Commons News

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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European Commission launches “Opening Up Education” initiative

Timothy Vollmer, September 25th, 2013

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes and Commission Member Androulla Vassiliou today announced Opening Up Education, an initiative that looks to increase the use of digital technologies for learning and spur the development of Open Educational Resources and policies across the European Union.

The Opening Up Education communication (PDF) indicates a strong support for Open Educational Resources. On the subject of OER, the Commission will:

  • Ensure that all educational materials supported by Erasmus+ are available to the public under open licenses and promote similar practices under EU programmes;
  • Use the new programmes Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 to encourage partnerships between creators of educational content (e.g. teachers, publishers, ICT companies), to increase the supply of quality OER and other digital educational materials in different languages, to develop new business models and to develop technical solutions which provide
    transparent information on copyrights and open licenses to users of digital educational resources;
  • Launch with this Communication the Open Education Europa portal linking it to existing OER repositories in different languages and bringing learners, teachers and researchers together, so to improve the attractiveness and visibility of quality OERs produced in the EU.

The communication also urged Member States and education institutions to:

  • Stimulate open access policies for publicly-funded educational materials;
  • Encourage formal education and training institutions to include digital content, including OERs, among the recommended educational materials for learners at all educational levels and encourage the production, including through public procurement, of high-quality educational materials whose copyrights would belong to public authorities.

portal small

Kroes and Vassiliou also introduced Open Education Europa, a portal for high quality OER available in a variety of languages. The default licensing for the resources in the portal is CC BY.

The communication document defined OER as “learning resources that are usable, adaptable to specific learning needs, and shareable freely.” We think that it would be better for the Commission to adopt the longstanding and well-understood OER definition promoted by the Hewlett Foundation, which defines OER as “teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.”

Creative Commons provided feedback last year when the Commission was gathering information from stakeholders on how to proceed around the issues of ICT and OER. Congratulations to the EC on what looks like a promising initiative that will increase access to and reuse of open educational resources and technologies for a wide range of learners in Europe.

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Catherine Casserly to step down as Creative Commons CEO

Elliot Harmon, September 25th, 2013

Download the press release. (63 KB PDF)

Mountain View, CA, September 25, 2013: Catherine Casserly announced that she will transition out of her role as CEO of Creative Commons in early 2014. Creative Commons, a Silicon Valley nonprofit that provides legal and technological tools for sharing and collaboration, was launched in 2002. Casserly became the organization’s first full-time CEO in 2011 after serving on the board of directors. Casserly helped to secure the organization’s considerable gains from its first decade and to lay a foundation for its second. She worked with the board and staff to integrate and grow existing programs, increase public impact, articulate key priorities and outcomes, and strengthen core operations.

One of Casserly’s significant accomplishments was Creative Commons’ role in the development of open education policies, both in the United States and around the world. In 2012 alone, the governments of Poland and California passed major legislation in support of open educational resources (OER) and others, like British Columbia, provided major public funding for OER. Similarly, the US Department of Labor is currently awarding $2 billion in grants for OER development through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program.

In an email to Creative Commons’ global network of volunteers, Casserly expressed pride in three years of growth as a movement and optimism about the possibilities for the organization’s new leadership. “Together, we’ve grown our community and movement tremendously — both in size and in our ability to impact the world. For me and for the organization, the three-year mark is the right time to usher in a new generation of leadership.”

Creative Commons board chair Paul Brest noted that Cathy’s tenure as CEO has brought major changes to the organization. “The focus that we’ve seen over the past three years is remarkable, and what’s even more impressive is the clarity of mission and priorities that Cathy has brought to the organization. Under her leadership, the growth in the use of CC licenses generally, in the field of OER, and particularly in government-adopted OER mandates, has brought us substantially closer to our vision — universal access to knowledge and culture — than ever before.”

Casserly agreed, and predicted that the next CEO will play a major role in scaling Creative Commons’ achievements. “We’re currently developing products and tools with the potential to transform how sharing and collaboration work on the internet. Realizing that potential will require a CEO who deeply understands both our mission and the broader technology landscape.” The Creative Commons Board of Directors plans to formally begin the search for a new CEO in October.

Edited October 2: Previous version incorrectly listed British Columbia as a government that had passed OER legislation. Read this article for information on British Columbia’s support for OER.

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Public Access to Publicly Funded Materials: What Could Be

Billy Meinke, September 25th, 2013

This blog post was written by Teresa Sempere García, CC’s Community Support Intern June-August, 2013. The cycle graphics below were designed by Timothy Vollmer and Teresa Sempere García.

The current system for public access to research articles and educational materials is broken: ownership is often unclear, and the reuse of knowledge is limited by policies that do not maximize the impact of public funding. The following graphics will try to simplify and compare two alternative funding cycles for research publications and educational resources that emphasize the positive impacts of open policies on publicly-funded grants. More information and links to a current directory of current and proposed OER open policies can be found in the OER Policy Registry on the Creative Commons Wiki.

Cycles for Research Articles

The existing system for producing and distributing publicly funded research articles is expensive and doesn’t take advantage of the possibilities of innovations like open licensing. Without a free-flowing system, access to the results of scientific research is limited to institutions that are able to commit to hefty journal subscriptions — paid for year after year — which don’t allow for broad redistribution, or repurposing for activities such as text and data mining without additional permissions from the rightsholder. This closed system limits the impact on the scientific and scholarly community and progress is slowed significantly.

A Closed Research Model

closed funding cycle for research

When funding cycles for research include open license requirements for publications, increased access and opportunities for reuse extends the value of research funding. As an example, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy requires the published results of all NIH-funded research to be deposited in PubMed Central’s repository, the peer-reviewed manuscript immediately, and the final journal article within twelve months of publication. Similarly, the recent directive issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy mandates that federal agencies with more than $100 million in research expenditures must make the results of their research publicly available within one year of publication, and better manage the resultant data supporting their results. These policies utilize aspects of the optimized cycle below, and are a step in the right direction for making better use of public funding for research articles.

An Open Research Model

optimised funding cycle for research

Cycles for Educational Resources

The incumbent system for developing and sharing publicly funded educational resources doesn’t guarantee materials are accessible and reusable by the public that paid for their creation.

A Closed Education Model

closed funding cycle for educational resources

If policies are put in place that mandate open licenses on publicly funded educational resources, knowledge can flow more freely because the public is clear about how they may reuse educational content, and the funders can realize a more impactful return on their investments. An example of better use of public funding for the production of educational resources, the US DOL TAACCCT Program mandates that all content created or modified using grant funds are openly-licensed (CC BY) and deposited in a public repository upon completion of the project. Being conducted in four waves, the TAACCCT program is making better use of a large (US$2 billion) investment of US taxpayer money by ensuring the public will have access the educational resources created during the four-year term, and is able to reuse and adapt them beyond what automatic copyright allows. The following graphic demonstrates an open funding model, with licensing and access recommendations to remove barriers to sharing and help speed access and reuse of publicly funded educational content.

An Open Education Model

optimised funding cycle for educational resources

Summary

Open policy — specifically, the idea that publicly funded materials should be openly licensed materials — is a sensible solution that ensures the public’s right to reuse the materials it paid for, and improves the efficiency of government grant funding. Open licensing is a sensible requirement for publicly funded grant programs.

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Join School of Open, OKFN, and FLOSS for an evening in London

Jane Park, September 25th, 2013

Join us for a fun evening event on 24 October in London! The School of Open community along with members of the Open Knowledge Foundation and FLOSS Manuals Foundation is holding a meetup at the Large Common Room in the William Goodenough House (yes, that’s a real name!). Details at the Eventbrite and below.

Sport (?) 1911 (LOC)
Sport (?) 1911 (LOC) / Bain News Service,, publisher / No known copyright restrictions

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

Join the School of Open (Creative Commons & P2PU), the Open Knowledge Foundation, and FLOSS Manuals Foundation for a fun evening to connect with your peers in the open education space! So many efforts exist to “open” up education around the world. How can we help connect these efforts? We’d like to start by collaboratively building a human timeline of open education — Do you remember when and where you first became aware of open education? When did you first become passionate about “open” or participate in an “open” event or job? Where and what was it? What else in this area has most inspired you? We will share experiences and manually place ourselves along a real world timeline (think rolls of butcher paper, markers, glitter is optional). Then we’ll start fleshing out the timeline with key events and persons that we think brought the open education and knowledge movement to where it is today. We’ll stop whenever we get tired, make merry with refreshments and snacks, and digitize whatever we have by the end of the evening for further contributions from everyone and anyone on the web. We’ll make the resulting timeline available openly (either via CC0, CC BY, or CC BY-SA), and feature it in a chapter of the Open Education Handbook!

Due to the awesome, but limited space, this event will be first come, first serve, capping registrations at 30 participants. Please update your registration if you cannot make it to make room for those on the waiting list!

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Happy Software Freedom Day!

Elliot Harmon, September 21st, 2013

It’s Software Freedom Day! All over the world today, hackers, designers, and free software enthusiasts are participating in meetups, hackathons, cultural events, and more. Check out the map to find out if there’s an event near you.

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Cathy in Index on Censorship Dialogue with Philip Pullman

Elliot Harmon, September 18th, 2013

Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman / Adrian Hon / CC BY-SA

Catherine Casserly

Catherine Casserly / Joi Ito / CC BY

The Index on Censorship just published a dialogue on the future of copyright between Creative Commons CEO Cathy Casserly and British writer and Society of Authors president Philip Pullman. Pullman writes that internet piracy has made it harder for creators to make money:

It is outrageous that anyone can steal an artist’s else’s work and get away with it. It is theft, as surely as reaching into someone’s pocket and taking their wallet is theft. Writers and musicians work in poverty and obscurity for years in order to bring their work to a pitch of skill and imaginative depth that gives delight to their audiences, and as soon as they achieve that, the possibility of making a living from it is taken away from them. There are some who are lucky enough to do well despite the theft and the piracy that goes on all around them; there are many more who are not. The principle is simple, and unaltered by technology, science, or magic: if we want to enjoy the work that someone does, we should pay for it.

Cathy argues that Internet distribution – and even creators allowing others to reuse their work under an open license – has had a transformative effect on artists’ careers.

Copyright was created in an analog age. By default, copyright closes the door on countless ways that people can share, build upon, and remix each other’s work, possibilities that were unimaginable when those laws were established. For [science fiction author Cory Doctorow] and artists like him, people sharing and creatively reusing their work literally translates into new fans and new revenue streams. That’s the problem with the all-or-nothing approach to copyright. The All Rights Reserved default doesn’t just restrict the kinds of reuse that eat into your sales; it also restricts the kinds of reuse that can help you build a following in the first place.

Read the full article.

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