2011 May

Wellcome Trust urges universities to take leadership in open scientific publishing

Diane Cabell, May 4th, 2011

Creative Commons plays an instrumental role in the Open Access movement, which is making scholarly research and journals more widely available on the Web. Last month, Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, spoke at Oxford University on the role of open access in maximising the impact of biomedical research. Wellcome is one of the world’s leading funders of scientific research. Walport’s lecture was the fourth in a series on scholarship, publishing and the dissemination of research presented by the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA). The series is designed to stimulate debate on the issues surrounding changes in scholarly communications.

In a reflection of the venue — Bodleian Library’s Convocation House where the, audience perched on the same 17th century seats as Charles II’s parliament — Walport traced the history of Western scientific publication noting that scientists have delayed dissemination of their findings for centuries. When Gallileo discovered the rings around Saturn Galilei, for example, he sent a coded summary of his findings to his competitors so that once his work became public he would be able to unmask the perpetrator should any of them try to steal his credit. Walport also reported that scientific publication was banned during certain periods as too dangerous for public consumption.

Scientists today are still highly dependent on attribution for their status. Publication in prestigious journals remains the prime determinant of a researcher’s employment and funding opportunities. Open access journals historically suffered a lack of prestige as their peer review procedures were perceived as less rigorous.* Open data faces similar barriers; while Wellcome and other major funders in the genome field have mandated deposit of data in open repositories, most of the larger scientific community continues to hoard findings until a desired personal value can be extracted.

Traditional commercial publication is not the only way to protect scientific reputations, however, and Walport urged academic institutions to take back their traditional responsibility for the dissemination of knowledge by promoting open access mechanisms that still address the researcher’s needs for attribution. The PLoS business model presents alternative funding approaches capable of supporting academic publication. Most importantly, academicians are recognizing that they themselves have been providers of the major value of publication – the actual peer review – a free service that could be as easily provided to open access publishers as to proprietary ones. Alternatives such as PLoS One’s post-publication peer review mechanisms by the scholarly community at large may also prove effective.

Walport believes that science is on the cusp of an historic change in regard to publication practices and advised the university to take an aggressive role in the open access movement.

A video of Walport’s presentation will be posted shortly on the oxford scholarly communications debate website.

*Corrected from “Open access journals do not yet share that prestige as they rarely include peer review mechanisms.


36 monthly albums & more new music under Creative Commons

Jane Park, May 2nd, 2011

In the world of music, Creative Commons licenses continue to be used by upcoming and established musicians for everything from remix contests to album-a-month projects. And since CC-licensed music may be blaring from outerspace for the first time in history on NASA’s Endeavour mission, we thought it would be a good time to do a round-up of the recent developments in Creative Commons music land.

Learning Music Monthly

Two years ago, L.A.-based musician John Wood and CC-friendly record label vosotros launched Learning Music Monthly, an album-a-month musical series. Every month, John Wood wrote, recorded, mixed, and mastered an album—and made each album available as part of a tiered subscription service that ranged from a donation-based digital option (available for download under a CC BY-NC-SA license) to a $60 package that included handmade albums delivered to your mailbox, limited edition stickers, bonus albums from friends of LMM, and even personalized birthday songs! These extras inevitably evolved as the project scaled, but the albums kept coming, an impressive feat for John Wood and his friends.

After three seasons and 36 albums, LMM has finally come to an end. In celebration, vosotros has created an excellent 37 song Learning Music compilation entitled, “An End Like This,” blogged over at the Free Music Archive. Additionally, all of the albums are archived for continuous discovery and remix at the LMM site.


A great example of new, open distribution models, LMM is only one of many musicians and projects encouraging participation and remix under CC licenses. Earlier this year, R.E.M. launched a CC remix contest for “It Happened Today” on SoundCloud, one of the web’s easiest platforms for sharing your CC-licensed originals and remixes. Stems from the song were released under CC BY-NC-SA, and remixes were uploaded to SoundCloud under the same license. You can check out all remixed versions of the song here and read more about what went down at CC Australia’s coverage of the contest.

Paul Simon

Indaba, a hub for musical collaboration online, also continues to work with an expanding and interesting array of musicians for its artists remix contests. A recent contest featured Paul Simon’s latest single “Love Is Eternal Sacred Light,” soliciting fan remixes under CC BY-NC-ND.

Nighty Night by 8in8

And the latest treat is Nighty Night by 8in8, an all-star collaboration between Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, and Damien Kulash from OK Go. The group set out to make eight songs in eight hours, and released the resulting album under CC BY-NC. You can read Neil’s account of the song-making process at his blog and buy the album at Amanda Palmer’s bandcamp page. Initial proceeds will go to berkleecitymusicnetwork.org, a charity dedicated to fulfilling kids’ musical potential.

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Cable Green joins Creative Commons as Director of Global Learning

Timothy Vollmer, May 2nd, 2011

Cable Green and family / CC BY

Creative Commons is pleased to welcome Dr. Cable Green as Director of Global Learning. Most recently, Green was the Director of eLearning & Open Education for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, where he provided leadership on strategic technology planning, openly licensing and sharing digital content, growing and improving online and hybrid learning, and implementing enterprise learning technologies and student support services. One innovative project, the Open Course Library, creates low-cost, digital, openly licensed (CC BY) instructional materials for 81 high impact community college courses. Cable holds a BS (international affairs) from Lewis and Clark College, MPC from Westminster College, and a MA (communication) and PhD (educational technology) from Ohio State University.

As Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons, Green will be responsible for setting strategic direction and priorities to build a global movement that will enable robust and vibrant practices and policies for free sharing of education and learning assets. Cable will lead Creative Commons’ recently-announced project to provide technical assistance to winning grantees of the Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community and Career Training Grant program.

“We’re honored and excited to be joined by Cable, and we expect that his experience, passion, and vision for OER will greatly amplify the impact that Creative Commons continues to make in open education around the world,” said Cathy Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons.

Please join us in welcoming Cable to CC!


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