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
European directive on collective rights management: Collecting societies must allow use of CC licenses
Today the JURI (legal affairs) committee of the European Parliament approved the compromise text of the proposed directive on collective rights management in the EU (478 KB PDF, passages in bold are changes from the original proposal). The main objective of the directive is to facilitate the licensing of music throughout Europe (which is currently being done on a country-by-country basis) and to increase the transparency and accountability of collective rights management organisations operating in Europe.
Creative Commons has been following the discussions about the directive. Many collecting societies for authors of musical works prevent their members from electing alternative licensing frameworks, such as Creative Commons licenses, for their work. The directive provided an opportunity to change this situation by establishing clear rules for all European countries.
Over the past few years Creative Commons and its European affiliates have teamed up with Collecting Societies to allow, on a controlled basis, pilot projects that allow members of the participating societies to use the NonCommercial CC licenses. Such pilot projects have been launched in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and France, and they have demonstrated that collective rights management and the use of Creative Commons licenses can go hand in hand.
During the discussion of the directive, Creative Commons advocated (together with others) that the directive should include provisions that would ensure that members of collecting societies can individually license their rights. As a result, the European Parliament introduced language in the directive that requires collecting societies to allow their members ‘to grant licences for the non-commercial uses of the rights, categories of rights or types of works and other subject matter of their choice.‘
We are happy to report that this new provision (article 5.2.a) has made it into the final text that was voted on in the European Parliament today. This means that once the directive has been adopted (there is one more vote in Parliament which is basically a formality), members of all European Collecting Societies will have the rights to grant licenses for non-commercial use of their work, opening the door for the use of the three Creative Commons licenses that allow non-commercial use of the licensed work.
Creative Commons applauds the European lawmakers with this step. The new directive will strengthen the rights of members of collecting societies, and we are looking forward to a future where musicians all over Europe enjoy more flexibility in sharing their creations.Comments Off
Creative Commons launches Version 4.0 of its license suite
Refreshed copyright licenses function globally and cover new rights
Mountain View, CA, November 26, 2013: Creative Commons (CC) announced today that Version 4.0 of its licensing suite is now available for use worldwide.
This announcement comes at the end of a two-year development and consultation process, but in many ways, it began much earlier. Since 2007, CC has been working with legal experts around the world to adapt the 3.0 licenses to local laws in over 35 jurisdictions. In the process, CC and its affiliates learned a lot about how the licenses function internationally. As a result, the 4.0 licenses are designed to function in every jurisdiction around the world, with no need for localized adaptations.
In a blog post celebrating the launch, CC general counsel Diane Peters acknowledged the role that CC’s affiliates played in developing the new licenses. “The 4.0 versioning process has been a truly collaborative effort between the brilliant and dedicated network of legal and public licensing experts and the active, vocal open community. The 4.0 licenses, the public license development undertaking, and the Creative Commons organization are stronger because of the steadfast commitment of all participants.”
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Creators and copyright holders can use its licenses to allow the general public to use and republish their content without asking for permission in advance. There are over half a billion Creative Commons–licensed works, spanning the worlds of arts and culture, science, education, business, government data, and more.
The improvements in Version 4.0 reflect the needs of a diverse and growing user base. The new licenses include provisions related to database rights, personality rights, data mining, and other issues that have become more pertinent as CC’s user base has grown. “These improvements may go unnoticed by many CC users, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important,” Peters said. “We worry about the slight nuances of the law so our users don’t have to.”
Additional Information:1 Comment »
We proudly introduce our 4.0 licenses, now available for adoption worldwide. The 4.0 licenses — more than two years in the making — are the most global, legally robust licenses produced by CC to date. We have incorporated dozens of improvements that make sharing and reusing CC-licensed materials easier and more dependable than ever before.
We had ambitious goals in mind when we embarked on the versioning process coming out of the 2011 CC Global Summit in Warsaw. The new licenses achieve all of these goals, and more. The 4.0 licenses are extremely well-suited for use by governments and publishers of public sector information and other data, especially for those in the European Union. This is due to the expansion in license scope, which now covers sui generis database rights that exist there and in a handful of other countries.
Among other exciting new features are improved readability and organization, common-sense attribution, and a new mechanism that allows those who violate the license inadvertently to regain their rights automatically if the violation is corrected in a timely manner.
You can find highlights of the most significant improvements on our website, track the course of the public discussion and evolution of the license drafts on the 4.0 wiki page, and view a recap of the central policy decisions made over the course of the versioning process.
The 4.0 versioning process has been a truly collaborative effort between the brilliant and dedicated network of legal and public licensing experts and the active, vocal open community. The 4.0 licenses, the public license development undertaking, and the Creative Commons organization are stronger because of the steadfast commitment of all participants.
With the 4.0 licenses published, we will be turning our attention to official translations of the legal code in partnership with our affiliate network and larger community. Translations of our new deeds are also underway, with a significant number already completed.
Thank you and congratulations to everyone who participated in making 4.0 a reality!26 Comments »
Meryl and our 67 donors. Are you number 68?
There are over half a billion pieces of Creative Commons–licensed content in the world. That’s an impressive number, but it only hints at how powerful and widespread CC licenses have become. The real impact is in the stories of how people like you use CC licenses. 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.
Today, we’re excited to launch Team Open, a new initiative of our staff and community. We’ve been spending the past few months talking to the CC community, looking for its favorite stories of how CC licenses benefit real people. You’ll meet a young scientist fighting cancer with free research, an entrepreneur who’s putting the public back in public domain, and a quirky musician who’s built his career on giving music away. We hope these stories inspire you, and we hope you feel inspired to share them with your friends and colleagues.
We’re also launching our annual fundraising campaign today. We have some cool giveaways this year, including a Team Open t-shirt and set of trading cards. To make it fun, we’re setting a little goal for ourselves. We’d like to see 600 donors by January. We’ll be keeping you up-to-date on our progress via Twitter and Facebook. If Creative Commons is important to you but you’ve never made a donation, this could be the day!
CC is more than a license to share; it’s a license for all of us to create a better world.Comments Off
Creative Commons has responded to the European Commission’s consultation on recommended standard licenses, datasets and charging for the re-use of public sector information (PSI). See our response here. The Commission asked for comments on these issues in light of the adoption of the new Directive on re-use of public sector information. The Directive 1) brings libraries, museums, and archives under the scope of the Directive, 2) provides a positive re-use right to public documents, 3) limits acceptable charging to only marginal costs of reproduction, provision, and dissemination, and 4) reiterates the position that documents can be made available for re-use under open standards and using machine readable formats. CC recognizes the high value of PSI not only for innovation and transparency, but also for scientific, educational and cultural benefit for the entire society.
The Commission has not yet clarified what should be considered a “standard license” for re-use (Article 8). The dangers of license proliferation–which potentially leads to incompatible PSI–is still present. But it’s positive that the Commission is using this consultation to ask specific questions regarding legal aspects of re-use.
Part 3 of the questionnaire deals with licensing issues. One question asks what should be the default option for communicating re-use rights. We believe that there should be no conditions attached to the re-use of public sector information. The best case scenario would be for public sector information to be in the public domain, exempt from copyright protection altogether by amending national copyright laws. If it’s not possible to pass laws granting positive re-use rights to PSI without copyright attached, public sector bodies should use the CC0 Public Domain Dedication (CC0) to place public data into the worldwide public domain to ensure unrestricted re-use.
Another question first states that the Commission prefers the least restrictive re-use regime possible, and asks respondents to choose which condition(s) would be aligned with this goal. Again, we think that every condition would be deemed restrictive, since ideally PSI would be removed from the purview of copyright protection through law or complete dedication of the PSI to the public domain using CC0. If the Commission were to permit public sector bodies to incorporate limited conditions through licensing, then they should be expected to use standard public licenses aligned with the Open Definition (with a preference for “attribution only” licenses). A simple obligation to acknowledge the source of the data could be accomplished by adopting a liberal open license, like CC BY. Such a license would also cover other issues, such as acknowledging that an adaptation has been made or incorporating a waiver of liability. Some of the conditions listed would be detrimental to interoperability of PSI. An obligation not to distort the original meaning or message of public sector data should be deemed unacceptable. Such an obligation destroys compatibility with standard public licenses that uniformly do not contain such a condition. The UK’s Open Government License has already removed this problematic provision when it upgraded from OGL 1.0 to OGL 2.0.
In addition to mentioning CC licensing as a common solution, the questionnaire notes, “several Member States have developed national licenses for re-use of public sector data. In parallel, public sector bodies at all levels sometimes resort to homegrown licensing conditions.” In order to achieve the goals of the Directive and “to promote interoperable conditions for crossborder re-use,” the Commission should consider options that minimize incompatibilities between pools of PSI, which in turn maximize re-use. As far as we are concerned that means that governments should be actively discouraged from developing their own licenses. Instead, they should be encouraged to adopt standard public licenses aligned with the Open Definition. But even better would be to consider removing copyright protection for PSI by amending copyright law or waiving copyright and related rights using CC0.1 Comment »
As we prepare for the December board meeting, I’d like to reflect on Creative Commons’ biennial Global Summit in Buenos Aires last August and report on developments in Cathy Casserly’s transition as CEO.
It was inspiring to be among the several hundred who gathered in Argentina, meeting with the global affiliate network, CC staff, and our allies in the open movement. We had several days of substantive interactions with representatives from over 80 countries, enriched by our diverse cultures, language, and experiences.
CC’s board of directors held its summer meeting during the summit. Our agenda focused on our strategic priorities, license version 4.0, copyright reform, and upcoming shifts within the board and organization.
- Cathy Casserly summarized accomplishments in CC priority and identified key challenges that remain.
- Board member Michael Carroll provided an overview of the 4.0 license suite, now poised for launch this month.
- We held a preliminary discussion of the copyright reform policy statement developed by the CC community to support copyright reform efforts around the world, and approved it at the next Board meeting, in October.
- We discussed candidates nominated by the community to join the CC Board of Directors and newly formed Advisory Council. Stellar recommendations emerged from the open call process, and I look forward to announcing the names of our new governance leadership after our December board meeting.
From the earliest days of Creative Commons, there has been ongoing discussion about the degree to which it is appropriate for the organization to engage in the copyright reform debate. While the organization’s mission has always been to help creators share their knowledge and creativity with the world, our licenses are necessarily embedded in and adjunct to copyright law. Moreover, many of CC’s affiliates are leaders of the copyright reform movements in their respective countries.
Those discussions culminated at the summit, when affiliates held a special pre-summit conference to discuss Creative Commons’ role in the copyright reform debate. The event was the one of the best-attended sessions of the entire summit, with over 100 individuals representing both the Affiliate Network and the broader community.
Participants collectively drafted a statement that acknowledges the need for improvements in copyright law worldwide. The board formally endorsed the statement in October. The statement won’t be surprising or controversial to people who’ve been following CC for very long. What it will do is clarify that as an organization, we don’t see open licensing as the only solution to every problem with copyright law.
For a longer explanation of the context around this issue and what it means for the organization, see the blog post about it.
CEO Transition: The Search Begins
The last part of our meeting in Buenos Aires focused on Cathy’s plans to transition from her role as CEO in early 2014, after three years of service. Cathy has been a tremendous strategic leader for the organization, and with the focus she has brought to CC’s mission and priorities, we are substantially closer to achieving our vision than ever before.
To ensure a wide and thorough search for our next CEO, the Board of Directors has engaged m/Oppenheim to lead our search process. The search committee has now been formed; we expect to launch the search publicly in the near future, and look forward to community input. Please send any ideas about candidates to Lisa Grossman, firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the Creative Commons leadership changes, its mission remains constant, and I am continually heartened by the memory of the summit which confirmed that the global community’s commitment to our movement — to a more open internet and world — are stronger than ever.
Creative Commons is looking to hire a part-time contractor to assist the CC Global Network team with organizational planning, strategic communications, community building, and fundraising in the Arab World. The focus of the position in 2014 will include supporting local affiliates, conducting outreach to new communities, and coordinating collaborative projects. Candidates should be based in the Middle East region, and the position will require international travel. Candidates should be able to communicate in Arabic and English.
This is a great opportunity for a knowledgeable and motivated free culture advocate or community organizer. Please follow the instructions on the CC website if you’d like to apply.2 Comments »
The structure of human proteins defines, in part, what it is to be human. It is very expensive, as much as a couple of million USD, to determine the structure of human membrane proteins. Improvements in methods, computers and access to the complete sequence of our DNA, however, has made it possible to adopt more systematic approaches, and thus reduce the time and cost to determine the shapes of proteins. Structural genomics helps determine the 3D structures of proteins at a rapid rate and in a cost-effective manner. Structural information provides one of the most powerful means to discover how proteins work and to define ligands that modulate their function. Such ligands are starting points for drug discovery.
The Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) at the Universities of Oxford and Toronto, solves the structures of human proteins of medical relevance and places all its findings, reagents and know-how into the public domain without restriction. Using these structures and the reagents generated as part of the structure determination process as well as the chemical probes identified, the SGC works with organizations across the world to further the understanding of the biological roles of these proteins. The SGC is particularly interested in human protein kinases, metabolism-associated proteins, integral membrane proteins, and proteins associated with epigenetics and rare diseases.
Drug discovery tends to be a crapshoot. As we are not good at target validation that essentially occurs in patients, more than 90% of the pioneer targets fail in Phase 2. Nevertheless, many academics and pharmas work on the same, small group of targets in competition with each other, wasting resources and careers, needlessly exposing patients to molecules destined for failure. The SGC chooses not to work under the lamp post, focusing on those targets for which there is little or no literature. This is because it is such pioneer targets, which will deliver pioneer, breakthrough medicines.
The SGC is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership, funded by public and charitable funders in Canada and UK, and eight large pharmaceutical companies – GSK, Pfizer, Novartis, Lilly, Boehringer Ingelheim, Janssen, Takeda and Abbvie, whose mandate is to promote the development of new medicines by determining 3D structures on a large scale and cost-effectively, targeting human proteins of biomedical importance and proteins from human parasites that represent potential drug targets.
The SGC is now responsible for between a quarter and half of all structures deposited into the Protein Data Bank (PDB) each year. The SGC has released the structures of nearly 1500 proteins with implications to the development of new therapies for cancer, diabetes, obesity, and psychiatric disorders. As evident from the chart, SGC has published as many protein kinases as the rest of academia combined.
The SGC’s structural biology insights have allowed us to make significant progress toward the understanding of signal transduction, epigenetics and chromatin biology, and metabolic disease. The SGC has adopted the following Open Access policy—the SGC and its scientists are committed to making their research outputs (materials and knowledge) available without restriction on use. This means that the SGC promptly places its results in the public domain and agrees to not file for patent protection on any of its research outputs. This not only provides the public with this fundamental knowledge, but also allows commercial efforts and other academics to utilize the data freely and without any delay. The SGC seeks the same commitment from any research collaborator. The structural information is made available to everyone either when the structure is released by the PDB, or pre-released on www.thesgc.org.
Prof. Chas Bountra at the University of Oxford says:
“Society desperately needs new treatments for many chronic (AD, bipolar disorder, pain…) or rare diseases. This need is growing because of aging societies and diseases of modern living. As a biomedical community, we have yet to deliver truly novel treatments for many such conditions. This is not for lack of effort or resources. It is simply that these disorders are complex and there are too many variables or unknowns. It is clear that no one group or organisation can do this on their own. What we are trying to do is to bring together the best scientists from across the world, irrespective of affiliation, pooling resources and infrastructures, reducing wasteful duplicative activity to catalyse the creation of new medicines for patients. Secrecy and competition in early phases of target identification/discovery are slowing down drug discovery, making the process more difficult and more expensive.”
We at CC applaud the SGC’s commitment to open access and look to them for leadership in this arena. We believe the SGC’s findings would be a great candidate for the CC0 Public Domain Dedication because of the CC0 mark’s global recognition and a common legal status.Comments Off