Collaborative² Futures

Mike Linksvayer, March 25th, 2010

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).

A one minute video was made for the book’s New York launch, available at the Internet Archive and Vimeo.

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.

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Submit open content to the Sunlight Foundation’s “Design for America” contest

Alex Kozak, March 24th, 2010

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.

Submissions must be licensed CC BY (or you must waive all rights with CC0), or if computer code, must be licensed with an OSI approved license.

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Cologne-based libraries release 5.4 million bibliographic records via CC0

Jane Park, March 24th, 2010

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:

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.

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Congratulations to John Gilmore and the Internet Archive, winners of the 2009 Free Software Awards

Mike Linksvayer, March 23rd, 2010

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.

Congratulations and thanks to John Gilmore, the Internet Archive, and the Free Software Foundation.

John Gilmore
John Gilmore by Joi Ito / CC BY
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Asturian translation of CC licenses now online

Michelle Thorne, March 23rd, 2010

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.

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.

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Google Code University

Cameron Parkins, March 23rd, 2010

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.

Google already boasts a number of fantastic CC integrations, a measure that is nicely expanded with this update to GCU.

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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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