Esther Wojcicki, new CC board chair

Mike Linksvayer, April 1st, 2009

We’re very pleased to announce that effective today, noted educator, education innovator and journalist Esther Wojcicki is the new chair of the Creative Commons board of directors. From the press release:

“I am thrilled to take on this new role,” said Wojcicki. “I strongly believe that the Creative Commons approach to sharing, reuse, and innovation has the power to totally reshape the worlds of education, science, technology, and culture at large. My main goal as chair is to make average Internet users worldwide aware of Creative Commons and to continue building the organization’s governance and financial resources. I am also very eager to help CC’s education push at high school and college journalism programs worldwide.”

Read the whole release for more.

Also see outgoing chair James Boyle’s CC BY(e bye) post — finely crafted writing down to the title, as we have come to expect. As you’ll read, Boyle, a founder of the modern movement for the intellectual commons (and CC itself), will remain deeply engaged in the movement. There remains no better in depth explanation of the intellectual commons than Boyle’s book, The Public Domain.

Thank you and congratulations to both Wojcicki and Boyle!


CC board members Hal Abelson and Esther Wojcicki. Photo by CC CEO Joi Ito / CC BY. Note that our celebratory offer of Joi’s Free Souls book for a donation to CC is still on.

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CC Thailand Lowers Barriers to Sharing

Michelle Thorne, March 31st, 2009

ccthai-logo-final11

Creative Commons Thailand has adapted Creative Commons licenses to Thai law! The localized licenses, launching April 2 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, enable Thai creators to easily share creative works by lowering legal barriers and prohibitive transaction costs.

The Thai team, led by Mr. Phichai Phuechmongkol of Dharmniti Law Office (DLO), conducted the license porting and public discussion with local and international experts. The localized licenses, the fifty-first completed worldwide, are the result of close collaboration with Creative Commons International.

CC Thailand describes the importance of the launch:

“Adoption of the six core Thai licenses will lead to a cordial climate for sharing knowledge and creative works. This climate is especially desirable in a developing nation such as Thailand, whose citizens are dedicated to a culturally sustainable society that is also open to integration and cooperation. The Creative Commons licenses will help Thai society achieve these goals by enabling practical and reasonable copyright protection, while facilitating  the  sharing, distribution,  use, and adaption of creative works both existing and newly-created.”

Following the launch, CC Thailand will kick off an outreach campaign addressing a range of content providers in Thailand. “We hope to eventually persuade creators to revisit their licensing policies and consider more flexible, reasonable solutions like Creative Commons,” the team explains.

For more information about the launch and CC Thailand, check out our press release in English and Thai.

Update: Photos from the event are now online!

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Saturday in NY: launch party for the Free Music Archive

Eric Steuer, March 31st, 2009

fma-logo

The Free Music Archive‘s launch date is nearing, and there’s a party in Brooklyn this Saturday, April 4, to celebrate. If you’re not yet familiar with the project, the FMA is an online music library developed by the legendary freeform radio station WFMU and curated by partners including KEXP and Dublab. From FMA’s Jason Sigal:

Every track [on the FMA] will be offered in high-quality without restrictions, registration, advertisements or fees. Many grant additional rights under Creative Commons agreements, making the FMA a valuable resource for podcasters, video producers, remix artists, and others in search of legal audio.  […] Radio has always offered free access to curated audio, and the Free Music Archive is a continuation of that purpose designed for the Internet era.

Saturday’s party (see full details below) will have live performances by a bunch of great bands – Thee Oh Sees, Excepter, Sightings, and Pink Skull (mp3s by all of the acts who are playing are available here) – plus a DJ set from WFMU music director Brian Turner. WFMU will broadcast live from the event at 91.1-FM in New York and wfmu.org. Live recordings from the concert will be made available for download at the Free Music Archive.

Here’s all the info:

Free Music Archive launch party (curated by WFMU)
Saturday April 4th, doors 7pm, show 8pm sharp, 18+
@ The Bell House: 149 7th St, Brooklyn [map]
Admission: $10 adv. tix (available here) or a roll of the dice
11pm Thee Oh Sees (San Francisco, In The Red Records)
10pm Excepter (Brooklyn electronic-improv)
9pm Sightings (NYC kinetic noise-rock)
8pm Pink Skull (Philly kraut-house)

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Advice for Authors on Negotiating With a Publisher About CC Licenses

Cameron Parkins, March 30th, 2009

Cory Doctorow points us towards an excellent essay from the team behind Digital Foundations on ten key steps to negotiating a CC-licensed release with a large scale publisher:

4. Pitch it with facts

Use case studies to argue with facts. It also helps for them to see that other reputable publishers have licensed books Creative Commons. O’Reilly has some a study on an Asterisk book that we used very effectively.

http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/06/free_downloads.html

The Asterisk book sold 19k copies over two years (about what comparable books from O’Reilly were selling), but was downloaded 180,000 times from *one* of the 5 sites that mirrored it.

Also consider google as arbiter:

Results from google search breakdown of references to the two books in the oreilly case study (at the time of negotiation, early 2008):
asterisk: 139,000 references in 2 years (2005-2007), or 70,000 per year

understanding the linux kernel, 42,000 references in 7 years (2000-2007), 6,000 per year

So there was 10x the press/blog/reference/hits for the CC licensed book.

Treading the sometimes delicate waters of negotiating a CC license with those immediately apprehensive to the idea is difficult at the very least – this type of information, from those who have gone through the process, is invaluable. While the Digital Foundations piece focuses on print publishing, the information therein is applicable across media formats, especially when combined with our ever growing case study database.

We would be remiss not to mention James Boyle’s thoughts on the matter, particularly regarding his experience in licensing The Public Domain: Enclosing The Commons of the Mind under a CC BY-NC-SA license.

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On being a creative commoner

Mike Linksvayer, March 29th, 2009

Domas Mituzas writes in an extremely nice post:

It takes time to understand one is ‘creative commoner’. I do have a t-shirt with such caption, but it is much more comfortable once you start feeling real power of use and reuse of information. Few anecdotes…

He tells stories of the joy of being reused (see our last post on that subject for similar).

Mituzas recognizes the importance of standard copyright licenses in facilitating such reuse…

Also, by using CC license I simply used lingua-franca of world I’m in – and now my content can evolve into shapes that I couldn’t expect, and that would be limited by non-portable licenses.

…and the problems posed by non-interoperable licenses:

Of course, there other different stories. My colleague (and manager) runs a wiki about his own town, Bielepedia, and he wants to exchange information with Wikipedia. Now he can’t, as well as quite a lot of other free content community projects. Though of course, some may believe license difference doesn’t mean much, in this case it means that we’re building borders we don’t need nor we have intent to maintain.

Indeed, one of Mituzas’ points is that Wikipedia should migrate to CC BY-SA (he is an active Wikipedian and Wikimedia Foundation board member, also see the migration decision timeline and our most recent post on the matter).

Unnecessary licensing incompatibility between Wikipedia and much of the rest of the free content world not only prevents specific reuses, but probably hampers the growth of free content overall, as mentioned in the Creative Commons Statement of Intent for Attribution-ShareAlike Licenses:

When a copyleft license is widely used, it not only protects essential freedoms for all users, it fosters the spread of those freedoms. This occurs when people who may not know or care about Freedom as understood by the Free Software movement, but merely wish to use works that happen to be Free, release adaptations under a Free license in order to fulfill the requirements of the license. By the same token, if there are pools of Free content that may not be mixed because their copyleft style licenses are legally incompatible, the spread of essential freedoms is constricted.

However, it’s important to note that Bielepedia, as currently licensed, would not benefit from the migration of Wikipedia to CC BY-SA. That’s because Bielepedia is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA. Hopefully inspired by the possibility of interoperability with Wikipedia, Bielepedia and many other projects will see fit to migrate to more liberal CC licences that are interoperable with CC BY-SA and meet the WIkimedia Foundation’s licensing policy (CC BY, CC BY-SA, and CC0/public domain, though the latter aren’t licenses).

If you haven’t yet please go read Domas Mituzas’ post on being a creative commoner. It really is very nice!

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CC Technology Summit 3: Turin, Italy

Nathan Yergler, March 29th, 2009

We did two Technology Summits in 2008 — one in Mountain View, CA in June and one in Cambridge, MA in December. I’m pleased to announce that the third CC Technology Summit will take place June 26, 2009 in Turin, Italy at Politecnico di Torino. This is just prior to the Communia Conference 2009 on the global science and economics of knowledge-sharing institutions.

We’re currently looking for presentations around copyright registries, ccREL and provenance in semantic web applications for the day’s program. If you’re interested, see the full details and CFP in the wiki. Hope to see many of you there!

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$8 Million Investment in Flatworld Knowledge

Jane Park, March 27th, 2009

Flatworld Knowledge, an open textbook initiative that has been in development since 2007, received $8 million in investments earlier this week. That’s right. $8 million. In investments, not grants.

The open textbook world got a lot of press last fall, and I’m guessing that not long after it started piquing the interest of the rich (and maybe famous). I don’t know; have you heard of Valhalla Partners, Greenhill SAVP, and High Peaks Venture Partners? They, along with several angel investors, are the ones who believe Flatworld Knowledge (aka open textbooks) will be the next big thing. From the press release:

“This is an exciting investment,” said Hooks Johnston, General Partner at Valhalla Partners. “Like MP3′s blew up the delivery model for recorded music, the blogosphere and online news sources blew up the newspaper business, Flat World Knowledge is poised to blow up the college textbook market. We’re backing the perfect team to make it happen.”

What makes an open textbook? Open licensing. Flatworld Knowledge currently has 22 business and economics textbooks in development, with 10 titles set for faculty review (almost) right about now. All of their textbooks will be open under one of the Creative Commons licenses, allowing you to not only freely access the books online, but to adapt, modify, and derive them, depending on the license.

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H.R. 1464 — The “OER Bill”

Jane Park, March 27th, 2009

The open educational resources movement has been picking up steam lately, even attracting the attention of legislators. What’s hot in the new Persian year (aka the start of spring) is the recently introduced “OER Bill“. What’s that, you say?

Well in its own words, it’s a bill “To require Federal agencies to collaborate in the development of freely-available open source educational materials in college-level physics, chemistry, and math, and for other purposes.”

Like David Wiley, we also don’t quite trust our eyes. (Italics don’t really do it justice either.)

Read further, and you’ll see that the bill requires all federal agencies expending more than $10,000,000 a year on scientific education and outreach to “use at least 2 percent of such funds for the collaboration on the development and implementation of open source materials as an educational outreach effort in accordance with subsection.”

The bill also complains a great deal about the cost of closed (versus open) textbooks. This is an undeniable fact that might finally get recognized by Congress. Read the full bill now.

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Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase Winners Announced

Greg Grossmeier, March 26th, 2009

Once again the Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase has selected great creative works to include in the latest version of Ubuntu, this version due out in April. As with the previous Show Case, all of the winning entries will be bundled with the Ubuntu release and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. This time, however, there were three categories, so three winners. The categories are: Audio, Video, and Image.

The winning audio entry was by Jean Francois Marais (aka: MoShang) for his song “Invocation.” Invocation is from his Stone Bell EP.

Taking the video category is Robbie Ferguson for his video “Spirit of Ubuntu” (ogg video). Robbie hosts the Category 5 Technology TV show which is a live question and answer style show. His entry is a discussion of the Ubuntu community and what it means.

The winning image is a photograph by William J McKee Jr titled “Canadian Clouds” that was taken soon after crossing the boarder into Canada from New York State.

Amazing works from all 3 winners (for more information on the winners, see the official announcement), and the group of submissions (still available on the submission site, but only temporarily) was of great quality!

Be sure to remember that this contest will happen for each new Ubuntu release, which is every 6 months. So, get those submissions ready for the Free Culture Showcase for Ubuntu 9.10 released in October of this year!

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Cloud Commons

Mike Linksvayer, March 26th, 2009

Creative Commons licensing has been highlighted in a couple prominent discussions of “” documents recently.

Last week Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote about Sun’s cloud computing strategy:

Second, we announced the API’s and file formats for Sun’s Cloud will all be open, delivered under a Creative Commons License. That means developers can freely stitch our and their cloud services into mass market products, without fear of lock-in or litigation from the emerging proprietary cloud vendors.

The API specification Schwartz writes about is released under a CC Attribution license.

Today Microsoft’s Steven Martin wrote critically of a cloud computing “manifesto” that has apparently been developed behind closed doors:

To ensure that the work on such a project is open, transparent and complete, we feel strongly that any “manifesto” should be created, from its inception, through an open mechanism like a Wiki, for public debate and comment, all available through a Creative Commons license. After all, what we are really seeking are ideas that have been broadly developed, meet a test of open, logical review and reflect principles on which the broad community agrees. This would help avoid biases toward one technology over another, and expand the opportunities for innovation.

Of course a document can be at first developed in private, then released in public under a CC license, but Martin is certainly correct that a document that is open in its development and in what can be done with it upon release ought to be published under a CC license, as should the debate and comment surrounding document creation.

The manifesto Martin discusses apparently is still private, though a commenter on his post notes that the Cloud Computing Community Wiki has taken up the challenge to develop its own cloud computing manifesto in public under a CC Attribution-ShareAlike license. Of this, Sam Johnson commented on Martin’s blog:

Here’s hoping that when this consortium reveals itself their work will also be available under a CC-BY-SA license so we can cherry pick the better parts, but in the mean time if you have anything to add then please feel free to do so.

It’s really great that the necessity of releasing specifications, manifestos, and other documents under liberal CC licenses has such broad buy in. Among other things, the practice probably saves lots of money and frustration — big companies don’t have to spend on lawyers to negotiate copyright terms on the documents they collaborate on nor to develop onerous terms that individuals and others must agree to in order to contribute to such documents — to say nothing of the opportunity cost of not pre-clearing documents for translation and inclusion in educational materials.

However, it’s also important to note that applying a liberal CC license to a specification or other computing-related document is only one of a number of steps required to ensure that a computing technology is and remains really open. For example, is the technology patent encumbered? Is there an open source reference implementation? We sketched this out in a bit more detail almost a year ago in a post titled What good is a CC licensed specification?

Consider the above an opportunistic public service announcement rather than a criticism of Sun or Microsoft in these particular instances. Martin’s post is about a manifesto about interoperability — so a CC license may be all that is needed for that document to be open, at least after publication — though perhaps the document should recommend more than that of cloud computing initiatives that develop specifications intended to be interoperable. The rest of Schwartz’s post (actually it is 4th in a series of 4 posts) talks a lot about the free software community and building on open source software, so it is possible Sun is doing everything possible to make the cloud API it proposes open — I just haven’t evaluated whether that is the case.

It’s also worth noting here that not only big companies are thinking about keeping cloud computing open (if you’re annoyed by use of the fuzzy “cloud” term and have managed to read this far, congratulations) — many in the free and open source software community have related concerns and have begun to develop their own manifestos and guidelines (unsurprisingly, available under CC Attribution-ShareAlike), which interestingly address all of the above and other issues of software freedom and free culture.

Now go forth and make the cloud interoperable, open, and free (as in speech), understanding that CC licensing specifications and manifestos is a necessary step, but only one of many steps toward fulfilling your mission.

Update 2009-03-30: The Open Cloud Manifesto is now available, and it is indeed published under CC BY-SA.

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