For how popular they are worldwide, it’s striking how rarely CC licenses’ validity has been questioned in court. We consider that a testament to the care with which we craft the licenses: we try to find every possible area of contention or ambiguity before we launch the licenses. To our knowledge, no court in any country has ever found a CC license invalid.
An out-of-court settlement yesterday affirmed what most people reading this blog already knew: you are free to use Creative Commons–licensed content under the terms of the license without fear of infringing the licensor’s copyright, even if the licensor changes her mind later.
The complicated case involved CrunchBase, a CC BY database of names and companies in the tech space, operated by TechCrunch. A startup company called Pro Populi built an app using CrunchBase data with attribution. CrunchBase questioned the legality of Pro Populi using its data in that way, pointing to a clause in its own terms-of-service agreement reserving the right to “continually review and evaluate all uses of the API, including those that appear more competitive than complementary in nature.”
When the story hit last month, Wired’s David Kravets interviewed CC’s Diane Peters. She reiterated the non-revocable nature of the licenses, saying, “As a matter of copyright, once you have it, you have it, and can do what you want with it.”
The case has now been dropped, but more importantly, CrunchBase has now revised its own terms-of-service agreement to remove any contradiction with the CC license, thanks in no small part to our friends at the Electronic Freedom Foundation:
“Offering content under the most permissive CC license while claiming the right to shut down uses they didn’t like was a bit misleading,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. “CrunchBase’s new terms of service are clearer and more in line with the best practices of the open content community. The new terms should allow developers to re-use and build on the CrunchBase dataset with greater confidence.”
“We are grateful to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for playing an instrumental role in updating the CrunchBase Terms of Service,” said CrunchBase President Matt Kaufman. “At their suggestion, we adopted Creative Commons 4.0 and open content best practices. These updates provide more clarity to our community and provide a stronger foundation from which to build and extend the CrunchBase dataset.”
This post originally appears on the Communia Association blog. Creative Commons is a founding member and active participant in Communia.
Last week Thursday the European Commission launched its much anticipated public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules. This consultation is the first visible sign of the second track of the Commission’s attempt to modernise the EU rules (the first track consisted of the rather unsuccessful Licenses for Europe stakeholder dialogue). In the words of the Commission the focus of the consultation is on:
… ensuring that the EU copyright regulatory framework stays fit for purpose in the digital environment to support creation and innovation, tap the full potential of the Single Market, foster growth and investment in our economy and promote cultural diversity.
With regards to the contents of the consultation, a first reading reveals a mixed bag of questions, with a surprising amount of them actually touching on issues that are closely related to our own policy recommendations. The consultation comes in the form of a 37 page document with a grand total of 80 questions that cover everything from the functioning of the single market for copyrighted works, linking and browsing, copyright term duration, registration of copyrighted works and exceptions and limitations for cultural heritage institutions, education, research, persons with disabilities and “user generated content”. In addition, there are questions about private copying and levies, the fair remuneration of authors and performers, respect for rights, and even the possibility of a single EU copyright title. Finally there is an open question for everything else that stakeholders might want to tell the Commission.
The deadline for providing answers to all of these questions is the 5th of February, which if one takes into account the upcoming holiday period is rather short. Read More…Comments Off
The following is a guest post by Jessica Smith, National Copyright Officer for the National Copyright Unit of Australia. She ran the Copyright 4 Educators (AUS) course with Delia Browne as part of the School of Open’s second round of facilitated courses in 2013.
The School of Open is a community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, research, and more. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works.
The National Copyright Unit (NCU) of Australia ran its second cycle of the School of Open’s Copyright 4 Educators (AUS) course in August. The course ran for seven weeks, with a two-week introduction period and five weeks of substantive group work. We took on 60 learners, with enrollments filling up in less than two days, plus a wait list of around 15 people. At the end of the course, we only had 3 drop-outs, a 95% retention rate!
On top of those stellar results, we also had very happy learners as well as great results in terms of the uptake and understanding of the information. We have an ongoing wait list for the course as well as teachers and librarians continuously enquiring about the course. We’re also in the process of obtaining accreditation for the course through larger teacher organizations so that it can be used to fulfill specific professional learning requirements of Australian educators.
We believe our course has succeeded for three reasons:
- We made it easy for the students to participate.
- The course was associated with the NCU, an official government division.
- We assigned small groups based on commonalities, such as profession and field.
1. Make it easy for the students to participate
Making it easy for students is of utmost importance in an online environment, especially if the course is targeted to people who may not be familiar with online learning. We know this may sound obvious, but it’s so important that it’s definitely worth mentioning and expounding on. If you don’t nail this, you’re not going to retain your students.
So how do you make it easy for the students? Have everything (eg, communication tools and assignment submission entrypoints) set up for them and support them to the nth degree. What this means: you have to put the time in before the course starts and you, as the course facilitator/organizer, must be very comfortable with the course layout and tools in order to be able to give ample support as well as troubleshoot when issues arise.
Tutorials for Tools
For our course, we had heaps of information on our P2PU course site (outlining essentially everything they’d need to get through the course), but we also created tutorials and sent out additional information through email on all the essential parts of the course (ie. using the discussion tool Disqus, submitting group assignments, leaving peer review, etc). We really wanted the students to feel supported and to answer questions and issues BEFORE they arose. It’s too easy to drop out of an online course, so we wanted to preemptively take care of as many issues as possible. We had one student state they were “very nervous and uncomfortable” to take an online course who later reported how great the course was set up and how easy it was in terms of knowing what to do and how to do it. It’s key students feel like this from the start of the course, or they won’t stick with it.
Tools we used
We used Google docs for our course. We had every group’s Google doc set up for every single week, and we linked to the docs from both the course on P2PU as well as in emails that we sent out every week. The weekly emails make it very clear what was expected of our learners as well as where to go to complete their tasks. See an example below:
We also sent out individual group chase-ups the Monday following a Sunday due date as well as a chase-up Wednesday following the peer review due date. See below for an example of this:
Its also very important to understand that the first two to three weeks are a bit rough for learners – they’re confused and they have lots of questions and issues. We received anywhere from 15 to 30 emails a week and at least five calls, asking general questions about the course, the platform, google docs, etc. We nearly always responded to these on the same day and offered as much support as needed. A quick response to a simple question can be the deciding factor between a learner getting frustrated and dropping out or being satisfied and feeling supported and staying in the course.
This initial confusion is also why we went with a two-week introduction period, and we think this really helps with the retention rate. It gave the learners a chance to ask questions, sort out their issues and concerns and get comfortable with the course, the platform, the collaboration tools, and their groups.
2. Associate a course with a known, respected entity
Our course was associated with the NCU of Australia, which is very well known and respected. We deal with teachers on a daily basis, and most of our NCU affiliated teachers/librarians were the first to sign up for the course and have been our biggest supporters and promoters.
In addition to past participants spreading the word, we promoted the course through our school connections in Australia – through teachers whom we’ve given advice, the Copyright Advisory Group (each State/Territory in Australia as well as each sector has a representative), teacher organizations, and our website (http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/) which is the official guide to copyright issues for Australian Schools and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions. Once we did our initial promotional blitz, the promotion largely took off on its own, making its way onto numerous listservs and teacher associations that we didn’t previously know existed.
So the association helped with the initial promotion of the course, but we also believe the reputation of the NCU encouraged teachers to sign up for the course: it made teachers feel more comfortable asking questions/contacting us, it decreased the numbers of dropouts, and we also found that many employers, such as school deans, required their teaching staff to take the course.
Incorporating the course into NCU’s daily workload also allowed us to quickly and effectively respond to questions/issues with the course.
3. Arrange groups to encourage conversation and cohesiveness
In the first week of the course, we only asked our learners to fill out a questionnaire and have a look around the course. With the information from the questionnaire, we created 15 groups of four. We also took group requests, which frequently came from teachers at the same school. If groups were not requested, we arranged groups based on school location, level and sector to encourage conversation and commonality between group members. In the second week of the course, we only asked our students to meet their group and to decide on how their group would collaborate. Group members got to know each other and supported each other over the course of the seven weeks, and we think this group cohesiveness really encouraged group members to stay committed to the group and the course (as well as have more fun!).
As an example, we had one student who was going to drop out because she needed to have surgery in the third week of the course, and she would be unable to type for a week or two. She consulted us, and we told her to first discuss the problem with her group to see if they could work something out. She did this, and they became somewhat of a support group for her and they worked out that she would lead discussion in the weeks leading up to her surgery (which they mainly did via email) and then the weeks she couldn’t type she participated via a weekly Skype session with her group.
We’ve also been told by a number of groups that they all plan to keep in touch with each other to discuss any copyright questions and what’s going on in their classrooms/schools.
Overall, we believe the course was very successful. Not only because of the retention rate but also because people enjoyed it! They’re telling others about the course, they learnt the information, and if they ever have any questions or issues they now know where to find the information.Comments Off
We’re pleased to announce a new suite of Creative Commons licenses specifically designed for intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). IGOs produce a wide array of valuable information and content, ranging from scholarly and scientific papers to environmental data. Just like other creators who seek wide dissemination of their works to achieve maximal impact, IGOs benefit from using CC’s well understood and widely adopted licenses.
Since the 2011 CC Global Summit in Warsaw, and in tandem with our 4.0 license development process, we’ve been working closely with IGOs to understand and find acceptable ways to address their unique needs in our licenses. The process mirrored the porting process used for the 3.0 licenses, which addresses specific needs of jurisdictions. Additionally, we have been working closely on adoption opportunities so that the valuable content IGOs produce can be reused around the globe under our standard licenses. For example, the World Bank leverages CC’s licenses as part of its impressive open access policy, and Commonwealth of Learning has adopted an OER policy under which it will release its own materials using CC licenses.
CC and IGO working group participants announced the results of this effort today. From the press release:
“The more that everyone can access and use the important work of IGOs, the more impactful they are,” Creative Commons co-founder Lawrence Lessig said. “By publishing their information and data under Creative Commons licenses, these organizations are giving anyone on the planet the right to read and share those materials.”
Congratulations to everyone! We look forward to seeing more and more IGOs joining the commons.1 Comment »
Our friends at Musikpiraten e.V. just let us know that the Free! Music! Sampler is now shipping. You might remember this year’s Free! Music! Contest. The winners have been chosen, and the heavily exclamatory compilation album looks gorgeous. You can listen to all the tracks and download the album from Musikpiraten’s Bandcamp page.Comments Off
If you’re scurrying for gifts this year, consider giving open. We’ve put together this list of a few of our favorite openly licensed gifts. What did we miss? Add your favorites to the comments.
Not only is Sita a great film, but it has some of the most unique and beautiful merchandise ever. I’ve actually always thought this was the success of her business model – having things people actually want to buy. I’ve always been particularly fond of the peacock phonograph pendant. Review by Jessica Coates
The first collection of the best geek comic out there. There’s something for everyone in this volume, whether they’re a lover, a gamer or a mathematician. There’s even something for us copyright geeks, with the complete adventures of Doctorow, Lessig, et al in their complete superhero garb. Review by Jessica Coates
Open Design Now is been one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read this year on openness. It’s available for free online under a Creative Commons license or available for purchase as a hard copy. Highly recommended read for anyone interested in the intersection of open design and physical objects. Review by Paul Stacey
Yup, it’s a rocking stool. It’s such an elegant innovation in design that once you see it, you wonder why it took so long for someone to think of it. If you have access to a CNC machine, you can download the CC-licensed design and build your own. Assmbly will make one for you, and even carve your logo on the seat, but order now: there’s a waiting list. Review by Elliot Harmon
One of the best card games out there, perfect for long nights with good friends and a bottle of whisky. Like Apples for Apples, but far more surreal and less suitable for children. Download the whole thing from their website and spend hours turning it into a neat game; or just shell out $25 and get the pretty one to begin with. Also available in Spanish, Dutch, pirate and many other languages thanks to its CC license and fan translations. Review by Jessica Coates
The Phylo trading card game is a CC licensed online initiative aimed at creating a Pokemon-like resource but using photos of real animals and plants as a means of helping children learn about biodiversity. Review by Paul Stacey
Sticking with cards, I also really like the Group Works pattern cards. These are really useful for anyone who plans meetings, conferences, retreats, and other group sessions. If you are a facilitator, these cards help you plan and create meaningful events. You can download the free, CC-licensed deck or purchase one. Review by Paul Stacey
Dead Unicorn makes melodic pop-punk music that’s surprisingly fun, given their fixation on writing songs about disease. They’re also the guys behind my favorite “about CC” video ever. Earlier this year, the band Kickstarted Pandemic and printed a limited run on colored vinyl (they identify the color as “piss yellow.”) Give it to your weird nephew who thinks you aren’t cool. Review by Elliot Harmon
If you’re not already following The Public Domain Review (a project of our friends at The Open Knowledge Foundation), you should be. Every day, they post a new find from the endless supply of public domain treasures and oddities. This year, the PDR launched a store full of public domain goodies to help raise money. My favorite is the print of an 1887 woodcut designed to teach Japanese children English words. Review by Elliot Harmon
Of course we had to sneak ourselves onto this list. We worked with the webcartoonist Luke Surl on the drawings for our Team Open interview project. We think he perfectly captured the spirit of the subjects we interviewed. Everyone who donates $25 (USD) or more to CC gets their own complete set of trading cards.4 Comments »
Billy Meinke with our 92 donors. Are you number 93?
We have a lot to celebrate together this year. Last week, we unveiled Version 4.0 of the Creative Commons license suite, an accomplishment that reflects two years of work by literally hundreds of people.
More than any CC license before, Version 4.0 reflects the power of the CC movement. It was built upon the expertise of our amazing global community, a community that you join when you license or use content under CC licenses. We’re glad to be on your team.
If you’re proud of what we’ve accomplished together, consider making a donation to support CC’s work in 2014.Comments Off
Milton Keynes / CC BY
I took up residence in Milton Keynes, England, for one week in October as the Linked OER Research Hub Fellow for the School of Open. The School of Open is a community of volunteers from all around the world who are developing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of openness in their field of choice, whether that’s education, science, research, or community design. The free education opportunities consist of online courses, face-to-face workshops, and in-person training programs. Whatever the format, volunteers seek to help people do what they already do better with the aid of open resources and tools. One obvious example is helping educators to find and use free and open educational resources (OER) for the classroom.
In developing these opportunities, we decided it would be a good idea to simultaneously attempt to measure the impact of our activities. We teamed up with the OER Research Hub for a Linked Research Fellowship, which would provide funding for travel/accommodations and a researcher to help with administering, collecting, and analyzing School of Open data. Since we only just launched in March and have a limited data set to work with, we decided to start by focusing on a subset of our online, facilitated courses. School of Open volunteers administered optional surveys in four courses: Copyright 4 Educators (AUS), Copyright 4 Educators (US), Creative Commons for K-12 Educators, and Writing Wikipedia Articles: The Basics and Beyond. The surveys gather feedback from participants on their sharing practices and attitudes towards OER before and after the course. In combination with feedback from the facilitators themselves and archival course material, we hope to write up a short report on our preliminary findings. This report will likely identify gaps where more research is needed, which we hope to conduct during our next round of facilitated courses in March 2014. Then we will publish a final report with our findings in the third quarter of 2014.
My week with the OER Research Hub
As a linked fellow, my week with the OER Research Hub was organized around meeting with Beck Pitt, the researcher I have been working closely with around collecting the data, in addition to meeting the rest of the Hub’s research team and Open University staff working on open education projects of interest to the School of Open. Since I had been and would continue to work on aggregating and analyzing the data remotely, it was crucial to make the most of my stay through face-to-face meetings. Through these meetings, I was thrilled to discover additional areas for collaboration. They are:
- OER Research course: A School of Open course on how to conduct research openly, especially in the field of OER, to be developed in conjunction with an OER research toolkit that the OER Research Hub team is already developing. The initial concept for the course is still being shaped, but we imagine the course to be for those who are leading open education projects of their own that don’t currently have the resources to measure the impact of their project. This course would equip them with the methods, tools, and familiarity with ethical, privacy, and cultural issues researchers need to consider when conducting research. We aim to have the course developed in time to be part of a facilitated round of School of Open courses in the second quarter of 2014, and to exist thereafter as a stand-alone course for anyone to take at any time.
- Open Translation course: A School of Open course on open translation, or more specifically, how to translate materials that are openly licensed and what that means. The TESS-India project at the Open University already runs translation workshops for its volunteers in various regions of India to translate OER addressing regional, cultural, and linguistic issues for translation into several Indian languages including Hindi. As part of the workshops, TESS-India will include a day/session on OER and open licensing and what that means for translation. As these workshops will be recorded, we will have video in addition to the workshop resources which can be adapted into an online course for translators around the world. We hope to work with TESS-India to prepare this course for 2014.
- OpenLearn OER course: A joint OpenLearn and School of Open course on OER, drawing on existing resources like Creating open educational resources.
- CC license and OER education for the OER Research Hub’s K-12 educator networks, such as the Flipped Learning Network, in the form of webinars and media such as infographics.
Mozfest candy / CC BY
For our main collaboration — research on School of Open courses — we were able to ready some of the data we had collected for the Mozilla Festival, where Beck hosted a “scrum” on visualizing open education data called the Open Ed Data Detective. Throughout the festival, several participants came by to experiment with the School of Open data along with other data the OER Research Hub made available. In addition to preparing for the data scrum, we collected and compiled most of the initial data on the School of Open courses listed above, including web analytics and data for all 13 stand-alone courses. We outlined a plan for completion of a report on preliminary research findings, follow-up interviews we will conduct with facilitators and course participants, and additional research we will conduct in 2014 during Round 3 of School of Open’s facilitated courses.
For a research residency that lasted less than a week, we made a tremendous amount of progress. I look forward to working closely with the OER Research Hub and Open University staff in the coming months!Comments Off
Text-based search is powerful. However, as more and more information is digitized and made available on the internet, the effectiveness of text-based search could stand to be supplemented with other technologies.
Aunt Bertha, an Austin, TX–based B Corporation, focuses on helping people to find government and charitable human service programs on the web. In the United States, there are 89,000 governments, a million charities, and more than three hundred thousand congregations. Many of these organizations provide food, health, housing, or education programs to those who need it (the “Seekers”). Aunt Bertha’s goal is to index all these programs so that the Seekers can find help in seconds.
Launched in the fall of 2010, Aunt Bertha founders learned something very interesting early on. In a medium-sized city, a Seeker can have at least 500 government and charitable programs to choose from. The user experience designer must ensure that the Seekers can easily find the program that fits their need, a task that’s harder than it might seem: not only are the Seekers are multi-faceted and complex; so are the programs that serve them. A common language that described both the Seekers and the available human services would go a long way to help as text-based search alone would not work. Enter the Open Eligibility Project.
Realizing that other organizations were facing the same problem — and that there had been attempts at categorizing these types of programs before, but the terms and methodologies used were full of bureaucratic jargon — the Open Eligibility Project set out to simplify the taxonomy, the terms that describe human services.
There are two important facets to human services taxonomy: Human Services and Human Situations. Human Services are simply the services provided by the organization—examples include clothes for school, computer classes and counseling. Human Situations are simply the attributes of the Seeker—for examples, mothers, ex-offenders or veterans. Here is one example of the use of this taxonomy on Aunt Bertha:
It is not always easy to find the balance between comprehensiveness and ease-of-use. For this project to be successful, a tension should always exist between these two goals. Lean too far one way and it becomes suitable only for the policy wonks. Lean the other way, and it loses specificity and the Seekers can not find what they are seeking.
Since launching the Open Eligibility Project, there has been some interesting traction in the area of human services taxonomy. Just this year, a new Civic Services Schema was submitted and accepted by Schema.org. The ServiceAudience field of the spec, in particular, is a great fit for Open Eligibility’s Human Situations tags. If government agencies adopt this spec, it will make their programs more findable by people who fit those situations (ex: programs for veterans, programs for foster children, etc.).
Aunt Bertha seeded the Open Eligibility Project with all of the types of services and situations listed on Aunt Bertha. But, there are more out there though, and help from others would make the taxonomy even better. That is why the founders were attracted to Creative Commons, and decided to release the taxonomy on Github under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Hackers, coders, and those concerned generally with human services are invited to join the Google+ community, and to contribute to the project on the Github page, or to connect with Aunt Bertha on Facebook or Twitter.Comments Off