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2014 April

Lawrence Lessig to receive Lifetime Achievement Webby Award

Elliot Harmon, April 29th, 2014

Lawrence Lessig
Lawrence Lessig / Joi Ito / CC BY

The Webby Awards just announced that Lawrence Lessig will receive a Lifetime Achievement award for his work as cofounder of Creative Commons. From the announcement:

The Webby Awards is proud to honor Lawrence Lessig with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 for his groundbreaking work as cofounder of Creative Commons. Creativity based on collaboration is absolutely fundamental to everything that makes the Web successful and wonderful – but none of that would be possible without the ability (and encouragement) to share, mix, and match creative works. Lessig has spent his life and career standing up for collaboration (and standing up to those who seek to inhibit creative cooperation), as well as defending Net Neutrality and the free and open software movement… in other words, all things essential to the Web’s awesomeness. As we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Web this year, there is no one more fitting to accept this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award than Lawrence Lessig – a true hero of the open, collaborative Web, and an all around fantastic human being.

The awards will take place Monday, May 19, in New York City, and available online the next day. Congratulations, Larry!

Update (May 29, 2014): Watch the complete presentation, featuring interviews with danah boyd and Clay Shirky as well as Larry’s hilarious five-word acceptance speech:

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ShareAlike compatibility process and criteria discussion opens

Kat Walsh, April 28th, 2014

We are now opening the discussion for our compatibility process and criteria for the ShareAlike licenses. As established in the drafting process, 4.0 includes a compatibility mechanism that allows for other licenses to be compatible with the ShareAlike licenses, allowing for greater interoperability of freely-licensed content, but no other licenses have been approved as compatible yet. We are looking to the CC community to help us develop the criteria and process before formally evaluating licenses as candidates for ShareAlike compatibility, and to kick off this discussion, we now have a draft posted for feedback: ShareAlike compatibility process and criteria.

We want this to be a process that the CC community trusts, and so this is a first draft, not a final document. We invite everyone to participate in the discussion on the license development list; it will end on May 28.

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Report from India: Relicensing books under CC

Elliot Harmon, April 18th, 2014

Jellyfish Madness
Release of DVD containing Odia font, open source tools and Offline Odia Wikipedia
Ahemadullah Shaikh / CC BY-SA

This guest blog post was written by Subhashish Panigrahi of The Center for Internet and Society, a Creative Commons affiliate in India.

My name is Subhashish Panigrahi. I am an educator currently working in the community and communication front at The Centre for Internet and Society’s Access To Knowledge program (CIS-A2K), an India-based catalyst program to grow Indic language communities for Wikipedia and its sister projects. Prior to my work at CIS, I worked for the Wikimedia Foundation’s India Program, a predecessor to the current CIS-A2K project.

While building ties with higher education and research organizations, I also try to get educational and encyclopedic resources licensed under Creative Commons licenses so that communities can use them to enrich Wikimedia projects. Currently, there is a low level of content available across all the Indic languages and the need for Unicode-based content is extremely crucial.

While negotiating with authors for relicensing their books in Creative Commons license, I started identifying certain motivation areas for any author for such free content donation. Some of the authors, publishers, and copyright holders have started learning about open access to scholarly publications. However, the readers who are likely to buy a hard copy of a book are likely to buy it even when a free, virtual version is available – that’s the idea authors who are skeptical about CC licenses need to understand.

Open source book publishing in India has gained much interest and focus, primarily because of the lack of foresight of the possibilities that are tied to the release of books. It was Pratham Books that first came up with the brilliant idea of “One book book in every child’s hand.” The subsequent release of multilingual books under free licenses was the beginning of a new era in Indian publication.

Book publishers should also think of the target readers of print and web media. Releasing content in free licenses doesn’t affect the mainstream print publications. When it comes to books, there is always a scope for reprinting and making money. After negotiations with two authors and getting 13 books about children’s literature, travelogues, popular science, and linguistic and historical research, I am sure the publishing community has not been educated in the right way about providing free access to content.

It generally takes a long time and effort to negotiate with the copyright holders to get the books out with a CC-BY-SA tag. But it is a permanent and a significant value addition for the open knowledge movement. I believe with more online readers and reviewers getting complete access to books, authors gain more respect in the society and popularity which in turn helps them to sell more of the reprints. Two prime fears are keeping many publishers away from releasing their books online for free: the fear of going out of business and the fear of losing ownership of content. But at the same time, some of the publishers are becoming aware of the mass media outreach and winning hearts of many readers by releasing content for free without copyright restrictions.

Case studies:

1. Release of a four-volume encyclopedia in Konkani

In 2013, Goa University released Konkani Vishwakosh, a Konkani-language encyclopedia in CC-BY-SA 3.0 license that they had published. This is the largest encyclopedia compiled in the language. The book is being digitized on Konkani WikiSource and content from it is being used to enrich the Konkani version of Wikipedia. The project additionally brought about 20 active contributors for digitization.

2. Release of 11 Odia language books

11 books from Odia author and academic Dr. Jagannath Mohanty were re-released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license by the “Manik-Biswanath Smrutinyasa,” a trust founded by Dr. Mohanty for literary discussions and upbringing new writers. His wife and trust’s current chairman Allhadmohini Mohanty formally gave written permission to release and digitize these books. The Odia Wikimedia community is planning to involve undergraduate students of an indigenous educational institution, Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, to digitize these books. The trust is also reaching out to publishers who published more than 150 of the author’s books to give permission for re-releasing them under a CC license.

3. Relicensing “Classical Odia” under a free license

The book is heavy and expensive for any normal reader. Enormous copies were sold after Odia was declared as the sixth Indian classical language; however, this did not stop the authors Dr. Debiprasanna Pattanayak and Subrat Prusty from changing the license term from All Rights Reserved to CC-BY-SA 3.0. 600-plus pages full of historical documents and manuscripts along with many undiscovered areas of Odia language’s literary heritage of more than 2500 years are now going to go on WikiSource and enrich Wikipedia articles apart from being great resource for language researchers.

4. Relicensing books and conversion of ISCII to Unicode font

Two Odia language books by linguist Subrat Prusty, “Jati, Jagruti O Pragati” and “Bhasa O Jatiyata,” have been relicensed. These are few of those thousand books in those the text are typed with fonts with ISCII standard and not Unicode. ISCII standard fonts have glyphs with Indic characters that are actually replacements of the Latin characters by Indic characters. So, a computer with one particular font not installed will display absurd characters. The publication and printing industries still use these fonts as the desktop publishing software package they use for typeset do not have Unicode engine to render the fonts properly. The conversion from these ISCII fonts to Unicode is a way that is going to be used for digitizaing these books to convert the entire book with searchable Unicode content.

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Project Gooseberry: Full-length CC BY animated film

Elliot Harmon, April 14th, 2014

Here at CC, we’re big fans of the Blender Foundation, which supports the open-source Blender 3D animation suite and produces beautiful animated films. The films are built entirely with open technologies and are licensed under CC BY. Big Buck Bunny, one of the early Blender films, raised a lot of awareness about Creative Commons licenses among animators and helped fuel the Creative Commons film movement.

Today, Blender is crowdfunding its most ambitious project yet, a full-length animated film codenamed Project Gooseberry. The enigmatic trailer definitely sparked my curiosity:

In this blog post, Blender Foundation chair Ton Roosendaal lays out his ambitious goal for Gooseberry and projects like it:

There’s a real growing unrest out there about how a few greedy people control this business – making their billions – while others lose jobs in the same week their company has won an Oscar. Yep, Mark Z. buys another toy for billions, which he makes by selling our digital lives. And we nerds just line up for yet another Marvel super hero movie again. Meanwhile the powers that be prepare for a separated internet – with fast and “free” commercial channels – and a slow, expensive one for the remains of the open internet we love.

I’m not fit for politics, nor do I feel much like protesting or mud slinging. I’m a maker – I’m interested in finding solutions together and doing experiments with taking back control over our digital lives, our media, and especially get back ownership as creative people again – and make a decent living with it.

The crowdfunding campaign ends this week. Check it out!

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