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2009 June

UNESCO publishes “OER: Conversations in Cyberspace”

Jane Park, June 30th, 2009

In case you missed it, last Friday UNESCO published “Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace”, three years worth of documentation surrounding the UNESCO OER Community. From their announcement,

“Since 2005, UNESCO has been at the forefront of building awareness about this movement by facilitating an extended conversation in cyberspace. A large and diverse international community has come together to discuss the concept and potential of OER in a series of online forums.

The background papers and reports from the first three years of discussions are now available in print. Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace provides an overview of the first steps of this exciting new development: it captures the conversations between leaders of some of the first OER projects,and documents early debates on the issues that continue to challenge the movement. The publication will provide food for thought for all those intrigued by OER – its promise and its progress.”

You can access the online edition at their wiki, licensed CC BY-NC-SA. You can also buy a print edition.

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Open Translation Tools 2009

Ahrash Bissell, June 30th, 2009

OTT09 group-photoLast week, in Amsterdam, approximately 70 people from around the world gathered in one big room to discuss the current state of affairs in open translation. We discussed open-source translation software, open and volunteer translation communities, openly licensed works – both translated and for translating, open databases for machine translation, and the intersection of translation with open education, open video, open business practices, and more.

It was a whirlwind of a time, and it was clear that everyone was excited about the pace of development and the promise of open translation for building cultural bridges, facilitating the free exchange of ideas, and empowering those who are not able to participate in the current linguistically and technologically dominant paradigms. Look for additional information on host Aspiration Tech’s site, and check out the new manual on open translation tools which was generated by a book sprint immediately following the conference.

If this meeting was any indication, we suspect that the benefits of permitting translations (through the application of an appropriate CC license, for example) will quickly be matched with both software and communities poised to leverage those permissions. Can we imagine a world where the language of origin serves to authenticate communications rather than hampering them?

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Snitchtown: The Photo Essay

Cameron Parkins, June 29th, 2009

Over at Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow points readers to Snitchtown: The Photo Essay, a wonderful adaptation of his essay, Snitchtown. Originally a CC BY-NC-SA licensed editorial on “the future of urban surveillance” – specifically the ubiquity of CCTV cameras found in the the UK – the new work, authored by Emma Byrne, is a photo essay that puts images alongside Doctorow’s words, specifically photos of CCTV cameras. Naturally, it is CC BY-NC-SA licensed as well.

These stories are inspiring for us as they show our licenses at work doing excatly what we intended them to – helping facilitate interesting and poignant reuse that make the original work richer. Even better is Doctorow’s reaction:

This is, I believe, my absolute favorite CC adaptation of my work to date; in that it’s the first adaptation that I prefer to my original.

A free PDF download of Snitchtown: The Photo Essay is available here.

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NY State Senate Goes CC

Fred Benenson, June 29th, 2009

If you’re reading the Creative Commons blog, chances are you’re aware of the fact that the United States federal government is not entitled to copyright protection for their works. If you didn’t know this, check out the Wikipedia article on the subject, or some of our past blog posts on the subject. This means that federal works are essentially in the public domain.

What you may not know is that works of American states, in contrast to works of the federal government, are actually entitled to copyright protection under U.S. law. This creates the very awkward consequence of states automatically holding copyright in the very state laws, rules and court decisions that bind their citizens, not to mention other types of content created by its employees who are paid from public coffers filled in part by their taxpayers. CC is not alone (check out legendary archivist Carl Malamud and his public.resource.org project for more info) in believing that all such works should belong to the public and reside in the public domain.

Needless to say, we think this is an enormous opportunity for proper application of our legal tools to free up state works.

This is why its exciting to see the New York State Senate adopt a Creative Commons License for the content on their website. The photos and text of NYSenate.gov are now available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license, and 3rd party content, such as comments and user submitted photos are available under our Attribution license. Furthermore, the Senate has used our CC+ protocol to allow all other uses (even commercial ones and non-attribution ones) of the content so long as it is not for political fund raising purposes. In other words, if you’re not doing political fund raising you’re allowed to do whatever you want with the content.

While this is a somewhat novel approach to using our licenses, and indeed grants citizens rights to works they don’t currently have, it is only the first step. In the future, CC would love to see more states pushing their work into the public domain (and their policies into synchronicity with those of the federal government), for example by using our public domain waiver, CC0.

If you know of a state using CC licenses, add it to our wiki page on government uses of CC, or just let us know.

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Copyfraud and CC ignorance

Mike Linksvayer, June 27th, 2009

Yesterday the Register posted an article by Charles Eicher on the topic of copyfraud — asserting copyright where it doesn’t exist, or asserting more restrictions than copyright grants. A very important topic — true copyfraud diminishes the commons, either in the sense of propertizing the public domain, or effectively reducing the scope of uses not restricted by copyright.

Unfortunately, the article merely uses this interesting and important topic as a jumping off point for hyperbole. On the public domain and copyfraud, comments on the article offer far more insight than the article itself.

Eicher has in the past called advocates of Creative Commons “freetards”. Apparently he finds name calling more interesting than research, for on the third page of his copyfraud article he demonstrates willful ignorance on the topic of Creative Commons:

Now Creative Commons seeks expanded authority to administer the Public Domain, by issuing a “Creative Commons Public Domain License,” as if it was a sublicense of its own invention. Creative Commons is trying to expand its licensing authority over not just newly created works, but all public domain works.

flickr-commons-no-known-restrictionsCreative Commons does not have any “authority to administer” the public domain, whatever that means. Our public domain tools are not licenses — there is no “Creative Commons Public Domain License”. CC0 is a waiver that allows a copyright holder, to the extent possible, to release all restrictions on a copyrighted work worldwide. The Public Domain Certification facilitates clearly marking works already in the public domain as such. We also don’t have “licensing authority” over newly created works. All of our tools are voluntary and have an over-arching goal of expanding the commons, more specifically the public domain in the case of CC0 (as much as possible) and the Public Domain Certification (the effective public domain, by making existing public domain works more clearly marked, including with metadata, making them more available and discoverable).

Public domain licensing is still not available to any Flickr user. This forces everyone, from individuals to large public institutions, to contribute their works to the “Flickr Commons” under a CC license, even if the works are clearly in the public domain. Flicker is enacting a blatant power grab on behalf of Creative Commons. They are establishing an extra-legal licensing monopoly, imposing an illegal copyright license structure on free works. And this is the most pernicious effect of copyfraud: it exploits the public domain to aggregate monopoly power for private interests.

Except for the first sentence (regarding which, Creative Commons encourages Flickr to offer a public domain option for all users) all of the above paragraph is blatantly false. Images part of Flickr Commons are not under any CC license. The site’s easily accessible usage statement says No known copyright restrictions. Ideally the site might use a more affirmative public domain assertion, but it is impossible to characterize the statement as a CC license or as copyfraud.

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The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age

Jane Park, June 26th, 2009

HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) announced a new report called, “The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age,” now available at MIT Press. The report is in response to our changing times, and addresses what traditional educational institutions must know to keep up. From the announcement,

“Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg in an abridged version of their book-in-progress, The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, argue that traditional institutions must adapt or risk a growing mismatch between how they teach and how this new generation learns. Forms and models of learning have evolved quickly and in fundamentally new directions. Yet how we teach, where we teach, who teaches, and who administers and serves have changed only around the edges. This report was made possible by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in connection with its grant making initiative on Digital Media and Learning.”

A central finding was that “Universities must recognize this new way of learning and adapt or risk becoming obsolete. The university model of teaching and learning relies on a hierarchy of expertise, disciplinary divides, restricted admission to those considered worthy, and a focused, solitary area of expertise. However, with participatory learning and digital media, these conventional modes of authority break down.”

Not coincidentally, one of the ten principles for redesigning learning institutions was open source education: “Traditional learning environments convey knowledge via overwhelmingly copyright-protected publications. Networked learning, contrastingly, is an “open source” culture that seeks to share openly and freely in both creating and distributing knowledge and products.”

The report is available in PDF via CC BY-NC-ND.

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Open Governance at Tomorrow’s Open Everything Berlin

Michelle Thorne, June 24th, 2009

oe-and-cc-small

It’s here again. Our monthly CC Salon + Open Everything Berlin event is on for this Thursday, June 25, and this time we’re talking about Open Governance.

How do open concepts translate into the political sphere? To what extent is democracy fueled by values such as transparency, access, and participation? What do open source projects teach us about other fields of governance?

The fifth CC Salon + Open Everything Berlin takes place within Seitensprünge, a Berliner event series about political communication. Speaking at the salon is CC Germany‘s Public Project Lead Markus Beckedahl, whose seasoned blog coverage is keeping the public abreast of Germany’s dawning internet censorship and other pressing political topics. Also joining us is Klas Roggenkamp from the German political discussion forum Wahl.de and media expert Ute Pannen, who will share commentary on open strategies used during the Obama’s campaign. We’ll also be hearing from Sebastian Sooth, who is reporting on open.nysenate.gov, a project with the New York State to give users direct access to its government data through APIs and original software.

Looks like we’ve got a lot of good topics ahead. Hope to see you there!

When: Thursday, 25.06.09, 20:00h

Where: newthinking store, Tucholskystr. 48, 10117 Berlin Mitte

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Our OVC Wrapup

Fred Benenson, June 23rd, 2009

Open Video Conference

We wanted to give big thanks to Ben, Dean, Elizabeth, Adi, and all the volunteers to helped make the fantastic Open Video Conference happen. Myself, Jane and Alex K were all in attendance on behalf of CC and we figured we’d post a wrap up about our experience at the conference.

At the CC Salon NYC / OVC Pre-party, I was able to record my conversation with Brett Gaylor, the director and creator of RiP! A Remix Manifesto which also screened at OVC. You can download our interview in ogg here, or mp3 here, available under a our Attribution license. Fans of Adam McHeffey will be happy to watch a YouTube video of his performance here. And last but not least, thanks to Erik Möller from the Wikimedia Foundation for guiding us through Wikipedia’s switch to CC-BY-SA.

And of course, we couldn’t forget about Blip.tv for supplying the beer at the salon, For Your Imagination Studios for the space, and Parker and Wesley for helping out with setup and breakdown. We couldn’t have done it without you guys!

As for the OVC itself, we were blown away with the focus and intensity in every panel and session. I repeatedly heard from attendees how nice it was to have 100% of a conference focused on an issue that typically receives only 10% of the attention. One of my favorite presentations was by Chris Blizzard from Mozilla showing of Firefox’s 3.5 Ogg Theora capabilities. Here’s a quick screen cast some of the capabilities Chris showed off at the conference:

On Saturday afternoon I gave a well packed luncheon presentation on Open Video, Metadata, and Creative Commons. You can download the slides from my presentation here.

Here’s a brief summary from Jane and Alex who attended on behalf of ccLearn:

OVC by Alex Kozak / ccLearn

OVC by Alex Kozak / ccLearn

ccLearn also attended the first ever Open Video Conference and had a blast. We think much of the OVC’s success is due to the fact that so much of it was relevant to openness in general that education naturally fit the bill. “Open Video in Education” especially blew us away by the diversity of forward thinking present in the room by both open education advocates and those with little to no experience with open educational resources (OER). Most everyone in the room, including the audience, were in agreement that open video and open technologies are essential to the future of education. The expressed concerns were more about how to convince the higher-ups at their institutions to see the light.

To reiterate, the session was not lacking in representation. Someone remarked how the variety of perspectives yielded a kind of “transformer panel.” From Bjoern Hassler (Cambridge University’s Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies) who set the tone in the beginning by assuming that it is (or should be) apparent to everyone that CC BY is the best license for OER, Tiffiny Cheng (Participatory Culture Foundation) who highlighted Miro, the open source free high definition video player, to UC Berkeley’s webcast.berkeley, the panel was diverse but consistent in their view that open video for education is essential, that CC licenses for that video is a given, and that—to quote an audience member’s words—“You have to do more than just tape lectures.”

Finally, you can also watch most of the main hall sessions on the Livestream feed page for the OVC, though Flash is required. We’re assured these will be available in Theora in short order.

Great job OVC, we’re looking forward to the next one!

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Wikipedia + CC BY-SA = Free Culture Win!

Mike Linksvayer, June 22nd, 2009

As anyone following this site closely must know, the Wikipedia community and Wikimedia Foundation board approved the adoption of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license as the main content license for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites. A post about the community vote has many links explaining the history and importance of this move.


Detail of Win win relationship by Alex Brollo / CC BY-SA

Starting last week with English Wikipedia (there are over 700 Wikimedia sites in over 250 languages — the image to the right is sourced from one of them), the copyright notice on Wikimedia sites is being changed to CC BY-SA. See the Wikimedia Foundation Terms of Use.

The outreach effort to non-Wikimedia wikis to take advantage of this migration opportunity is ongoing. Help if you can. One very important milestone was reached June 19, when most wikis hosted by Wikia (there are thousands, including some big ones) converted to CC BY-SA.

Hooray for Jimmy Wales, founder of both Wikipedia and Wikia! (Note the two organizations are unrelated.) CC is fortunate to also have Wales as a member of our board of directors. Without his vision, this unification of free culture licensing would not have been possible.

Here’s to a huge win for Wikipedians, all of free culture, and everyone who made it possible! Already the licensing change is enabling content to flow between Wikipedia and other projects. Will you interoperate? See a post on my personal blog for a long-winded conjecture about long-term impacts of the licensing change.

Finally, note that this is only one instance of the Wikipedia community showing great foresight and leadership. For example, clearly the Wikipedia community’s steadfast commitment to open formats played a major role in giving open video (effectively meaning Theora) a chance for wide adoption, which it now appears on the verge of. Hooray for visionary free culture communities and many wins to come!

Addendum 2009-06-30

Erik Moeller writes on the Wikimedia Foundation blog that the licensing update has been rolled out on all Wikimedia wikis:

Perhaps the most significant reason to choose CC-BY-SA as our primary content license was to be compatible with many of the other admirable endeavors out there to share and develop free knowledge: projects like Citizendium (CC-BY-SA), Google Knol (a mix of CC licenses, including CC-BY and CC-BY-SA), WikiEducator (CC-BY-SA), the Encylcopedia of Earth (CC-BY-SA), the Encyclopedia of the Cosmos (CC-BY-SA), the Encyclopedia of Life (a mix of CC licenses), and many others. These communities have come up with their own rules of engagement, their own models for sharing and aggregating knowledge, but they’re committed to the free dissemination of information. Now this information can flow freely to and from Wikimedia projects, without unnecessary legal boundaries.

This is beginning to happen. A group of English Wikipedia volunteers have created a WikiProject Citizendium Porting, for example, to ensure that high quality information developed by the Citizendium community can be made available through Wikipedia as well, with proper attribution.

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Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase, round 3, announced

Greg Grossmeier, June 22nd, 2009

The next release of Ubuntu is only about 4 months away, but you have even less time to submit your best CC-licensed song, video, or photograph to be included on every Ubuntu install that goes to millions of users. The Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase is an open competition for anyone interested to submit their work. The deadline, however, is July 16th, 2009.

At the heart of Ubuntu’s ethos is a belief in showcasing free software and free culture.

Canadian Clouds

Above is the winning image for the last Free Culture Showcase. To see the other past winners, check out this page: Previous Free Culture Winners.

Good luck to all the participants and be sure to check out the Free Culture Showcase website when the winners are announced!

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