CC & OER 2010

Mike Linksvayer, January 30th, 2010

Earlier this week we announced a reorganization of Creative Commons open education projects. The objective of this reorganization is to maximize CC’s impact by focusing our activities in support of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement where we have unique leverage and expertise — developing and explaining the legal and technical infrastructure required to make “open” work.

Today’s post lays out the details of our structure going forward and highlights some of our open education projects and goals for 2010. Apologies for the length of this post (and that of the previous announcement), but there’s much to cover. If you just want to hear about new developments as they happen please bookmark or subscribe to the Open Educational Resources tag on this blog or follow us on Facebook, Identi.ca, or Twitter.

Brand and Websites

The ccLearn (sometimes written CC Learn) brand and website are going away. Over the past year we’ve realized two things that fed into this decision. First, the Creative Commons brand is very strong and we need to leverage it wherever we can, including in education and science. While the ccLearn brand has gained recognition among those in the open education community we’ve directly engaged with, we want our impact and visibility to scale far beyond those we talk to directly. Second, separate branding led to a separate website for our open education activities, which essentially meant nobody saw them — last quarter alone the main CC site had 400x more visitors than the ccLearn site.

It will take some time to migrate and rebrand all relevant content, but the net effect is that going forward you can expect to see much more OER-related content and news on the CC home page, main site, and wiki. This is a big win for the open education movement — many more people will learn about OER, and for CC as well — OER may be the single most compelling use of our tools, and one that any member of the public can understand right away. Free access to materials for learning, worldwide — of course!

Resources and Funding

Creative Commons is increasing, not decreasing, its resource commitment to open education projects. The reorganization results in the departure of one staff, but the addition of direct open education project responsibility to several of our most senior staff, including our CEO, Creative Director, CTO, GC, and VP. It’s fair to ask what these people will not be doing now that they have significant new responsibilities. In brief, we get some efficiency gains through less internal communications overhead due to the reorganization and some replication of efforts that both core and ccLearn have pursued in the past. Additionally, we’re doing less pure outreach and outreach-related travel. This is worth an entire post in itself, but the short version is that direct outreach by CC staff now constitutes drops in the ocean of the burgeoning commons movement, so we’re focusing on relationships where an official CC representative is required and implementation could have a major impact. We plan to leverage education experts in our worldwide affiliate network — who are better positioned and more knowledgeable than staff at times — to do more of the direct outreach on behalf of CC. And finally, we’ll be making some support hires to free up more senior staff time for education project management and strategy.

We also think that making OER part of CC’s core messaging and focusing more of our project energy on supporting OER makes CC more attractive to donors — see brand above.


Photo: Cathy Casserly by Joi Ito / CC BY. OER champion Casserly joined the CC board of directors this month.

Team

Following are staff with direct open education responsibilities. All are listed on our organization chart (pdf), which you can always find linked from our people page. Note that all are completely integrated into the organization and that several others have (and always had) supporting roles for OER through as a matter of course in their work running CC’s operations, supporting affiliates, developing software, etc.

Joi Ito, CEO. Joi sets the overall direction of the organization, including our OER strategy. He will be greatly increasing the visibility of CC’s open education projects this year with the public and funders, including via keynoting conferences, writing, and personal appearances. He also has responsibility for leveraging the extensive education expertise of our board of directors and bringing external expertise to a new CC advisory board comprised in part of education experts. Joi will also play a key role in helping CC and OER grow in regions such as the Middle East and Africa — for those in the San Francisco, please come to our salon on February 16 to hear Joi speak on this topic.

Lila Bailey, Counsel, is focused on legal projects supporting OER and is supervised by Diane Peters, General Counsel, who leads the development of CC’s legal tools and overall legal strategy and policy, and will make OER one of the primary drivers in development of upgraded licenses and public domain tools.

Nathan Yergler, CTO, heads CC’s technology team, has direct responsibility for our OER search projects, and was lead developer for DiscoverEd, our OER search prototype. Nathan is currently hiring a software engineer to support further development of DiscoverEd.

Alex Kozak, Program Assistant, does project coordination for our Student Journalism project, works on OER metrics and other analysis, and provides support and documentation for our education-related technology projects. Jane Park, Communications Coordinator does much of our OER-related blogging and interviewing and liaises with both the media and community. Alex and Jane are supervised by Eric Steuer, Creative Director. Eric was CC’s primary representative at education events prior to the formation of ccLearn. In addition to education management responsibilities, Eric will be using experience gained from orchestrating major CC adoptions and improvements across many fields to help OER platforms improve their support for CC tools.

Tim Vollmer, Open Policy Fellow, is primarily responsible for supporting the OER policy community with analysis, explanations, metrics, and case studies concerning the benefits of open licensing for OER. Tim is supervised by Mike Linksvayer, Vice President, who manages CC’s day to day operations and oversees overall OER project planning, and is writing this blog post. If you have questions about CC’s open education projects, feel free to contact Mike at ml@creativecommons.org.

Many of CC’s affiliates are heavily involved in OER projects worldwide. We’ll be featuring many of them over the coming months.

Projects

Following is a sampling of open education projects CC is working on this year.

Legal

  • Licensing and copyright for OER, including its relationship to minors. Especially as OER becomes more prevalent in K-12, consideration must be given to the licensing of works created by minors. Our goal is to provide materials which allow parents, teachers, and learners to use and contribute to OER with confidence by following common-sense best practices, keeping parents and teachers involved.
  • Explanations of all elements of our core legal tools for an education audience.
  • A Continuing Legal Education course module for lawyers on copyright and open licensing that addresses education-specific issues.
  • Development of education use cases to inform the future development of our licenses and public domain tools.
  • Further exploration of copyright exceptions & limitations (including fair use) and OER production.

Technology

  • R&D on metadata, discoverability, provenance for OER — a mouthful, but some of the key challengesopportunities for increased OER adoption and impact.
  • Publications on known best practices for OER metadata.
  • Continued development and support of DiscoverEd, pushing ahead the state of the art for OER search.
  • Consulting on implementations of CC tools on key OER platforms.
  • Convening further in-person and online summits and code sprints concerning OER, discoverability and CC tools.

Social, Media, Policy

  • A new introductory video focusing on CC and OER.
  • A new and continuously updated slide deck for anyone to use and modify for presentation on CC and OER.
  • Further interviews and case studies highlighting the best and brightest implementations and implementers of CC for OER.
  • Analysis of lessons learned from Open Access policy and possible translation to OER policy.
  • Metrics regarding CC and OER adoption.
  • Further analysis of the reasons for heterogeneous copyright policies in online education and a new push for CC adoption and interoperability.
  • Materials for teaching about CC in curricula where open licensing and remix are instructive, e.g., journalism and arts education.

As with staffing resources above, it’s fair to ask what projects we won’t be doing, given that we’ve said we’re focusing our support for open education on projects in which our core legal and technical expertise come to bear. Here are some examples of areas related to open education that we’ve considered or been lobbied to consider involvement in that are outside of our core expertise and therefore out of scope: advising on health privacy and education; translation, formats, and content management systems beyond their support for open licensing and discoverability; direct advocacy and political movement building; advising on pedagogy. This is not a complete list by any means — there is much demand for expertise within the burgeoning open education movement.

We believe that by focusing on legal and technology projects and explanations that further adoption of CC and OER we will make great progress on the in-scope projects above and more in 2010, setting up 2011 to be a breakthrough year for the open education movement. Onward!

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Brazil’s 3.0 to go live at Campus Party

Michelle Thorne, January 29th, 2010

In 2004 a remarkable event took place in Porto Alegre. With an audience numbering in the thousands, the Creative Commons project in Brazil was launched. The then-Minister of Culture and Grammy Award-winning musician, Gilberto Gil applauded the efforts of these “freedom fighters of cyberspace” and endorsed the project as a way to solve copyright issues “in a more open and democratic way, in a more transparent way for Brazilian society.” His words and musical performance are captured in this short film about the event.

Today, six years later, CC Brazil is again drawing crowds. Following a speech by CC’s founder, Lawrence Lessig, the Brazilian team will later unveil Version 3.0 of the Creative Commons licenses, translated and adapted to Brazilian law. As Ronaldo Lemos, Project Lead of CC Brazil explains, Version 3.0 of the licenses offers a range of improvements upon previous versions, without changing the licenses’ basic structure or function.

The launch will be hosted at Campus Party 2010, a massive innovation festival pulling together young people to build, design, collaborate, and write, powered by a 10GB/s connection and each others’ energy. Lessig’s keynote will be delivered today (Friday, Jan. 29) at 9PM GMT, together with Ronaldo Lemos and Campus Party director Marcelo Branco. You can catch the live stream here on channel 1.

The Creative Commons project in Brazil is hosted by the Center for Technology and Society School of Law at Fundacao Getulio Vargas and is led by Lemos and a team of dedicated lawyers, technologists, and activists.

Congratulations and thank you to CC Brazil!
Image from Creative Commons’ film, “CC Brasil“, directed by Danny Passman / CC BY

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ccSalon SF (2/16/10): Panel Discussion with CEO Joi Ito

Allison Domicone, January 28th, 2010

salon-sf

If you’re in the SF Bay Area, we hope to see you at our next Creative Commons Salon, which will feature a panel discussion about CC from an international perspective. The panel will feature CC staffers CEO Joi Ito, Arab World Media & Development Manager Donatella della Ratta, and International Project Manager Michelle Thorne, who will be joined by David Sasaki, Outreach Director for Global Voices.

This will be a great chance to learn about how globally diverse communities use Creative Commons, as well as challenges faced in various regions and projects around the world. How do sharing norms, for example, or compelling use cases differ from country to country? What works in one context may not carry over to another, so where do models fail and what lessons can be learned? How can specific fields, such as open education or citizen journalism, solve some of these issues and foster healthier sharing communities?

Come meet CC staff and other free culture friends and enthusiasts from the Bay Area in an informal setting.

When: Tuesday, February 16, 7-9pm
Location: PariSoMa, 1436 Howard St. (map and directions). Plenty of street parking available. (Please note, the space is located up two steep flights of stairs, and unfortunately does not currently have elevator access.)

Light refreshments will be provided, and since we rely on the generosity of our community to keep us afloat, we’ll be accepting donations for CC at the door.

Check out the event posting on Upcoming and Facebook. We hope to see you there!

CC Salons are global events, and anyone can start one, no matter where you live. We encourage you to check out our resources for starting your own salon in your area.

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Planning for sustainable and strategic impact: Creative Commons and open education

Mike Linksvayer, January 25th, 2010

Creative Commons recently celebrated its seventh anniversary, capping an impressive year of success for the organization, including the launch of CC0, our new public domain tool, migration of Wikipedia to a CC license, and compelling new implementations — from CC-aware discovery in both Google and Yahoo! image search, to adoptions of CC licenses ranging from the U.S. White House to Al Jazeera, and by major educational and scientific institutions to countless individual bloggers, musicians, photographers, teachers, and more. We also surpassed our year end public fundraising goal, raising $533,898 to continue building infrastructure that makes sharing easy, scalable, and legal. Thanks again!

In light of our continued growth and maturation, we are ever mindful of how CC can best ensure that as an organization we continue to increase our impact sustainably. As a provider of critical infrastructure that millions and more depend upon, this is our responsibility. Sustainability is not only or first a financial issue — though we will ask for your continued support in funding the organization — but depends on staying focused on our goals, executing on our strengths and core competencies, constantly looking for ways to streamline operations while empowering our vast international community, and avoiding mission creep however tempting.

Over the last six months we’ve been putting these thoughts into plans and action. Last summer we integrated the team supporting our international affiliates with our core team of experts based in San Francisco, eliminating two of our three Berlin-based staff positions. Over the next several months most of our science team (Science Commons) will move from Boston to San Francisco to align message and operations with our core, also. This month, we are integrating our education team (known heretofore as CC Learn), the subject of the rest of this message.

CC Learn was conceived as a focus point for CC adoption in the education arena. Since its launch two and one half years ago, it has progressed itself into a valuable member of, and broadly engaging with, the open education movement, providing not only legal and technical infrastructure and expertise, but subject matter expertise on a range of issues relevant to open education. Education is one of the most compelling uses of CC legal and technical tools. CC licenses are mission-critical for the development and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) — the ecosystem would fail without standard, interoperable legal terms for sharing, using and reusing content. It relies on collaboration between many institutions and many individuals in many different jurisdictions. Only CC licenses are capable of providing such a bridge.

Yet as much as CC has to offer as a leader of the open education movement, we remain humbled by the many others with yet deeper expertise and experience in these areas and from whom we continue to learn. And while we have much to offer, and will continue to offer as a life-long member of these remarkable movements and communities, we feel compelled to consider our own sustainability. We come back to, as we always have, our irreplaceability on the infrastructure level of providing unparalleled legal and technical excellence that allows education, science, and culture to work — this is what we do uniquely, and this is what we do best. We’ve decided that we can best support the open education and OER communities by focusing our resources and support where we are strongest and provide the most unique value. This means engaging the open education community as legal and technical experts rather than as participants in a broad conversation about the potentialities of open education — which we fully believe in, making the need to support open education in the most leveraged fashion we can all the more compelling.

Such changes mean that some of the activities and, sadly, personnel cannot be integrated successfully with the new structure, consequently transitioning out of CC so that they can better pursue such work elsewhere. In this current transition, Ahrash Bissell, the Executive Director of CC Learn, has left the organization. As with all alumni, CC expects great things of the departing staff and looks forward to ongoing collaboration with Ahrash and the open education community, building on his excellent work. We extend to Ahrash our heartfelt gratitude for his passion, dedication and wisdom, and wish him well with his future endeavors.

In the coming months we’ll be making further announcements about our comprehensive integration of education and science into our core activities and messaging. Exciting developments are on the horizon with respect to new and enhanced legal and technical tools as well as explanatory materials and support for policy development in education and science. More importantly we’ll be asking for your support and input, including specific feedback on designs, prototypes, messages, and initiatives as they develop. Most importantly, we will be asking for your input on whether we’re on the right track. Have something to say about CC? We’re listening!

Addendum: See a follow-up post with specifics concerning CC’s plans, projects, and team for open education in 2010 and beyond.

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UK moves towards opening government data

Jane Park, January 21st, 2010

In a step towards openness, the UK has opened up its data to be interoperable with the Attribution Only license (CC BY). The National Archives, a department responsible for “setting standards and supporting innovation in information and records management across the UK,” has realigned the terms and conditions of data.gov.uk to accommodate this shift. Data.gov.uk is “an online point of access for government-held non-personal data.” All content on the site is now available for reuse under CC BY. This step expresses the UK’s commitment to opening its data, as they work towards a Creative Commons model that is more open than their former Click-Use Licenses. From the blog post,

“This is the first major step towards the adoption of a non-transactional, Creative Commons style approach to licensing the re-use of government information.

The Government’s commitment in Putting the Frontline First: smarter government is to “establish a common licence to re-use data which is interoperable with the internationally recognised Creative Commons model”. This is key to supporting new information initiatives such as the beta release of data.gov.uk also launched today to promote transparency, public service improvement and economic growth.”

We at CC are thrilled by this new development and congratulate the UK for this move. Though we are confident that this shift will increase the UK’s capacity to foster reuse, collaboration, and innovation in government and the world, we hope to see the UK as well as other governments move in the future towards even fuller openness and the preferred standard for open data via CC Zero, a tool that “enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright-protected content to waive copyright interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright.”

This would not have been possible without the hard work of Creative Commons teams in the UK, especially that of Dr. Prodromos Tsiavos, our CC England and Wales Legal Project Lead. Check out the press release, the PerSpectIves or data.gov.uk blog, and the Guardian article for more details.

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New Stanford Electronic Dissertation Program enables CC licensing

Jane Park, January 21st, 2010

Last November, Stanford started accepting digital dissertations for the first time, allowing students to opt out of hundreds of dollars in printing and processing costs. The new program also enabled CC licensing, allowing students to make their work available under a license of their choosing. Of the 60 doctoral students who submitted their dissertations electronically, 52 went with CC licensing, choosing the CC BY-NC license. 47 doctoral theses will be displayed in their entirety in the Stanford Digital Repository. From the Stanford Report,

“The doctoral students who chose the digital route last quarter came from five of Stanford’s seven schools: Earth Sciences (1), Education (2), Medicine (7), Humanities and Sciences (15) and Engineering (35).

Gunnarsdottir’s 160-page dissertation, “Modeling the Martian Surface Using Bistatic Radar at High Incidence Angles,” honed an existing method for evaluating the roughness of the planet’s terrain – one of many factors NASA uses to select landing sites for spacecraft.

She used “The Dish,” the 150-foot diameter radio telescope located in the Stanford foothills, to beam a signal to Mars. Then she analyzed the surface echo detected by the orbiting 2001 Mars Odyssey, the NASA spacecraft carrying science experiments designed to improve understanding of the planet’s climate and geologic history.

“Our results were incorporated into the landing site selection of the 2007 Mars Phoenix Lander,” said Gunnarsdottir, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Iceland in 1999, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Stanford in 2002.”

Since the program is already in place, Stanford expects greater numbers of electronic dissertations this quarter. We hope other universities will take Stanford’s lead in enabling the CC license option for their students’ work. For past dissertations that have been CC licensed by individuals, see my post “CC Licensing Your Dissertations.” “CC licensing increases your creation’s visibility, even if by only a small margin at first. It lets current and future students access and read (and even derive, based on the specific CC license you choose) your work so that they can build and improve upon it—all the while giving credit where credit is due, namely, to you.”

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CC Licenses and the Haiti Relief Effort

Cameron Parkins, January 20th, 2010

In the immediate aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake a number of efforts were put in place to connect survivors with their family and loved ones. In all its good intention, this lead to numerous websites that, in the words of Marc Fest of the Knight Foundation, became “silos” of information with no ability to interact. As a result, Fest – who is VP of Communications – sent an impassioned plea to news organizations to utilize an open-source Google app that was not only collecting similar information but releasing the data under a CC Attribution license – from PhilanTopic:

We recognize that many newspapers have put precious resources into developing a people-finder system. We nonetheless urge them to make their data available to the Google project and standardize on the Google widget. Doing so will greatly increase the number of successful reunions. Data from the Google site is currently available as “dumps” in the standard PFIF format…and an API is being developed and licensed through Creative Commons. I am not affiliated with Google — indeed, this is a volunteer initiative by some of their engineers — but this is one case where their reach and capacity can help the most people.

A similar effort has been taken up by Architecture for Humanity. Already known for their use of CC licenses, AFH is proposing a plan to build Community Resource Centers – centralized locales that will operate as base points for greater building relief through out Haiti. All of the work produced in these recovery centers would be released under a CC license, mirroring similar centers that were built in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

In both efforts, there is a distinct desire to keep relief efforts fluid and focused on helping people, a goal assisted by keeping valuable information open, free, and widely usable. Put succinctly by AFH co-founder Cameron Sinclair, “there is no ‘ownership’ in rebuilding lives.”

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Copyright Criminals: PBS Documentary on Sampling

Cameron Parkins, January 15th, 2010

Copyright Criminals is a new documentary on the rise of sampling, specifically in hip-hop music, and the cultural and legal effects it has caused. From the Copyright Criminals website:

Copyright Criminals examines the creative and commercial value of musical sampling, including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and (of course) money.

This documentary traces the rise of hip-hop from the urban streets of New York to its current status as a multibillion-dollar industry. For more than thirty years, innovative hip-hop performers and producers have been re-using portions of previously recorded music in new, otherwise original compositions. When lawyers and record companies got involved, what was once referred to as a “borrowed melody” became a “copyright infringement.”The film showcases many of hip-hop music’s founding figures like Public Enemy, De La Soul, and Digital Underground—while also featuring emerging hip-hop artists from record labels Definitive Jux, Rhymesayers, Ninja Tune, and more.

The film will be broadcast publicly on PBS this Tuesday night, January 19th so be sure to check your local listings for time. You can get a taste of what is in store by watching the film’s trailer and starting January 26th you will be able purchase the film on DVD.

In conjunction with the film’s development a contest was held at ccMixter challenging community members to sample select voice-overs from the film to create an original track. Winner Dermes’ track Sounds that Sound good is featured on the Copyright Criminals DVD as well as a compilation CD featuring the other 12 top entries. All of the tracks are available for free at ccMixter under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Lastly, for those in New York City, a party is being held this Tuesday (1/19) at The Brooklyn Bowl to celebrate the film’s premiere and DVD release. The night will feature appearances by EL-P, Eclectic Method, Mr. Len and DJ Spooky – doors open at 8PM to be followed by the PBS Broadcast Premiere at 10PM.

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Daily life in Iraq—new footage at Al Jazeera

Jane Park, January 14th, 2010

Last year, Al Jazeera launched their Creative Commons Repository with 12 videos shot in Gaza under CC’s most open license, Attribution only. Since then, Al Jazeera’s collection has grown, and their most recent footage includes videos documenting everyday life and culture in Iraq.

Check out this video of an Iraqi artist sculpting a Minaret and painting a tree. The sculptures seem to be encased afterward in gold or some other substance—I’m not entirely sure since I’m not fluent in Arabic. The good news is that the video and all others in this repository are licensed CC BY, so someone can help translate this into English or other languages, for use by rival broadcasters or in documentaries.

There are also more videos about the communication network in Iraq, and Samarra’s pharmaceutical factories and poultry farms.

You can also start remixing these videos to tell a compelling story, whether it’s a 30 sec or twenty minute film clip, maybe laid with some CC licensed soundtracks. Be creative. There’s a lot of CC licensed stuff out there. All Al Jazeera CC repository videos are available via CC BY, which means you can edit, adapt, translate, remix or otherwise use them as long as you credit Al Jazeera. Interested persons can add the Al Jazeera repository to their Miro feeds.

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Robin Sloan’s “Annabel Scheme”

Cameron Parkins, January 14th, 2010

Robin Sloan, a San Fransisco-based writer best known for his short stories and writing at culture blog Snarkmarket, recently completed work on his first novella, Annabel Scheme.

Sloan used Kickstarter, a social fundraising platform, to garner patrons for Annabel Scheme prior to publishing. By offering a number of incentive levels with varying amenities, Sloan was able to raise just shy of $14,000 for the project – over $10,000 more than he had originally asked. Had he not been able to raise the original goal of $3,500, no backers would be required to pay, making the process low risk for those looking to fund, as Kickstarter puts it, “creative ideas and ambitious endeavors.”

Towards the end of the fundraising round, Sloan decided Annabel Scheme was to be released under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial license – more than that, he chose to devote $1,000 of the excess budget to a remix fund. Sloan put out an open call for pitches on interesting ways to take the book and build something new from it. These pitches are now being voted on by the book’s backers, with an announcement on fund allocation forthcoming.

A unique project all around, it is no wonder Kickstarter awarded Annabel Scheme best project in their 2009 retrospective. You can download the novella for free at Sloan’s website.

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