Commons News

CC to European Commission: No restrictions on PSI re-use

Timothy Vollmer, November 25th, 2013

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.

eu1

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.

Europe graphic designed by Monika Ciapala; Public Domain.

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A letter from Paul: New directions at CC

Paul Brest, November 21st, 2013

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.

Copyright Reform

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.

Cathy Casserly

Cathy Casserly / Bilal Randeree
CC BY-NC-SA

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, lisag@moppenheim.com.

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.

Best wishes,
Paul

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CC Job Opportunity: Arab World Regional Coordinator

Timothy Vollmer, November 20th, 2013

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.

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Identifying drug targets one protein at a time

Puneet Kishor, November 19th, 2013

Protein structure

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.

Academics work under the lamp post 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.

SGC building leadership 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.

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Launch of the Open Access Button

Timothy Vollmer, November 18th, 2013

Today marks the launch of the Open Access Button, a browser bookmark tool that allows users to report when they hit paywalled access to academic articles and discover open access versions of that research. The button was created by university students David Carroll and Joseph McArthur, and announced at the Berlin 11 Student and Early Stage Researcher Satellite Conference.

From the press release:

The Open Access Button is a browser-based tool that lets users track when they are denied access to research, then search for alternative access to the article. Each time a user encounters a paywall, he simply clicks the button in his bookmark bar, fills out an optional dialogue box, and his experience is added to a map alongside other users. Then, the user receives a link to search for free access to the article using resources such as Google Scholar. The Open Access Button initiative hopes to create a worldwide map showing the impact of denied access to research.

oabutton

The creators have also indicated that they plan to release the data collected by the Open Access Button under CC0. Congratulations on the release of this useful tool.

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Set your content free: CC at the National High School Journalism Convention

Elliot Harmon, November 15th, 2013

I’m excited to be speaking tomorrow with the young journalists at the National High School Journalism Convention. A few months ago, Creative Commons had a table at a similar convention in San Francisco. When we saw the enthusiasm that the students there had about open licensing, we decided to start planning a session about Creative Commons for young journalists.

Whenever I’m talking with high schoolers about Creative Commons, one thing always strikes me. They get it. Today’s young content creators don’t dream of spending 40 years working for a single publisher or media company. They’re preparing to piece careers together working on projects for lots of clients with lots of different business models; therefore, they intuitively know the value of using open licensing to get their work out to as wide an audience as possible. Or as Cathy put it, “The creators who are thriving today are the ones who use internet distribution most innovatively; in fact, the ones who are most generous with their work often reap the most reward.”

I’m hoping to use this session to meet some people at school journalism programs who’d like to experiment with ramping up their sharing. What if your school newspaper went 100% CC for a year? Where would the content get republished? How would it impact your staff’s résumés? Interested? Let’s talk.

Here are my slides for the session (see the speaker notes for more information and links):

Download as PDF (2.6 MB)

And some links for more information:

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US Senators seek to make college textbooks affordable and open

Jane Park, November 15th, 2013

A Human Timeline of Open Education
Opensourceway / CC BY-SA

United States Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Al Franken of Minnesota have introduced legislation called the Affordable College Textbook Act that seeks to make college textbooks affordable and openly available under the Creative Commons Attribution license. According to Durbin’s press release, Bill S.1704 does 5 things:

  • Creates a grant program to support pilot programs at colleges and universities to create and expand the use of open textbooks with priority for those programs that will achieve the highest savings for students;
  • Ensures that any open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be freely and easily accessible to the public [via CC BY];
  • Requires entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program in achieving savings for students;
  • Improves existing requirements for publishers to make all textbooks and other educational materials available for sale individually rather than as a bundle; and
  • Requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress by 2017 with an update on the price trends of college textbooks.

You can read the full text of Bill S.1704 here. In addition to highlighting the rising cost of textbooks, Bill S.1704 defines the following terms:

(3) OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE.—The term ‘‘open educational resource’’ means an educational resource that is licensed under an open license and made freely available online to the public.

(4) OPEN LICENSE.—The term ‘‘open license’’ means a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable copyright license granting the public permission to access, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, adapt, distribute, and otherwise use the work and adaptations of the work for any purpose, conditioned only on the requirement that attribution be given to authors as designated.

(5) OPEN TEXTBOOK.—The term ‘‘open textbook’’ means an open educational resource or set of open educational resources that either is a textbook or can be used in place of a textbook for a postsecondary course at an institution of higher education.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) note several existing open textbook programs that have proved successful in lowering costs for students, including the University of Minnesota’s online catalog of open textbooks which has so far saved students $100,000; Tidewater Community College’s degree program where each course uses open textbooks lowering costs to zero for students; and Washington State’s Open Course Library project for its 81 largest enrollment courses that has saved students $5.4 million to date.

In addition to cost savings, SPARC highlights Bill S.1704’s potential impacts of high quality and innovation:

  • High quality materials. Open educational resources developed through the grants will also be available for all other colleges, faculty and students across the country to freely use.
  • Supporting innovation. At a time where new models to support open educational resources are rapidly emerging, this bill would help foster innovation and development of best practices that can be shared with other institutions.

For more info, see:

You can take action to support Bill S.1704 here and use Twitter hashtag #oerusa to share the news!

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Creative Commons in London: Open Ed Timeline and Mozfest

Jane Park, November 12th, 2013

A few weeks ago, CC co-hosted an open education meetup in London with P2PU, the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN), and FLOSS Manuals Foundation. We also led or participated in sessions and tracks on open science, makes for cultural archives, collaborations across the open space, and open education data at the Mozilla Festival immediately following the meetup. Several interesting projects have arisen from both the meetup and sessions, so we thought it worthwhile to mention here in case others would like to get involved.

Hit the Road Map: A Human Timeline of the Open Education Space

A Human Timeline of Open Education
A Human Timeline of Open Education / CC BY

In addition to networking and sharing our common open education interests, participants of the Open Ed Meetup at the William Goodenough house collectively built a timeline of events that they felt marked important (and personal) milestones in the open education space, from the beginning of the Open University in 1969 to Lessig’s countersuit against Liberation Music this year. The timeline was a great collaborative exercise for the group, and one that we hope is only beginning. As Marieke from the OKFN writes in her post,

“…the plan is to digitise what we have by moving all the ideas in to Google Docs and then create a TimeMapper of them. This may form part of the Open Education handbook. At that point we will be able to share the document with you so you can add more information, correct the date and add in your own ideas. We may even try to run more open education timeline events.”

In fact, CC affiliates in Europe will be co-hosting the second Open Education Handbook booksprint with the OKFN and Wikimedia in Berlin as a result!

To see photos from the meetup, see both Creative Common’s and OKFN’s Flickr streams. Contribute to the timeline here.

Mozilla Festival

Getting hands-on with tools on the web for Open Science

by Billy Meinke

old gauges from automobiles
Gauges / Samuel Z. / CC BY

In another team-up with the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN), we ran a session investigating tools on the web that help make science more open. Hinging on the theme of alternative ways to measure (altmetrics) scholarly impact, collaborators joined us in the session and got hands-on with tools that we can use to see how publications and other research outputs are talked about and shared on the web. To help build content for lessons linked to the Open Science course in the School of Open, participants tested a handful of free tools to see what they were able to measure, how usable the tools were, and considered ways to share this with others who aren’t familiar with altmetrics. We will be organizing the content over the next few weeks, and offering the altmetrics lesson as a standalone exercise once it’s complete. For more information about how the session went, see this blog post.

Collaborations across the Open Space

Collaborations Across the Open Space
Mozfest: Collaborations Across the Open Space / CC BY

We also participated in a session with Wikimedia, OKFN, and other orgs to talk about how we could better collaborate and share news among our organizations so we don’t keep reinventing the wheel. I won’t go into detail here, as the wiki session writeup does it much better, and has continued to grow since the festival. For example, something as simple as a blog aggregator for all “open” related news would help those working in this space tremendously. To join our efforts, head over to the wiki and add your thoughts and be notified of follow-up meetings.

Digital Self Preservation Toolkit

mozfest candy
Seeking a lawyer… / CC BY

One neat thing to come out of this year’s Mozfest was the beginnings of a Digital Self Preservation Toolkit exploring the idea of what happens to your body of creative, educational, or scientific work when you die. Some questions we asked and discussed were: In your country, what happens to your work when you die? What steps can you take to ensure its posterity? How would you want it shared and who would you want to own it? Our initial aim was to develop a set of tools and tips to help people think through how they might want to release their work upon death, building on an idea that the Question Copyright folks had last year around a free culture trust. Skirting the technical and legal issues for the time being, we came up with a prototype IP donor badge that creators might use to signify their intent, a concept form that they would fill out, and a mock-up website where such a toolkit might reside. We are now continuing our efforts in collaboration with folks from numerous organizations interested in the same questions, and you can join us to move the project forward at the Free Culture Trust wiki.

OER Research Hub’s Open Education Data Detective

Lastly, we’d like to highlight our collaboration with the OER Research Hub, who held a “scrum” on visualizing open education data called the Open Ed Data Detective. Participants experimented with open education data that the OER Research Hub made available, including data on School of Open courses.

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Minister of culture invests in an open France

Elliot Harmon, November 8th, 2013

French Minister for Culture and Communication Aurélie Filippetti announcing the partnership between the ministry and Open Knowledge Foundation France
Aurélie Filippetti / Open Knowledge Foundation / CC BY

French minister of culture and communications Aurélie Filippetti launched a set of initiatives yesterday designed to promote a more creative, more open France. The impressive announcement covers a lot of measures, including an open data policy for cultural data, the launch of a new workspace designed to stimulate cultural innovation, and much more. But of particular interest to us are the new partnerships Filipetti announced with the Open Knowledge Foundation and Creative Commons France.

The ministry of culture and communication will work with CC France to educate students, cultural creators, and society in general on understanding and using Creative Commons licenses. According to the announcement, “These tools align with intellectual property law and fit perfectly within the minister’s policy of digital inclusion as a part of her great national project for arts and cultural education.”*

Meanwhile, the ministry will also work with the Open Knowledge Foundation France to map the French public domain, making it easier for anyone to discern whether a work is in the public domain or not. This partnership is the next step in OKFN’s Public Domain Calculators project, and it’s great news for anyone who cares about a vibrant, living public domain.

We applaud Minister Fillipetti and congratulate both CC France and OKFN France on this exciting partnership.

*Rough translation from the French announcement.

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Guest Post: Design Hackathon held in Buenos Aires to kick off the CC Toolkits Project

Billy Meinke, November 6th, 2013

This is a guest post written by Gino Cingolani, a member on the design team for the CC Toolkit project. We’re making progress with the project, and wanted to share about a regional activity that helped launch the development of the CC Toolkits. Thanks to Gino, Teresa Sempere Garcia, and Pablo Corbalan for leading the organization of this event!


CC Toolkits Design Hackathon Announcement Flyer


Gino Cingolani / CC BY 3.0

This past August’s celebration of the Creative Commons Global Summit in Buenos Aires impacted the free culture movement of this city. Only one month after the Summit, the first CC Argentina Hackathon was held with around 25 volunteers giving up their weekend to help. On a Sunday in October, programmers, translators, graphic designers, illustrators and people curious or interested in CC from all the country gathered around to work on the creation of template for the CC toolkits project.

During the event, we strategized content and drafted designs that would help spread the word and implement the CC licenses in cultural and scientific environments. The toolkits will exist in multiple formats (web, print) and will live online, each kit containing open content created by CC’s global community; the template includes video, narrative and fact sheet documents about CC licenses, and a set of cards with sentences for starting discussions around issues of copyright & free licensing. Each kit will also feature case studies and success stories of people that have already implemented CC licenses.

The CC Toolkits global initiative was initially presented at the Global Summit by a team made up of Billy Meinke and Teresa Sempere, describing the overall goal for the toolkits to help explain how CC licenses can be used in places like education, government agencies, culture and science. From that moment on, the initiative passed on to different working groups that took care of making the content, translating it, and present in the different formats mentioned.

CCToolkits Hackathon
“CCToolkits Hackathon” / Gino Cingolani / CC BY-NC-SA

The hackathon, organised by a working group established during the summit, was held at the Cultural Center Tierra Violeta in downtown Buenos Aires. Alongside hacking to build the toolkits, we also had the chance to work with a DIY book scanner, take part in a Wikipedia editathon, involving various members of the area’s local DIY/Open Hardware community. The event had the support of Wikimedia Argentina & CC Argentina and we hope it will be only the first of many more similar events to come, that have the aim of sharing open principles like those of Creative Commons to more local communities of creators and artists.

For more information about the CC Toolkits project and how to get involved, see wiki.creativecommons.org/Toolkits.

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