Commons News

The past year in Open Access

Timothy Vollmer, October 21st, 2013

OAlogo

Today marks the start of Open Access Week 2013. Open Access Week is a global event for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research. There are many events you can participate in this week, both in person and virtually. Now is a great time to take a look back at the last year in open access developments. Here’s a small sample.

  • The European Commission released a report that said open access to research publications is reaching a tipping point. It noted that 40% of scientific peer reviewed articles published worldwide between 2004 and 2011 are now available online for free access.
  • CC developed a set of graphics that help explain the the current commercial publishing situation and what an open access would do to promote increased access and reuse to research.
  • The Public Library of Science and Figshare announced a partnership that will allow authors publishing in PLOS journals host their data on Figshare.
  • In the United States, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) was introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. FASTR requires federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to the research articles stemming from that funded research no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • The White House issued a directive on public access to research produced by federal agencies. Each agency covered by the Directive must “Ensure that the public can read, download, and analyze in digital form final peer reviewed manuscripts or final published documents within a timeframe that is appropriate for each type of research conducted or sponsored by the agency.” The public is still waiting to see the details of the agency public access plans, which were due August 22, 2013. In addition, the White House announced an executive order in support of open data, and launched Project Open Data, an open source initiative looking for input and collaboration on how the federal government should manage open data. There’s been some great work to-date on Project Open Data, but there’s still some unresolved questions about licensing (or public domain tools) appropriate for data produced by the federal government.
  • Also in the United States, there’s been several state-level bills introduced in support of public access to publicly funded research. Perhaps the most active is the legislation introduced in California–AB 609–the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act. If you live in California you can write to your representatives today to tell them to support AB 609.
  • The University of California passed a system-wide open access policy. The open access policy will cover 8,000 faculty who author approximately 40,000 articles each year.
  • The Research Councils UK passed an open access policy, but there’s been some confusion about the open licensing provisions in the policy. And, the Business, Innovation, and Skills Committee released a report criticizing the policy and urged RCUK to reconsider several aspects of the policy, including the preference for gold open access publishing, acceptable embargo periods, and licensing options.
  • PLOS hosted the Accelerating Science Award Program (ASAP). The high-profile award program seeked to highlight individuals who have used, applied, or remixed scientific research — published through open access — in order to realize innovations in science, medicine, and technology. The winners of the program will be announced today!
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WikiProject Open launches “Collaboration of the Week” for Open Access Week

Jane Park, October 21st, 2013

Below is an invitation by members of WikiProject Open to help improve two Wikipedia articles related to openness. Wikiproject Open is a collaboration with the School of Open.

wikiproject open.001

WikiProject Open is a community of new and experienced Wikipedians, dedicated to improving Wikipedia’s coverage of all things “open,” and to using openly licensed content to improve Wikipedia articles in general. In celebration of Open Access Week, we invite you to join us in improving two Wikipedia articles this week:

  • Open Access Week: We should have plenty of new news coverage to draw from in improving this article
  • Creative Commons license: Let’s make sure this central article is thorough and accurate; we will consider splitting off sub-articles, etc.

For those new to Wikipedia, you’ll find some tips to get you started on our “welcome” page.

Then, just get to work on the “Open Access Week” and “Creative Commons license” articles! Be sure to check each article’s talk page (you’ll find the tab in the upper left), because we’ll surely be discussing what needs to be improved and how we want to approach it as WikiProject Open’s Collaboration of the Week (COTW) gets underway.

Collaboration of the Week programs have been implemented by a number of wiki communities over the years. Academic studies have found them to be a highly effective way to keep people engaged and productive, in addition to building a sense of community. We hope you will join us as we launch this program, and help us improve Wikipedia’s coverage of important topics in the world of openness!

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Supporting Copyright Reform

Timothy Vollmer, October 16th, 2013

reform graphic

Today Creative Commons released a policy statement expressing its support for copyright reform efforts around the world.

Creative Commons (CC) has enabled a new approach to copyright licensing over the last ten years. CC licenses facilitate novel social, educational, technological, and business practices, and support productive relationships around networked knowledge and culture.

We are dedicated stewards of our licenses and tools, and we educate users, institutions, and policymakers about the positive benefits of adopting CC licenses. Our licenses will always provide voluntary options for creators who wish to share their material on more open terms than current copyright systems allow. But the CC vision—universal access to research and education and full participation in culture—will not be realized through licensing alone.

Around the world, numerous national governments are reviewing or revising their copyright law. Some proposed revisions would broaden the scope of uses of copyrighted works permitted without the rightsholder’s permission. In response, it has been suggested that the very success of CC licenses means that copyright reform is unnecessary—that the licenses solve any problems for users that might otherwise exist. This is certainly not the case. CC licenses are a patch, not a fix, for the problems of the copyright system. They apply only to works whose creators make a conscious decision to affirmatively license the right for the public to exercise exclusive rights that the law automatically grants to them. The success of open licensing demonstrates the benefits that sharing and remixing can bring to individuals and society as a whole. However, CC operates within the frame of copyright law, and as a practical matter, only a small fraction of copyrighted works will ever be covered by our licenses.

Our experience has reinforced our belief that to ensure the maximum benefits to both culture and the economy in this digital age, the scope and shape of copyright law need to be reviewed. However well-crafted a public licensing model may be, it can never fully achieve what a change in the law would do, which means that law reform remains a pressing topic. The public would benefit from more extensive rights to use the full body of human culture and knowledge for the public benefit. CC licenses are not a substitute for users’ rights, and CC supports ongoing efforts to reform copyright law to strengthen users’ rights and expand the public domain.

At its core, Creative Commons is rooted in the broader work to reform copyright. The founders of Creative Commons believed that copyright law was out of sync with how people share content on the Internet, and they developed the CC licenses as one way to address that problem. But we’d like to see copyright law itself better aligned to its original purpose–to enable and reward creative participation in culture and society.

From time to time, people in our community bring up the question of whether Creative Commons should be only a steward of the CC licenses, or also a steward of the broader participatory culture that the licenses are meant to promote.

Creative Commons affiliates, board, and staff have worked together over the past year to develop the policy statement above. The need for a statement like this became apparent at the 2012 Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest in Rio de Janeiro. Several CC affiliates attended, many who work on copyright reform initiatives alongside their CC outreach. In Rio, affiliates described the dual nature of their work, which they feel sometimes requires removing their “CC Affiliate hat” when involved with reform efforts. They argued that developing tools for sharing creative content and arguing that outdated copyright laws be changed to better support legal sharing were two different sides of the same coin. Affiliates asked for clarification of the organization’s policies on affiliates engaging directly in copyright law reform proposals.

Over the next several months, Creative Commons drafted a statement that re-emphasizes the many benefits that CC licenses bring to society. But it also acknowledges the limitations of CC and expresses the need for reform of the current copyright system. CC affiliates came together in Buenos Aires in August 2013 to discuss the position of Creative Commons in relation to copyright reform. Over 100 affiliates and supporters participated in a day-long pre-conference event. The policy position was drafted and reviewed by the board of directors, affiliates, and staff.

There are several reasons that we feel such a position is useful–and necessary. First, there have been several proposed laws (like SOPA/PIPA) and trade agreements (ACTA/TPP) that if enacted would be detrimental to user rights to access and use information. And, we’ve heard that in some policy discussions the success of CC as a voluntary licensing scheme is being used by incumbent interests as evidence that fundamental copyright reform is unnecessary. This is incorrect. As we wrote in March,

[The] existence of open copyright licenses shouldn’t be interpreted as a substitute for robust copyright reform. Quite the contrary. The decrease in transaction costs, increase in collaboration, and massive growth of the commons of legally reusable content spurred on by existence of public licenses should drastically reinforce the need for fundamental change, and not serve as a bandage for a broken copyright system.

The passage of increasingly harsh copyright regulations has the potential to render CC licenses and tools ineffective. The aim of these laws are counter to CC’s mission and vision. Second, it’s clear there are some areas of copyright where open licensing won’t solve the problem. One example is increasing access to copyrighted works for the visually impaired. Paul Keller explains this well:

Take the WIPO treaty for the visually impaired: There had to be a treaty because a voluntary or market driven solution to end the book famine for visually impaired people in the developing world did not emerge even though the problem had been known for a long time. Quite clearly the problem cannot not be solved by encouraging publishers to license their works openly and, instead, it required a tailored legislative approach that builds on new limitation and exemptions that address this specific issue.

Third, many CC affiliates are already deeply embedded in copyright reform activities as a part of their broader legal, policy, and digital rights advocacy work. It makes sense for those affiliates engaged in reform efforts to be able to speak and engage wearing their “CC Affiliate hat,” instead of trying to maintain the ambiguous and sometimes arbitrary separation between their “CC work” and the work they do supporting user rights and the public interest.

While we think this policy statement is noncontroversial, we must proceed with care. Historically, our organization has not been heavily involved in copyright reform efforts. Instead, we’ve been focused on the development and stewardship of the licenses and public domain tools. And this will certainly continue to be the case. Direct advocacy supporting more fundamental copyright reform has taken a backseat, for several reasons. First, we recognize and appreciate the value of neutrality, and acting as a responsible and impartial steward of our licenses, no matter who wishes to use them. Making our tools the best they can be and educating about how to use them are our core tasks. Second, as a U.S. based 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, we are constrained in our ability to engage in lobbying activities. Any lobbying conducted by CC headquarters staff will continue to be carefully tracked and reported. And lobbying by CC Affiliates will continue to be on behalf of the jurisdiction team in accordance with our MOU and established guidelines. Finally, there are groups that are well-positioned for advocacy activities, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Open Rights Group, Open Knowledge Foundation, and La Quadrature du Net. We support and promote the crucial, timely work of these and other groups.

We reaffirm that the mission of Creative Commons will sometimes call for our involvement in reform efforts. At the Creative Commons Global Summit in Buenos Aires, Lawrence Lessig gave a talk entitled, “Laws that Choke Creativity”. Lessig said he supports the fundamental freedom to remix. “We need to share more, and share more legally,” he said. “But in order to do so, the law must change.” He said that Creative Commons is not the complete solution. “We need real change in real law if these freedoms are to be secured.”

File Repair icon by iconoci, from The Noun Project. CC BY.

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CC Talks With: Innerviews’ Anil Prasad – Music Without Borders

Meryl Mohan, October 14th, 2013

Anil Prasad
photo by: Jeremy Harris

“Could you please print out your website on company letterhead and mail it to me to process your request?” This is the kind of question Anil Prasad received from music industry professionals and publicists when he began Innerviews in 1994—the internet’s first and longest-running music magazine.

The internet has evolved since then, but the concept of Innerviews remains the same as it did 20 years ago: to share and bring attention to outstanding musicians. Innerviews is Prasad’s labor of love—a site dedicated to long-form, in-depth interviews of musicians. Coming up on its 20th anniversary, Prasad has interviewed 400+ artists to date, with the site averaging 1-1.5 million visitors a year. Despite this success, Innerviews remains a not-for-profit venture, allowing Prasad to spend weeks, and sometimes months ensuring pieces are meticulously researched and edited.

Coincidentally, Prasad is also the author of the best-selling book, Innerviews: Music Without Borders, now available as an eBook under a Creative Commons BY-ND license.

Below, Prasad shares his thoughts on his recent decision to adopt Creative Commons licenses for Innerviews and his eBook, and delves deeper into how musicians can incorporate Creative Commons into their work.


Where do you hope Innerviews will be in the next 5 to 10 years? Are there any new directions for its immediate future?

The ultra-long-form content format will remain the same, but the site’s ability to adapt to the new universe of devices and screens will radically alter. The next version of the site, going live in 2014 to coincide with Innerviews‘ 20th anniversary will be totally adaptive, meaning no matter what device you view it on, it will be the same experience. Having said that, the current site works well on mobile devices as is. But it will be significantly optimized in the near term. It’s interesting to contemplate the idea of Innerviews being 25- or 30-years old. The concept of the audience extending for a ride that long is very gratifying. If you had told me that this site, started as an experiment in 1994, would turn into a life’s work and legacy, I would never have believed you. The truth is, I would like this site to live forever in one form or another. It’s a key reason for why I adopted a Creative Commons license for the entirety of the site. It means the content can be mirrored anywhere, anytime, by anyone. I’d like the site’s content to remain as snapshots of these incredible musicians’ thought processes 25, 30 or even 100 years from now. Creative Commons has created a way for that to happen.

Innerviews Book Cover

You framed the adoption of Creative Commons licenses as a “major decision.” Why did you decide to adopt CC licenses for Innerviews as well as your eBook?

It reflects a decision to totally let go of this content that I have slaved over across 25 years. It’s an acknowledgement that all of this work belongs not to me, but to the world at large. Innerviews has always been a not-for-profit endeavor, so why not formally codify it in the unique way that Creative Commons enables? Through the Creative Commons license, the content will go further than it ever has before. I had previously been rather protective of the content. I would police other sites that “ripped off” the work and get it removed, thinking Innerviews needed to be a little fortress that exclusively housed the writing. That view was misguided. Over the years, many people have asked permission to use the work in a wide variety of commercial, nonprofit, and academic environments. There are often a lot of those requests, so this decision also frees me from having to respond to each individual enquiry. Now, everyone can do whatever they want.
It’s also a major decision because I used Creative Commons to transform the for-profit Innerviews book into a not-for-profit, Creative Commons—based entity, too. As my friend, the author Robin Slick, put it, “Books have the lifespan of a cup of yogurt.” It’s true. You get maybe a year, perhaps a couple, before things totally drop off, sales wise. So, why not just release it to the world in the same way? Perhaps it’s a new model for authors and artists to consider—sell your product for a year or two to recoup or make some money via people that want to support it and want it rapidly. Once the inevitable fall-off occurs, freely release it like a pigeon into the wind.

Why did you pick a CC Attribution – No Derivatives license?

I want people to be able to distribute my writing freely, even to the point of reprinting it for commercial purposes. However, I remain protective of the integrity of the content itself. I want the features to remain completely intact. The pieces cannot be pulled apart. They represent a conversational flow that is meticulously architected. They are the equivalent of a long-form concept album in that way. You can’t just take parts out of them and still have them make sense.

Have you seen any financial or other benefits to making the switch to CC licenses for Innerviews and/or your eBook?

I just made the switch a few weeks ago [in September 2013], but already I’ve approached to have content run in magazines all over the world, as far away as The Netherlands and Russia. I’ve also seen the number of downloads of the eBook jump 1,000-fold since the decision, which has given it a totally new life, which is fantastic. At the end of the day, the goal is to get the work in the hands of as many people as possible and Creative Commons helps make that a reality.

“I’ll never have an idea of the totality of the penetration that will occur as a result of this decision, and that’s a great thing. More albums will be sold. More music will be listened to. More attendees will show up at gigs.”

How does CC bring you closer to the goal you mentioned in a 15 Questions interview: “A desire to share and bring attention to what I believe are outstanding musicians.”

Creative Commons is the exact embodiment of that idea. Creative Commons licensing means many more people will find out about the artists I cover. It enables the content to propagate all over the world, working its way into nooks and crannies of the web and far beyond. I’ll never have an idea of the totality of the penetration that will occur as a result of this decision, and that’s a great thing. More albums will be sold. More music will be listened to. More attendees will show up at gigs. At the end of the day, what Innerviews does is about helping artists. By making this content available via a Creative Commons license, those artists get an even bigger potential, global boost.

How do you feel about musicians putting their music under CC licenses?

It’s one of many valuable ways a musician can release music in a way that can reap rewards, both immediate and long-term. These days, it’s next to impossible for artists to earn a living through recordings, either because of piracy or streaming services that pay in fractions of pennies. The important thing is that putting music under a Creative Commons license is a choice. It’s up to the musician whether or not they want to do it, as opposed to their music being unceremoniously ripped off legally via streaming services if they are signed to a label or illegally via piracy.
A Creative Commons license is an invitation for the world to not only explore, but interact with music. Some Creative Commons licenses enable other musicians to take music and remix or build upon it. That means music becomes a conversation between musicians, as opposed to a fixed expression cemented in a moment in time. It’s a very exciting concept that many more musicians should examine. However, the question of monetization always looms large in these discussions. One approach is to put certain tracks, EPs or album chunks out via Creative Commons to create interest and intrigue as a roadmap towards an album that is available via more traditional means that encourage payment. There are endless permutations for how an artist could use Creative Commons to promote their work. As we have seen through services like PledgeMusic and Bandcamp, people are still willing to pay and support artists, even though they already often have full access to the music. It’s all about being creative, encouraging goodwill, and being open to the possibilities.

“The choice to invoke a Creative Commons license is a choice to get your content or music to as many people as possible, without restrictions, filters or gatekeepers. It’s about taking your work directly to the people and experiencing and enjoying the unexpected connections that get created.”

You mentioned in an interview with Radio New Zealand that if an artist is not at the point of selling, maybe that’s where Spotify and Rdio can benefit you. How does that idea tie into musicians who choose to license their music under Creative Commons?

Creative Commons offers another valuable option for musicians that are trying to crossover to the point where they can monetize their music. And unlike Spotify or Rdio, it enables them to do it entirely on their own terms, specifying how the music can be shared and made available. Jamendo, Freesound, and SoundCloud are just a handful of the many options that now exist for an emerging artist to distribute their Creative Commons-licensed music at scale, worldwide. Adopting a Creative Commons license can be a key tool in promoting work to an audience interested in reaching beyond the mainstream for new sounds.

Can you explore the idea of CC licenses as a means of spreading knowledge, and how music works with that idea?

Creative Commons is about treating the entire planet as a single global community, in which media is a shared resource that benefits the human race as a whole. This is in stark contrast to the siloed mentality and digital land grab approach the power players of the corporate media attempt to enforce on society. The choice to invoke a Creative Commons license is a choice to get your content or music to as many people as possible, without restrictions, filters or gatekeepers. It’s about taking your work directly to the people and experiencing and enjoying the unexpected connections that get created. As for music, in a way, it’s the purest manifestation of Innerviews‘ tagline: Music Without Borders.

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CC in design: expanding your team of collaborators

Elliot Harmon, October 10th, 2013

I’m thrilled to be speaking at Design Exchange Boston tomorrow along with Ben Einstein, Martha Buskirk, Asya Calixto, and Sofya Polyakov. I always love speaking with designers about Creative Commons because they intuitively understand the benefits of sharing their work openly. When Benjamin Franklin invited others to iterate on the Franklin Stove, he wasn’t just creating a product; he was creating a community of collaborators. And that community is still actively building on Franklin’s ideas today.

A few months ago, CC CEO Cathy Casserly spoke at the IIT Institute of Design’s Design Strategy Conference. She began her talk by laying out the three assumptions she was making about the designers in the room:

  • You become designers because you want to change how things work.
  • You’re uniquely able to change how your employers and clients work.
  • You know the value of sharing ideas with others.

Thinking about those three points – designers are good at effecting change, they’re well-positioned to effect change in their own companies and organizations, and they play well with others – an idea starts to emerge: designers can be the conduits through which their employers build better networks of collaborators. And one big way of achieving that is through open licensing.

Open licensing gives designers an opportunity to create communities of people iterating and building upon their work. These communities can be extremely valuable, both to a designer and to her clients.

But in opening your designs to be reused by others, aren’t you handing your revenue stream over to competitors? Maybe not. There’s a great profile in Open Design Now of DesignSmash, a design studio that develops products through highly collaborative hackathons. According to DesignSmash partner Enlai Hooi, “There should be no reason for preventing people with the resources to produce [our] objects from doing so. They tend to be the people most invested in how the processes of production relate to the quality of the object. They offer excellent and necessary critical feedback.”

I’d strongly recommend that anyone interested in open licensing (and open practices in general) in the design community check out Open Design Now. It’s a very fun read.

Here are some other great stories of Creative Commons in the design world:

Autodesk invites users to remix its content

Autodesk made big news back in July when it released all of its support and learning content under CC licenses. As expected, the community of designers who use Autodesk products have been building upon that content and making it an even more valuable resource.

Inspiration Pad

Inspiration Pad / Marc Thomasset / CC BY-NC-ND

Featured CC Platform: Behance

Behance is a major hub for designers and clients to find each other online. It supports CC licensing, but unlike most content-sharing platforms, CC licensing is the default. In this interview, Behance founder Scott Belsky explained to me why CC is so important to Behance’s user community: “We want Behance to be the wind at the backs of creative careers, and CC has been a primary ingredient in the growth and values of Behance.”

Fiat: The Case for Letting Your Customers Design Your Products

We featured Fiat in The Power of Open when it put out a public call for design ideas and turned all of those ideas into a concept car.

I love this quote from Carl Esposti in the Inc. story: “You may have an R&D department, but there are an awful lot of people that think about this differently or are better qualified. Tapping them as resources means that your company can come with up better ideas – and have more insight into how to exploit those ideas, test their viability, and put them into production.”

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Reflections on our OER policy workshop in Berlin

Timothy Vollmer, October 8th, 2013

This post was written by Alek Tarkowski and originally posted on the European OER Policy Project site.

A week ago, the European Commission launched the “Opening Up Education” initiative, a proposal for modernizing the European educational system. The proposal contains a strong “open” component. We’re using this opportunity to strengthen open educational policies in Europe, and we started our project with a workshop in mid-September. Below you can learn about the outcomes of our workshop, including an overview of the OER landscape in Europe, concept for a policy brief, and ideas for policy-related activities.

The workshop took place 14-15 October as part of the German “OERde13” conference. The workshop marked the public launch of CC’s collaborative „Open Educational Resources Policy in Europe” project. Eleven OER experts from all over Europe met for two days to discuss the state of OER policies in Europe and ways in which CC can increase their reach. Participants included Lisette Kalshoven (Kennisland, Netherlands), Eneli Sutt (HITSA, Estonia), Teresa Nobre (Creative Commons Portugal), Valentina Pavel (APTI, Romania), Hans de Four (KlasCement, Belgium), Bardhyl Jashari (Metamorphosis, Macedonia), Ignasi Labastida y Juan (Universitat de Barcelona, Catalonia / Spain), Ivan Matejic (Creative Commons Serbia), Kamil Śliwowski (Centrum Cyfrowe, Poland) and John Weitzmann (Creative Commons Germany). The workshop was led by Alek Tarkowski from Creative Commons Poland, open policy advisor to CC and lead of this project.

OER-Konferenz_Berlin_2013-6390
OER workshop participants. Photo: Raimond Spekking / WikiMedia Commons, CC BY-SA (Source)

State of open education in Europe

We started with a session presenting the state of OER developments in EU countries, focusing particularly on public policies for open education. The session gave a good overview of the range of approaches to increasing adoption of OER: public e-textbook programs running in Poland and Macedonia; OER repositories such as Belgian Klascement, Dutch Wikiwijs, and Norwegian NDLA; “1 on 1” computer in school schemes used as entry channels for open content in Portugal or Macedonia; bottom-up hubs for open education communities such as German ZUM Wiki and the OER Champions project initiated in Macedonia.

We discussed the broader context for such initiatives, including national educational strategies and the specific shape of legal regulations–in particular copyright exceptions and limitations for educational use. In general, while there are very few functioning national-level policies supporting open education, there are multiple OER projects being implemented with public funding. Some are directly branded as “open education” projects, while others apply this philosophy without naming it that way.

Similarly, there are multiple initiatives at the European level, often funded by the European Union, that fit within the scope of the new initiative. The Open Education Europa portal has been developed on the basis of a previous e-learning portal. At the same time, projects that deal with ICTs in schools, e-learning, or quality of education are not necessarily aligned with OER issues. This means there might still be low awareness among key potential stakeholders. At the same time, there remains a great potential for gaining ICT allies in support of open education policy.

What kind of open education policy?

We spent part of the workshop discussing the concept of CC’s policy brief for open education in Europe. The basic policy position, achieved through a quick consensus among participants, can be summed up very easily: A free license like CC BY or CC BY-SA + (open formats, WCAG accessibility standards and metadata) should be adopted for all publicly funded educational content. (In other words, of all the varied definitions, the Hewlett Foundation OER definition is our definition of choice – and we’re happy that the new Open Education Europa portal sets a high standard by adopting CC BY as a default).

So while the basic policy rule is simple, the challenge lies in providing the best arguments for its widespread adoption. The workshop participants discussed essential elements of a successful policy brief. These should include:

  • A grounding both in rights issues, in particular the right to education and right to knowledge, but also in broader pedagogical theories, such as connectivism;
  • Proof that open education works, especially in economic terms; everyone knows this is not easy, often due to lack of data, but basic arguments can be made, especially about cost savings for parents and schools;
  • Evidence of existing OER projects and their scale and usage, including those that are not directly framed as “open education”, but follow the general model.

Finally, a challenge that any European educational policy faces is the limited scope in which the EU deals with educational issues, which are largely left in the hands of national governments and schooling systems. Other than a new Directive (which would be binding for EU member states, but also difficult to introduce), the EU could introduce an open education policy model to apply to its own funding of educational content. It could also work with national governments by promoting good examples and following best practices and standards. A policy brief needs to address the interdependence of EU- and national-level governmental bodies.

How to promote open education policy?

Policy matters are often difficult to understand beyond a narrow circle of policymakers, experts and stakeholders. During the workshops we discussed ways of making them easier to understand. We focused on three projects, two of which we’d like to work on in the coming months.

Teresa Nobre presented the concept of a study of European exceptions and limitations for education. These are rules defined in national copyright laws that allow for legal use of copyrighted content without permission under certain conditions for educational purposes. These vary greatly between countries and between K-12 and higher education. This “balkanization” of law is one of the reasons that open education, based of course on open licensing, is such an important policy alternative. We were initially considering conducting the necessary legal comparison, but we found out during the workshop that this has already been done by Prof. Raquel Xalabarder of Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (see the WIPO-commissioned analysis). Therefore, our work will build on this analysis and in particular “translate” it into an explanation that will apply to practical issues faced by educators in order to demonstrate the real-life application of policy decisions.

Kamil Śliwowski talked about a mythbusting approach, focusing on finding counter arguments for current criticisms of open education. Kamil described experiences we’ve had in Poland debating commercial educational publishers, who have been vocal critics of open education policy. These publishers often recite arguments against OER that are not based on evidence–hence, “myths”. The mythbusting approach began last year with a presentation at the UNESCO OER Congress in Paris, and continued with a workshop at the CC Summit in Buenos Aires. As part of this project, Kamil will organize in early 2014 a sprint-type workshop during which we’ll produce an OER mythbusting publication.

Bardhyl Jashari presented the idea of open education champions, which his organization, Foundation Metamorphosis, has been implementing in Macedonia. According to Bardhyl, leaders are crucial in promoting open education policy, since these issues are often difficult to understand for many on-the-ground educators. Empowering education champions to explain these topics makes the policies easier to understand. We agreed that it is a great idea, and in line with the recently appointed European “Digital Champions.” But these education champions will be difficult to implement without the Commission’s support.

Next steps

We are now starting work on our policy brief and related analyses and documents, and we’ll focus on developing these over the next few months. For early 2014, we are planning several events, culminating during Open Education Week in March.

We’re all the time looking for partners, collaborators and allies. if you care about open educational policy and want to help, please get in touch.

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Arab CC community hosts Iftars, celebrates sharing

Donatella Della Ratta, October 2nd, 2013

For the fourth consecutive year, Creative Commons communities in the Arab world have self-organized and hosted CC Iftars to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the spirit of sharing.

Back in 2010, CC Iftars were created as community-organized gatherings where CC members and people interested in the sharing culture would meet up to celebrate together the breaking of the fast, and share food and creative ideas. During the past four years, CC communities in Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Syria, Morocco, Iraq, Lebanon, Qatar, and Tunisia have actively contributed to the iftar project by hosting community events, screening movies, featuring talks, charity marathons, and remixing competitions.

This Ramadan 2013, CC Iftars where organized in Qatar, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. CC Iftar Doha kicked off in the Qatari capital on 23 July in a magnificent Ramadan tent at the St. Regis hotel. A very diverse community made up of technologists, graphic designers, entrepreneurs and photographers, who all share an interest in growing digital Arabic content, attended the gathering and donated the proceeds of the evening to the orphans in Qatar.

Despite the deteriorating security situation, the CC community in Iraq was able to celebrate CC Iftars for the second year. This time, the event was not only hosted in the capital Baghdad, but also in Kirkuk, Dhi Qar, Sulaymaniyah, and al-Diwaniyyah. The lively and brave group behind the Iraqi Network for Social Media – who are very active in organizing open-culture–related activities – has managed to put together around a hundred people in these five cities all across the country, and celebrate the spirit of sharing by screening movies and hosting a brainstorming session about new ideas and projects as well as a ceremony to remember Iraqi orphans. The events were simultaneously held on 27 July and they were attended by people with a wide range of professional backgrounds, spanning from bloggers and journalists to photographers and artists.

On 31 July, it was Lebanon’s turn to host its CC Iftar for the second time. The event was held in the brand new multi-purpose space of Alt City in Hamra district, Beirut. The community gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of CC Lebanon – which has been a formal affiliate since 2010 – and discuss new ideas to improve the culture of sharing in the country through artistic and creative projects.

Last but not least, CC Jordan, one of the oldest CC affiliates in the Arab region, celebrated on 6 August its second CC Iftar in Amman. The gathering was hosted in the beautiful location of Fann wa Chai in the historical district of Jabal Lweibdeh. Jordan Open Source Association, who has been an active promoter of CC and the sharing culture, was behind the organization of the CC Iftar which gathered open-source lovers, geeks, bloggers, and digital activists.

As in previous years, CC Iftars have proven to be a great opportunity to host community-driven discussions and feature new ideas and projects. They have also showed the enthusiasm and self-organization skills of CC Arab communities, even in such difficult times of political and social unrest.

This year, too, our thoughts go to Bassel Khartabil aka Bassel Safadi, CC Syria public lead, who has been detained without trial by Syrian authorities since 15 March 2012. Bassel was behind the idea of launching CC Iftars in the Arab world and he is greatly missed by his family, friends, and the entire CC community.

Related:

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CC Science on the Road

Puneet Kishor, October 1st, 2013

This has been a busy Fall on the road for CC Science. The road trip started with a joint OKF/OpenUCT/IDRC workshop titled Towards a Southern-led Research Agenda on Open and Collaborative Science for Development at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The objectives were to forge stronger community links and explore potential areas of open science for development which merit further research or action. Scientists from Latin America, Africa and Asia attended the workshop.

The Cape Town workshop was followed by a presentation at the OKCon in Geneva where we presented our plans for developing a CC Science Affiliates Network with particular focus on scientists in developing countries. The new network, which was introduced to our existing affiliates at the recently concluded CC Global Summit in Buenos Aires and whose details are under development, will augment the existing Affiliates Network with practicing scientists. These new Science Affiliates will serve as a two-way conduit between CC HQ and regional and disciplinary scientific concerns.

Finally, CC Science is helping organize a couple of science focused events in India. The two events will serve to bring together Indian science and technology community focused on Open Science and Data and identify potential CC Science Affiliates.

The first event titled Workshop on Open science for higher education and research is on Oct 3, 2013, at the Delhi University South Campus, led by CC community member Dr. Savithri Singh of Acharya Narendra Dev College. We have confirmed participation from:

The second event titled Workshop on Open Science and Open Data (workshop link) is organized by Dr. Devika Madalli of the Documentation and Training Centre of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in Bangalore. It will be held on ISI campus on the outskirts of Bangalore on Oct 7, 2013. Confirmed participants include:

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Open Science Course — a cool connected science experience!

Billy Meinke, September 30th, 2013

This past August, I facilitated an online peer-learning course in the School of Open introducing open science to newcomers, and Michelle Sidler worked behind the scenes to keep things glued together. This guest post was written by Michelle, and gives a look at how things went teaching an entirely free course on open science over the web. It’s pretty cool.

Guiding Students through the Course

During last month’s round of School of Open courses, I helped out with a facilitated version of the Open Science course supported by Creative Commons, the Open Knowledge Foundation, and PLOS. On four Tuesdays in August, Billy Meinke hosted online discussions with a handful of well-known members of the open science community while participants from around the world completed course modules and blogged about their experiences. Here’s how things went down.

Screen Shot of P2PU Online Course

Note: The course materials and online discussions are available on the Open Science P2PU course page, and will continue to grow over the next few weeks as participants share blog about their experiences working with aspects of science that are either open or not.

Participant Blogs

While completing course units, participants blogged their experiences, offering reflections and insights about open science and sharing online resources they found. Participants were researchers and scientists from around the world, including biologists, climatologists, librarians, and even musicians.

Though we are still working through much of the blog posts, here are some examples of people learning about open access, open data, and open research for free through the School of Open:

The first of three modules introduced the topic of open access (OA), and after browsing through content about OA, learners were to report on the openness of published research articles they found on the web. A learner named Peter Desmet provided a fine overview of the history of open access and the different “flavours” of open access in an entry on his blog. The second module led folks to the topic of open data for science, where a peer by the name Odon shared her process of learning through her blog, Odonlife. Her writings offered definitions and descriptions of open data and assessed the openness of datasets she found online. Drawing from these lessons, she also described her experiences contributing to open data crowdsourcing projects and how they inspired her to start a similar project. For the third unit on open research, a peer in the course named Nicki Clarkson described the work of Jon Tennant, a paleontologist and open science advocate who deposited the data from his PhD research into the Paleontology Database, a repository for similar data. Jon even commented on her post, thanking her for the shout-out—another example of the ways in which open information brings researchers together!

odonlife blog screenshot

Featured Speakers

In addition to supporting the online course participants, Billy Meinke hosted online discussions with many open science friends and advocates from many locales and types of involvement with science around the world. Guests from a variety of organizations joined open, broadcasted Google Hangouts and shared their experiences in open science with dozens of learners watching each stream. Thanks to all the guests who took the time to chat with us about open science! Links to the video and etherpad notes (taken during the live sessions) can be found on the Open Science course page.

Screen Shot of P2PU Online Course

Taking the Open Science course further

The Open Science course doesn’t end when we complete the units and assignments. Continue the conversation by spreading the word to other scientists about this resource and encouraging them to participate. There has been interest in volunteer translation efforts and other adaptations of the material. Anyone is free to do so, in compliance with the CC BY-SA license on the course. Much of the material is licensed CC BY or CC0, which give even more open reuse rights!

school of open logo

If you’d like to find out more about what’s happening with this course and others in the School of Open, head on over to the School of Open Google Group and join the discussion! You can also sign up to be notified when the next facilitated course launches, likely in Spring 2014.

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Open curriculum alternatives to MPAA’s new anti-piracy campaign for kids

Jane Park, September 25th, 2013


Adventures in copyright / opensourceway / CC BY-SA

It has come to our attention that the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and top internet service providers are drafting curriculum to teach kids in California elementary schools that copying is wrong, or as Wired.com puts it, “Downloading is Mean!”

This message is way too simple. In this digital age, the most important thing we should be teaching kids is to be creative and take full advantage of all the web has to offer. Copyright, asking permission, open licensing, and all the other legal nuances, should be seen as secondary (and even complementary) to this purpose. We should be starting with the things kids can do versus what they can’t do.

In addition to the campaign’s overly simple and negative approach, other issues include the complete absence of fair use from the curriculum — exceptions and limitations to copyright that allow various uses of copyrighted materials for educational, journalistic and other purposes. Wired.com reports, “Its president, Marsali Hancock, says fair use is not a part of the teaching material because K-6 graders don’t have the ability to grasp it.”

Assuming the net generation and their younger counterparts are as dumb as assumed in the above statement, the curriculum still leaves out a crucial and growing part of the Internet landscape — the commons of free and open materials in the public domain and/or released under open licenses that actually encourage copying, redistribution, revision, and remix! In short, everything this simplified anti-piracy campaign is conveniently leaving out in its copyright curriculum for kids.

There is a more balanced approach to educating kids about copyright that includes the alternatives, and here are some organizations and experienced educators who have developed copyright curricula. The following list of resources are open educational resources (OER), licensed under a CC license that enables free and legal reuse, redistribution and remix. In short, stuff that is free and just fine and even great to copy!

Copyright curriculum for kids

Common Sense Media’s K-12 Digital Literacy & Citizenship Curriculum

Common Sense Media has developed a comprehensive K-12 Digital Literacy & Citizenship Curriculum for educators to use in their classrooms. Part of the curriculum focuses on Creative Credit & Copyright, which you can navigate easily via their Scope & Sequence tool. The resources are aligned to Common Core standards and licensed under CC BY-NC-SA.

New Media Rights Copyright FAQ Videos

New Media Rights has developed a series of short Copyright FAQ YouTube videos (because what better way to interact with youth but through YouTube?) answering common questions about copyright and the public domain. These videos are drafted by lawyers and read by students and are licensed under CC BY.

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Teaching Copyright Curriculum

EFF developed this copyright curriculum for teachers to use in the classroom several years ago to counter campaigns like the one above, proving that topics like fair use can be taught! Teachingcopyright.org is available under CC BY.

Australia’s Smartcopying Guide for Schools and Interactive Resource for Kids

Australia has an official website for its schools regarding copyright for educators and students. However, this website, called Smartcopying, doesn’t just cover Australian copyright law — it also covers open educational resources and Creative Commons licenses. It’s quite the comprehensive resource with lesson plans, info sheets, videos, and more, and is licensed under CC BY-SA. This includes All Right to Copy, an interactive web activity “designed to teach students about copyright, and how it impacts them as both users and creators.” These resources are useful even if you’re not Australian, so check it out at http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/ and navigate using the horizontal menu to the topic of your choice.

National Library of New Zealand’s Free to Mix Guide for Educators

The National Library of New Zealand takes a different approach to copyright education; instead of focusing on what students can’t do, it focuses on what teachers and students can do with its Free to Mix guide. The guide was popular enough to spin off its own remix by CC New Zealand (pdf) with beautifully done graphics. Both versions are licensed under CC BY.

Shared Creations: Making Use of Creative Commons

Emily Puckett Rogers and Kristin Fontichiaro with the University of Michigan created this short and colorful lesson plan book for elementary school teachers that covers copyright, the public domain (even trademarks and patents!), and Creative Commons. This book is short and sweet with age-appropriate activities (that are even fun for adults). You can browse the book for free online or purchase a hard copy at the publisher’s website. The book is licensed CC BY-NC-SA.

School of Open’s Copyright 4 Educators

The School of Open, a community of volunteers around the world providing free education opportunities on the meaning and impact of openness in the digital age, offers an online course called Copyright 4 Educators. While this course (offered as adapted to both US and AUS law, but open to anyone) is primarily designed for educators and not kids, teachers can take what they’ve learned and then relay it to their students. The School of Open also offers more kid-friendly resources such as Get CC Savvy, Teach someone something with open content, and numerous lesson plans and activities integrated in CC for K-12 Educators. All School of Open courses on the P2PU platform are licensed under CC BY-SA; others hosted elsewhere may be licensed under CC BY.

This list is not exhaustive; if you know of other copyright education resources, please share them below! And if you would like to contribute to providing free copyright, OER, or CC education opportunities for kids (or adults), please join the School of Open community in its efforts! Visit http://schoolofopen.org/ to get started.

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