Weblog

2009 September

Spot.Us Expands to L.A.

Cameron Parkins, September 22nd, 2009

Spot.Us, a nonprofit project from the Center for Media Change that aims to pioneer “community funded reporting” (previous coverage here), is expanding to Los Angeles! From Spot.Us:

Spot.Us is expanding to Los Angeles and we are doing so with USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism. Needless to say, we are very excited about the opportunities and possibilities. The main Spot.Us homepage will aggregate pitches from both the SF Bay Area and Los Angeles regions. You can go to Subdomains to find pitches specific to those regions: la.spot.us and sfbay.spot.us.

The move is a collaboration between Spot.Us and USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism and could pave the way for additional cities to be added to the Spot.US umbrella in the near future. Read more about the transition, as well as general information regarding the future of Spot.Us, at its blog.

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The US Government CTO on Creative Commons

Fred Benenson, September 22nd, 2009

Aneesh Chopra on CNET
We caught a great interview with the US Government’s CTO, Aneesh Chopra talking about his thoughts on copyright on CNET.

When questioned about the future of copyright reform (wait for the video to load and scroll to the 7:30 mark) Chopra mentions how he “embraced the Creative Commons licensing regime” when he worked with the Commonwealth of Virginia to publish their Flexbook platform. Chopra then states that he thinks that it was this experience that really informs his perspective on how intellectual property should be remixed, shared, and reused.

Needless to say, we totally agree.

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The Art of Community available for download

Greg Grossmeier, September 21st, 2009

Jono Bacon’s book The Art of Community is now available for download.

ArtOfCommunity

We mentioned the beginning of this project back in January of this year. Just 8 months later the digital version of the book is available for everyone to download and share under a CC BY-NC-SA license. You can download it from the book’s webpage here.

The Art of Community isn’t just written for current or would-be community managers. It outlines and discusses all of the issues that are pertinent to simply working with a dispersed community of contributors. These issues are:

  • Sustainable processes for management – how to create day to day processes that are simple, effective and always representative of your community and its members.
  • Tools and infrastructure – give your community simple and friction-free tools that they need to do their work, complete with effective communication channels.
  • Building buzz – think outside the box and excite and enthuse potential community members to join your crusade, build capacity and keep the train running.
  • Measuring aspects of community success – understand, assess and measure your community, discover what can be measured and how to react to the results.
  • Conflict management – manage strong personalities that clash, and untangle contentious situations in the open and transparent manner that your community expects.
  • Handling live events – organize and schedule productive, fun and engaging live events that get things done and re-affirm social bonds between your community members.
  • Scaling the community – as your community grows, things change and adjust to the size, scale and throughput of your membership: handle these changes with as little disruption as possible.

If you are at all interested in what it takes to run a successful community, this book written by the Ubuntu Community Manager will help shed some light on the complex, yet fun, aspects of community management.

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Announcing October’s CC Salon NYC

Fred Benenson, September 21st, 2009

CC Salon NYC Logo

CC Salon NYC is back with a brand new home! The Open Planning Project has generously offered their incredible penthouse for the October salon.

So come out to have some beers with the CC community watch some cool presentations, and meet some new faces in the free culture space.

October’s Salon will feature short presentations from Adam Clark Estes, director of citizen journalism at the Huffington Post Investigative Fund talking about how the HuffPo is using CC to fuel the future of journalism, Shelley Bernstein, Chief Technology Officer of the Brooklyn Museum discussing their amazing community and commons efforts, and one more special guest TBA.

Here are the details:

Monday, October 5th, from 7-10pm
The Open Planning Project
148 Lafayette St
Between Grand & Howard
New York, NY

We’ll have free (as in beer) beer. If you’ve didn’t make it to any past CC Salons, don’t miss this one, and if you did, you’ll know to come early as space is limited.

RSVP to the event via Facebook or by e-mailing me: fred [at] creativecommons.org.

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Software Freedom Day is September 19th

Fred Benenson, September 17th, 2009

SFD Logo

It should be no surprise that here at CC, we’re huge fans of Free Software. Every bit we release, from our JS Widget to the code running the CC Network itself to our Facebook Application is free software. That’s why we think its important to celebrate Software Freedom Day on Saturday, September 19th. There are numerous celebrations happening around the world, but I”ll be attending the one in NYC:

6pm to 10pm.
148 Lafayette St, 12th Floor.
New York, NY

If you’d like to attend the NYC event, please RSVP required to joshlevy.ny AT gmail. Have a great Software Freedom Day!

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Aviary Release Myna Audio Editor

Cameron Parkins, September 16th, 2009

aviaryToday Aviary released Myna, a powerful online audio editor complete with a professional sample/loop library, numerous effects, automatons, advanced clip editing (time-stretching, reverse, etc.) and import/export capabilities. Check out the full list of features at the Myna landing page.

In releasing Myna, Aviary have added another great tool to their suite of creative applications, furthering their mission to “make the world’s creation accessible.” All of Aviary’s tools allow users the ability to share sets with the community under both our Attribution and Attribution-NonCommercial licenses, making their platform not only technically robust but legally sound as well.

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TED Fellowships Deadline

Jane Park, September 16th, 2009

I blogged about the past year’s fellows in February, and now the deadline for 2010 is approaching next week. For those who don’t know what TED is, I’ll quote myself,

“TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design” and their talks are given annually at the TED conference in Long Beach, CA. 50 speakers give “talks” or 18 minute speeches about a variety of issues, including “science, business, the arts and the global issues facing our world.” (Past speakers include Al Gore, our own Lawrence Lessig, and Jill Bolt Taylor—a brain researcher who describes the stroke she suffers in exhilarating fashion, to name a few.)

Now, with the new TED fellows program, extraordinary people you may not have heard of yet (without the $6,000 to pay for standard admission to the conference) can give talks, too.”

To apply for a fellowship, go to their website and follow the instructions there. The deadline for all applicants is noon (EST), September 25. It’s eighteen minutes of exposure to talk about anything you want; you could very well be that spokesperson for your cause. All TED talks are licensed CC BY NC-ND.

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Indaba Music Continues To Grow

Cameron Parkins, September 14th, 2009

indabaIndaba Music has had a busy summer.

July saw the launch of Session Console 2.0, an upgrade of Indaba’s digital music workstation that allows musicians to collaboratively record, edit, and mix tracks online. An improved engine built on Sun Microsystems’ JavaFX platform makes the tool more robust and streamlined. The relaunch was paired with a new library of CC-licensed audio loops and sounds that Indaba solicited from its community.

Not only has Indaba worked to improve the ease and power of its tools, but the company has also been hard at work producing compelling programs for its community to engage in. The previously mentioned remix contest with twin sister pop-rock act Carmen and Camille saw audio stems from the duo’s song “Shine 4U” available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Similar remix contests from Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and The Crystal Method gave community members the ability to win some amazing musical gear, while a collaboration with Intrahealth OPEN found artists submitting music in an effort to help fund health care services for the developing world.

This is all while maintaining and supporting an active community of artists that are creating and collaborating on new music everyday. Check out our March 2008 interview conducted with Indaba co-founders Matthew Siegel and Daniel Zaccagnino for more information.

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Defining Noncommercial report published

Mike Linksvayer, September 14th, 2009



Almost one year ago we launched a study of how people understand “noncommercial use.” The study, generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, included in-depth interviews and two waves of in-person and online focus groups and online questionnaires. The last included a random sample of U.S. (geographic restriction mandated by resource constraints) internet users and in an extended form, open questionnaires promoted via this blog (called “CC Friends & Family” in the report).

Today, we’re publishing the Defining Noncommercial study report and raw data, released under a CC Attribution license and CC0 public domain waiver respectively — yes, this report on “noncommercial” may unambiguously be used for commercial purposes. Also see today’s press release.

The study was conducted by Netpop Research under advisement from academics and a working group consisting of several CC jurisdiction project members as well as CC staff and board members.

Study findings

Creative Commons noncommercial licenses include a definition of commercial use, which precludes use of rights granted for commercial purposes:

… in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.

The majority of respondents (87% of creators, 85% of users) replied that the definition was “essentially the same as” (43% of creators, 42% of users) or “different from but still compatible with” (44% of creators, 43% of users) theirs. Only 7% of creators and 11% of users replied that the term was “different from and incompatible with” their definition; 6% or creators and 4% of users replied “don’t know/not sure.” 74% and 77% of creators and users respectively think others share their definition and only 13% of creators and 11% of users wanted to change their definition after completing the questionnaire.

On a scale of 1-100 where 1 is “definitely noncommercial” and 100 is “definitely commercial” creators and users (84.6 and 82.6, respectively) both rate uses in connection with online advertising generally as “commercial.” However, more specific use cases revealed that many interpretations are fact-specific. For example, creators and users gave the specific use case “not-for-profit organization uses work on its site, organization makes enough money from ads to cover hosting costs” ratings of 59.2 and 71.7, respectively.

On the same scale, creators and users (89.4 and 91.7, respectively) both rate uses in which money is made as being commercial, yet again those ratings are lower in use cases specifying cost recovery or use by not-for-profits. Finally, both groups rate “personal or private” use as noncommercial, though creators did so less strongly than users (24.3 and 16.0, respectively, on the same scale).

In open access polls, CC’s global network of “friends and family” rate some uses differently from the U.S. online population—although direct empirical comparisons may not be drawn from these data. For example, creators and users in these polls rate uses by not-for-profit organizations with advertisements as a means of cost recovery at 35.7 and 40.3, respectively — somewhat more noncommercial. They also rate “personal or private” use as strongly noncommercial—8.2 and 7.8, respectively — again on a scale of 1-100 where 1 is “definitely noncommercial” and 100 is “definitely commercial.”

See much more in the study report and draw your own conclusions from the data.

The below is drawn from the Section 4 of the report, titled “Next” — we urge you to read that section for more, including ideas for future research.

Import for Creative Commons noncommercial licenses

In the next years, possibly as soon as 2010, we expect to formally kick off a multi-year, international process for producing the next version (4.0) of the six main Creative Commons licenses.

This process will include examination of whether the NC term should be usefully modified as a part of that effort, or if the better approach might be to adopt a “best practices” approach of articulating the commercial/noncommercial distinction for certain creator or user communities apart from the licenses themselves. Whichever the result, this study has highlighted that in order to meet the expectations of licensors using CC NC licenses it will be important to avoid any modification of the term, however manifested, that makes a use widely agreed to be commercial — or only agreed to be noncommercial with low consensus — explicitly noncommercial. There is an analogue in our statement of intent for CC Attribution-ShareAlike, which provides assurances that we will not break the expectations of licensors whose intent is to release works under copyleft terms.

While the costs of license proliferation are already widely appreciated and resisted by many, the study weighs against any lingering temptation to offer multiple flavors of NC licenses due to strong agreement on the commerciality of certain use cases that, in the past, may have been considered by some to be good candidates for splitting off into specialized versions of the NC term, such as online advertising. For even in those cases where strong agreement may appear to exist upon initial inquiry, such as with online advertising, nuances and sometimes strong differences of opinion are immediately revealed when more specific use cases are tested and facts presented — such as those involving cost recovery or support of nonprofit organizations.

The study results also advise against any concerted effort by CC to attempt appeasing all license users, all the time — study participants are divided over the value of more or fewer specific “use cases” to delineate the commercial/noncommercial divide, some see the lack of specific uses as a strength and others as a weakness, and many others still disagree with the notion that a single definition of noncommercial use could be workable. Thus is the challenge, and opportunity, of public license stewards.

Aside from decisions about the NC licenses themselves, we will be looking back to the study as we update explanations of noncommercial licensing on our license deeds, license chooser, and other materials. Your ideas and feedback are most welcome (see below).

Creative Commons recommendations on using noncommercial licenses

Overall, our NC licenses appear to be working rather well — they are our most popular licenses and we are not aware of a large number of disputes between licensors and licensees over the meaning of the term. The study hints at some of the potential reasons for this state of affairs, including that users are in some cases more conservative in their interpretation of what is noncommercial than are creators and that in some cases creators who earn more money from their work (i.e., have more reason to dispute questionable uses) are more liberal in their interpretation of what is noncommercial than are those who earn less.

While it would take a more focused and exhaustive study to conclude that these seemingly fortunate attitudinal differences are correct, strong, and global, they do hint at rules of thumb for licensors releasing works under NC licenses and licensees using works released under NC licenses — licensors should expect some uses of their works that would not meet the most stringently conservative definition of noncommercial, and licensees who are uncertain of whether their use is noncommercial should find a work to use that does unambiguously allow commercial use (e.g., licensed under CC BY, CC BY-SA, or in the public domain) or ask the licensor for specific permission (interestingly about half of respondents to the “CC Friends & Family” questionnaire who had released works under a NC license indicated that they had been contacted for specific permission). Note that this rule of thumb has an analogue in network protocol design and implementation known as the robustness principle or Postel’s Law: “Be conservative in what you do; be liberal in what you accept from others.”

One way to think about Creative Commons generally is of providing tools to prevent the failed sharing that results from relying on copyrights’ defaulting to “all rights reserved” — uses that you would allow but that will not occur because you haven’t authorized them (maybe haven’t even thought of them) and the costs of finding you and getting authorization are too high for the intended use (or maybe you’re dead and even scholarly use of your works is suppressed by your estate). This sounds dry, but think about the anti-network effects of failed sharing at the level of a society, and the costs are large indeed. Some have realized that too much use of NC licensing suppresses uses that a licensor who wants to share may wish to allow, at a cost to NC licensors and licensees and a greater cost to communities and the broader free culture movement — failed sharing, though at a much smaller scale than the failed sharing engendered by default copyright. The Definition of Free Cultural Works website includes an article summarizing reasons to avoid NC licenses (and use a free license such as CC BY or CC BY-SA). If you’re concerned about the costs of NC licensing to yourself, the free culture movement, or society at large, review the arguments and consider “dropping -NC” from your license.

The potential negative impact and corresponding lack of use of noncommercial licensing differs across fields. For example, noncommercial licenses do not exist at all in the free and open source software world (note that CC recommends using a free and open source software license for software). Science and education are two large fields in which we believe that liberal licensing or the public domain are most appropriate. Unsurprisingly Wikipedia, with strong relationships with the free software, open access (scientific publishing), and open education movements, mandates liberal licensing, and many other massively collaborative projects are following.

However, compelling use cases for NC licensing remain — most obviously when an existing significant revenue stream from a work would be compromised by release under liberal terms. Giving your audience legal certainty that they won’t be prosecuted for doing what comes naturally from using digital networks — copying and remixing for no commercial gain or monetary exchange — while exploring the sharing economy and still protecting existing business — these are great reasons to start or continue releasing works under a NC license. It is little surprise that major music and book publishers’ use of CC licensing thus far has almost exclusively been of the NC variety.

How to participate in the discussion

There are a variety of ways you can participate in discussion of this study, the future of CC NC licenses and accompanying material, and future research on this and other topics related to voluntary sharing:

Thanks to everyone who has contributed in any way to this work!

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CC Network: Now with Promo Codes!

Fred Benenson, September 11th, 2009

CC Network LogoOne thing Nathan and John have been working on under the hood of the Creative Commons Network over the last couple of months is a promotional code system which gives us (and you) more flexibility when purchasing account subscriptions.

Starting today, when you donate $50 or more to Creative Commons ($25 for students), you’ll be sent an e-mail with a link will let you either renew your current CC Network account, or sign up with a new one.

This promo code can be used by you, or if you want, you can gift it to a friend by just forwarding them the email with the link.

Just remember, individual promo codes can only be used once so use them wisely!

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