Commons News

Free Culture Conference hits NYC April 20-21

Timothy Vollmer, April 5th, 2013

The Students for Free Culture conference will take place in New York City April 20-21. The conference–dubbed FCX 2013–will be held at New York Law School.

fcx13

The Students for Free Culture Conference is an annual gathering of student and non-student activists, thinkers, and innovators who are dedicated to advancing discussions on technology, law, and public policy. Through panels and keynote speakers, FCX 2013 will focus on current issues in intellectual property law, open access to educational resources, maker culture, and technology policy. Through workshops, the conference will revisit the core pillars of the free culture movement, examine the success stories from our movement, and identify new ways in which Students for Free Culture can advocate for a more free, open, and participatory digital environment.

Longtime SFC member Benjamin Mako Hill (who will be giving the opening keynote) says: “If previous years are any indication, the conference can serve as an incredible introduction to free culture, free software, wikis, remixing, copyright, patent and trademark reform, and participatory culture. For folks that are already deeply involved, FCX is among the best places I know to connect with other passionate, creative, people working on free culture issues.”

The event is open to all, with a suggested $15 donation to help defray costs. Registration is open, and some limited travel assistance may be available for students of active SFC chapters.

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Open Education Around the World – A 2013 Open Education Week Summary

Paul Stacey, April 5th, 2013

OpenEdWk

Creative Commons congratulates all those who participated in the second annual Open Education Week March 11-15, 2013. It’s impressive to see how global open education has become with contributors from over 30 different countries showcasing their work and more than 20,000 people from over 130 countries visiting the Open Education Week website during the week. Open Education Week featured over 60 webinars open to participation from anyone and numerous local events and workshops around the world.

We thought we’d highlight a few Creative Commons global affiliate events from Open Education Week and share a list of urls for Open Education Week webinar recordings the Open Courseware Consortium has published.

The Creative Commons China Mainland team successfully held an Open Education Forum on the afternoon of March 16th at Renmin University of China, Beijing. One highlight of this salon worth special attention is the Toyhouse team from Tsinghua University led by Prof. Benjamin Koo, and their recent project eXtreme Learning Process (XLP). This team is a inspiring example of innovative learning, and a user of CC licenses and OER.

Tobias Schonwetter, Creative Commons regional coordinator for Africa gave an Open Education for Africa presentation explaining why Creative Commons is so important for Open Educational Resources.

The School of Open launched with:

  • 17 courses, including 4 facilitated courses and 13 stand-alone courses (for participants to take at their own pace).
  • ~15 course organizers, affiliated with several organizations/initiatives, including: the National Copyright Office of Australia; University of Michigan’s Open.Michigan; Kennisland/CC Netherlands; Communicate OER, a Wikipedia initiative; Open Video Forum (xm:lab, Academy of Fine Arts Saar); Jamlab (a high school mentorship program in Kenya); Wikimedia Germany and CC Germany

These are just the tip of the rich global discourse that took place during Open Education Week. All webinars during Open Education Week were recorded, with links listed below. You can also view the videos directly on the Open Education Week YouTube channel and on the Open Education Week website, under events and webinars.

Webinar recordings

Monday, March 11

·       Building Research Profile and Culture with Open Access 
·       Learners orchestrating their own learning
·       Learning Innovations and Learning Quality: The future of open education and
        free digital resources
·       Näin käytät ja teet avoimia sisältöjä /How to use and create open content
·       New global open educational trends: policy, learning design and mobile
·       The multiple facets of Openness in #udsnf12  
·       Licencias Creative Commons para recursos educativos, ¿que son? ¿como usarlas?
·       Designing OER with Diversity In Mind
·       وسائل تعليمية تشاركية : تطوير الوسائل التعليمية تشاركيًا باستخدام أداة الابتكار ومنصة  سكراتش البرمجية
·       Driving Adoptions of OER Through Communities of Practice
·       Khan Academy: Personalized learning experiences
·       Good practices on open content licensing
 
Tuesday, March 12
 
·       OCW in the European Higher Education Context: How to make use of its full
        potential for virtual mobility
·       OLDS MOOC Grand finale (final convergence session)  
·       Äidinkielestä riippumaton suomen kielen opetus
·       Opening Up Education
·       CourseSites by Blackboard: A Free, Hosted, Scalable Platform for Open
        Education Initiatives
·       Xpert Search Engine and the Xpert Image Attribution Service
·       Capacitación para la educación abierta: OportUnidad en Latinoamérica
·       Language learning independent of mother language
·       Interactive Learning with Wolfram Technologies
·       Collaborative Boldly Confronts Licensing Issues
·       Buenas prácticas en el uso de licencias para contenidos abiertos
 
Wednesday, March 13

·       是“誰”在使用你的開放式課程網站呢?
·       The interaction, co-construction and sharing of Netease Open Courses
        网易公开课的互动、共建和分享
·       Who is using your OCW site?
·       Políticas nacionales de Acceso Abierto en Argentina
·       Open Policy Network: seeking community input
·       OER Commons Green: A Unique Lens on Open Environmental Education
·       Creative Commons 4.0 Licenses: What's New for Education?
·       How Community Colleges are Innovating with Open Educational Resources
·       P2PU: A Showcase of Open Peer Learning
 
Thursday, March 14

·       Open Access policy development at the University of Pretoria: the why, what
        and how?
·       What you can learn from the UKOER experience
·       Why Open Access is Right for the World Bank
·       What's behind Open Education? A philosophical insight
·       Utilizing OER to Create a Pathway Towards an Affordable Degree  
·       Toolkit Working Group: Tools to help users discover the content they need (1)
·       Learning toys for free: Collaborative educational tools development using
        MakeyMakey and SCRATCH platforms
·       Teach Syria: The Impact of Teaching Global to Today's Youth
·       Re-Creative Commons
·       Validating the Learning Obtained through Open Educational Resources
·       OER and Alternative Certification Models: An Analysis Framework
·       The Open Educational Resources in Brazil as an Instrument to Get Access to
        Qualification, The Government Role at OERs Creation & FGV and
        São Paulo State Case Studies
 
Friday, March 15

·       Open Education for Africa
·       National policies of Open Access to scientific outputs in Argentina
·       Re-thinking Developmental Education: Creating a STEM Bridge in the National
        STEM Consortium
·       Toolkit Working Group: Tools to aid and encourage use of OERs in teaching
·       Crowd-sourced Open Courseware Authoring with SlideWiki.org
·       Using OER to reduce student cost and increase student learning
·       What's next? An open discussion about open education
·       OpenStax College Textbooks: Remixable by Design
·       An OER Editor for the Rest of Us
 

Kudos to the OCW Consortium for organizing this event. We look forward to next years.

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CC Global Summit 2013 – Call for Papers

Jessica Coates, April 3rd, 2013

Listening to Larry's keynote
Listening to Larry’s Keynote [at the Global Summit 2011] / Chiaki Hayashi / CC BY NC SA

We are proud to officially launch the call for papers for CC’s Global Summit 2013.

The Global Summit is Creative Commons’ biannual gathering of CC friends and family. In 2013 it will be held from 21-24 August in Buenos Aires, co-hosted by our local Creative Commons affiliates, Fundación Vía Libre and Wikimedia Argentina.

Attendees to the Summit will discuss strategies to strengthen Creative Commons and its worldwide community, learn about the latest developments in the commons movement worldwide, and showcase local and international projects that use Creative Commons licenses. It’s a great place to meet and present your ideas to the broader Creative Commons and open community. Most importantly, this will be our first ever Summit with a dedicated Spanish-language program.

We encourage anyone with something interesting to say about the present and future of the commons to apply. A Programming Committee consisting of members of the CC community will make the final decision on the program.

You have until 24 May to submit a session for the Summit. Submission forms and a more detailed explanation of the process can be found on our Global Summit wiki.

__________________________________________________________________________

Estamos orgullosos de lanzar oficialmente la convocatoria a charlas para la Cumbre Mundial de Creative Commons de 2013.

La Cumbre Mundial es la reunión de bianual de la comunidad de Creative Commons. En 2013 se llevará a cabo del 21 a 24 de agosto en Buenos Aires, co-organizado por nuestros afiliados locales de Creative Commons, Fundación Vía Libre y Wikimedia Argentina.

Los asistentes a la cumbre discutirán las estrategias para fortalecer Creative Commons y su comunidad en todo el mundo, aprender sobre los últimos acontecimientos en el movimiento mundial de bienes comunes, y mostrar los proyectos locales e internacionales que utilizan las licencias Creative Commons. Es un lugar ideal para reunirse y presentar sus ideas a la comunidad más amplia de Creative Commons. Más importante aún, esta será nuestra primera Cumbre con un apartado en español en el programa.

Animamos a aplicar a cualquier persona que tenga algo interesante para decir sobre el presente y el futuro de los bienes comunes. Un comité de programación integrado por miembros de la comunidad de Creative Commons tomará la decisión final sobre el diseño del programa.

La fecha límite para la presentación de sesiones y charlas es el 24 de mayo. En nuestro wiki se puede encontrar información más detallada sobre el proceso y formas de presentación, así como un espacio abierto a propuestas para la Cumbre.

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Now Hiring: Senior Software Engineer

Dan Mills, April 2nd, 2013

Creative Commons is looking for a senior software engineer. This hire will play a key role in building the next generation of Creative Commons technology. From the job description:

We’re looking for a Senior Software Engineer to join us in creating next generation products and services that enable sharing, curating, remixing, and collaborating on open content.

The Senior Software Engineer is a full-time position reporting to the Director of Product Strategy, and works closely with the rest of the Products & Technology team, including other developers and user experience designers, as well as Creative Commons staff and community volunteers.

This is a rare opportunity to join a brand new team at the ground level. Bring a start-up mentality and lots of energy to build delightful product experiences and help shape the commons to the benefit of everyone.

If that sounds exciting to you, we’d love to hear from you. Check out the full job listing for more information.

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Math instructor releases 2,600 videos under Creative Commons Attribution

Jane Park, April 2nd, 2013

Arizona Phoenix College math instructor James Sousa has been teaching math for 15 years at both the community college and K-12 levels. Over the years, he has developed more than 2,600 video tutorials on topics from arithmetic to calculus, and made these videos available on YouTube, originally under a CC BY-NC-SA license. His website and videos, entitled, Mathispower4u, feature both math lessons and examples, and many of the videos have been incorporated into online homework questions available at MyOpenMath.com.

Recently, James decided to change the license on his videos from CC BY-NC-SA to CC BY, or Creative Commons Attribution. He writes,

“Originally, the videos were licensed CC BY-NC-SA. However, the reason for creating these videos was to help students be more successful in mathematics. To increase student access and more easily share this resource with others, I decided to make the videos more open and change the license to CC BY. I hope the videos will provide a quality math tutorial resource to many.”

Mathispower4u videos may be accessed in several ways, including through James’ website, blog, YouTube account, and Phoenix College’s video database. Thanks to James for his great contribution to open education and the field of mathematics!

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Imprisoned internet pioneer Bassel Khartabil wins Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award

Elliot Harmon, March 21st, 2013

Download press release (36 KB PDF)

Palestinian-born Syrian software engineer Bassel Khartabil is the winner of this year’s Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award, sponsored by Google. Khartabil is a free internet pioneer who has spent his career advancing open source technologies. On March 15, 2012, he was illegally imprisoned in Syria. His family were given no official information about why or where he was detained but have since learnt that he is being held at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus.

Index CEO Kirsty Hughes said, “Following courageous and peaceful protests in 2011, Syria descended into violence with appalling attacks on civilians across the country — and with over 60,000 people killed over the last two years. Up until his arrest last March, Bassel Khartabil bravely continued to work for a cause he passionately believes in — an open and free internet that is available to all. In a country torn apart by violence, he is a brave advocate for peaceful change.”

Bassel’s friend Dana Trometer, who is collecting the Index award on his behalf said, “Bassel deserves to be out of jail celebrating his real freedom and digital freedom. On this Mother’s day in most of the Arab World, and as a mother myself, my heart goes out to Bassel’s Mom. Bassel is a kind and gentle friend. A loving husband and son. He did not fear being targeted as he knew his love for Syria would save him from being persecuted by the authorities. Bassel is aware of this award and he would like to thank the judges and audience for trusting him with such an honour. He would also like to pay respect to all the victims of the struggle for freedom of speech, and, especially for those non-violent youths who refused to carry arms and deserve all the credit for this award.”

Another close friend of Bassel’s, Jon Phillips, stated, “Lock-up, Lock-out fails. Locking-up Bassel, only locks-out his personal freedom. By locking-up Bassel, his Syrian captors are accidentally locking-out themselves from the future. From launching Creative Commons Syria, building the Arabic Wikipedia and bringing internet leaders to Syria, he knew that his free participation in global web communities required concrete contributions locally. For these acts would make Syria a better place. One year later, Bassel is under harsh lock-down. Now, thousands of people that Bassel’s work helped, now help him by spreading the message #FREEBASSEL. This is what truly builds Syria and connects it to the global connected future. This award proves that his lock-up, is NOT a lock-out of his digital freedom.”

Bassel is known worldwide for his strong commitment to the open web, teaching others about technology, and contributing his experience freely to help the world. Bassel is the inventor of an open source software that powers the Open Clip Art Library. He is an original contributor to the Arabic Wikipedia and launched Creative Commons Syria. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to major Internet projects like Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, and Fabricatorz.

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Pallante’s Push for U.S. Copyright Reform

Timothy Vollmer, March 20th, 2013

Today, U.S. Register of Copyright Maria Pallante stood before Congress to say: we need a new copyright law. Pallante’s prepared remarks (127 KB PDF) to the U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet called for “bold adjustments” to U.S. copyright law.

This is a most welcome aspiration. A strong push for copyright reform is currently occurring around the world through domestic reviews and in international fora like WIPO — coming both from those wanting increased recognition of user rights and those calling for tighter author controls. With the United States one of the leading nations advocating for stronger copyright protection through treaties such as ACTA and the TPP, the international community will be closely observing any movement in U.S. domestic law.

In addition to several meaningful reform ideas — including shortening the copyright term itself, alterations to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and making revisions to exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives — we’re happy to see that the Register is highlighting the crucial need to expand and protect the public domain. Some of the most compelling work undertaken by Creative Commons and others in the open community has to do with increasing the accessibility and value of the public domain. We hope a more positive public domain agenda can become ingrained into the foundations of U.S. copyright policy. The central question: Can the United States devise a better system for both authors and the public interest in an environment where technology and social norms are increasingly disconnected from an aging copyright law?

Pallante said, “[A]uthors do not have effective protections, good faith businesses do not have clear roadmaps, courts do not have sufficient direction, and consumers and other private citizens are increasingly frustrated.” However, there is no doubt that public copyright licenses are offering a substantial and effective counter to some of these pains — even noted by Ms. Pallante in her longer lecture at Columbia University titled The Next Great Copyright Act (337 KB PDF), “[S]ome [authors] embrace the philosophy and methodology of Creative Commons, where authors may provide advance permission to users or even divest themselves of rights.” CC licenses and public domain instruments are right now helping alleviate frustration with copyright for all — individuals, businesses, institutions, governments — who opt in to using public licenses and licensed works.

Indeed, public licenses are easy-to-use tools for communities that wish to share their creativity on more flexible terms. And when millions of motivated creators share under public copyright licenses like CC, they create great and lasting things (hello Wikipedia). Public copyright licenses shine brightly in the light of Pallante’s telling reflection: “If one needs an army of lawyers to understand the precepts of the law, then it is time for a new law.”

At the same time, the existence of open copyright licenses shouldn’t be interpreted as a substitute for robust copyright reform. Quite the contrary. The decrease in transaction costs, increase in collaboration, and massive growth of the commons of legally reusable content spurred on by existence of public licenses should drastically reinforce the need for fundamental change, and not serve as a bandage for a broken copyright system. If anything, the increase in adoption of public licenses is a bellwether for legislative reform — a signal pointing toward a larger problem in need of a durable solution.

We and the rest of the international community are looking forward to seeing what Pallante and Congress have in mind when they continue the discussion after today. In her oral testimony, Ms. Pallante said, “Copyright is about the public interest.” We hope that the public interest has a seat at the table, with room both for open content licensing and positive legislative reform. The existence of CC licenses does not limit the need for reform. Open licenses help forward-thinking people and institutions to live and thrive in the digital age now, and illuminate the roadmap for beneficial reform to come. Let us begin.

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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.

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