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2010 March

Get excited and support CC! 20×200 benefit edition nearly sold out!

Allison Domicone, March 18th, 2010


About a year ago we learned that the innovative art purveyors behind the 20×200 Project had partnered with designer Matt Jones to release Get Excited and Make Things, and that all proceeds were to go to CC. We thought this was the coolest way for our friends and fans to support art and Creative Commons both – and have an exhibition-quality print to show for it! Turns out they felt the same way: a year later, Creative Commons has received a total of $13,490 from the edition, which has nearly sold out.

Good news! You can still get your very own print while at the same time showing some love for CC. There remain only 139 of the original 730 prints (varying sizes), so get one today and help us sell out the edition. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to support CC, this is it!

This is just one of the many, many ways you can show support for the organization that has helped you and thousands of other excited makers of things tap into and become a vital part of the creativity and innovation that surround all of us on the web. Donate, shop at our online store, follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook, and ensure Creative Commons is around for as long as creative, scientific, academic, and entrepreneurial minds need us.

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Update from pioneering Creative Commons and open source friendly music label Magnatune

Mike Linksvayer, March 17th, 2010

We’ve been following Magnatune since it launched in 2003 as a record label that embraced the net, including giving fans the legal right to do what comes naturally given the net — share an remix music noncommercially — by offering all label music under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. At the time a fairly radical position. Fast forward nearly 7 years to Magnatune founder John Buckman’s update on the label’s business:

So really, it’s not so much that we’re changing business models, but rather that we introduced “unlimited memberships” two years ago, and they’ve been so successful we’re deciding to focus on that.

Some things that are not changing:

  • We’re still not evil: we have always paid 50% of membership fees to our musicians, been DRM free, and used Creative Commons licensing. All that stays the same.
  • We will continue selling commercial use licenses of our music, though in a few months we will be moving that business to a new music-licensing web site we’re building (iLicenseMusic.com).

I’m personally really excited with the change, because 4 years ago I noticed that our download sales were declining, and it wasn’t until 2 years ago that I finally figured out what people wanted. Magnatune has been going since 2003, and the future looks rosy.

Also see John’s immediately previous post with an update on the label’s work with and support of free software media players, which we first noted here in 2008.

We applaud Magnatune’s long-term commitment to CC licenses and their willingness to constantly innovate based on fan and customer feedback rather than the unfortunate standard practice — treat fans poorly and hope they continue as customers anyway. Recall Mike Masnick’s Connect With Fans (CwF) + Reason To Buy (RtB) = The Business Model ($$$$) formula for a general treatment.

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National Broadband Plan outlines recommendations to enable online learning; should continue to address content interoperability concerns

Timothy Vollmer, March 16th, 2010

Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its long-awaited National Broadband Plan. The plan aims to “stimulate economic growth, spur job creation, and boost capabilities in education, healthcare, homeland security and more.” The FCC has taken particular interest in the power of broadband to support and promote online learning. We applaud the FCC for working to make this a priority, especially in exploring how broadband can enable access to and participation in the open educational resources movement, empowering teachers, students, and self-learners.  In the plan, the FCC offers several recommendations in expanding digital educational content. A few of the recommendations are listed below:

Recommendation 11.1: The U.S Department of Education … should establish standards to be adopted by the federal government for locating, sharing and licensing digital educational content by March 2011.

While digital content is available currently, there are significant challenges to finding, buying and integrating it into lessons. Content is not catalogued and indexed in a way that makes it easy for users to search. It is also hard for teachers to find content that is most relevant and suitable for their students. Even if one finds the right content, accessing it in a format that can be used with other digital resources is often difficult or impossible. And if the desired content is for sale, the problem is even harder because online payment and licensing systems often do not permit content to be combined. These three problems—finding, sharing and license compatibility—are the major barriers to a more efficient and effective digital educational content marketplace. These barriers apply to organizations that want to assemble diverse digital content into materials for teachers to use, as well as to teachers who want to assemble digital content on their own. Digital content standards will make it possible for teachers, students and other users to locate the content they need, access it under the appropriate licensing terms and conditions, combine it with other content and publish it.

Recommendation 11.2: The federal government should increase the supply of digital educational content available online that is compatible with standards established by the U.S. Department of Education.

[ ... ] Whenever possible, federal investments in digital education content should be made available under licenses that permit free access and derivative commercial use and should be compatible with the standards defined in recommendation 11.1.

Recommendation 11.4: Congress should consider taking legislative action to encourage copyright holders to grant educational digital rights of use, without prejudicing their other rights.

In part due to a lack of clarity regarding what uses of copyrighted works are permissible, current doctrine may have the effect of limiting beneficial uses of copyrighted material for educational purposes, particularly with respect to digital content and online learning. In addition, it is often difficult to identify rights holders and obtain necessary permissions. As a result, new works and great works alike may be inaccessible to teachers and students … Increasing voluntary digital content contributions to education from all sectors can help advance online learning and provide new, more relevant information to students at virtually no cost to content providers … Congress should consider directing the Register of Copyrights to create additional copyright notices to allow copyright owners to authorize certain educational uses while reserving their other rights.

Many of these recommendations can help to enable the sharing and downstream reuse of Open Educational Resources (OER) via public licenses that grant broad permissions. And as we wrote last week, the Department of Education–through the National Education Technology Plan (PDF)–has already offered suggestions for how open licensing can aid teaching and learning by making content created by the federal government available for use or adaptation.

One recommendation, however, misses the mark – the suggestion that Congress direct the Copyright Office to create a new copyright notice to allow rightsholders to authorize specific education uses of their content while reserving all other rights. While the suggestion for this (e) mark is a good first step in recognizing the need for educational content to be shared widely, its utility will be limited and its implementation confusing. To begin with, it’s difficult to determine what will qualify as “educational” content and use. Creative Commons considered this 7 years ago and has revisited the question since, as an “education license” sounds very appealing. The reality is that allowing educational uses, or worse allowing only certain educational uses, adds to the growing problem of non-interoperable content silos whose contents cannot be intermingled without running afoul of copyright. These qualifiers are counter-productive in that they inhibit rather than incentivize use by teachers, learners, and others of the resources stored and isolated in the silos.  “Education only” uses would dampen innovation by publishers and other content creators that otherwise would be enabled under an open license granting broad permissions.

Additionally, narrow permissions break the promise of a widely interoperable commons. Public licenses that grant broad permissions for the use and reuse of content provide the most clear path forward in solving the interoperability problem. Creative Commons supplies a standardized framework for such public lienses, and has been adopted by many in the education community. It is important that any future initiative intended to increase sharing of eudcational content–legislated or otherwise–consider interoperability with existing OER as a design requirement.

The FCC has recognized that robust broadband infrastructure is crucial for citizens to participate effectively in the 21st century digital environment. Open licensing is a piece of this critical infrastructure. Creative Commons hopes to continue to work closely with the FCC, the Department of Education, and the OER community in order to implement the infrastructure necessary to support and promote online learning.

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Internships Reminder

Jennifer Yip, March 16th, 2010

CC Cupcake
Photo: CC Cupcake by Creative Commons / CC BY

The application deadline for the Summer 2010 internships is 11:59 p.m. PDT, Friday, March 26, 2010. Please submit your cover letter and resume (portfolio, as well, for design students) to apply soon!

We’ve heard fantastic feedback about our internships over the years. Here’s what a few students had to say about their San Franciscan summers in the CC office:

“I wanted to spend my summer doing something important and socially responsible, so interning at Creative Commons was an obvious choice for me. What wasn’t obvious until I started working was just how much I would learn about copyright law, software development, and how effective nonprofits operate. With just a handful of staff in the San Francisco office, all of them friendly and welcoming, I quickly felt like a valued member of the team. I was given ample opportunity to meet and chat with CC staff as well as with staff and interns at peer organizations such as the Electronic Frontiers Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology. The people that I met that summer continue to be great friends and valuable resources who generously offer their mentorship in my post-CC work.”
Parker Phinney, Tech Intern 2009

“Working at CC provided a complete immersion into how the organization operates, and made clear why CC has become such an important part of the online licensing landscape. In addition to specific projects and tasks, I had plenty of autonomy and opportunity to get involved in other projects or just chat about new ideas. The staff were accessible and encouraging. I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in such a challenging and rewarding environment. In addition to legal research and project development, there were many opportunities to meet other organizations in the area, visit their offices, and interact with a range of students and professionals. I can’t think of a better way to spend the summer.”
Joe Merante, Legal Intern 2009

“My internship with Creative Commons was probably the most fruitful and definitely the most enjoyable of my student career. I spent my time in a close-knit small-office environment, with a bunch of passionate people working on interesting real-world problems. At CC everyone is a little bit techie, a little bit law geek, a little bit free culture activist, and a whole lot of awesome. It’s an amazing place to be, and as internships go, I can’t recommend any other more highly.”
Frank Tobia, Tech Intern 2008

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Creative Commons licenses on Flickr: many more images, slightly more freedom

Mike Linksvayer, March 10th, 2010

Slightly less than a year ago the count of CC-licensed images at Flickr surpassed 100 million. Over 35 million have been added since then. Now is a good time to look at changes over the last four years (for which we have data), in particular changes in the distribution of licenses used. We’ve heard many anecdotes about photographers switching to more liberal licensing after getting comfortable with and experiencing the benefits of limited sharing, and wanting more. Are these anecdotes borne out in aggregate?

First, the overwhelming trend is simply more CC-licensed images — an increase from 10 million to 135 million over four years — and we amusingly said 5 years ago that Flickr’s CC area had “gone way beyond our expectations” with 1.5 million licensed images.

The following table summarizes changes in CC licensed images over the past four years. With over 10-fold growth, use of all licenses have increased greatly. However, the distribution has also changed, though slowly. Four years ago 78% of CC-licensed images on Flickr were not pre-cleared for commercial use. This has declined by close to 5 percentage points.

license 2006-03-17 2010-02-25 2006-03-17 2010-02-25 % point change
by
photos
1,085,582 17,961,963 10.77% 13.24% +2.48
by-nc
photos
1,468,755 18,660,010 14.57% 13.76% -0.81
by-nc-nd
photos
3,241,697 41,621,048 32.15% 30.68% -1.46
by-nc-sa
photos
3,169,502 39,507,645 31.43% 29.12% -2.31
by-nd
photos
317,345 6,137,718 3.15% 4.52% +1.38
by-sa
photos
801,211 11,761,829 7.95% 8.67% +0.73
Total 10,084,092 135,650,213


Another way to look at change in license distribution is the share of licenses that permit both commercial use and derivative works — licenses that meet the requirements of the definition of free cultural works, a test used, for example, by Wikimedia Commons, the image and other media repository for Wikipedia. The graph below shows this share over the past four years.

A slightly different approach which reveals the same overall trend is to rank licenses according to the permissions they grant and assign an overall “freedom score” based on the mix of licenses used (a higher score means more permissions are granted on average). This approach was developed by Giorgos Cheliotis in a paper looking at the adoption CC ported jurisdiction licenses (pdf). The following graph shows the “freedom score” of the mix of licenses used at Flickr over the past four years.

What are the underlying causes of these trends? The CC licensing interface on Flickr has not changed significantly, presumably borne out by steady growth of CC licensed images over the years. What is causing the slow increase in permissiveness of those posting images on Flickr under CC licenses? Even more curiously, what caused their temporary decrease in permissiveness from the fall of 2006 through the spring of 2007?

Perhaps the steady increase in permissiveness since then has something to do with Wikimedia Commons’ success and its coming to the attention of photographers as an important publicity mechanism — recalling that Wikimedia Commons requires liberal licensing. However, this is mere conjecture. Can you think of other possible causes and more importantly means to analyze the impact of possible causes?

The data behind the above graphs is available as a regularly updated MySQL database dump as well as a spreadsheet snapshot (for Open Office) for 2006-present.

While the data for CC adoption on the web at large is much less certain than that for a single site such as Flickr, some indicate that both total use and permissiveness have increased much more on the web at large than on Flickr alone. Look for a post on this in the next month.

Even more interesting questions about CC adoption and impact have barely been tapped — for example, differential adoption across fields and cultures, and levels and forms of and trends in reuse. Tentative answers would be incredibly interesting and in some cases would be incredibly valuable in demonstrating economic impact, e.g., reuse of Open Educational Resources.

If these questions interest you, have at the data, discuss with others — and note that Creative Commons has an opening for a metrics engineer.

This research was assisted by a grant from the Necessary Knowledge for a Democratic Public Sphere Program of the Social Science Research Council with funds provided by the Ford Foundation.

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CC Talks With: Film Annex

Jane Park, March 9th, 2010


CC BY-SA by Film Annex

Last October, Film Annex, “an online film distribution platform and Web Television Network,” launched CC license support, enabling filmmakers to release their films under one of our licenses.

Since then, the number of CC-licensed films on the site has grown, with each license having its own Web TV channel (CC BY and CC BY-NC for example). They even have a channel dedicated to the public domain. All of these “Web TV” channels are available under the terms of said license for you to share or remix.

Creative Commons has its own channel where we’ve uploaded some of our videos. We wanted to learn more about how Film Annex helps filmmakers make money on their CC licensed content, so we caught up with Eren and Francesco, pictured above, to pick their brains.

How is Film Annex different from other online film distribution platforms?

In terms of profitability – Unlike most film distribution platforms that host videos on their main platforms only, Film Annex creates free Web TVs for filmmakers who want to present their work under specific domain names. This way, Film Annex creates a brand out of the filmmaker’s name, company, or project and reduces the implementation of the forward-slash (/) mentality as seen on Vimeo, YouTube, and other similar platforms. For example, for the acclaimed director Abel Ferrara, Film Annex created www.AbelFerraraTV.com. There is a monthly 50/50 revenue share on every Web TV so the filmmakers can maintain a regular income through showing their films on their Film Annex Web TVs. Statistics show that Film Annex shares 6 to 9 times more revenues with its content providers compared to YouTube.
Read More…

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Creative Commons at CiviCon 2010

Nathan Yergler, March 8th, 2010

Creative Commons depends on a lot of free software to scale our activities on the web. One of the most important pieces is CiviCRM which we use to manage our contributions and contacts. CiviCRM has been on an amazing trajectory since we first started using it in 2006: new releases continue to bring functionality our users ask for, and the developers and community have been great to work with.

If you’re a CiviCRM user, or looking for a CRM/Donor Management package for your organization, you should attend the first ever CiviCon, taking place April 22 in San Francisco. I’m very proud that Creative Commons is taking part in the event: Nathan Kinkade will be presenting on our work to streamline the contribution process, and I’ll be presenting the opening plenary session.

Register here for CiviCon — I hope to see you next month!

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Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources in the U.S. National Education Technology Plan

Mike Linksvayer, March 6th, 2010

The United States Department of Education 2010 National Educational Technology Plan (pdf) includes the following:

Open Educational Resources (OER) are an important element of an infrastructure for learning. OER come in forms ranging from podcasts to digital libraries to textbooks, games, and courses. They are freely available to anyone over the web.

Educational organizations started making selected educational materials freely available shortly after the appearance of the web in the mid-1900s. But MIT’s decision to launch the OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative to make the core content from all its courses available online in 2000 gave the OER movement a credible start (Smith, 2009). Other universities joined the OCW Consortium, and today there are more than 200 members, each of which has agreed to make at least 10 courses available in open form.

Many of these materials are available not just to individuals enrolled in courses, but to anyone who wants to use them. The power of OER is demonstrated by the fact that nearly half the downloads of MIT’s OpenCourseWare are by individual self-directed learners, not students taking courses for credit (Maxwell, online presentation for the NETP Technical Working Group, 2009).

Equally important to the OER movement was the emergence of the Creative Commons, an organization that developed a set of easy-to-use licenses whereby individuals or institutions could maintain ownership of their creative products while giving others selected rights. These rights range from allowing use of a work in its existing form for noncommercial purposes to the right to repurpose, remix, and redistribute for any purpose.

Additional advances in our understanding of how to design good OER are coming out of the work of the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) at Carnegie Mellon University. OLI has been developing state-of-the-art, high-quality online learning environments that are implemented as part of courses taught not only at Carnegie Mellon, but also at other universities and at community colleges. The OLI learning systems are submitted to rigorous ongoing evaluation and refinement as part of each implementation. (For more information on OLI, see the Assessment section of this plan.)

The Department of Education has a role in stimulating the development and use of OER in ways that address pressing education issues. The federal government has proposed to invest $50 million per year for the next 10 years in creating an Online Skills Lab to develop exemplary next-generation instructional tools and resources for community colleges and workforce development programs. These materials will be available for use or adaptation with the least restrictive Creative Commons license. This work is expected to give further impetus to calls for open standards, system utilities, and competency-based assessments. (For more information on the Online Skills Lab, see the Learning section of this plan.)

The OER movement begun in higher education should be more fully adopted throughout our K-16 public education system. For example, high-quality digital textbooks for standard courses such as algebra can be created by experts and funded by consortia arrangements and then made freely available as a public good. Open textbooks could significantly reduce the cost of education in primary and secondary as well as higher education. Textbooks constitute a significant portion of the government’s K-12 budget as well as the student-borne cost of higher education.

Also see the plan’s sidebar on the California Free Digital Textbook Initiative, the first phase of which has been dominated (15 of 16) by CC licensed textbooks.

The plan also directly demonstrates effective reuse — it includes and properly attributes two CC-licensed illustrations.

Congratulations to the U.S. Department of Education and the OER movement!

Addendum: See open education pioneer David Wiley’s reaction to a speech by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan given the day before the National Education Technology Plan’s publication. Wiley highlights OER’s role as infrastructure for education innovation. Those aren’t just buzzwords — read Wiley’s post.

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ccNewsletter January-March 2010: update from CEO Joi Ito

Allison Domicone, March 5th, 2010

CEO Joi Ito gives an update on how Creative Commons has hit the ground running in 2010, with big plans for expanding our efforts in education and open educational resources (OER). You’ll also read about new jurisdictions, government adoption of CC licenses, how CC licenses have played a role in the Haiti earthquake relief effort, and more. Happy reading! This quarterly version of the newsletter is in beautifully-designed PDF format (download), designed for your reading pleasure by the CC Philippines team!

Subscribe to receive our monthly e-news updates and quarterly PDF newsletters by email, and stay on top of the inspiring stories coming out of the Commons.

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2010 Summer Internships

Jennifer Yip, March 5th, 2010


Photo by tibchris, licensed CC BY 2.0

Creative Commons is once again seeking bright, enthusiastic students to work at the San Francisco office for ten weeks this summer. Students have the opportunity to work with CC staff and international volunteers on various real-time projects. Assigned tasks and projects will vary depending on interns’ skill & experience, as well as organization needs. If you are a currently enrolled student (College, Graduate levels, or somewhere in between) interested in applying, please read the descriptions carefully and follow the instructions below.

In addition to contributing to real-time work projects, interns will be invited to participate in external meetings, staff meetings, inter-organization competitions & discussions, and potential evening events. Staff will encourage interns to also self-organize visits to local organizations, and to find ways to connect with various community members.

Eligibility

  • Internships are open to students enrolled across the spectrum of disciplines;
  • Internships are open to students at different levels of academic study including undergraduate, graduate and PhD. programs.
  • Internships are open to international students who are eligible to work abroad from an accredited university and/or through a third-party work-study program.

Internship terms

  • The internship will last for ten weeks from June 7 to August 13.
  • The internships are full-time, temporary positions.
  • Applicants should plan on spending the summer in San Francisco.
  • Please also be ready to assist with general office tasks in addition to focused projects.

Compensation

Creative Commons offers a stipend of $4,000, if not otherwise covered by grant funding. If your school offers a stipend for work-study or internships, this factor is figured into the compensation.
This stipend may not be sufficient to cover living expenses in the bay area. No other benefits are provided. Interns must make their own housing, insurance, and transportation arrangements.

Internships Available

Technology Internship
This internship position will focus on aiding the Chief Technology Officer and Software Engineers with the development of software and maintenance of services. Knowledge of Linux, PHP, and Python is a must. Prefer applicants who have contributed to open source projects.

Legal Internships
These internships, geared towards law students who have completed their second year of study, will focus on intellectual property and copyright as relates to creative works shared on the internet. Applicants should have completed their second year of study at a top tier law school, two courses on intellectual property, including fundamentals of copyright, and provide ideally have significant interest in and experience with IP, including experience at a law firm or other legal organization. Interns may be asked to provide a writing sample on a topic chosen by CC.

Graphic Design and Media Development Internship
This internship will be geared toward second or third year design students. The design intern will work closely with the Creative Commons senior designer and development team to create and improve online assets, with possible promotional and marketing material development. Must have Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML and CSS skills. Javascript and UI/UX design experience is encouraged. Prefer applicants who are interested in open source or free culture issues. Please include portfolio with application.

How to apply

If you are a college or graduate student interested in our internship program, please send us your:

  • Cover Letter explaining your interest in Creative Commons, in the position, and any other relevant experience not covered in your resumé.
  • Resumé
  • Two References: Please include email and phone number.
  • Indicate open source or other CC/open licensed projects to which you have contributed.
  • Indicate which position(s) you are interested in applying.
  • Design students: Please include portfolio.

Applications and questions can be sent to:

Jennifer Yip
Operations Director
jennifer[at]creativecommons.org
fax: 415.278.9419

The application deadline for Summer 2010 is 11:59 p.m. PST, Friday, March 26, 2010.

Thank you for your interest in our organization. Please NO phone calls.

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