Commons News

Help Build the School of Open in German

John Weitzmann, March 20th, 2013

On the first weekend of March, Wikimedia Germany and CC Germany hosted a workshop around the School of Open’s official launch. Attending were professionals and enthusiasts from various fields, some lawyers but mostly teachers and education managers as well as activists of the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Internet & Society Co:llaboratory in Berlin.

School-Of-Open-Workshop WMDE
School Of Open Workshop WMDE / Elly Köpf / CC BY-SA

After a quick introduction, we checked out the existing School of Open course program and all features of the P2PU user interface. The mission then was to get a first set of courses in German off the ground by either translating existing courses and/or developing new ones — and that’s what we did:

Work on three courses began, partly translating the content, partly enhancing it. One course was envisioned from scratch, aiming at giving educators an idea of how OER work, why they matter and how. Here are the courses that are in development:

  • Bilder auf Wikimedia Commons hochladen – In diesem Kurs kannst du lernen, wie einfach es ist, Inhalte auf Wikimedia Commons hochzuladen und damit die große Datenbank freier Bilder weiter zu ergänzen.
    English translation: Upload images to Wikimedia Commons – In this course you will learn how easy it is to upload content on Wikimedia Commons, and thus complement the large database of free images.
  • Wie erstelle ich einen Kurs auf P2PU?- Du möchtest einen Kurs anlegen und mit anderen dein Wissen teilen? Hier findest du in wenigen Schritten eine Anleitung.
    English translation: How to create a course on P2PU – You want to create a course and share your knowledge? Here you can find a tutorial in a few steps.
  • Freie Lernmaterialien in der Schule – OER für Lehrkräfte – Mit diesem Kurs lernen Sie die Bedeutung von Open Educational Resources, kurz OER, den freien Lehr- und Lernmaterialien, kennen.
    English translation: Free learning materials in schools – OER for teachers – This course will teach you the importance of open educational resources (OER) and the freedom of teaching and learning materials.

At the end of the day, a start had been made and the participants collected a lot of ideas about how to improve and develop the School of Open program. A network began to emerge of interested experts and enthusiasts, many of whom will join the School of Open discussion list (Google Group) in order to get involved.

If you would like to help us develop the courses above, or create new ones in German, please email legal@creativecommons.de or join the School of Open discussion list and introduce yourself and your interest!

For the German summary of the event, see the Wikimedia Germany blog.

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Bassel Khartabil Nominated for Digital Freedom Award

Elliot Harmon, March 19th, 2013

#freebasselday San Francisco
#FREEBASSELDAY San Francisco / Niki Korth / CC BY

If you read Creative Commons’ blog or follow our various social media channels, you’re no doubt already familiar with the story of Bassel Khartabil, the long-time Creative Commons volunteer who’s been detained in Syria for over a year. Last Friday, we participated in a global day of solidarity in honor of Bassel.

Bassel has been nominated for the Index on Censorship’s Digital Freedom Award. The award ceremony will take place this Thursday, March 21, in London.

From the Index’s nomination:

Software engineer Bassel Khartabil has been held in detention since his arrest in Damascus on 15 March 2012. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights believes his arrest is related to his work as a computer engineer, specialising in the development of open source software.

Khartabil, a Palestinian-born Syrian, spent his career advancing open source and related technologies to ensure a freer internet. Internationally, he is known for his voluntary work with open source projects such as Creative Commons and Mozilla Firefox. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named him in its list of the top 100 global thinkers.

As yet, authorities have failed to provide an official statement about his arrest, the charges he is facing or his whereabouts. Just weeks before he was jailed, Khartabil tweeted: “The people who are in real danger never leave their countries. They are in danger for a reason and for that they don’t leave.” Khartabil’s arrest was part of the Syrian government’s crackdown against the popular uprising, which has resulted in at least 60,000 deaths since March 2011.

For more information, visit freebassel.org.

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CC Filmmakers and Festivals Change the Rules

Elliot Harmon, March 19th, 2013

During the Academy Awards a few weeks ago, we were reminded of an interesting piece of Creative Commons history:

In 2007, Donna Dewey’s A Story of Healing became the first Academy Award–winning film to be released under a Creative Commons license. The film follows plastic surgeons from Interplast, an organization that provides free reconstructive surgery to people with injuries and congenital deformities. Interplast (which produced the film and is now known as ReSurge International), recognized that sharing it under a CC license could allow its message to reach more people.

Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings the Blues / Nina Paley / CC0

Six years later, filmmakers all around the world are using Creative Commons licenses to bring their films to new audiences. And in the process, many of them are redefining how film production and distribution can work. No, CC-licensed films aren’t sweeping the Oscars, but maybe they’ve become a part of something even more exciting.

For example, take Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues. Most people reading this blog post have probably seen Paley’s amazing film. (If you haven’t, watch it right now. We’ll be here when you get back.) But you might not know that as of 2013, Paley has placed her film in the public domain. Paley explains why she made the unorthodox decision to waive her copyright under the CC0 Public Domain Declaration:

… I still believe in all the reasons for BY-SA, but the reality is I would never, ever sue anyone over SSTB or any cultural work. I will still publicly condemn abuses like enclosure and willful misattribution, but why point a loaded gun at everyone when I’d never fire it? CC0 is an acknowledgement I’ll never go legal on anyone, no matter how abusive and evil they are.

Gottfrid Svartholm

Gottfrid Svartholm (from TPB AFK) / Simon Klose / CC BY

A few weeks ago, Simon Klose released TPB AFK, the long-awaited, Kickstarter-funded documentary about the lives and legal difficulties of the founders of The Pirate Bay. Klose released two versions of the documentary, one licensed BY-NC-ND and one BY-NC-SA. According to Klose, the film includes six minutes of footage from a television network that wouldn’t allow adaptations, so he chose to release a remix-friendly version omitting that footage alongside the NoDerivs version. Both in Klose’s case and in Paley’s, the licenses invite types of reuse and creative participation that can get really problematic under traditional, All Rights Reserved film distribution.

This summer, members of the Nordic CC community are organizing the first Nordic Creative Commons Film Festival. Organizers are inviting anyone in the region to host a screening. Venues will range from full-size theatres to small gatherings in people’s homes. (The organizers are currently looking both for volunteer organizers and for film submissions. Visit their website for more information.)

The Nordic festival is the latest in a growing movement of CC film festivals that began with the Barcelona Creative Commons Film Festival. The BccN launched in 2010 with the slogan “COPY THIS FESTIVAL.” And copy it people did, with “copies” appearing in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Lima, Helsinki, and beyond.

In a video message to the organizers of the Nordic CC Film Festival, CC cofounder Lawrence Lessig suggests that the film culture of the future will look less like today’s film industry and more like this festival:

Another new direction in filmmaking — which, interestingly, also originated in Spain — is Pablo Maqueda and Haizea Viana’s #littlesecretfilm. Anyone can create a “#littlesecretfilm,” as long as her film follows a list of minimalistic rules (finish shooting in 24 hours, ad-libbed dialogue). It’s hard not to make comparisons to Dogme 95, but #littlesecretfilm’s organizers stress that they’re not trying to build a new movement (interview in Spanish). The project’s manifesto describes it simply as “an act of love for the cinema,” which could also describe the global spread of CC film festivals. And of course, #littlesecretfilms must be licensed under Creative Commons.

Around the world, CC filmmakers and festival organizers are changing the rules of every step in the process of filmmaking, from writing and shooting to editing, distribution, and monetization. At a time when the mainstream film industry is struggling to redefine and modernize itself, the CC community isn’t waiting up.

Attention CC filmmakers: Please add your projects to our Case Studies and post upcoming screenings to our Events page. We’d love to help promote your work!

Update (April 11, 2013): The Nordic Creative Commons Film Festival has just launched a crowdfunding campaign. Make a donation or visit the festival site to find other ways to get involved.

Related

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School of Open Kenya Initiative

Kasyoka Mutunga, March 19th, 2013

This is a guest post by Kasyoka Mutunga, Precious Blood Secondary School Alumna and Executive Director of Jamlab, a community of former high school students providing peer mentorship, learning through the use of open educational resources, and using the Internet to objectively achieve their goals and actualize their ideas — while actively solving issues in their communities. Kasyoka is leading the School of Open Kenya Initiative as part of the volunteer CC Kenya community.

Young girls are teamed up in the heart of Nairobi. They are as hyperactive as any teenager would be. They have their aspirations, their goals, and their fears. From their chatter, they are afraid of the same things as I was. They are afraid of the upcoming exams, they are afraid to stay out late, they are afraid to miss the tickets to the upcoming concert, they are afraid that the pizza I ordered will be less than what they can enjoy, they are even afraid that their boyfriends are seeing other girls. However, today, sitting here I realize that there is one a major fear sparking off.

School of Open at the Precious Blood School
School of Open at the Precious Blood School / jamlab / CC BY-NC-SA

Two weeks before, Jamlab rolled out to introduce School of Open ideals to young girls in the Precious Blood School. The response was overwhelming. The girls came out in huge numbers. We cheerfully introduced Creative Commons to them. It was so intriguing that they went out and scavenged the rest of the Internet world for themselves. Soon, we were discussing the value of open in a world where “withheld” is what feels secure. We had to see the James Boyle video to understand exactly what we were all so afraid of when the concept of “Open” initially repelled us. The Initiative was at the end of that week launched formally at the School by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr Bitange Ndemo.


Students at Precious Blood School
jamlab / CC BY-NC-SA

Dr Bitange Ndemo
Dr Bitange Ndemo
jamlab / CC BY-NC-SA

Two weeks later, we sat in a balcony to proactively decide what the students would do with the knowledge they had acquired. They wanted to start companies, they wanted to build organizations, they wanted to make solar panels for their communities, and maybe even create a library system. They had all these ambitions building gradually in them and now maybe, they had the hope of actualizing them irrespective of their age or background. “You know…” I heard one say, “Big people everywhere are fighting for the Internet to remain open and accessible as it was set out to be. We have joined that fight… because for us, we are fighting for a life we can better!” There were giggles and murmurs but those words have stuck with me since.

Making CC videos
Making CC videos / jamlab / CC BY-NC-SA

Finally, we decided on the project to take on together. It was something that resonated with everyone present. Today, they are bundled up behind cameras, behind computers and on the Internet, on YouTube actually. They are working on releasing short videos of their teachers teaching various subjects, licensing them under Creative Commons, and uploading them to YouTube. They are doing this for the thousands of young people who don’t get a chance to go to high school in Kenya.

Looking at their determination, I know that their major fear is that the world will leave them behind… that at the end of their time, they will simply have existed. I am excited about the videos and will send a link as soon as the girls learn how to edit them. However, I know that they ought not be afraid. Creative Commons has given them a reason to be extraordinary… and a reason to make others extraordinary too.

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Free Bassel, Free Culture

Elliot Harmon, March 15th, 2013

#FREEBASSEL
#FREEBASSEL / Kennisland / CC BY-SA

Creative Commons CEO Catherine Casserly wrote a blog post for the Huffington Post for the one-year anniversary of Bassel Khartabil’s arrest.

Since March 15, 2012, our colleague and friend Bassel Khartabil has been in prison in Syria, held without charges and not allowed legal representation. Bassel is an open-source coder and leader of the Syrian Creative Commons program. He believes in the open Internet, and has spent the last ten years using open technologies to improve the lives of Syrians. Not only did Bassel build the CC program in his country; he worked tirelessly to build knowledge of digital literacy, educating people about online media and open-source tools.

Our work requires us to spend a lot of time looking at nuanced details — whether a certain piece of legislation supports open access to research, for example, or how to mark creative works for easier search and filtering. Bassel’s imprisonment has been a stark reminder that our work is part of a larger, global ecosystem. For Bassel and others around the world who fight for open, a free internet is not a theoretical matter. Real lives hang in the balance.

Today, there are demonstrations and getherings happening all over the world in honor of Bassel. Learn more at freebasselday.org.

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CC News: Enroll in the School of Open

Elliot Harmon, March 14th, 2013

Creative Commons

Stay up to date with CC news by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on Twitter.

Top stories:

School of Open
School of Open logo


The wait is over. The School of Open is now in session. Enroll now in a facilitated course or learn at your own pace.

California Seal of the Assembly
California Seal of the Assembly
Edward Headington / CC BY

Big news from California: a new bill in the legislature would allow university students to take CC-licensed, online classes for credit.

Bassel
Bassel
Joi Ito / CC BY

As of this Friday, CC Syria lead Bassel Khartabil has been imprisoned for one year. Join us in urging that Bassel be freed.

Open Education Week logo
Open Education Week logo


It’s Open Education Week! Join us all week for webinars, events, and resources to celebrate the future of education.

 

In other news:

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A Big Thank You from Creative Commons

Elliot Harmon, March 14th, 2013

Larry Lessig and guest toast CC10
Larry Lessig and guest toast CC10 / David Kindler / CC BY

This month marks the end of Creative Commons’ annual fundraising campaign. Thank you so much to everyone who donated or helped spread the word about the campaign.

The past few months have really been a whirlwind for the CC community. We celebrated CC’s tenth anniversary around the world, even in Antarctica (!). We’ve seen major open legislation introduced in Congress, and a White House directive to get more serious about open access. The community built a new online school where anyone can learn about open. We’ve entered the final stretch in developing Version 4.0 of the CC licenses. We’ve mourned the loss of a friend, and are calling for the release of another. And we’ve done it all hand-in-hand with the global community of commoners.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your support. Thank you for being a diverse, engaged community. Full steam ahead into the second decade.

PS: If you haven’t gotten your “Create Share Remix” T-shirt yet, there are still a few left.

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FREEBASSEL with us this Friday

Jessica Coates, March 14th, 2013

This Friday, 15 March, is the one-year anniversary of the detainment of CC Syria lead Bassel Khartibil by the Syrian government. It’s also the second anniversary of the start of the conflict in Syria.

Bassel is a software engineer who has been an important open web advocate and a big part of the CC community for many years. For the past year, CC has been supporting the FREEBASSEL project, which aims to draw attention to his detainment and ultimately secure Bassel’s release.

This Friday, FREEBASSEL is planning a day of global solidarity, inviting everyone to host events, demonstrations, and parties in honor of Bassel. You can do anything – make posters, release software, translate his Wikipedia entry, throw a party at a local bar. Have a cheers for #FREEBASSEL and tweet the picture of your group in your local language. It’s a day to remember Bassel and spread the word.

You can find out about events already being organised for Free Bassel Day, or post about your own, at freebasselday.org. Some of the great events already being organised by the CC community include:

  • CC France and OKFN are organising a Syrian dinner in Paris;
  • CC Netherlands and Kennisland have created a poster with information and are placing it behind metal bars throughout Amsterdam, to mimic Bassel’s incarceration;
  • CC HQ is teaming with Wikimedia and EFF to hold a FreeBassel event in San Francisco, with activities and a FREEBASSEL photo shoot.

Or, most simple of all, show your support by sharing this video with your friends and sign the letter.

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California Unveils Bill to Provide Openly Licensed, Online College Courses for Credit

Cable Green, March 13th, 2013

Today California (CA) Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (author of the CA open textbook legislation) announced that SB 520 (fact sheet) will be amended to provide open, online college courses for credit. In short, the bill will allow CA students, enrolled in CA public colleges and universities, to take online courses from a pool of 50 high enrollment, introductory courses, offered by 3rd parties, in which CA students cannot currently gain access from their public CA university or community college. Students must already be enrolled in the CA college or university in which they want to receive credit. The 50 courses and plans for their assessment will be reviewed and approved (or not) by a faculty committee prior to being admitted into this new online course marketplace.

See these articles for details about the initiative:

Why is this important?

  1. 400,000+ California students cannot get a space (in-class or online) in the general education courses they need to progress in their academic career. That’s a major problem. This is one part of the solution.
  2. Creative Commons (CC) has been actively working with all of the major Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) providers, encouraging them to adopt CC licenses on their courses. These conversations continue, but they have been slowed by the MOOCs’ need to explore revenue models. MOOCs licensing content to education institutions has been floated as one possible revenue model, which has slowed MOOCs’ willingness to make it easy for contributing colleges and universities to CC license their courses.
  3. CC has learned that this new CA online marketplace will require open licenses on all courses and textbooks as a condition for participation. That is, if Udacity, Coursera, edX, StraighterLine, Future Learn, or anyone else wants its courses to be considered for use in this initiative, the courses and textbooks will first need to be openly licensed. CC is pleased that Senator Steinberg plans to leverage California’s existing open textbook investment (all textbooks will be licensed under CC BY).

CC has recommended the marketplace only allow courses and textbooks openly licensed with any of the CC licenses that allow derivatives (or CC0) or similar open copyright licenses. Specifically, CC recommended that these licenses be allowed:

  • BY
  • BY SA
  • BY NC
  • BY NC-SA

Conversely, CC recommended not allowing courses into the marketplace if they are licensed:

  • all rights reserved
  • BY ND
  • BY NC-ND
  • with any other restrictive licenses that do not comply with the Hewlett OER Definition

The text discussing “open” in SB 520 reads:

(b) For purposes of this article, the following terms have the following meanings:(1) “Online courses of study” means any of the following: (A) Online teaching, learning, and research resources, including, but not necessarily limited to, books, course materials, video materials, interactive lessons, tests, or software, the copyrights of which have expired, or have been released with an intellectual property license that permits their free use or repurposing by others without the permission of the original authors or creators of the learning materials or resources.

Like the CA open textbook bills, this project is being staffed by Dean Florez (former CA Senate President pro Tem) and the staff at the 20MM Foundation. They have done amazing open policy work in CA and should be congratulated! CC worked closely with 20MM on the open textbooks project and will again on this initiative.

Bottom line

  1. This could be the market demand for openly licensed courses and textbooks that will provide incentives for MOOCs to adopt open licenses.
  2. If this model is successful in California, it could be adopted in other states, provinces and nations. What if all governments made the following promise to their citizens?

“No college student in [X] will be denied the right to move through their education because they couldn’t get a seat in the course they needed.” – Steinberg, “California Bill Seeks Campus Credit for Online Study” (New York Times)

And as governments innovate and create new education marketplaces for their citizens, to ensure affordable access and academic progress, what if they (like Steinberg) required those education spaces to use openly licensed courses and textbooks?

Senator Steinberg continues to leverage 21st-century technologies, open licensing, and the collective strength of the academy and innovative entrepreneurs to ensure that students can access a high quality, affordable education. That’s leadership. Well done, Senator.

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Want to work in open? Intern with CC!

Jessica Coates, March 13th, 2013

Current intern Billy (right) models swag with other CC staff

Recent intern Billy (right) models swag with other CC staff / Meryl Mohan / CC BY

CC is once again opening its doors up to interns this US summer, offering opportunities to those with an interest in community development.

The 2013 Community Support Intern will work with our staff to facilitate CC’s global volunteer network and provide general support for our international activities. This means everything from assisting with coordinating collaborative projects to writing information resources and planning community events. This year will be particularly exciting, as the intern will be helping with preparation for our Global Summit in Buenos Aires, our bi-annual community meeting and single largest outreach event.

The position, which is open to enrolled students of any discipline or level, runs for 10 weeks over June-August here in our Mountain View office. International applicants are strongly encouraged and overseas experience is a plus, although you need to be eligible to work abroad through your university and/or a third-party work-study program. Creative Commons believes strongly in the skills development benefits of internships, and work tasks can be tailored to meet the intern’s interests and experience.

For more information and instructions on how to apply, see our Opportunities page.

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