Commons News

Creative Commons 4.0 BY and BY-SA licenses approved conformant with the Open Definition

Timothy Vollmer, December 27th, 2013

In November we released version 4.0 of the Creative Commons license suite, and today the Open Definition Advisory Council approved the CC 4.0 Attribution (BY) and Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA) International licenses as conformant with the Open Definition.

The Open Definition sets out principles that define “openness” in relation to data and content…It can be summed up in the statement that: “A piece of data or content is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.”

Prior versions of Creative Commons BY and BY-SA licenses (1.0 – 3.0, including jurisdiction ports) are also aligned with the Open Definition, as is the CC0 Public Domain Dedication. Here’s the complete list of conformant licenses. None of the Creative Commons NonCommercial or NoDerivatives licenses comply with the Definition.

The Open Definition is an important marker that communicates the fundamental legal conditions that make content and data open, and CC is working on ways to better display which of our licenses conform to the Definition. We appreciate the open and participatory process conducted by the Open Definition Advisory Council in evaluating licenses and providing expert assistance and advice to license stewards. Individuals interested in participating in the Open Definition license review process may join the OD-discuss email list.

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Conclusions from the European Commission PSI consultation

Timothy Vollmer, December 20th, 2013

Last month, Creative Commons and several other groups responded to the European Commission’s consultation on licensing, datasets and charging for the re-use of public sector information (PSI). See our response here. There were 355 submissions to the questionnaire (spreadsheet download), apparently from all EU Member States except Cyprus. The Commission hosted a hearing (PDF of meeting minutes) on the issue on 25 November.

This week the Commission released a final summary report (PDF) to the consultation. There were several interesting data points from the report concerning licensing. First, the questionnaire respondents preferred a “light-weight approach, limited to a mere disclaimer or consisting of allowing the reuse of data without any particular restrictions…” (pg5). In our submission, we said that there should be no conditions attached to the re-use of public sector information, with the best case scenario being for public sector information to be in the public domain, exempt from copyright protection altogether by amending national copyright laws.

licensing1

Second, when asked about licensing conditions that would comply with the PSI Directive’s requirement of ‘not unnecessarily restricting possibilities for re-use’, the most respondents indicated support for the requirement to acknowledge the source of data. In our submission we said we believed every condition would be deemed restrictive, since ideally PSI would be removed from the purview of copyright protection through law. At the same time, we realize that if the Commission were to permit public sector bodies to incorporate a limited set of conditions through licensing, then they should be expected to use standard public licenses aligned with the Open Definition. The preference should be for “attribution only” licenses, like CC BY.

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The report noted that a majority (62%) of respondents believed that greater interoperability would be best achieved through the use of standard licences. And 71% of respondents said that the adoption of Creative Commons licenses would be the best option to promote interoperability. The report states, “this may be interpreted as both a high awareness of the availability of standard licences and a genuine understanding of their role in ensuring licencing interoperability across jurisdictions” (pg7).

licensing3

The report also mentions the fact that several respondents chose to provide feedback on which Creative Commons licenses would be deemed suitable for PSI re-use. It noted that the most prevalent licenses mentioned were CC0 and CC BY, while a few respondents suggested BY-SA. Others provided a more general answer, such as “the most open CC license could be used…But [the] BEST OPTION is no use of any of license: public domain” (pg9).

The report concludes (pg16):

There is also a widespread acceptance of the need to offer interoperable solutions, both on the technical and licencing levels. And even if opinions differ as to the exact shape of re-use conditions, the answers show that a general trend towards a more open and interoperable licencing system in Europe, largely based on available standard licences is gaining ground.

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Paleobiology Database now CC BY

Puneet Kishor, December 19th, 2013

[written in collaboration with Shanan Peters, Professor, Department of GeoScience, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Principal Investigator of the Paleodb Project]

The Paleobiology Database

now available under

CC BY

After a year of community feedback and discussion, the Paleobiology Database has taken the decision that “All records are made available to the public based on a Creative Commons license that requires attribution before use.” The Paleobiology Database is now licensed under a CC-BY 4.0 International License.

Paleontology

Paleontology, the description and biological classification of fossils, has spawned countless field expeditions, museum trips, and hundreds of thousands of publications. The construction of databases that aggregate these descriptive data on fossils in a way that allows large-scale, synthetic questions to be addressed, such as the long-term history of biodiversity and rates of biological extinction and origination during global environment change, has greatly expanded the intellectual reach of paleontology and has led to many important new insights into macroevolutionary and macroecological processes.

Paleobiology Database

One of the largest compendia of fossil data assembled to date is the Paleobiology Database (PBDB), founded in 1998 by John Alroy and Charles Marshall. These two pioneers assembled a small team of scientists who were motivated to generate the first geographically-explicit, sampling standardized global biodiversity curve. The PBDB has since grown to include an international group of more than 150 contributing scientists with diverse research agendas. Collectively, this body of volunteer and grant-supported investigators have spent more than 9 continuous person years entering more than 280,000 taxonomic names, nearly 500,000 published opinions on the status and classification of those names, and over 1.1 million taxonomic occurrences. Some PBDB data derive from the original fieldwork and specimen-based studies of the contributors, but the majority of the data were extracted from the text, figures, and tables of over 48,000 published papers, books, and monographs that span the range of topics covered by paleontology. Their efforts have been well rewarded by enabling new science. As of December 2013, the PBDB had produced almost two hundred official peer reviewed publications, all of which address scientific questions that cannot be adequately answered without such a database.

Ptyagnostus atavus or Leiopyge calva Zone (Cambrian of the United States)
Olenoides superbus, Late Middle Cambrian, Upper Marjum Formation, House Range, Millard County, Utah, USA - Houston Museum of Natural Science

Photo by Wikipedia user Dwergenpaartje under CC0 Public Domain Dedication

  • Where: Utah (38.9° N, 113.4° W: paleocoordinates 4.1° S, 92.0° W)
  • When: Ptyagnostus atavus or Leiopyge trilobite zone, Marjum Limestone Formation, Marjumian (513.0 – 498.5 Ma)
  • Environment/lithology: offshore ramp; burrowed, peloidal packstone
  • Size classes: macrofossils, mesofossils
  • Primary reference: A. J. Rowell and N. E. Caruso. 1985. The evolutionary significance of Nisusia sulcata, an early articulate brachiopod. Journal of Paleontology 59(5):1227-1242 [A. Hendy/A. Hendy] more details
  • Purpose of describing collection: taxonomic analysis
PaleoDB collection 262: authorized by Jack Sepkoski, entered by Mike Sommers on 20.11.1998

Shift to CC BY

From its inception, the paleontologists who have invested the most effort in entering data have made decisions about data management and access policies, which ultimately brings up the important questions of proper licensing and citation. In the first application of the PBDB licensing policy, the individual contributors chose their own CC license for each fossil collection record. As a result there were three kinds of contributors: those who didn’t know what to do, didn’t care, or didn’t know about the new policy that required them to specify how existing collections should be licensed (55% of the data), those who selected the most restricted option available to them (34% of the data), and those who selected the most unrestricted option available to them (10% of the data).

This received mostly negative response via social media and other outlets, partly because of the increased attention the database was receiving during a leadership and governance transition. Naturally, the governance group responded to the community feedback. The first actual action was by individual contributors. Many of the contributors who either didn’t know about CC licenses or who didn’t think fully about their meaning and implications changed their own individual licenses. This always went from a more restrictive license to the least restrictive option available to them: CC BY. That wave of individual choices towards the least restrictive license immediately shifted the balance for records in the database. At that point, only one contributor had a restrictive license, and the governance group quickly moved to adopt one single unifying license for the database: CC BY. Now, all new records are explicitly CC BY as part of database policy, although individual contributors still have the option of placing a moratorium on the public release of their own new data so as to protect their individual scientific interests.

Future of PBDB

In addition to being a scientific asset to the field of paleontology, the PBDB and other databases like it provide an addition means by which to participate in rapidly emerging initiatives and developments in cyberinfrastructure. To increase its reach in this area, the PBDB now has an Application Programming Interface (API), which makes data more easily and transparently accessible, both to individual researchers and to applications, such as the open source web application PBDB Navigator and the Mancos iOS mobile application. Both of these applications are built on the public API and are designed to allow the history of life and environment documented by the PBDB to be more discoverable. These new modes of interactivity and visualization highlight unintended, but potentially useful, aspects of the PBDB. The PBDB API has facilitated a loosely coupled integration with other related but independently managed biological and paleontological database initiatives and online resources, such as the Neotoma Paleoecology Database, Morphobank, and the Encyclopedia of Life. The PBDB API can also be harnessed by geoscientists outside of paleontology, thereby facilitating the integration of paleontological data with diverse types of data and model output, such as paleogeographic plate rotation and geophysical models in GPlates. The liberal CC BY license ensures interoperability and data access necessary to facilitate fundamentally new science and because it expands the reach of paleontology to a broader community of researchers and educators than is possible via any single website or application.

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UNESCO launches Open Access Repository under Creative Commons

Cable Green, December 18th, 2013

UNESCO has announced a new Open Access Repository making more than 300 digital reports, books and articles available to the world under the Creative Commons IGO licenses.

From UNESCO’s press release:

“Currently, the Repository contains works in some 12 languages, including major UNESCO reports and key research publications. As well as the 300 Open Access publications, UNESCO will provide on-line availability to hundreds of other important reports and titles. Covering a wide range of topics from all regions of the world, this knowledge can now be shared by the general public, professionals, researchers, students and policy-makers… under an open license.”

UNESCO will continue to expand its collection of open resources with selected past publications and all new works following its new Open Access Policy adopted in April 2013. As of 31 July 2013 all new UNESCO publications are released with one of the CC IGO licenses and will be loaded into the Open Access Repository. The majority of UNESCO resources will be openly licensed under CC BY SA.

Kudos too to UNESCO for implementing many of the recommendations in its own 2012 Paris OER Declaration (translations):

d. Promote the understanding and use of open licensing frameworks.
g. Encourage the development and adaptation of OER in a variety of languages and cultural contexts.
i. Facilitate finding, retrieving and sharing of OER.
j. Encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds.

By open licensing its publications, UNESCO not only makes all the knowledge it creates freely and openly available to the world, but it sets an important example for its 195 member (and 9 associate member) nations about the strong policy arguments for releasing publicly funded resources under open licenses. The message is clear: it is a good idea to adopt open policies that increase access and reduce costs to education, research, scientific and cultural resources.

Congratulations UNESCO!

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BioMed Central moves to CC BY 4.0 along with CC0 for data

Puneet Kishor, December 18th, 2013

CC 4.0

at

BioMed Central, The Open Access Publisher chemcentral_logo SpringerOpen

BioMed Central (BMC) is one of the largest open access (OA) publishers in the world with 250 peer-reviewed OA journals, and more than 100,000 OA articles published yearly. BMC is also long-time user of CC licenses to accomplish its mission of husbanding and promoting open science. BMC has been publishing articles under a CC license since 2004.

In June of least year, BMC’s Iain Hrynaszkiewicz and Matthew Cockerill, published an editorial titled Open by default in which they proposed a copyright license and waiver agreement for open access research and data in peer-reviewed journals. The gist of the editorial was that

Copyright and licensing of scientific data, internationally, are complex and present legal barriers to data sharing, integration and reuse, and therefore restrict the most efficient transfer and discovery of scientific knowledge, (and that implementing) a combined Creative Commons Attribution license (for copyrightable material) and Creative Commons CC0 waiver (for data) agreement for content published in peer-reviewed open access journals… in science publishing will help clarify what users—people and machines—of the published literature can do, legally, with journal articles and make research using the published literature more efficient.

Starting September 3, 2013, in keeping with its forward-looking mission, BMC started requiring a CC0 Public Domain Dedication for data supporting the published articles.

This is good because CC0 reduces all impedance to sharing and reuse by placing the work in the public domain. Good scientific practices assure proper credit is given via citation, something scientists have already been doing for centuries. Marking data with CC0 sends a clear signal of zero impedance to reuse. CC0 is a public domain dedication, however, wherever such a dedication is not possible, CC0 has a public license fallback. Either way, the impedance to data reuse is eliminated or minimized. Making CC0 the default removes uncertainty, and speeds up the process of accessible, collaborative, participatory and inclusive science.

But wait, there is more… starting February 3, 2014, BMC, Chemistry Central and all of SpringerOpen family of journals are also Moving Forward to the latest CC BY 4.0 license. Changes in CC-BY — version 4.0, released on Nov 25, 2013, represent more than two years of community process, public input and feedback to develop a truly open, global license suitable for both copyright, related rights and, where applicable, database rights. By moving to CC4.0, BMC is not only getting set for reliable, globally recognizable mark of open, it is also setting a high bar for the future of open science.

We at Creative Commons are big fans of BMC, and we applaud their move to creating a stronger, more vibrant open commons of science.

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Creative Commons welcomes new energy and expertise onto its board

Elliot Harmon, December 16th, 2013

Creative Commons, a globally-focused nonprofit that provides legal and technological tools for sharing and collaboration, welcomed eight new members to its board of directors today. It also announced a new advisory council to complement the board and provide input and feedback to CC leadership. Several alumni of the CC board will be transitioning to the advisory council. CC co-founder Lawrence Lessig will lead the advisory council and transition to emeritus status on the board.

The announcement comes on the anniversary of the first Creative Commons licenses, which were launched in 2002. Since then, thousands of creators around the world have used Creative Commons licenses, amassing a selection of over half a billion CC-licensed works, spanning the worlds of education, art, academia, data, science, and much more.

“With the continuity of current board members and a fresh outlook brought by the new members, Creative Commons is well prepared to engage with a very different environment from the time of its founding,” board chair Paul Brest said. “The board includes some of the world’s foremost experts in technology, intellectual property law, the internet, and business and social entrepreneurship. It’s appropriate that we’re announcing the new board on December 16, the date when it all began eleven years ago.”

The new board members reflect the broad diversity of the global Creative Commons community. Four of the new board members — Renata Avila (Guatemala), Dorothy Gordon (Ghana), Paul Keller (Netherlands), and Jongsoo Yoon (South Korea) — are Creative Commons affiliates, experts who represent Creative Commons around the world and localize CC licenses and other materials for their jurisdictions.

Creative Commons also gained board members with substantial experience in technology and product development, like Ben Adida, a director of engineering at Square who previously served as CC’s first technology lead; and Christopher Thorne, a veteran technology entrepreneur and private equity investor. The new members also bring additional legal acumen to the organization, including Microsoft intellectual property counsel Thomas C. Rubin and New York University Law School professor Chris Sprigman. Together, these individuals will augment Creative Commons’ existing capacity in technology and intellectual property law.

Creative Commons CEO Cathy Casserly will be leaving her role as CEO in early 2014, but will continue to serve on the newly formed advisory council. “While my role in the organization will be changing, I’m proud to continue to serve the CC community alongside this diverse and talented group of leaders,” Casserly said. “Through our collective efforts, we will continue to work toward our vision of a truly collaborative, free internet.”

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What we’ve built together

Elliot Harmon, December 16th, 2013

Pick Team Open.
Support Creative Commons.

On this date in 2002, we launched the first Creative Commons license suite. But it’s what happened next that matters.

Thousands of creators started using CC licenses to share their works, everything from film to educational resources to science research. And sometime between then and now, the world changed a little.

Musicians started thinking less about piracy and more about how they could benefit from fans sharing their music. Entrepreneurs developed business models based on open licenses, proving that you can share your work without sacrificing profit.

And there’s something else. People began to demand open. We started expecting it from our governments, our universities, and our employers. Legally, All Rights Reserved is still the default, but today, it’s a choice. Today, people notice when those in power choose closed.

Let’s not delay the obvious any longer: we’re writing to ask for money. As you’re considering which charities to support this year, please take a moment to reflect on what we’ve built together over the past 11 years.

When you use a Creative Commons license, you fuel a movement for open that spans every country on earth. A CC license badge isn’t just a legal tool; it’s a symbol for the better world that we can make together. Thank you for joining Team Open.

Please make a donation to Creative Commons at whatever level you can afford. We have some t-shirts and other gifts for donors, but more importantly, we promise to use every cent to fight harder than ever for open.

Year 12 starts now.

Support Creative Commons

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Holiday albums from ccMixter

Elliot Harmon, December 13th, 2013

If you’re not familiar with ccMixter, you should be. It’s an amazing community for downloading and sharing CC-licensed, remixable music and samples.

ccMixter has released two albums of holiday music this year; you can buy them or receive them for free for becoming a ccMixter supporter.

From the press release:

Season of Gratitude was first conceived last November, when the ccMixter all-volunteer admin team organized its annual Holiday Remix Event called Gift of Song. The community created original holiday-themed samples, a capellas, songs, and remixes. True to all ccMixter uploads, each original sound was released with Creative Commons licenses which inspire collective creativity and allow everyone to enjoy the resulting songs for free. The Season of Gratitude double album is a curation of the remixes that transpired from the event, re-mastered by ccMixter artist Copperhead, for optimum sound quality.

“I love participating in the annual holiday remix event on ccMixter,” shares Kara Square, contributing Season of Gratitude artist. “The atmosphere on the site is extra warm and open-minded. As we contribute, we learn about each other’s beliefs and celebrate our diversity through the music we invent.”

Other holiday goodies:

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Permanence of CC licenses upheld in CrunchBase settlement

Elliot Harmon, December 13th, 2013

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.”

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European Commission announces public consultation on the review of EU copyright rules

Paul Keller, December 11th, 2013

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…

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