Open Learning: Open Educational Resources Issue

Jane Park, March 11th, 2009

Open Educational Resources are good for the economy (or at least, economizing). They are also good for students, teachers, and the environment. And they currently theme the most recent issue of Open Learning, The Journal of Open and Distance Learning (Volume 24, Issue 1).

ccLearn’s own Executive Director, Ahrash Bissell, submitted a paper last fall entitled, “Permission granted: open licensing for educational resources.” In it, he argues that “open licenses are critical for defining Open Educational Resources” and “explain[s] the logic of open licensing” in terms familiar “to teachers, funders, and educational policy-makers.”

Ahrash’s isn’t the only interesting read in the mix; there is also David Wiley and Seth Gurrell’s paper spanning “A decade of development…” which presents a “history of the idea of Open Educational Resources, overview[s] the current state of the Open Educational Resources movement, report[s] on critical issues facing the field in the immediate future, and present[s] two new projects to watch in 2009.”

Actually, all of them sound pretty fascinating, especially one “personal and institutional journey” at the University of the Western Cape (this one involves the struggle for political freedom) by Derek Keats. All papers illuminate different aspects of the open educational resources movement, a movement that has grown steadily since inception. You can view them online, or download the PDFs. We will also be hosting Ahrash’s paper on ccLearn’s resources page shortly.

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Expanding the Public Domain: Part Zero

Diane Peters, March 11th, 2009

Creative Commons has spent a lot of time over the past year or so strategizing, and worrying, about the current state of the public domain and its future. In particular, we’ve been thinking about ways to help cultivate a vibrant and rich pool of freely available resources accessible to anyone to use for any purpose, unconditionally.

Our copyright licenses empower creators to manage their copyright on terms they choose. But what about creators who aren’t concerned about those protections, or who later want to waive those rights altogether? Unfortunately, the law makes it virtually impossible to waive the copyright automatically bestowed on creators. The problem is compounded by the fact that copyright terms vary dramatically and are frequently extended. Additionally, new protections, like the creation of sui generis database rights in the EU, are layered atop traditional rights, making an already complex system of copyright all the more complicated. In combination, these challenges stand in the way of the vibrant public domain that CC and many others envision.

Today at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology conference, our CEO Joi Ito will formally introduce the first of two tools designed to address these challenges. CC0 (read “CC Zero”) is a universal waiver that may be used by anyone wishing to permanently surrender the copyright and database rights they may have in a work, thereby placing it as nearly as possible into the public domain. CC0 is not a license, but a legal tool that improves on the “dedication” function of our existing, U.S.-centric public domain dedication and certification. CC0 is universal in form and may be used throughout the world for any kind of content without adaptation to account for laws in different jurisdictions. And like our licenses, CC0 has the benefit of being expressed in three ways – legal code, a human readable deed, and machine-readable code that allows works distributed under CC0 to be easily found. Read our FAQs to learn more.

CC0 is an outgrowth of six years of experience with our existing public domain tool, the maturation of ccREL (our recommendations for machine-readable work information), and the requirements of educators and scientists for the public domain. Science Commons’ work on the Open Access Data Protocol, to ensure interoperability of data and databases in particular, informed our development of CC0. It should come as no surprise that several of CC0’s early adopters are leading some of the most important projects within the scientific community.

The ProteomeCommons.org Tranche network is one such early adopter. “Our goal is to remove as many barriers to scientific data sharing as possible in order to promote new discoveries. The Creative Commons CC0 waiver was incorporated into our uploading options as the default in order to help achieve this goal. By giving a simple option to release data into the public domain, CC0 removes the complex barriers of licensing and restrictions. This lets researchers focus on what’s most important, their research and new discoveries,” said Philip Andrews, Professor at the University of Michigan.

Another early adopter of CC0 is the Personal Genome Project, a pioneer in the emerging field of personal genomics technology. The Personal Genome Project is announcing today the release of a large data set containing genomic sequences for ten individuals using CC0, with future planned releases also under CC0. “PersonalGenomes.org is committed to making our research data freely available to the public because we think that is the best way to promote discovery and advance science, and CC0 helps us to state that commitment in a clear and legally accurate way,” said Jason Bobe, Director of Community.

John Wilbanks, CC’s vice president for science, follows Joi Ito at Etech with a presentation addressing the role of CC0 in promoting open innovation.

Building CC0 into a universally robust tool has required the efforts and dedication of many over the course of more than a year. CC jurisdiction project leads in particular provided us with meaningful forums in which to openly discuss CC0′s development. They also provided jurisdiction-specific research critical to our understanding of public domain around the world. This support was invaluable to the crafting of a legally sound public domain tool for use everywhere. An overview of CC’s development and public comment process can be found on the CC wiki, together with links to our blog postings summarizing key policy and drafting decisions.

About the second tool that we refer to above, stay tuned. Funding permitting, we plan to roll out a beta public domain assertion tool this coming summer that will make it easy for people to tag and find content already in the public domain — increasing its effective size, even if due to copyright extensions works are not naturally added to the public domain.

Note, one small improvement we’re introducing with CC0 is that its deed and legalcode are located at http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/. The forthcoming public domain assertion tool will also be rooted under this directory. Thanks to everyone who reminded us that the public domain is not a license, and public domain tools should not be under a “licenses” directory!

A word of thanks to our pro bono legal counsel at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Latham & Watkins. Their legal review and analysis provided the heightened level of rigor that users of our licenses and legal tools have come to expect from Creative Commons.

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Nina Paley’s “Sita Sings the Blues” Out Under Attribution-ShareAlike

Fred Benenson, March 10th, 2009

Sita Sings the Blues
Talented animator, writer and producer Nina Paley has freely released her animated film, Sita Sings the Blues under our copyleft license, Attribution-ShareAlike. Copies of Paley’s feature length film are available on Archive.org, LegalTorrents, and various other sites in many different formats. Nina explains her decision to her audience on the film’s site:

Dear Audience,

I hereby give Sita Sings the Blues to you. Like all culture, it belongs to you already, but I am making it explicit with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show Sita Sings the Blues. From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes.

You don’t need my permission to copy, share, publish, archive, show, sell, broadcast, or remix Sita Sings the Blues. Conventional wisdom urges me to demand payment for every use of the film, but then how would people without money get to see it? How widely would the film be disseminated if it were limited by permission and fees? Control offers a false sense of security. The only real security I have is trusting you, trusting culture, and trusting freedom. …

Nina’s film retells the classic Indian myth Ramayana and has already received critical acclaim from the NYTimes, Rogert Ebert who gave it two thumbs up, and many others. On March 7th, it was broadcast on PBS/WNET and is now available streaming on thirteen.org.

Check out SitaSingstheBlues.com for more information, download links, and of course, a wiki.

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Creative Commons in Austin, TX at SXSW – March 13-17

Eric Steuer, March 9th, 2009

South by Southwest (SXSW) is right around the corner, and a few members of the Creative Commons staff (Melissa, Lila, Fred, and me) will be in attendance for the Interactive portion of the festival (March 13-17). We’ll be on hand to talk about CC’s work and projects, and we’d love to meet you. Here’s a short guide to some of the places you’ll be able to find us while we’re in Austin.

Trade Show: We’ll be working a booth at the SXSW Trade Show (Level 4, Grand Ballroom of the Austin Convention Center500 E Cesar Chavez St., Austin, TX 78701), which is open on Saturday, March 14 (Noon to 6pm), Sunday, March 15 (Noon to 6pm), and Monday, March 16 (Noon to 4pm). The four of us will be working in shifts, and there will always be someone around to talk to. We’ll have our usual flyers, stickers, and pins; we’ll also be offering CC t-shirts and a stock of brand new, limited edition flash drives (similar to the ones we offered as part of our 2008 fundraising drive collaboration with Jonathan Coulton – but these are purple!) in exchange for contributions to Creative Commons. We’ll also have a laptop stocked with a curated collection of CC-licensed media, including music from WFMU’s Free Music Archive and videos from the recently-announced Uncensored Interview project.

Talks: I’ll be participating in a panel discussion called “How to Protect Your Brand Without Being a Jerk!” on Monday, March 16th, 11:30am – 12:30pm, in Room 10 of the Austin Convention Center. Fred will be giving a talk entitled “DRM: The Fight Isn’t Over Yet” on Tuesday, March 17th, 5:00pm – 6:00pm, in Room Hilton D of the Austin Convention Center.

Party: We’ll be representing CC at Plutopia on Monday, March 16, 6pm – midnight at the Palmer Events Center (900 Barton Springs Rd., Austin, TX 78704). Plutopia (previously discussed here) is a music, art, and performance party that we’ve attended for the last few years. It’s a great place to meet people interested in technology and art. Admission to the event is free for conference badge holders and $10 for the general public.

We hope to see you in Austin!

For details about attending SXSW, visit the conference’s registration page.

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In LA This Wednesday (3/11): GOOD Community Leaders

Eric Steuer, March 9th, 2009

good_knight

If you’re in Los Angeles, please consider stopping by the GOOD Space (6824 Melrose Ave., LA, CA 90038) this Wednesday, March 11, at 7pm for an event that GOOD is hosting in conjunction with Knight Pulse called GOOD Community Leaders.

Representatives from five social initiatives will offer short presentations about their work and talk about some of their ideas for expanding the reach of their respective projects. I’ll be talking about Creative Commons – specifically about the importance of effectively communicating CC’s work to the general public. Edgar Arceneaux (Watts House Project), Erik Knudson and Kelly Coyne (Urban Homestead), Alissa Walker (Design LA), and Sonja Rasula (Unique LA) will also be presenting.

Admission is free. Red Stripe is providing free beer, and the event is 21+. RSVP is required; more info is available on GOOD’s blog.

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Wikipedia and attribution

Mike Linksvayer, March 9th, 2009

The potential migration of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects to using CC BY-SA as their primary content license has spurred some interesting discussions about attribution — how to give credit for a massively collaborative work in a variety of mediums? This question is relevant regardless of migration, but clearly migration has prompted the discussion and provides an opportunity to progress best practices.

Erik Möller has posted results of a survey run on the English and German Wikipedias regarding how contributors feel about what constitutes appropriate credit for using Wikipedia content. Raw survey data is available for independent analysis.

Unsurprisingly (at least in hindsight), attribution via linking to the article used was most popular, while not giving credit at all was least popular. Here’s the Condorcet ranking, provided by Robert Rohde:

1) Link to the article must be given.
2) Collective credit (e.g. Wikipedia community).
3) Link to the version history must be given.
4) For online use: link. For other uses: full list of authors.
5) Full list of authors must always be copied.
6) No credit is needed.

Creative Commons had wikis in mind when we added attribution via link in version 2.5 of our licenses in 2005. If there are further changes we can make to address attribution and massively collaborative works, it is surely something we’ll want to look at in a future version of the CC licenses, regardless of Wikipedia migration, as wiki and wiki-like mechanisms will only grow in importance for the creation of free cultural works — though it will be very helpful to have the brainpower and experience of the Wikipedia community guiding such developments.

Correction 2009-03-11: We added attribution by link in version 2.0. The change in 2.5 did have wikis in mind, but was more subtle — allowing the licensor to designate that attribution should go to an entity such as a journal or wiki. Thanks to Anthony for prompting this correction on the Wikimedia Foundation discussion list.

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Sketchory: CC-Licensed Sketches

Cameron Parkins, March 6th, 2009

Sketchory is a new site featuring over 250,000 CC-licensed sketches, available broadly under a CC BY-NC license that allows for open sharing and remixing. In a unique twist, Sketchory allows the commercial use of up to 5,000 sketches through using our CC+ protocol.

Sketchory currently needs help tagging images to improve their search functionality, so be sure to lend a hand when possible.

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CASH Music and 50FOOTWAVE Release Power+Light, 1.5GB of CC-Licensed Music

Cameron Parkins, March 6th, 2009

plcover
CASH Music, the CC-friendly non-profit we can’t seem to stop talking about, has teamed up with 50FOOTWAVE to release the band’s entire back-catalog – including a brand new EP Power+Light, prior releases, and various rarities – under a CC BY-NC-SA license.

Fronted by songwriter Kristin Hersh, 50FOOTWAVE’s back-catalog is a massive amount of material, now available for free in both FLAC and MP3 formats making it one of CASH’s most impressive releases to date. The focus of the release is clearly on Power+Light, which can be purchased as a vinyl pressing in addition to free download.

You can hear 50FOOTWAVE’s new EP here and download the tracks here.

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Brooklyn Museum’s API

Fred Benenson, March 6th, 2009

Brooklyn Museum In case it weren’t evidenced by their participation in Wikipedia Loves Art, The Brooklyn Museum is an institution that simply “gets it.On Tuesday, they launched an API.

The Brooklyn Museum Collection API consists of a set of methods that return structured data and links to images from the museum’s collections. This is particularly exciting since all of the images owned by Brooklyn Museum are licensed under our Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerviatives license.

To get an idea of what can be created based on their API take a look at this clever example of an interactive time line of objects in the catalog ranging from 4010 B.C.E. to now.

Piotr Adamczyk has already created a simple set of Yahoo! Pipes that allow anyone to execute the basic API functions without having to write their own code.

Keep up the great work Brooklyn Museum!

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CC Talks With: David Bollier

Mike Linksvayer, March 5th, 2009

As promised in last week’s post on The Commons Video, here’s an interview with David Bollier, author of Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own, which we said in January “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.”

Read on for an explanation of how Bollier became interested in digital commons movement, how he sees the its long term impact shaping up, and much in between.

You’ve been involved in efforts to understand and evangelize the broad concept of “the commons” for a long time, including as an editor of onthecommons.org. What first got you interested in the commons, and when was that?

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I worked for Ralph Nader and a number of Washington public-interest advocacy groups. Far from being the reviled figure that he became following the 2000 election, Nader was revered among progressives for his sophistication in politicizing and developing dozens of issues. These were generally taboo or “boring” topics that were utterly off the national agenda – topics that had not even crystallized as “issues,” such as auto safety, clean air and clean water, open government and congressional reform, not to mention countless niche issues like mobile home safety, nutritional labeling and whistleblower protection. (For more, see the DVD, “An Unreasonable Man.”)

I attended a 1980 conference that Nader convened that affected me a great deal. It was entitled, “Controlling What We Own,” and it dealt with the many resources that the American people nominally or even legally own, but which we do not control or reap benefits from. Nader groups were involved in most of these issues.

Read More…

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