Commons News

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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New CC Kenya Hosts CC Salon in Sub-Sahara Africa

Jessica Coates, September 16th, 2013

Mt. Kenya
Mt. Kenya / Chris 73 / CC BY-SA

Guest post by Elizabeth Kiragu Wanjugu and Tobias Schonwetter

As we were busy getting ready for our community Global Summit a few weeks ago, we nearly missed the announcement of another very important addition to that community – our new CC Kenya affiliate.

Our new Kenyan team is based around two Nairobi-based affiliate institutions: Strathmore University‘s Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology (CIPIT) and the National Council for Law Reports (NCLR). CIPIT – led by Dr. Isaac Rutenberg – is Kenya’s Public Lead, while the NCLR – led by Michael Murungi – serves as CC Kenya’s Legal Lead institution.

CC Kenya Logo

The Kenyan team is supported by a large existing CC community in the country, which has been active for quite some time. Unsurprisingly, therefore, a number of projects and activities are already under way. The NCLR’s Kenya Law Report already uses CC’s Public Domain Mark for its content, the team has been a major contributor to bringing the School of Open to the region, and there is an exciting initiative to translate some of CC’s licence tools into Kiswahili. According to the new team, Kenya’s thriving cultural industry requires access to shareable resources that facilitate remixing, and CC Kenya also strives to support newly realisable democratic freedoms by enabling widespread access to knowledge and information. CC Kenya makes East Africa now one of the most active regions for CC in Africa with affiliate teams in Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

One of the first major activities of the new team, even before they had formally launched, was Kenya’s inaugural Creative Commons Salon. Held on 6 June, 2013 at Nairobi’s iHub and themed, “using technology as a democratizing tool, especially one that will level the playing field for education and opportunity in Kenya,” the event drew approximately 50 participants from different backgrounds.

Organised by Akili Dada in partnership with newly established team, the Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology (CIPIT) and Jamlab.

Akili Dada is a leadership incubator investing in high-achieving young African women from underprivileged backgrounds who are passionate about social change. CIPIT is CC Kenya’s Public Lead while Jamlab drives the School of Open in Kenya.

In her opening remarks Allison Domicone, Akili Dada’s Director of Development (and who incidentally ran CC Salons from late 2008 through early 2011 and helped grow them significantly while working with Creative Commons in San Francisco, California) welcomed the attendees then asked Alex Gakuru, Creative Commons Africa Regional Coordinator, to say a few words.

Expressing optimism for continued growth, Alex reflected on the positive reception thus far accorded to Creative Commons in Kenya and across Africa.

The panelists comprised Michael Muringi, CEO/Editor National Council for Law Reports; CC Kenya Legal Lead, Judith Owigar, President of Akirachix; Paul Kihwelo, Public Lead of Creative Commons Tanzania; and Simeon Oriko, Co-Founder of Jamlab. Akili Dada founder Wanjiru Kamau Rutenberg moderated the session.

Discussions on how technology can be harnessed as democratizing tool delved into how it can be made more accessible to all people with a special attention to girls and women given local statistics that they constitute only 15 percent of a technology field dominated by men. Discussion around access was extended to include access to online resources, empowering instruments and digital tools such as the mobile phone.

Discussants established among major barriers to access included: Inequitable financial access; Lack of knowledge; Absent or unpredictable electricity; Resultant societal stereotyping; to name but just a few. Probing, “What exactly is a level playing field?” was asked at the question session, with panelists responding as follows:

Jamlab – “A level playing field enables a person to achieve goals that s/he has set for own self.”

Creative Commons Tanzania – “A level playing field is where a person can have a balance between retaining ownership and encouraging open access to shared creative works.”

National Council for Law Reporting – “A level playing field is where any citizen gains access to justice without having to relying on costly representation through legal intermediaries.”

Akirachix – “A level playing field is where information is provided to enable girls to make informed career choices.”

Noted challenges included socialization in technology that favoured men over women, parents preferring to take the girl child to secretarial colleges to study languages and at best computer packages rather than encouraging them to venture into computer programming/coding and website development.

“Fortunately, the challenge is slowly being conquered by educating parents on importance of technology to the economy,” said Judith Owigar.

In Tanzania, librarians are championing the cause of Open Educational Resources (OER) due to their background and understanding of the importance of equitable access to knowledge.

Thereafter, the moderator invited audience participation with a reaction that children between 3 and 7 years were most impressionable urging stakeholders to focus their girlhood education and empowerment efforts on that age group.

Responding, Simeon Oriko said at that age the children were best under their parents care learning everything from parents. Jamlab chose to target high school students where youth peer influence, including what they see on social media, have the most impact on their adult character.

Professor Suki Mwendwa cautioned that technology, per se, should not be viewed as the solution to all access problems:

“Reading should be encouraged and technology used as a tool to increase access to knowledge. Technology having a seductive nature should also be regulated at home so that the children can be well rounded.”

The event ended with the moderator narrating inspiring stories of successful women providing role models for the younger generation — and encouraging others to do the same. She called upon more women to step forward to rally behind a solid community of mentors to change the world as we know it today.

It was a very informative interaction and well acknowledged. The audience later engaged and networked while enjoying the refreshments and food courtesy of NCLR sponsorship.

I thank Akili Dada, Creative Commons, Akirachix and Jamlab for taking the time to collect and relay information on matters of access and also women in technology. We look forward to the next CC Salon, perhaps in Tanzania, considering that CC Tanzania expressed their interest in replicating the event back home.

Correction: The original article incorrectly listed Kenya’s Salon as the first CC Salon held in Sub-Sahara Africa. The first was actually held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2006.

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10 great moments from #ccsum

Elliot Harmon, September 14th, 2013

In case you missed it, be sure to read Jessica’s recap from the Creative Commons Global Summit a few weeks ago in Buenos Aires. One of the most fun parts of an event like this is watching the ongoing commentary on Twitter and the stream of photos on Flickr. Below, we’ve compiled ten of our favorite tweets from the summit.

Find much more at the summit homepage.

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Welcoming David Wiley, CC’s new Education Fellow

Cable Green, September 13th, 2013


In the McKay School of Education / Mark A. Philbrick / CC BY

David Wiley, longtime open education leader, has joined Creative Commons as a CC Education Fellow. Welcome David!

David is also currently a Shuttleworth Fellow, on leave from Brigham Young University, and leading Lumen Learning, an organization dedicated to supporting and improving the adoption of open educational resources (OER) by middle schools, high schools, community and state colleges, and universities.

David will be promoting Creative Commons and its interests in open education activities and meetings and will:

  • visit institutions of secondary and post-secondary education promoting OER and CC licenses;
  • continue to share his “Intro to Openness in Education” course with the School of Open;
  • actively participate in the Open Policy Network; and
  • create, CC license, and publish primers on OER and open textbook adoption at the secondary level and post-secondary level.

To start, David addresses the problems with the “open” washing that is occurring with more frequency in education as OER gains popularity, over at his blog. Welcome David!

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4.0 draft 4 ready for comment — final consultation before publication

Diane Peters, September 12th, 2013

We are delighted to finally publish the fourth and final draft of the 4.0 license suite for public comment. We are publishing draft 4 of BY-NC-SA today, and will publish the other five licenses over the course of the next few days.

The prior public comment period – lengthy as it was – netted important input from the community, stakeholders, and our affiliate community. It was also the signal for CC to pause and consider one final time what more we might do to make the license suite as long-lasting, international, and easy to use as possible. We have introduced changes in this draft that we feel accomplish these goals more completely. A few highlights follow – read more on our 4.0 wiki.

ShareAlike – In discussions with our community (including our affiliate network), it has become evident that there exist several different understandings about how ShareAlike operates — in particular, whether and how the licenses “stack” when different SA licenses are applied (such as ports and later versions), like they stack for adaptations of BY and BY-NC works. We also know that in practice, many (perhaps even most) users of those remixes look only to the last SA license applied as the source of their obligations as to all copyright holders.

Given the expected longevity of the 4.0 suite, we are taking the opportunity now to insert a provision (see Section 2(a)5)) that brings the legal code fully in line with what we believe is the prevailing practice and expectation. Thus, while the original license continues to apply to the original, all copyrights in remixes of 4.0 SA-licensed works will be under a unified set of terms and conditions (those of the last SA license applied), even when a later version of the SA license is applied by a downstream remixer. We welcome input on this important revision.

Effective Technological Measures – While we are retaining the prohibition on these measures, we are taking the opportunity to clarify within the license what has been long-standing confusion over what is and is not prohibited. We introduce in draft 4 a new defined term that makes clear that the prohibition is limited to those technologies that have the effect of imposing legal restrictions on reuse, just as our licenses prohibit additional terms that restrict reuse.

Attribution – Draft 4 improves inter-version compatibility between 4.0 and prior license suites while retaining the new addition introduced earlier that subjects all requirements to a standard of reasonableness.

Other improvements include consolidation of provisions relating to sui generis databse rights for ease of reference and to reduce confusion, eliminating an unnecessary (and confusing) license interpretation clause, removal of a provision that would have allowed customized warranties to form part of the license, and other language clean up and simplification. Read more about the changes and improvements to draft 4, including a comparison of this draft to Draft 3 [PDF] and a chart summarizing changes to the attribution and marking requirements [PDF]. More info on our 4.0 wiki.

Please note that this consultation period is abbreviated. We will be drawing the comment period to a close sometime the week of September 23rd. Please participate!

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Global Summit Wrap Up

Jessica Coates, September 9th, 2013

GS2013 Final Day in Hall
GS2013 Final Day in Hall
(Ibtihel Zaatouri / CC BY SA).

And so we have it – we just came back from the Global Summit, CC’s bi-annual meeting of our global community, for another two years.

And the resounding opinion seems to be that this year’s Summit was a huge success. With over 300 attendees from over 50 countries and 5 days worth of events, it was our biggest meet up yet, and our first to have simultaneous language translation for most of the sessions. It had side events, keynotes, unconferencing, casual meet ups, and a rocking CC Salon.

Some highlights:

Paul Keller addresses the crowd at the Copyright Reform Miniconference

Paul Keller addresses the crowd at the Copyright Reform Miniconference (Lupa / CC BY SA)

  • the opening night CC Salon, featuring CC-licensing Argentinian musicians Shaman y Los Pilares de la Creación, Villa Diamante, and Sara Hebe and Ramiro Jota. Visuals were provided by vijay Valentino Tettamanti;
  • the plenary panel on CC in the Real World, with inspirational projects such as Daniel Reetz’s DIY Scanner project and Valentín Basel’s educational robotics project, Fedora;
  • fruitful discussions about CC’s stance on copyright reform, both at the pre-event miniconference and throughout the Summit. Watch the CC blog for more news on the resulting statement soon.
  • the keynote by Lawrence Lessig at the University of Buenos Aires’ School of Law, during which he announced that he was teaming up with EFF to launch a landmark lawsuit against Liberation Music, who alleged copyright infringement when Lessig used part of one of its songs in a lecture he posted to Youtube. The suit could be an important precedent in defending fair use and setting limits on the overzealous copyright threats that to often occur on the internet.

If you missed out, you can find materials, including presentations and notes, on the Summit website. Watch for videos, which will be put up over the next few weeks.

The Summit couldn’t have happened without a lot of people. CC would like to thank the Summit Sponsors, the City of Buenos Aires, Banco Credicoop, Google, the Macarthur Foundation and Dotspin. We would also like to thank our venue, Cultural San Martin, and our side event organisers, FLACSO Argentina, Concepto Cero, and the Faculty of Law of Buenos Aires Unviversity. But most of all, we’d like to thank our coorganizers – our CC Argentina affiliates Foundacion Via Libre and Wikimedia Argentina. They did a fabulous job!

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Congratulations! Announcing Affiliate Project Grant Recipients

Meryl Mohan, September 9th, 2013


Creative Commons Global Summit 2013 (cckorea / CC BY)

You might remember a few months ago when CC announced the start of an affiliate project grant program to support and expand the work of CC’s global volunteer network.

Today, we are thrilled to announce the recipients of those grants. With a pool of over 70 applications from our community, 18 have been selected to receive grants that support and further open policies and practices in their region. From an open source platform for expression led by a Palestinian rap group, to an online copyright course for Latin american librarians, to a revived CC WordPress plug-in from Finland, we are more than excited to watch these projects unfold in the coming months.

We want to thank everyone for the thoughtful and varied submissions we received from our global affiliate community. In selecting the recipients, we based our decisions on a number of criteria, including the relevance to our mission, benefit to the CC community, significance of outcome, impact, feasibility, partners, and cost effectiveness.

Please join me in congratulating the recipients of the CC Affiliate Project Grants:

AFRICA
Kenya – School of Open Kenya Initiative
South Africa – Creative Commons for Kids
Tanzania – Tanzania CC Salon
Uganda – Promoting Creative Commons Initiatives in Uganda
Cross Regional – Activate Africa

ARAB WORLD
Algeria – Arabic Icons
Lebanon – CC Simply Explained in Arabic
Morocco – Creative BookSprint
Palestine, Lebanon – Hope Spoken/Broken: Change in the Eyes of Palestinian Refugees

ASIA – PACIFIC
Japan – Workshops and Symposium for Open Data in Japan
New Zealand – Media Text Hack
Taiwan – Practices and Depositories for The Public Domain

EUROPE
Finland – WpLicense Revived
Ireland – Awareness-raising Event in Dublin, November 2013
Romania – OER Awareness Activities for Librarians and Academics in Romania

LATIN AMERICA
Chile – Promotion of Open Knowledge in the Chilean Academia: Ways to Facilitate Adoption of Creative Commons in the Academic World
Colombia, El Salvador, Uruguay – An Online Course on Basic Copyright, including the open concept that will be totally developed in Spanish for Latinamerican librarians
Guatemala, Uruguay – Promoting Free Music in Central and South America

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California Community Colleges require Creative Commons Attribution for Chancellor’s Office Grants & Contracts

Cable Green, September 9th, 2013

CCC_logo_2color-300x300

At today’s meeting of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the Board voted unanimously to require open licensing on publicly funded materials resulting from all Chancellor’s Office contracts and grants.

The previous policy for these grants maintained ‘all rights reserved’ copyright over grant materials by the Chancellor’s Office; the exact language (PDF) reading, “The copyright for all materials first produced as a result of this Work for Hire agreement shall belong to the Chancellor’s Office.”

Upon reviewing the existing policy, and discussing the benefits of open licensing for publicly funded materials, the Board of Governors voted to adjust its policy so that any works created under contracts or grants funded by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office will be made available under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) license.

The Chancellor’s Office will maintain its copyright over grant and contract funded materials, while enabling wide dissemination, reuse, and adaptation of those materials under the CC BY license. With 72 districts and 112 colleges, the California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in world to now require a CC BY license on its publicly funded grant materials.

According to the press release (PDF),

Using a CC BY license also saves taxpayers money by not funding duplicate work that may only be accessible on the local level. For instance, under the old grant requirements a community college staff may have produced a report under contract from the Chancellor’s Office but was not required to openly license or share that report with other colleges. This made it difficult for other colleges to access and reuse the report, but with the new CC BY requirement, other colleges can both view the report and reuse, share, and improve upon it with updated information and data.

“The Chancellor’s Office already held copyrights to all materials that had been contracted,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris said. “But the great thing about the action taken by the board of governors this afternoon is that those materials will now be available to a world-wide audience. Also, the tax-paying public shouldn’t be required to pay twice or more to access and use educational materials, first via the funding of the research and development of educational resources and then again when they purchase materials like textbooks they helped fund. So, ultimately this decision to change the board’s regulations will save taxpayers money over time. That’s always a good thing.”

Dean Florez, President and CEO of the 20 Million Minds Foundation added:

“These are exciting times as the California Community Colleges takes the lead in advancing higher education. Creative Commons licensing saves families and taxpayers money and the advancement of Open Educational Resources further expands access to materials for faculty members and their students.”

The video of the open policy discussion from the September 9th meeting is embedded below and available here. Learn more at the press release (PDF) and the presentation and analysis of the agenda item (PDF) from the meeting. Creative Commons is thrilled with this recent development and hopes this new policy by the California Community Colleges inspires other college systems to also implement open policies for their grants and contracts.

Thank you, California Community Colleges for ensuring publicly funded educational resources are openly licensed.

Related: California’s Community Colleges Shift to Creative Commons Licenses by The Chronicle of Higher Education

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Vote for CC at SXSW!

Elliot Harmon, September 4th, 2013

Are you planning to go to South by Southwest next year? CC has two pending sessions at SXSW Interactive and one at SXSWedu.

If you’d like to see these sessions happen next year, then please cast your vote. Voting ends this week, so please show your support now!

Open Education: The Business & Policy Case for OER

The Internet, increasingly affordable computing, open licensing, open access journals and open educational resources provide the foundation for a world in which a quality education can be a basic human right. Yet before we break the “iron triangle” of access, cost and quality with new models, we need to develop sustainable open business models with open policies: public access to publicly funded resources.

How Open Licensing Is Transforming Design

When designers share their work under an open license, they invite others to build upon and transform their designs without asking for permission, sometimes even using them commercially. A few years ago, the idea of letting non-clients steal your work was crazy; today, it’s a big part of how designers network, collaborate, and create professional opportunities for themselves and each other.

How Creative Commons Is Changing Artists’ Careers

When creators share their art under a Creative Commons license, they invite others to build upon and transform their work without asking for permission. Everyone has heard the stories of big names like Amanda Palmer and Cory Doctorow licensing their work under CC, but what about artists who don’t already have a massive following? Does open licensing open doors for developing creators, or does it close off potential revenue streams?

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Where’s 4.0? A Post-Summit Update

Diane Peters, August 29th, 2013

When we published Draft 3 of Version 4.0 of the CC license suite in February, we reminded our community that the ensuing consultation period would be its final chance to comment on the licenses before publication. The publication of that draft and reminder caused some stakeholders and others in our affiliate network to take a final hard look at the legal code. This was also the trigger for us here at CC to conduct one last review as planned. After all, one of our foremost goals has been to develop a long-lasting suite of licenses that will carry us as far into the future as possible. If there are some improvements we can make now and that will avoid problems later, then we ought take the time to account for those when possible.

That our publication caused the legal code to undergo this final level of scrutiny is the good news. We were also able to have a concluding discussion with our affiliates face-to-face during the 2013 Global Summit in Buenos Aires last week. There, we received valuable input from those in attendance about the final draft of the licenses.

The unfortunate news is the ensuing delay. For those eager to move from 3.0 to 4.0 — and there are many of you who have been waiting patiently — we recognize that the delay is a source of frustration. We are excited to say that the wait will pay dividends for everyone; however, the community identified a few important issues and we’re working together to address those issues in the upcoming draft. We’ll be expanding more on those when we publish the draft, slated for next week.

For those of you interested in commenting on the final draft, take note that the consultation period will be abbreviated, no longer than two weeks. The bulk of the changes are not substantive and do not involve a shift in policy. Instead, they involve further refinements and simplification in language when possible, consolidation of the sui generis database rights provisions into a single section for ease of reference, and similar improvements. The remainder will be concisely framed and explained, and we don’t expect them to be controversial.

Watch this space and our 4.0 wiki for the final drafts of the licenses next week. Thanks again for your patience and support. We’re close!

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