Happy birthday, Creative Commons

Lawrence Lessig, December 16th, 2014

Help build the next era of sharing online.
Make a donation to Creative Commons.

12 years ago today, we launched the first Creative Commons license suite.

The internet was changing the way people share, and changing what it meant to be a creator. But copyright law hadn’t caught up. The Net was making sharing easy; the law was making it hard.

We made a bet that many creators would stand between the extremes. That they would be inspired by the idea of “some rights reserved” and dedicate some of their rights to the commons.

One billion licensed works later, I think we were right.

Back then, it was a leap of faith. We just didn’t know. I certainly didn’t know that CC licenses would catalyze a global community in almost 80 countries, or that governments and foundations would take our values and embed them in official policies, dedicating funds to create freely available works. But that’s what CC has been helping to facilitate.

Today, Creative Commons is making another leap. We’re betting that if we can make it more seamless to share CC-licensed content between different web platforms, we can multiply CC’s impact exponentially. So this is what our tech team is building.

We’re also betting that by investing in a new generation of advocates for open, we can accelerate our policy wins to a worldwide tipping point.

CC licenses are having a real impact on people’s lives. They are helping reveal information used to treat diseases, to make governments more transparent and accountable, and to make education accessible for everyone, everywhere. That’s an incredible impact for a set of simple, free licenses.

That’s why I hope you will consider making a donation today.

I’ve been inspired by many idealists. And I’ve had my heart broken more than a few times as I’ve rallied people together for change. But CC has proved that big change can happen, when it is supported by many, and often.

So please take a moment to think about the role that Creative Commons licenses play in your life and in our communities. CC licenses have transformed how the internet works, but we’re just getting started.

Please consider making a gift to Creative Commons.

Sincerely,
Lessig

Support Creative Commons

 

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Are you on #teamopen?

Elliot Harmon, December 11th, 2014

Stay up-to-date with CC by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on Twitter.

Are you on #teamopen?

We’re proud to present Series Two of Team Open, our ongoing project to tell the stories of people who use Creative Commons. In Series Two, you’ll meet a musician who used Creative Commons licensing to score a sponsorship deal with Toyota, a filmmaker who convinced his funders to give his film away, a professor who saved students a million dollars, and one of the minds behind the best-selling game on Amazon.

When you use a CC-licensed photo in a presentation or share your latest song under CC, you’re a part of the story of CC’s impact in the world. We’re proud to share in this amazing journey with you.

Redacted
Redacted / opensource.com
CC BY-SA (cropped)

We’ve learned disturbing details of of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement that could extend copyright terms 20 years. Join us in demanding that the agreement be made public.

State of the Commons
 
 

Nearly 900 million CC-licensed works, and most of them under licenses that allow commercial use and adaptations. Check out our brand new State of the Commons report.

Creative Commons Thing of the Day
Casey Fyfe / CC0
 

Your daily awesome from the internet. Start your morning with the Creative Commons Thing of the Day.

CC 4.0
 
 

Remember that time when CC Version 4.0 broke the internet?

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Team Open: Stories of how we use Creative Commons

Elliot Harmon, December 11th, 2014

A few weeks ago, we published a report showing that there are nearly a billion Creative Commons–licensed works. That’s an impressive number, but it only hints at how powerful and widespread CC licenses have become.

The real story of Creative Commons is the story of the people who use CC licenses. It’s the story of people who use CC licenses to make information, education, and data more public and accessible. Creators who have built real careers on free and open content. Policymakers working to make open the rule, not the exception. If you’re reading this, the story of CC is your story.

Today, we’re proud to present Series Two of Team Open, our ongoing project to tell the stories of people who use Creative Commons. In Series Two, you’ll meet a musician who used Creative Commons licensing to score a sponsorship deal with Toyota, a filmmaker who convinced his funders to give his film away, a professor who saved students a million dollars, and one of the minds behind the best-selling game on Amazon.

When you use a CC-licensed photo in a presentation or share your latest song under CC, you’re a part of the story of CC’s impact in the world. We’re proud to share in this amazing journey with you.

If you’re proud to be on Team Open, please consider making a donation to help carry Creative Commons into 2015.

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48 Civil Society Groups Demand Public Release of TPP Agreement Text

Timothy Vollmer, December 11th, 2014

Today Creative Commons and 47 civil society organizations and academics released a letter (PDF) calling on negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to publish the draft text of the agreement. Up until now the text of the TPP has been developed mostly in secret by the 12 negotiating countries. Wikileaks published a draft text of the chapter on intellectual property in October, revealing several provisions that would threaten access to and re-use of creative works, including an arrangement to allow countries to extend copyright terms by another 20 years. CC and other groups wrote a letter calling for that proposal to be rescinded.

Today’s call for increased accountability into the process and substance of the TPP agreement follows on the heels of the European Commission’s announcement for transparency into the negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a trade agreement being negotiated between the United States and the European Union.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) organized the letter from civil society organizations and experts. They said, “As TPP seems to arrive at its final stage, this is a prime moment for trade ministers to stop the secrecy and re-commit themselves to democratic principles of transparency and public participation in rule making.”

We couldn’t agree more.

The text of the letter (PDF) is below.

——————

Dear TPP Ministers and Heads of Delegation,

Ever since talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) began over five years ago, there have been broad public calls on leaders to make negotiations more transparent and open to the public. In statements, in letters, and in face-to-face meetings with trade representatives, we have urged the adoption of concrete practices that would better enable the kind of open debate and oversight that would help demystify these ongoing negotiations by making better, more accurate information available to the public.

The European Commission has recently taken leadership on this issue in the parallel context of negotiations over a Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), recommending on 25 November 2014 that the EU’s TTIP text proposals henceforth be released to the public, and that other information related to TTIP be shared more broadly with all Members of the European Parliament, beyond the currently limited membership of the International Trade Committee.

The end of TPP negotiations now seems to be coming into focus. They have come down to high-level political decisions by negotiating countries, and the text is largely completed except for some resolutions on remaining landing zones. At this point, we know that there is a draft of the TPP that is mostly agreed upon by those negotiating the deal.

Today, we strongly urge you to release the unbracketed text and to release the negotiating positions for text that is bracketed, now and going forwards as any future proposals are made. The public has a legitimate interest in knowing what has already been decided on its behalf, and what is now at stake with our various countries’ positions on these controversial regulatory issues.

We call on you to consider the recent announcement from the European Commission as a welcome precedent to follow, thereby re-affirming your commitment to fundamental principles of transparency and public participation in rule making. The negotiations in Washington DC this week would provide the perfect opportunity for such a ground-breaking accord to be announced.

Sincerely,

International:
Article 19
Creative Commons
Consumers International
Oxfam International
SumOfUs

Australia:
Australian Digital Alliance
Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET)
Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)
Australian Libraries Copyright Committee (ALCC)
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA)
Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA)

Canada:
Council of Canadians
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (Réseau juridique canadien VIH/sida)
OpenMedia International

Chile:
ONG Derechos Digitales
Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios de Chile (ODECU)

Japan:
Movements of the Internet Active Users (MIAU)
Creative Commons Japan
thinkC

New Zealand:
Consumer NZ
Its Our Future NZ

Malaysia:
Blindspot
EcoKnights
Malaysian AIDS Council
Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+)

Mexico, Chile, Peru:
International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC-LATCA) (Regional Office for
Latin American and Carribean Networks)
Alianza LAC – Global por el Acceso a Medicamentos

Peru:
Hiperderecho
Peruvian Association of Consumers and Users (ASPEC)
Acción Internacional para la Salud (AIS)

USA:
Action on Smoking and Health
American Library Association
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fight For the Future
Food & Water Watch
Government Accountability Project
Health GAP
Just Foreign Policy
Knowledge Ecology International
National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices
Public Knowledge
Sunlight Foundation
Association of Research Libraries

Academics:
Gabriel J. Michael, Yale Law School
Pam Samuelson, Berkeley Law School
Susan Sell, George Washington University
Sean Flynn, American University
David Levine, Princeton University

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Free Bassel

Ryan Merkley, December 10th, 2014

Bassel
Bassel / Joi Ito / CC BY

As of today, Creative Commons Syria lead Bassel Khartabil has been in prison for 1000 days. Today, we take a moment to honor Bassel and his contributions to Creative Commons. And we stand with our peers in the free software and free culture communities in demanding that he be freed.

Before Bassel was imprisoned, he worked hard to build digital literacy in Syria. Not only did he play a central role in Syria’s CC community; he was also active in Wikimedia, Openclipart, and numerous other free culture projects. As Lawrence Lessig wrote, “Mr. Khartabil isn’t a partisan, aligned with one Syrian faction against another. He represents a future, aligned against a totalitarian past.”

Bassel’s imprisonment is also a reminder that our fight is real. For those of us that work in relative safety, it can sometimes be easy to forget that a free and open internet is not a theoretical matter. Real lives are at risk.

Visit freebassel.org for more information on Bassel and how you can get involved. If you’re in San Francisco, visit Noisebridge this evening for a Free Bassel letter-writing event.

More information: Bassel Khartabil profile (Free Syrian Voices)

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Lessig to speak in San Francisco

Elliot Harmon, December 9th, 2014

Lawrence Lessig
Lawrence Lessig / Joi Ito / CC BY

CC co-founder Lawrence Lessig will speak on January 8 at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. JCCSF has provided CC with a special discount code to share with our community.

From the announcement:

Harvard Law Professor and legal activist Lawrence Lessig (Republic, Lost) believes he’s found a way to mitigate the corrosive effect of big money on elections. He discusses Mayday PAC, his own crowd-funded Super PAC, launched in order to elect a Congress committed to fundamentally reforming the way campaigns are financed.

If you use the code DEMOCRACY, you can pay $10 for standard or $15 for premium tickets.

Edited December 11. We’d previously reported the incorrect date for this event.

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Internet Censorship Editathon in San Francisco

Elliot Harmon, December 3rd, 2014

Join us in San Francisco on December 14 for a Wikipedia Editathon on interent censorship. If you’ve never edited a Wikipedia article, don’t worry! There will be experts there to help you through the process.

From the announcement:

Join volunteers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, and the Bay Area Wikipedia community to write and edit about human rights and free speech online. We will improve, create, and update Wikipedia articles related to global internet censorship. People regularly turn to Wikipedia to get a basic overview of internet censorship, so it’s crucial that we ensure Wikipedia’s coverage is up-to-date and accurate. Internet censorship means that users across the world aren’t always using the same Internet, cannot access the same websites, or can’t contribute to or read the same Wikipedia articles. Speech-chilling government surveillance, blocking, and filtering are all methods of censorship, and they are globally ubiquitous. Internet censorship impacts users everywhere, because fewer people are able to upload or contribute to the Internet or access information online.

In addition to improving articles on Internet Censorship as a broad topic, we will focus on improving and updating key articles about internet censorship for individual countries, and if possible, ensure the content is also available in their local language.

Please join us in person or online to help improve the public conversation on Internet Censorship. All levels of Wikipedia-editing experience are welcome!

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#SharingEveryday

Heidi Chen, December 2nd, 2014

#SharingEveryday

December marks the time of year when many of us start thinking about making year-end gifts to our favorite charities, and #GivingTuesday has become one of the most popular days for donating.

As you’re thinking about which organizations you’ll support this year, we hope you’ll think about how Creative Commons affects your life (and the lives of millions around the world).

Our core values are rooted in helping people to share their ideas, art, research, and culture with the rest of the world. That sharing can really add up too. Our recent State of the Commons report (translated by volunteers into 12 languages and counting) found that textbooks shared with open licenses have saved students more than $100 million.

CC is a small organization, but we still need resources to educate policy makers, support online sharing platforms, promote the benefits of open licenses, and grow our community. So, if you are in a giving mood on #GivingTuesday, consider a gift that supports #SharingEveryday!

With thanks,
Heidi

Support Creative Commons

Banner image: gift box icon by Pham Thi Dieu Linh licensed under a CC BY 3.0 license / snowflake icon by Paulo Volkova placed in the public domain

 

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German appellate court upholds common-sense attribution

John Weitzmann, December 1st, 2014

All six Creative Commons licenses require licensees to attribute the original creator. Although we provide guidelines for attributing a work, we also recognize that standards for how and where licensees should provide attribution vary a lot from medium to medium. That’s why CC licenses allow licensees to fulfill the attribution requirement “…In any reasonable manner based on the medium, means, and context in which You Share the Licensed Material.”

A recent court case in Germany has raised questions among some CC license users about what qualifies as reasonable attribution. Must websites that use openly licensed images make the attribution information visible at all times, even in a gallery of image thumbnails? And what about when a visitor accesses an image directly, via the “View Image” feature in her web browser? Must attribution information be visible then too?

Fortunately, we believe that common sense has won out in a recent appellate ruling.

View Image example
Does “View Image” violate CC licenses? / CC BY-SA
Source photo:
Bethlehem College Preso / Locus Research / CC BY-SA (context)

The dispute, which first went to court in February, involves the terms of use of a stock photo site. Although the case did not directly involve Creative Commons licenses, the licensing terms in question were quite similar to the wording of CC licenses’ attribution requirement. Like CC licenses, they required attribution appropriate to the medium in which the photos are used.

The defendant had diligently attributed the rightsholder on the page where they used the picture, but the website also had a dynamically generated “overview” gallery showing preview thumbnails of pictures and the site didn’t restrict users from downloading the images via “View Image.” When a visitor viewed an image in these two ways, attribution information was not visible.

The trial court ruled that the preview thumbnails (which did not include attribution information) were acceptable as they were under the two rulings of the German Federal Supreme Court on preview pictures. Regarding the direct viewing via “View Image”, the court ruled that this was not covered by the thumbnail rulings, and interpreted the terms of service of the stock photo site to require attribution no matter how the picture is viewed. The judges said that the name of the rightsholder would in case of “View Image” need to either be integrated into the picture itself (i.e. as an additional part of the graphic) or be part of the URL of the picture.

The stock photo provider, which was not a party to the case, provided a statement on behalf of the defendant, saying that their terms of service were not intended to require that the name of the author (also) be part of the URL. Nonetheless, the court ruled otherwise. The main argument advanced was that “appropriate to the medium” only applied to how attribution was to be given, not to whether it would be given, and as the picture could be viewed separately, attribution was also required in that view no matter how complicated its implementation would be.

After the decision became public, a debate started amongst bloggers and others who regularly use CC-licensed pictures, many of whom worried whether the court’s strict interpretation of the attribution requirement would also be relevant to how the BY condition of CC licenses is interpreted, at least under German copyright law. It was obvious that almost none of the CC-licensed pictures used on the net are attributed in the graphic itself or in the URL, and that it would be virtually impossible to move attribution to such a standard across the net.

On appeal, the higher district court in Cologne indicated in an oral hearing in August that they did not intend to follow the original decision. Firstly, in their view, the terms of service are very strictly against editing/adaptations of the pictures taken from the site, which speaks against the obligation (or even the right of users) to insert attribution information into the graphics. This would constitute an impermissible edit. Secondly, they interpret “appropriate to the medium” to not only cover how attribution is given, but also to cover whether/when attribution is necessary. The court regards the “View Image” function as a mere technological side-feature of how the web works and not a separate type of use that requires separate approval by the rightsholder. The latter in effect means that this function doesn’t trigger separate obligations on the user’s part, beyond the ones triggered by the use of the picture in the regular browser view. The plaintiffs subsequently took back their claims. Users of pictures that are available under standard terms can relax again to some extent regarding the practicalities of attribution.

While it’s limited to Germany in its legal applicability, this ruling demonstrates how flexible attribution requirements can be well understood by all parties and adapt well to changing technology. The ways that we share content on the web are changing all the time, but if you approach CC licenses with a reasonable, logical approach to attribution, misunderstandings will be few and far between.

Read more: Stellungnahme zu möglichen Auswirkungen der Pixelio-Entscheidung (auf Deutsch)

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CC goes to #Mozfest 2014

Ryan Merkley, November 26th, 2014

Creative Commons staff, affiliates, and supporters were active participants and contributors at this year’s Mozilla Festival, which has become an annual rallying point for the Open Web and our shared values. Our sessions covered a wide range of issues, from new technology, to open education and science, to working as an open organization. Thanks to Mozilla for inviting us. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event.

mozfest
Christos Bacharakis / CC BY-NC-SA

CC makes tools for makers

by Matt Lee and Ryan Merkley

In CC makes tools for makers, CC’s Ryan Merkley and Matt Lee joined Mozilla dev Ali Al Dallal to talk about tools and technology solutions that could enhance the reach and value of CC-licensed works. CC shared some early screens for The List, a new mobile app that allows anyone to create and share a list of wanted images, and allows users to respond by taking pictures and sharing them in a global archive, all licensed CC BY. CC also shared CC Search, which will aggregate results from publicly-facing search APIs of openly licensed works. Ali demoed a prototype of MakeDrive, which will allow a user to search for a CC image, then grab it into their own local synced storage.

Participants broke into smaller groups to discuss challenges and opportunities, and identified solutions that were shared back with the group. Issues ranged from UX and usability needs to opportunities for monetization. Everyone was encouraged to join The List mailing list at creativecommons.org/thelist for updates, and to head to hackspace.cc to join the development process and contribute.

Portrait of a Creative Commons Artist

by Jane Park

mozfest2014
#ARTOFWEB / Kat B / CC BY-SA

In Portrait of a Creative Commons Artist, a group of musicians, filmmakers, museum curators, and arts education practitioners gathered to discuss the kinds of art being created in today’s digital landscape and how and why they share their artworks and the artworks of others. Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, the artists’ motivations for sharing included no commercial goals. Motivations cited included wider distribution; to grow a community of like-minded artists; to elicit feedback or emotion; and result in new inferences and ways of thinking.

We also identified barriers to sharing in certain environments, such as child privacy in arts education and the time-consuming effort involved in cataloging artworks for museums. We addressed individual artists’ hang-ups to sharing, such as fear of plagiarism and not being quite ready or confident in the quality of one’s art to open it up for public criticism. Lastly, we brainstormed potential solutions to overcoming these barriers and help artists feel more comfortable with sharing their works online under more liberal re-use terms, such as Creative Commons licenses. Such solutions included: a tool that could display a canonical representation of your work, including all derivatives made from the original; a better attribution prompt enabling artists to specify exactly how they want to be attributed; and a registry of artworks in the commons. Additional needs included improved interaction design with artworks online, consulting or advisement on how to share such networked art, and simplified best practices around sharing and attributing open artworks. Full agenda and notes from the session are available, in addition to Kevin’s coverage of the session in The Open Standard, “The Plight of the Open-Source Artist” — which is aptly licensed under CC BY-SA.

This session affirmed and informed our intentions with several CC projects in development, such as a registry of CC-licensed works, a smart phone application that would make it easier for photo contributions to the commons (The List), and the Free Culture Trust, a coalition of organizations that would offer comprehensive services to artists wanting to donate their art to the commons.

Mapping #SchoolofOpen and #TeachtheWeb to places

by Jane Park

In Mapping #SchoolofOpen and #TeachtheWeb to places, community members from Creative Commons, School of Open, and Mozilla Webmaker came together to physically map their open web education programs, such as Maker Party and the recent School of Open Africa launch. We “hacked” a map of the world by creating our own version of it, and most interestingly, Africa was front and center with the U.S. largely as an afterthought. After mapping, we self-organized into two streams: those leading open web education for adults and those leading open web education for kids and teens. After much discussion, we are now planning to better bridge our communities to increase our impact in several regions, including Africa, India, and the U.S. We will be creating a digital version of our Hack the Map activity, allowing others to add themselves virtually over time, and also planning a joint School of Open and Mozilla Webmaker event with our communities for 2015.

OpenMe – Kids can Open

by Jane Park

In OpenMe – Kids can Open, a few of us from the CC, School of Open and National Writing Project communities gathered to discuss current efforts around CC and open web education for kids and strategies for replicating those efforts in other jurisdictions. Kelsey Wiens, CC South Africa public lead and School of Open program lead for CC4Kids, shared her experience with piloting CC4Kids in schools. Generally, starting with private schools resulted in more favorable results, in addition to partnering with existing organizations with strong ties to schools, such as Innovate South Africa’s Code4ct. We are now in conversation to pilot the CC4Kids model in the U.S. with the National Writing Project’s Educator/Innovator network. To start, we will be hosting a webinar as well as sharing a call to the network for after school pilot participants.

Walking the talk – How to work open

by Jane Park

In Walking the talk – How to work open, CC facilitated the strand on Partnerships and collaboration, or how to better work together as open organizations with overlapping missions and projects. How do we not reinvent the wheel and collectively have greater impact? Part of the solution lies in better communications and transparent organizational practices, but how do we translate these needs into an action item? We brainstormed several “best case scenarios” and in the end came up with a strong list of concrete solutions, with an Annual Capacity Building Conference for open organizations at the top of the list. Such a conference would focus specifically on knowledge sharing for the purpose of building capacity within and outside of our organizations to achieve our missions and realizing our vision for universal access to research and education and full participation in culture. Other ideas included:

  • A Natural Language Processing tool that links cross-organizational communications in different languages in one hub
  • Culture training for organizations that encourages failure and knowledge sharing, versus an environment where keeping information secret results in a competitive edge
  • Working groups of ambassadors in each city to represent all open organizations in that city (and that would work to bring in new organizations seeking representation)
  • A Task Rabbit-like platform for open organizations that would match organizations needing capacity in a certain area with an organization that could provide it

Complete notes from the session are available, in addition to results from the Community Building track of which this session was a part. The wranglers for the track are now working on a community building toolkit and will be rallying all organizational representatives in the next few months to make one of the above ideas into a reality. We vote for the Annual Capacity Building Conference of open orgs!

Skills Mapping for Open Science

by Billy Meinke

mozfest science
Billy Meinke / CC BY

In the Skills and Curriculum Mapping for Open Science session, facilitators and participants on Mozilla Science Lab’s “Science on the Web” track came together to build a map linking together the many nouns and verbs that describe interactions between people and scientific research, all of which are connected the Commons. An underlying focus of the session was to identify the ways scientists and citizens interact with outputs of research including content, data and code.

Taking a simplified approach to mapping these nodes will lend to the ability of others to expand on the map, and to translate the nodes into learning objectives that can be included in education and training programs around open and reproducible science. Over the two days of the festival, we facilitated the mapping of outputs and interaction types, aiming to capture key statements that describe the way scientific artifacts are created, reused/remixed, and shared. We welcomed scientists and non-scientists alike to stop by and critique the map as it was constructed, and to add nodes or connections where they felt something was missing. Did you ever once produce a dataset for your research blog? Then you’ve created data! Have you ever downloaded an Open Access research paper? If you have, then you’ve reused content! Have you ever uploaded a script to Github? Then you’ve shared code! It’s easy to drop most interactions people have with science into these buckets once we take a step back, and simplify the statements around what we do with scientific content and code in the Commons.

To allow others to build on the skills mapping done at Mozfest this year, a digital version of the map has been uploaded to Github , and is open for anyone to revise, tweak, and add to as they wish. Plans to expand this work include a full build out of high-level learning objectives, and alignment to existing Open Educational Resources in science training programs. A number of universities have expressed interest in piloting an undergraduate or graduate-level course on open and reproducible science, and the idea is that this map will be useful when developing such a course, revealing how and where skills learned in such a course apply to the way we work with content and code in the Commons.

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