlement in Mexico City, and a rural village in northern India, among other places. While I learned a ton during the year about the politics, economics, history and ecology of these countries, the part of the experience that stuck with me the most was sharing the experience of daily life with the families and individuals from these countries.

Today, I can’t read a newspaper article about rice without thinking of my host mother Violeta in Barangay Daja and her rice paddy and water buffalo. The experience forever changed the way I understand people from other cultures and nations and my own role in the world. And I wanted to bring that experience to people who didn’t have the same opportunities to travel abroad as I did. So I came up with the idea of Global Lives. What I didn’t expect was that so many other people would find the idea to be so interesting, and that it would resonate so well with people from all over the planet.
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Is Gatehouse’s Complaint a Problem for Creative Commons?

Fred Benenson, January 23rd, 2009

You may have heard about Gatehouse Media suing the New York Times Co. over the linking of Creative Commons licensed news stories on the Times’ Boston.com. Zachary Seward over at the Nieman Journalism Lab has been covering the various developments of the case and most interestingly, an e-mail from Howard Owens (whom we highlighted in our original post on Gatehouse media adopting CC) where he points out that:

… a few graphs and a link back to our site isn’t a Creative Commons issue, but a fair use issue, and they would probably win on that one.

Today, however, Seward posted a piece on how CC’s NonCommercial license plays into the case. Featuring an interview with David Ardia of The Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard’s Berkman center, Seward suggests that the issues CC is currently investigating surrounding NonCommercial complicate the case.

We respectfully disagree.

Put simply, we do not believe that CC licenses, or our research on the definition of NonCommercial are relevant to Gatehouse’s complaint. The real debate is about fair use — just as Howard Owens pointed out in his e-mail to other Gatehouse staff. Creative Commons licenses do not prohibit fair uses of CC licensed content. This means that a NonCommercially licensed work (such as Gatehouse’s) can be used commercially so long as the use is fair.

Is The NY Times Co. using Gatehouse’s content fairly by linking to it using snippits and headlines? We’ll leave that up to the courts to decide, but if the famous Perfect 10 v. Google Inc. case is any indicator, condensing and linking content by third parties has been upheld as a fair use in court already. There are obviously differences between the Perfect 10 case and this one, but if the Gatehouse claim were upheld, it would do far more damage to fair use than Creative Commons ever could.

The EFF reports that the trial is set to begin on Monday. Watch their page dedicated to the case for further developments.

UPDATE: The suit has been settled, download the joint statement here. Also, it should be noted (as Gatehouse counsel has pointed out below), that Howard Owen’s original e-mail was not in fact referencing the NYTimes’ usage of Gatehouse CC’d content, but another party’s use of it.

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Foodista: CC-Powered Cooking Encyclopedia

Cameron Parkins, January 23rd, 2009

foodistaFoodista is a new online destination for those interested in all things culinary-related. The site is divided into four sections – recipes, foods, tools and techniques – and is based around the idea that community knowledge and sharing can result in a better resource than one built by a restricted and closed group. As such, the folks behind Foodista have “developed a system to let everyone edit content to make it better rather than have multiple versions of the same recipe.” At its core, this system is based around a site-wide CC BY license.

By using our most permissive license, Foodista has laid the ground work for a site that is purely focused on collaboration and the growth of knowledge. A few months ago we posted about an article that articulates why using a CC BY license for recipes is a sound choice (recipes can’t be copyrighted while the expression of recipes can). It is a mindset Foodista has embraced and while the site is still in a nascent stage it is already showing great promise. Part of the fun about cooking is the inherent experimentation and reiterations recipes can go through. Being able to document that sort of exchange through the use of open tools is a welcomed resource.

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Adam Singer on CC licenses and Music Promotion

Cameron Parkins, January 23rd, 2009

Adam Singer is a musician and “social media guru” who used his expertise in both fields to find a more harmonious means of online promotion. As a relatively “unknown artist”, Singer saw little return on efforts to profit from his works as CDs and digital downloads, selling only a few copies with “mixed results”. It was at this point that Singer chose to release his music under a CC BY-NC license.

The choice was not motivated from a promotional standpoint – Singer turned to CC licensing after the “realization [he] would rather have [his] music reach more ears as the money [he] was making was worth far less than the joy of being able to share it with others” – but it spurred unintended promotional results. A recent post on TheFutureBuzz outlines the results of Singer’s choice – soon, he found his music appearing on music blogs, had people on Twitter soliciting him for original music for video, had his music featured on online web radio shows, saw a fan remix video pop-up on YouTube, and saw traffic to his MySpace page increase dramatically.

It is obvious to those who listen that Singer’s music is of high-quality, but by encouraging the free sharing and reuse of this music he was able to reach a far greater audience than he had previously. The story, heard many times before in a variety of incarnations, brings about echoes of Tim O’Reilly:

Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.

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Colbert Invites Discourages More Remixing

Fred Benenson, January 23rd, 2009

Colbert Smaller
After discovering the dozens of unauthorized and possibly infringing remix videos that resulted from his adamant calls not to remix his interview with CC founder, Lawrence Lessig, Stephen Colbert is mad. He’s so mad he featured a new segment and music video challenging fans not to remix his show any more. He reiterated this demand in a staccato a capella, so that fans could clearly understand what he was saying and not sample his words. If someone were to remix his show or audio book, they certainly shouldn’t upload it to the special section of Colbert Nation soliciting uploads, either.

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Michael Geist on Why Whitehouse.gov’s Copyright Policy Matters

Fred Benenson, January 22nd, 2009

Canadian copyright scholar Michael Geist explains why Whitehouse.gov‘s adoption of our Attribution license for 3rd party content is important in light of Canada’s policy on government works:

Now consider the Prime Minister of Canada’s copyright notice:
The material on this site is covered by the provisions of the Copyright Act, by Canadian laws, policies, regulations and international agreements. Such provisions serve to identify the information source and, in specific instances, to prohibit reproduction of materials without written permission. …

While this is better than some other Canadian government departments (who require permission for all uses), it is still not good enough. First, Canada should drop crown copyright so that there is no copyright in government-produced materials. Second, there is no need for a distinction between commercial and non-commercial – Canadians should be free to use the government-produced materials for either purpose without permission. Third, third-party materials, which are Creative Commons licensed in the U.S., are subject to full restrictions in Canada.

While the decision to use CC on Whitehouse.gov may appear uncontroversial in light of the fact that US federal works are not subject to copyright protection, very few other countries share this policy as evidenced by Geist’s post. This is precisely where Creative Commons can help. Obama’s far sighted choice should serve as an example for other governments around the world: now is the time to start sharing.

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CC Salon SF 2/11/09

Allison Domicone, January 22nd, 2009

salon-sf
For February’s salon, we’re thrilled to have the entire CC staff under one roof, coming from as far as Los Angeles, Dubai, Boston, and Berlin, and as near as SF’s SOMA district, to speak about what they’ve been up to internationally and in the realms of science, culture, and education. Whether you’ve been a fan of CC from the start or you’re new to the world of free culture, this salon is not to be missed.

The salon will be held on Wednesday, February 11, from 7-9pm. Location TBD. For location info, please check back at http://wiki.creativecommons.org/San_Francisco_Salon

From 7-8:15pm, we’ll have brief presentations from:
Mike Linksvayer, Vice President
Eric Steuer, Creative Director
Catharina Maracke, Director, Creative Commons International
John Wilbanks, Vice President, Science Commons
Ahrash Bissell, Executive Director, ccLearn
Joi Ito, CEO

At 8:15pm, we will open the floor for questions and discussion.

Come meet the members of CC’s fabulous staff for a fun-filled evening of presentations, conversations, and mingling. We hope to see you there!

Check it out on Upcoming!

CC Salons are global events, and anyone can start one, no matter where you live. We encourage you to check out our resources for starting your own salon in your area.

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CASH Music: Exploring Creative Commons Licensing in the Music Industry

Cameron Parkins, January 21st, 2009

cashlogo_homeCASH Music, the CC license using music label/creative community we have discussed numerous times before, just launched a wonderful new Creative Commons Portal for understanding how CC licenses can be utilized by record labels and artists.

The portal is beautifully designed with an emphasis on simplicity – an introduction to CC, hypothetical uses, and real world examples are the only foci. Meant to grow an expand overtime, the portal is a great resource for record labels looking into how they can adopt CC. As CASH expands upon its mission to “develop open source tools for artists and promote best practices in the music industry”, resources like the CC Portal will become increasingly more valuable.

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Bandcamp Integrates CC-Licenses

Cameron Parkins, January 21st, 2009

logo_on_whiteBandcamp, a feature-heavy music site that focuses on providing musicians with robust, easy-to-use, and visually pleasing artist pages, just integrated CC licensing options in to their UI:

Hugs and kisses backatchu JD, and everyone else who requested Creative Commons support, then patiently worked around its absence by putting CC links in their tracks’ credits or about fields, slapping CC marks in their header graphics, and other reasonable zaniness. Situation rectified: starting today, you can select a CC license right from the Edit Track page.

[…]
Creative Commons’ mission is “to increase the amount of creativity… in ‘the commons’ — the body of work that is available to the public for free and legal sharing, use, repurposing, and remixing.” A worthy goal, we think, so if © strikes you as too restrictive, we hope you’ll take a gander at the various licenses and find something that better captures the freedoms you want your work to carry.

At a basic level, we aim to have licensing be as simple and easy as possible, a goal that is more fully accomplished when content-sharing sites like Bandcamp integrate CC license options directly into their UI. Kudos to Bandcamp for the integration and much thanks to all the Bandcamp users who requested it in the first place. You can learn more about Bandcamp at their FAQ page – to see the licenses in action, check out this artist page from Paul and Storm.

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