Creative Commons Netherlands notes that the site’s copyright policy signals a seriousness about open sharing of public sector information — its default is to remove all copyright restrictions with the CC0 public domain waiver.
Rijksoverheid.nl not only signals a true commitment to openness but also sets a strong example for other governments. Congratulations!No Comments »
In As Colleges Make Courses Available Free Online, Others Cash In the New York Times writes about how universities are funding OpenCourseWare programs as well as how businesses have sprung up around CC licensed Open Educational Resources (OER) from such programs. Regarding the latter, our CEO is quoted:
On a philosophical level, the idea of making money from something available free might seem questionable. But Joi Ito, chief executive of Creative Commons, which issues the licenses defining user rights to most OpenCourseWare materials, supports the mixing of free and for-profit: “I think there’s a great deal of commercial infrastructure that needs to be created in order for this to be successful,” Mr. Ito said: “It can’t all just be free.”
As readers steeped in knowledge of free culture/open content (and before it free and open source software) will recognize, this means three things.
First, sharing does not preclude making money. To the contrary, artists have long been making CC licensing part of their business strategies, and recently some OER creators and companies are following suit. Examples include WikiPremed, Flat World Knowledge, and Bloomsbury Academic. See Eric Frank explain how Flat World Knowledge gives away CC licensed open textbooks and profits from print materials and services rendered around the content in a video just uploaded from CC Salon NYC.
Second, there needs to be an ecosystem built around open materials, and businesses are an important part of that ecosystem. In the OER space the article mentions Academic Earth. Consider the many businesses providing services around CC licensed materials more broadly (e.g., Flickr, and Fotopedia, which leverages CC licensed works from both Flickr and Wikipedia) and the legion of businesses build around free software (e.g., Red Hat). Consider how huge education is. The opportunity and need for businesses that provide distribution, curation, and a plethora of other services around OER are huge.
Third, free can refer to price and freedom. Businesses, universities, and others can charge a price for access or services around OER. The ecosystem works due to the freedoms that have been granted to use and build upon OER.
The article also mentions the values of OER, one of which is to “[create] an incentive for universities to improve themselves.” It quotes Cathy Casserly, who recently joined the Creative Commons board of directors:
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“I think that by putting some of the spectacular professors, and putting their approaches and pedagogical instructional strategies that they use with their students in front of the world, it sets a new benchmark for all of us to learn from,” she said. “And I think that’s actually one of the incredible powers of this open educational resource.”
Artists have been using Creative Commons licenses in interesting ways for a while, whether it’s to encourage interesting adaptations of their work or to help boost album sales. But it’s not only the visual artists and musicians diversifying the use of CC licenses—open education initiatives like Flat World Knowledge are experimenting with innovative business models by giving away digital content while charging for services added around it. WikiPremed is another one.
WikiPremed is the result of fifteen years of hard work, founded by John Wetzel, a graduate of Stanford University who has been helping “premedical students prepare for the MCAT in small group teaching through over fifty course cycles.” The site is comprehensive in scope, basically a course “in the undergraduate level general sciences,” consisting of textbooks, flash cards, test questions, images, and more that a premed student would need to prepare for the MCAT. All materials are available for free under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike, which means you can translate, improve, and republish it as long as you share alike.
What’s more interesting is that the site is sustaining itself by giving away digital content for free and charging for print materials, such as its Physics flashcards and print versions of its books. There is also an ask for a one-time $25 donation that then gives students an Organic Mechanisms Pocketbook and Advanced Physiology Crosssword Puzzle Book in return as a thank you. From Glyn Moody’s short interview of John Wetzel (which got picked up by techdirt),
“Students need printed study materials, and they get sick of the computer, so I definitely think there is room for creative commons educational content supported by print publications. I think there is an ethic to not holding content hostage to purchases, but I think there are commercial advantages to the open model as well. I don’t doubt that the average customer at WikiPremed has 1000 page views before purchasing anything.
I am sure that if there were registration walls and missing chapters I would have fewer customers.
I’m not getting rich or anything, at this point, but it is working.”
If you’re interested, you can help contribute to the WikiPremed case study.No Comments »
Filmmaker and artist Vincent Moon first gained notoriety with his verité style performance pieces for French music blog La Blogotheque. Over the past five years his creative output has been prolific, releasing music documentaries that range from impromptu performance Take Away Shows to event-based projects like Temporary Areas to Long Portrait features on rare musicians.
Beyond his distinct and influential aesthetic, a recent decision to release all his works under a CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license piqued our interest and we caught up with Moon to discuss his approach to art and creation in today’s world as well as his decision to release his work under a CC license.
Could you give our readers some background on yourself? How and when did you become interested in filmmaking?
I guess I started by accident. When I was 18 I studied cinema at university – sort of. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand anything. They were just telling me about impossible things to make, huge movies. They were so complicated and I was way too young to imagine that I could do anything like that. Then I started to do photography and it was what I was really excited about. Just going out in the street and basically being, very simply, a creator. I didn’t need any budget or anything there. So I was doing photos but didn’t really know what to do with it until I got more interested in music and wanted to do something with music and musicians.
I started getting closer to musicians when I met a band called The National – they were just starting at the time and they used some photos I did with them for their third album, Alligator. Then I was like, wow OK maybe this is something to do around music. They asked me if I wanted to do a little guest music video for them. It was all pretty lo-fi and it was still what people would call a “music video” – putting images on pre-recorded music. After a few of these, which we did without any money, I realized this wasn’t what I wanted. It wasn’t a very interesting relationship with the people I was working with. They just send me a song and ask me to do something with it.
Around that time I was always going to see live music – I spent around 6 years in Paris every night going out to see live shows – and I realized I wanted to do something with live music. When I met Chryde, who runs La Blogotheque, he wanted to do something we called at the time a video podcast – I haven’t seen that word in a long time – but he wanted to do something and I wanted to film music differently so that is how we started the “Take Away Shows” project just over four years ago.
Do you consider yourself a documentarian? Where do you see yourself in the general cinematic landscape?
It’s definitely documentary, but I’ve been thinking and talking about it more and [documentary] doesn’t mean much anymore. Now creation is made in a way that putting names on such creation doesn’t really mean anything. Lots of people from our generation, we are inspired and influenced by so many different fields because we have access to so [much] more than before. It’s impossible to just be inspired by cinema – you listen to music all the time and you read stuff and you have access to all those amazing things and so I guess now we are seeing more hybrid creations and they don’t belong to any genre. So I don’t see myself as owed to cinematography – I don’t even call myself a director or anything. I call myself a “filmer” – I don’t know if that would be a word in English – but in a way I’m not really a filmmaker I’m just a “filmer.” I’m just a guy using a tool and that tool is a camera but it could be something else.
My point is not to make movies but to make relationships – basically, to meet people, and I found a good pretext to do that. I pretend I am a filmmaker sometimes but it is really a pretext to travel and meet people and talk with them. It is very interesting to talk with people without using words – some people use instruments to carry their message and I use a camera. I think it is an important point and something I’ve been really interested in more recently, especially talking to some journalists. Most journalists want to put you in a little box, because of course it is easier – it’s easier to put a word on what you do. But it doesn’t mean anything really.
I’m just a guy using a tool today and traveling just doing my little things – I call them “little things” more and more because I feel that I make most of my movies as gifts. I make them for the people I love I don’t really make money on them.
How did you become interested in Creative Commons and the free culture movement in general?
I don’t really remember what the first thing that got me interested was, I just remember I started reading some books by Lawrence Lessig. I was really interested in reading a lot about all the copyfree things. It’s more recent probably than you would expect. After a while [of] doing these videos for [La Blogotheque] we really became a part of the “blog revolution” and I started to understand that there was such a strong link between Creative Commons and my way of working – it seemed so obvious to me.
What grabbed you about CC? What was the resonance between what you were doing for La Blogtheque and Lessig’s Free Culture?
My way of doing things is that I don’t really respect many of the things you should respect when you work with labels. With the blog in a way we never signed anything with all the labels and that is how we’ve been able to do our project, do all the Take Away shows. And because we didn’t really deal with any labels or manager, we’re always talking directly straight to the artists. My way of doing things is that I don’t care much about the intermediaries, those people between the two extreme points you know, maybe even two creators talking together or creators talking to an audience. My way of doing things has been always to avoid the steps in the middle and talk straight to the people. And that is how I felt the obvious link with Creative Commons. Now each time I get an email from a manager to work with an artist, I tell them to put me in touch with them and we will talk together. It’s more of a direct relationship.
How are you using CC licenses on your projects?
As soon as I started to do things on my blog I started using CC. Now though I put all my original work under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike license – all of it. This is a really important thing to me and I want to be clear with the people I work with that I’m not going to work with a label that doesn’t allow me to use CC on a video with an artist. That’s it.
That is basically the only way I can move things and convince people from the inside. With lots of labels, their attitude to all this has been really complicated and it’s getting really impossible to work with them. I’m in a lucky position in that I can convince people to move towards Creative Commons and this sort of view on how people create and share.
Beyond just believing in CC theoretically in a broader cultural sense, what do you see as the main purpose for using CC licenses on your work? Is it to allow people to share them? To give them a sense of ownership?
I don’t think people are going to use CC with my work in a way that is useful to remix, I just want people to think about my work more and share my work as they want. Creative Commons is a way for creators to share their work just because they want to create, not because they want to make money – I’m not getting a lot of money for what I’m doing, I just want to be able to continue doing this. I really try basically to make movies for no money and I don’t want to have money involved – I tend to refuse working with someone when they come in with a large budget. I like to keep it on that simple level. I don’t want people to make money off these projects as no one is paid. It’s all for free so I like to keep it that way.
Now all my work is under a Creative Commons license, not because I think it will particularly help but because it is a way of thinking, it is a way of life, and it is something to fight for. I work with lots of musicians – I use CC to push the people I am working with to be involved in that movement. It is about how people create – I’m just amazed by how little time we spend thinking about how people create compared to how people make money from creations. It’s crazy, it’s scary.
Talk a little bit about projects you are working on right now. I know you are working on the Temporary Areas project right now and that you recently won the Sound and Vision Award for Faute des Fleurs at the CPH DOX Film Festival.
I have tons of different projects that are mostly based around music – I’m going to make a movie about the Primavera Sound Festival, a festival in Barcelona, and continue to do long portraits that are dedicated to rare musicians. My life is on the road, and I don’t have a home anymore – I’m sort of experimenting with my own life and how you are able to live as a nomad. To use your camera as a tool to interact and meet people.
I organize events more and more, I see myself as an organizer more than a filmmaker. I did this thing in Copenhagen last May where I gathered nine bands in one space and we did what I called Temporary Copenhagen. It is a long piece where I pushed these bands to play their music differently. It’s not always about bands playing their music acoustically, the idea is – how can you push a band in another situation and see what happens? I think that can bring them something and of course that brings me a lot because I’m putting myself in a situation where I don’t know what will happen.
We don’t plan anything anymore. When I was in Copenhagen there was a very strong reaction between all the different musicians – there was something in the air. Thirty minutes, one take, and just one try – you can’t miss it. There was this tension and I just realized that it is exactly what I want to do more of – to gather different groups and live something very strong with them, even for like an hour. I did the same thing in Athens, Greece in October – 15 bands in one space. It is just a way to discover the world, and create some little experiments in everyday life.
Now I am finishing a project in Cambodia, a web-film project about a urban displaced community, where I am trying a new technique that we could call ‘hyper-image’ – I can’t say much about it now, but it’s a special way to document and use interactive tools while including these people in a very specific, collaborative process. It’s somewhere between a rip off of Jia Zhang-Ke films and an integration of new technologies in images. There’s so much to explore!
Basically the big question for me in the 21st century, where you have access to all this information everywhere, where you have access to all these technological tools, is – how do you continue to explore the world? How do you put yourself in a position where you still have things to explore? What is your own way to learn? The link to CC here is obvious to me – its all part of the same movement and desire to experience and access information.No Comments »
FLOSS Manuals, true to its name, produces manuals for free software applications. The manuals themselves are freely licensed and often written in book sprints. This January, as part of the Transmediale festival in Berlin, FLOSS Manuals attempted its first non-manual booksprint — a considerably harder task, as no structure is implied. Only the book title, Collaborative Futures, was given — a collaborative experiment about the future of collaboration.
The initial collaborators each had considerable experience with free software or free culture collaborations — Michael Mandiberg, Marta Peirano, Alan Toner, Mushon Zer-Aviv, me, and FLOSS Manuals’ honcho Adam Hyde and programmer Aleksandar Erkalovic.
Initially we thought we’d write much about licenses and other topics much debated by those in the free software and free culture community. After a day of intense discussion of book content and structure, those debates were left in the background as we tackled explaining what kinds of collaboration we intended to write about and speculating about what the future of collaboration holds. As appropriate, we did use licenses — the book is released under the CC Attribution-ShareAlike license and incorporates a fair amount of previously existing material under the same or compatible licenses (surprisingly enough, none from Wikipedia).
There’s also a licensing (and collaboration?) story behind the video. Producer Bennett Williamson wanted to use “Rolands Vegners” by Ergo Phizmiz & Margita Zalite as the soundtrack. Bennett writes on his Free Music Archive blog:
This was a problem, because Collaborative Futures (and all its related materials) already had a different type of CC license than Ergo’s track; Attribution-ShareAlike and Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike respectively.
I really liked the song and wanted to keep it in the video, so I contacted Ergo and asked him if he’d be willing to change the license type of his track… and he agreed! Score one for copyright alternatives!
So remember kids, when syncing up these jams to your sweet vids, make sure that your derivitive has a license that jives with that of the original work. And sometimes all you have to do is ask.
With that, here’s ten more instrumentals from the Archives ready for you to slap into your timeline. Thanks to those of you who made suggestions of tracks to include; please keep them coming!
All well worth keeping in mind for future collaborations. Check out the book, and more importantly, FLOSS Manuals and the Free Music Archive, excellent free culture projects covering a broad range of tastes.No Comments »
The Design for America contest is the Sunlight Foundation‘s latest effort to modernize the United State’s information architecture and presentation. Their goal is “to make government data more accessible and comprehensible to the American public” by encouraging designers, artists, and programmers to reimagine government websites and to visualize government data and processes.
Provided you meet eligibility requirements, you can submit work to categories in Data Visualization, Process Transparency, and Redesigning the Government. Contests range from visualizing government data to redesigning government websites. The top prize in each contest is $5,000.No Comments »
Last week we tweeted that Cologne-based libraries had released 5.4 million bibliographic records under CC0. This is tremendous news, as “libraries have been involved with the Open Access movement for a long time.” From the press release,
Rolf Thiele, deputy director of the USB Cologne, states: “Libraries appreciate the Open Access movement because they themselves feel obliged to provide access to knowledge without barriers. Providing this kind of access for bibliographic data, thus applying the idea of Open Access to their own products, has been disregarded until now. Up to this point, it was not possible to download library catalogues as a whole. This will now be possible. We are taking a first step towards a worldwide visibility of library holdings on the internet.”
“In times in which publishers and some library organisations see data primarily as a source of capital, it is important to stick up for the traditional duty of libraries and librarians. Libraries have always strived to make large amounts of knowledge accessible to as many people as possible, with the lowest restrictions possible,” said Silke Schomburg, deputy director of the hbz. “Furthermore libraries are funded by the public. And what is publicly financed should be made available to the public without restrictions,” she continued.
With so much library data now in the public domain, there emerges greater potential synergy for libraries and the Semantic Web:
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The North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center has recently begun evaluating the possibilities to transform data from library catalogs in such a way that it can become a part of the emerging Semantic Web. The liberalization of bibliographic data provides the legal background to perform this transformation in a cooperative, open, and transparent way. Currently there are discussions with other member libraries of the hbz library network to publish their data. Moreover, “Open Data” and “Semantic Web” are topics that are gaining perception in the international library world.
The Free Software Foundation has announced the winners of its 2009 Free Software Awards: John Gilmore (Advancement of Free Software Award) and the Internet Archive (Project of Social Benefit Award).
Last year Creative Commons won the Project of Social Benefit Award. As we noted then, many past free software award winners have been important participants in free culture as well — and free software is both an inspiration for and girds the freedom of the network and application layers needed for free culture to thrive.
This year’s winners continue in that fashion, even more than past winners. John Gilmore’s work in free software and free software business inspires, while his work as a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation girds many freedoms that the knowledge layer relies upon. The Internet Archive was the most important digital repository for free cultural materials before Creative Commons existed and has been a crucial host for CC-licensed works since Creative Commons launched.1 Comment »
Together with our international community, we’re always trying to make our legal tools more accessible to people around the globe. That includes offering translations in as many languages as possible, an effort in which CC Spain, led by Ignasi Labastida i Juan, excels. Their ported 3.0 licenses are not only available in Catalán, Castellano, Euskera (Basque language). and Gallego, but are now also available in Asturiana, the language spoken in the Spanish province Asturias.
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Gracias al apoyo del Vicerrectorado de Informática y Comunicaciones de la Universidad de Oviedo y la Academia de la Llingua Asturiana disponemos a partir de hoy de la versión en asturiano de las seis licencias de Creative Commons adaptadas a la legislación española sobre propiedad intelectual. El asturiano se convierte así en la quinta lengua de las licencias. El siguiente paso es traducir aquellos apartados del sitio de Creative Commons para que también se puedan ofrecer en esta lengua. Una herramienta más para compartir y disfrutar la cultura asturiana.
Thanks to the support of the Vice Rector of Information Technology and Communication at the University of Oviedo and the Asturian Language Academy, the Asturian translations of Spain’s six ported Creative Commons licenses are now available. Asturian is the fifth language in which the ported Spanish licenses are offered. The next step is to translate other parts of the Creative Commons website into the language. This is a great tool to share and enjoy Asturian culture.
Continuing with its commitment to open licensing, Google recently updated Google Code University, an educational resource that provides tutorials, lectures, and sample course content for CS students and educators. All the content is released under a CC Attribution license, allowing educators the ability to incorporate the resource in to their own courses. Educators can similarly submit their own course content for inclusion in GCU.2 Comments »