The Google Book Settlement is probably the copyright story of the year — it’s complex, contentious, involves big players and big subjects — the future of books, perhaps good and evil — resulting in a vast amount of advocacy, punditry and academic analysis.
It’s also a difficult item for Creative Commons to comment on. Both “sides” are clearly mostly correct. Wide access to digital copies of most books ever published would be a tremendous benefit to society — it’s practically an imperative that will happen in some fashion. It’s also the case that any particular arrangement to achieve such access should be judged in terms of how it serves the public interest, which includes consumer privacy, open competition, and indeed, access to books, among many other things. Furthermore, Creative Commons considers both Google and many of the parties submitting objections to the settlement (the Electronic Frontier Foundation is an obvious example) great friends and supporters of the commons.
We hope that a socially beneficial conclusion is reached. However, it’s important to remember why getting there is so contentious. Copyright has not kept up with the digital age — to the contrary, it has fought a rearguard action against the digital age, resulting in zero growth in the public domain, a vast number of inaccessible and often decaying orphan works, and a diminution of fair use. If any or all of these were addressed, Google and any other party would have much greater freedom to scan and make books available to the public — providing access to digital books would be subject to open competition, not arrived at via a complex and contentious settlement with lots of side effects.
Creative Commons was designed to not play the high cost, risk, and stakes game of litigation and lobbying to fix a broken copyright system. Instead, following the example of the free software movement, we offer a voluntary opt-in to a more reasonable copyright that works in the digital age. There are a huge number of examples that this works — voluntary, legal, scalable sharing powers communities as diverse as music remix, scientific publishing, open educational resources, and of course Wikipedia.
It’s also heartening to see that voluntary sharing can be a useful component of even contentious settlements and to see recognition of Creative Commons as the standard for sharing. We see this in Google’s proposed amended settlement, filed last Friday. The amended version (PDF) includes the following:
Alternative License Terms. In lieu of the basic features of Consumer Purchase set forth in Section 4.2(a) (Basic Features of Consumer Purchase), a Rightsholder may direct the Registry to make its Books available at no charge pursuant to one of several standard licenses or similar contractual permissions for use authorized by the Registry under which owners of works make their works available (e.g., Creative Commons Licenses), in which case such Books may be made available without the restrictions of such Section.
This has not been the first mention of Creative Commons licenses in the context of the Google Book Settlement. The settlement FAQ has long included an answer indicating a Creative Commons option would be available. Creative Commons has also been mentioned (and in a positive light) by settlement critics, for example in Pamela Samuelson’s paper on the settlement and in the Free Software Foundation’s provocative objection centering on the tension between the intentions of public copyright licensors and the potential for settlements to result in less freedom than the licensor intended.
Independent of the settlement, we happily noted a few months ago that Google had added Creative Commons licensing options to its Google Book Search partner program. This, like any voluntary sharing, or mechanism to facilitate such, is a positive development.
However you feel about the settlement, you can make a non-contentious contribution to a better future by using works in the commons and adding your own, preventing future gridlock. You can also make a financial contribution to the Creative Commons annual campaign to support the work we do to build infrastructure for sharing.
If you want to follow the Google Book Settlement play-by-play, New York Law School’s James Grimmelmann has the go-to blog. We’re proud to note that James was a Creative Commons legal intern in 2004, but can’t take any credit for his current productivity!1 Comment »
On Friday, Creative Commons Japan and iPhone developer Appliya Studio released AudioVisual Mixer for Into Infinity, a free iPhone application specifically developed for the launch of the Into Infinity project in Japan (iTunes link). Into Infinity, which we have discussed numerous times, is a music and art project produced in collaboration between CC and non-profit web radio collective dublab.
When opened, the application connects to a server where the project’s resources are stored, automatically downloading sound loops (“EAR”) that are paired with visual circles (“EYE”). An Into Infinity logo serves as an anchor point to trigger sounds – users can drag and move circles with their finger and when brought into the logo’s orbit the sounds start mixing, creating new derivative works on the fly. Users can then share these mixes instantly by posting to Twitter or sharing via e-mail from within the application.
All mixes generated by the application’s users are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, keeping in line with the project as a whole. The release also coincides with the addition of 50 “ear” sound loops and 50 “eye” visual circles from Japanese sound and visual artists. If you have an iPhone, download it today!
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Molly Kleinman is a long-time friend of CC and has been doing incredible work for all things copyright over at the University of Michigan as Special Assistant to the Dean of Libraries. From Espresso Book Machines to a CC-friendly Scholarly Publishing Office, we continue to be inspired by the University of Michigan’s innovative approach to open content, copyright, and especially open education, an area of focus CC is highly committed to developing through ccLearn. We’re honored to have Molly, a self-proclaimed dedicated advocate of Creative Commons, write the fourth letter in the Commoner Letter series of this year’s fundraising campaign.
Subscribe to receive future Commoner Letters by email.
Photo by Chan Wong CC BY-NC
Hello, Fellow Commoner,
Creative Commons licenses make it easier for me to do my work, and to help my faculty and students do theirs. Today I’d like to return the favor and encourage you to support the Creative Commons 2009 Annual Campaign, and help make sure they continue the wonderful work they’ve been doing.
Why is Creative Commons so helpful and important? Because it provides a balanced, sane alternative to the madly out-of-whack copyright system I deal with every day. I am an academic librarian and copyright specialist who teaches faculty, students, librarians, archivists and others about their rights as creators and their rights as users. Anyone familiar with the state of copyright law knows it’s messy and confusing stuff, and the very notion of users’ rights is contentious in some circles. Big Content has been waging a propaganda campaign to convince the public that all unauthorized, un-paid-for uses are infringing, illegal uses. It’s not true, but the widespread misinformation is bad for educators, bad for students, and bad for all of us who benefit from the fruits of scholarly research. Professors are afraid to share educational material with their students. Parents are afraid to let their kids post homemade videos online. All this fear hinders the ability of scholars, teachers, and students to do the work of research, teaching, and learning that is their job.
As my favorite CC video says, “Enter Creative Commons.” Creative Commons carves out an arena in which people can use and build on new works without fear. It frees us from both the looming threat of lawsuits and the time consuming and expensive demands of clearing permissions. Creative Commons helps people share openly, and the more content that CC helps to open up, whether it’s music or photography or scientific data or educational resources, the more it expands what faculty and students can teach and study freely.
I’d like to call particular attention to the work of one of Creative Commons’ offshoots, ccLearn. ccLearn is striving to realize the full potential of the internet to support open learning and open educational resources, and to minimize legal, technical, and social barriers to sharing and reuse of educational materials. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this work. In the United States alone, plummeting budgets and rising costs for both K-12 and higher education are making it harder for students and teachers to access the quality educational resources they need. Until recently, most educational content was locked behind digital paywalls or hidden in print books, and the free stuff you could find online was often unreliable. Now, the pool of high quality open educational resources is growing every day, with open textbooks, open courseware, and other experimental projects popping up all the time. Many of these projects have received support from ccLearn, and nearly all of them are built on the framework of Creative Commons licenses. Every one provides expanded access that is crucial to the future of a quality educational system, both in this country and throughout the world.
This is why it is so important to support Creative Commons, in any number of ways. Though I donate (and you should, too), I believe that one of my greatest contributions has been in helping to build the Creative Commons community from the ground up, one frustrated professor or librarian at a time. Every person I teach about Creative Commons is a person who may eventually contribute to the Commons herself, attaching licenses to her works and sharing them with the world. The bigger the Commons, the better for all of us.
Special Assistant to the Dean of Libraries
University of Michigan Library
We’re very excited to announce that Creative Commons will once again be part of Google’s Policy Fellowship for the summer of 2010, and we’re looking forward to filling the big shoes of our 2009 policy fellow, Aurelia Schultz. Just like last year, the Google Policy Fellow will receive a substantial grant to work at Creative Commons’ San Francisco Office on the following issues (but this is certainly not an exhaustive list of the things we’ll have you thinking about):
- Synthesize statistics garnered from recent studies focusing on international license adoption. Fellow will be expected to generate and investigate diverse theses relating to license choice, adoption, and use.
- Coordinate with counsel to critically analyze the current state of public domain policy in US and abroad. Develop a framework to help Creative Commons’ deploy messaging regarding public domain policy in US and abroad.
- Research and analysis of how the contemporary discourse of copyright, sharing, reuse, and remix has been shaped over the last six years as a result of the Creative Commons project.
- Investigate new opportunities for Creative Commons implementation in ‘uncontacted’ communities, institutions, artists, and mediums.
- Work with Creative Commons’ international community and jurisdiction project leads on projects, research, and outreach.
UPDATE: Google has extended the application deadline to January 25th, 2010, allowing you an extra month to get your application together!2 Comments »
Grab the very first issue of the CC Asia-Pacific Newsletter, a stunning and informative publication compiled by CC jurisdictions in the region.
From the editors:
[At the “Commons Crossroads” conference in Manila] it was proposed to have a bi-monthly electronic newsletter from which each of us can be informed of CC activities in one another’s jurisdiction. It is also hoped that the newsletter serves as a venue to share experience and to enable collaboration.
You can read more about the Commons Crossroads conference, the region’s Action Plan Statement, and more cool stories from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia, and China Mainland.
Although English isn’t the first language of many Asia-Pacific jurisdictions, the contributors took an extra effort to prepare the newsletter for a global audience. A huge thank you to the writers and to CC Philippines and CC Taiwan for editing this fantastic volume. For more international news, you can always check out our monthly newsletter and of course keep an eye out for the next Asia-Pacific issue.
Cover by Lairaja / Except when otherwise noted, this work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Philippines license.1 Comment »
Demonstrating that June’s migration of Wikimedia sites to CC Attribution-ShareAlike as their main content liense was a signal of much greater interoperability among free and open content projects going forward and not merely an end in itself are recent announcements from the Fedora Project, AntWeb, and Wikitravel, all moved or moving to CC BY-SA 3.0. Each has a different story as to how and why they made the move.
The Fedora Project, best known for its community-centric and cutting-edge GNU/Linux distribution, but also committed to “leading the advancement of free, open software and content” (emphasis added, from the Fedora Project home page), has migrated all of its documentation and wiki content to CC BY-SA from the long-deprecated Open Publication License, via their contributor agreement. Among the reasons:
4. Other organizations that have content we can reuse in Fedora and contribute back to, such as Wikipedia and GNOME, have switched or are switching to the CC BY SA. Why does this matter? For one easy example, we can write a definitive history of Fedora, host it on Wikipedia as the upstream, then package it as part of the ‘about-fedora’ package.
5. If you’ve never looked at how much open content there is on e.g. flickr.com and Wikicommons, please look. For content authors, this is going from practically zero useful open media available to tens of millions of photographs, diagrams, and so forth that we can not only freely reuse, but we can contribute back to.
AntWeb, a project of the California Academy of Sciences that holds its own copyrights has changed its license from CC Attribution-NonCommercial to CC Attribution-ShareAlike, a change that has resulted in a major collaboration with Wikimedians and 30,000 ant images gracing Wikipedia articles. Waldir Pimenta guest-blogging with Brianna Laugher, writes:
I found the fantastic images from AntWeb, a project from The California Academy of Sciences, which aims to illustrate the enormous diversity of the ants of the world. I was especially happy to find that they were using a Creative Commons license — but soon after I was disappointed to find that the specific one they used (CC-BY-NC) was not appropriate for Wikipedia (or, more generally, free cultural works, and thus discouraged by Creative Commons itself).
So I sent them an email suggesting them to change the license. When they replied, I found out that they actuallly had been internally discussing license issues for quite a while. I kept in touch, and made sure to let them know the advantages of having their work showcased in such high-traffic websites as Wikipedia, Commons or WikiSpecies.
I like to think that my two cents helped in their decision, some time later, to not only change their license to CC-BY-SA, but also upload all their images to Commons themselves! This was part of their overall mission: “universal access to ant information”. Before, the AntWeb project focused only on digitization of content and development of the web portal; but now they also decided to “export” AntWeb content to improve access. Putting the images and associated metadata in Commons was an example their outreach initiatives.
Finally, Wikitravel, a very successful site that we’ve mentioned here many times (see founder Evan Prodromou’s letter in support of our 2007 fundraising campaign — which also works for 2009!) is building community consensus for upgrading from CC BY-SA 1.0 to CC BY-SA 3.0. Unfortunately 1.0 did not have an upgrade clause, a problem corrected in 2.0.No Comments »
Just five days ago we announced that Canonical would be generously matching every donation dollar for dollar for the next week – up to $3,000. Well, we met that goal in record time! Thanks to everyone who donated in the past five days and had your donation doubled – for a total of $6,000 going toward our annual campaign to sustain CC!
Many thanks to Canonical for their ongoing support of free culture and Creative Commons.
We still have a long way to go to reach our $500,000 goal for this year’s campaign, so please donate today and show your support for a culture of sharing!No Comments »
I started working full time for Creative Commons on June 2nd, 2008 just after finishing my masters at ITP. The last year and half has been an incredible experience as I’ve spent my time doing CC outreach, advocacy, and product development. But it is time for me to move on, and I’m excited to announce that starting December 1st, I’ll be working at NYC based start-up Kickstarter.
Kickstarter is a funding platform for creators, and represents a refreshing way of thinking about supporting cultural production and creators. Most importantly, Kickstarter, like Creative Commons, offers a real mechanism for creators to connect with their supporters and share their work in a way that acknowledges the inevitabilities of digital media. Having launched and successfully funded my own project through Kickstarter, I know this platform works and I’m incredibly excited by its potential. But Kickstarter is also something that many of us in the free culture community have always dreamed of — a way to directly fund cultural production and its creators without resorting to leveraging scarcity and exclusivity.
I’m going to be doing very similar things at Kickstarter that I’ve been doing at CC: outreach, advocacy, some product, some community, some biz dev, and lots of pondering the future of culture and collaboration. But I’m also really looking forward to sharing a lot of the principles and relationships I developed at CC with my new colleagues, so if we’re currently working together on something, I’m sure we’ll still have plenty to talk about.
Working for Creative Commons has been fantastic, and I really couldn’t have imagined a better way or a better group of people to spend the last couple of years with, so it is not without some sadness that I’m leaving. So let’s stay in touch! Find me on twitter, check out my blog, or just drop me a line at fcb at fredbenenson.com.
See you on the ole tubes!
Fred1 Comment »
Artists and creatives of all types are sharing some incredible CC-licensed content on The Behance Network.
Levi van Veluw showcases miniature landscapes built on a human canvas in Landscapes (BY-NC-ND); Glenn Jones offers ideas for future t-shirts (BY-NC); L Filipe dos Santos highlights illustrations with See. Saw (BY-NC-ND); Si Sott offers a poster series in Silent Records (BY-NC-ND); and Iain Crawford shares his stunning still photography (BY-NC).
It is fantastic to see this kind of up-take with our licenses, and Behance is only one of the many content directories that use our tools to help increase sharing and reuse. For more info on Behance, be sure to read our intervew with founder/CEO Scott Belsky as well as explore the Behance Network itself.1 Comment »
In July, CC Learn officially launched DiscoverEd, a search prototype that provides scalable search and discovery for educational resources on the web. We blogged about it again during Back to School week, emphasizing the future of search and discovery of educational resources and how we hoped DiscoverEd would catalyze efforts in that direction. Since then, we have been working with various organizations and projects who want to include their resources into DiscoverEd, and through all the back and forth about feeds and mark-up–essentially what’s required to get your stuff included for greater discovery–we realized we could streamline the process by putting some necessary information into a brief document.
Preparing Your Educational Resources for DiscoverEd is second in the CC Learn Step by Step Guides series, which is part of our larger Productions schema. It is a basic guide for those interested in preparing their resources for inclusion into search engines like DiscoverEd that utilize structured data. It is targeted at people or institutions interested in making their digitally published educational resources more discoverable. Though the document contains technical language and sample XHTML and RDFa, it’s really not all too complicated. Basically, you just need one of the right feeds to start, which you can then copy and paste the link of into ODEPO (the Open Database of Educational Projects and Organizations). ODEPO is hosted on OpenED, the community site for open education. It’s a wiki, so anyone can create an account and add their project or organization to the database.
But the guide explains all that, (as does the DiscoverEd FAQ) and the alternatives–which include contacting us directly. DiscoverEd already pulls from a number of institutions and repositories, and as it expands we hope to improve its search capabilities. Any feedback is welcome.No Comments »