Commons News

Memorial for Aaron Swartz in SF at Internet Archive

Elliot Harmon, January 23rd, 2013

Dear Friends, please join us as we gather to remember Aaron Swartz on the evening of Thursday, January 24th.

Reception at 7:00pm

Memorial at 8:00pm

at the Internet Archive

300 Funston Avenue

San Francisco 94118

Speakers will include Danny O’Brien, Lisa Rein, Peter Eckersly, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, Cindy Cohn, Brewster Kahle, Tim O’Reilly, Elliot Peters, Alex Stamos, and Carl Malamud; there will be an opportunity for brief remembrances.

Please consider RSVPing so that we know how many people to expect. If you are unable to join us, you can watch a live stream of the event.

From Aaron’s friends at: Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Noisebridge, Internet Archive, Wikimedia Foundation, Stanford Center for Internet and Society, O’Reilly and Blurryedge.

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Boundless, the free alternative to textbooks, releases its content under Creative Commons

Jane Park, January 22nd, 2013

boundless logo

Boundless, the company that builds on existing open educational resources to provide free alternatives to traditionally costly college textbooks, has released 18 open textbooks under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA), the same license used by Wikipedia. Schools, students and the general public are free to share and remix these textbooks under this license. The 18 textbooks cover timeless college subjects, such as accounting, biology, chemistry, sociology, and economics. Boundless reports that students at more than half of US colleges have used its resources, and that they expect its number of users to grow.

Boundless has an entire section explaining open educational resources (OER) and how they use them. However, you can easily see how it works for yourself by browsing one of their textbooks directly. For example, see their textbook on Biology. At the end of each chapter, sources are cited as a list of links where you can find the original material:

boundless biology chapter

This chapter on Organismal Interactions references a Wikipedia article and several articles in The Encyclopedia of Earth. If you follow these links, you will find that the original articles are OER governed by the same CC BY-SA license.

From Boundless’ FAQ,

Is it really free? How does Boundless make money?

Absolutely. Boundless books are 100% free with no expiration dates like textbook rentals or buybacks at the bookstore. It starts with Open Educational Resources. In the future, Boundless will implement some awesome optional premium features on top of this free content to help students study faster and smarter.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Boundless is already rolling out some of those premium features, including flashcards, study guides, and quizzes. To access these features Boundless requires a free user account. The textbooks themselves are completely open, without registration required, and are accessible at boundless.com/textbooks/.

For further reading, we recommend Slate’s article entitled, “Never Pay Sticker Price for a Textbook Again – The open educational resources movement that’s terrifying publishers.” It does a fantastic job of placing the company’s aims in the context of the current publishing ecosystem.

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U.S. News and World Report Examines the Growth of Open Education

Elliot Harmon, January 18th, 2013

Open as in Books?

Open as in Books? / Alan Levine / CC BY-SA

This week, U.S. News and World Report ran an excellent story about the rise of openly-licensed educational materials. Simon Owens’ article touches on many of the open education landmarks we’ve been celebrating over the past year, including the Department of Labor’s TAA-CCCT grant program and open textbook legislation in British Columbia and California. Owens interviewed CC director of global learning Cable Green as well as David Wiley, the Twenty Million Minds Foundation‘s Dean Florez, and several other experts in the space.

From the article:

Upon its launch a decade ago, Creative Commons was embraced by the artist and literary community, and its iconic logo began appearing on the sidebars of thousands of blogs, web pages, and Flickr photos. By 2005, the nonprofit estimated there were 20 million works that utilized the license, and by 2009 that number had climbed to 350 million. But while the organization has always embraced its grassroots enthusiasm, it continually sought recognition and adoption from larger, more traditional institutions.

The philosophy behind this goal is simple. “The public should have access to what it paid for,” says [Cable Green]. “Free access and legal access to what it bought. The tagline is ‘buy one get one.’ If you buy something, you should get access to it.” And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Creative Commons activists have identified education materials as a prime target for their view. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that student loan debt had surpassed auto loans and credit debt, coming in at an estimated $1 trillion. And a not-insignificant contribution to this burden has been the rising cost of textbooks.

[…]

David Wiley, an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham University in Utah, has been immersed in the OER community predating the creation of the Creative Commons license. He was inspired by a group of technologists who met in 1998 to rebrand the free software movement as “open source,” and he later worked to develop an “open content” license that would allow content creators to share and distribute their content easily. “The only difference was that all of us who were initially involved weren’t lawyers,” he recalls. “We were just making stuff up. It was scary, because there were hundreds of thousands of people who were using these licenses, and if any of them actually went to court, who knows what would have happened?” Imagine his relief then when the Creative Commons license was formed. “I put a big notice on our website saying, ‘please everyone, run away from our licenses as fast as you can. Here are real lawyers that have done something similar but way better.'”

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OER advocates recommend open licensing for $100+ million Investing in Innovation fund

Jane Park, January 17th, 2013

This is sound public policy; taxpayers should have free and legal access to publicly funded educational content.

This is an excerpt from comments we submitted last week to the U.S. Department of Education on the proposed requirements for the Investing in Innovation Fund (I3 program). Creative Commons, along with the Open CourseWare Consortium, the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, and the State Educational Technology Directors Association, believe that insofar as the I3 program will use public funds to support the creation of educational materials, those educational materials ought to be made freely and openly available to the public. We urge the U.S. Department of Education to adopt a policy identical to that of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program (TAACCCT). That initiative requires that educational content created with DOL grant funds be shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY).

The DOL open policy states (pdf):

In order to ensure that the Federal investment of these funds has as broad an impact as possible and to encourage innovation in the development of new learning materials, as a condition of the receipt of a TAACCCT grant, the grantee will be required to license to the public (not including the Federal Government) all work created with the support of the grant (Work) under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY) license. Work that must be licensed under the CC BY includes both new content created with the grant funds and modifications made to pre-existing, grantee-owned content using grant funds … This license allows subsequent users to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the copyrighted Work and requires such users to attribute the Work in the manner specified by the grantee.

The $2 billion DOL program’s CC BY open licensing requirement will help maximize the impact of those grant funds, and the $100+ million I3 Program can realize similar benefits by adopting the same policy.

Read the complete comments we submitted at the CC wiki.

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Welcome Dan Mills, Director of Product Strategy

Cathy Casserly, January 15th, 2013

2013 starts off fresh with Dan Mills joining the Creative Commons team as our director of product strategy. We are delighted to have Dan onboard and look forward to engaging his leadership. In his new role, Dan will head the Technology Team in the creation of software products to propel the Creative Commons mission forward and enable the growth of the community.

Dan brings a spot on range of skills and experience to his new position. Before Creative Commons, Dan was Product Manager for Identity at Mozilla, responsible for creating Persona, a decentralized Web sign-in solution. He has worked with partners to integrate sign-in and payments into the Firefox Marketplace and upcoming Firefox OS. Dan has served as a spokesperson for Mozilla in many international venues, including Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and Kuala Lumpur. He led efforts to engage and grow the open source communities for Mozilla in various countries.

Prior to switching over to product management, Dan was a software engineer at Mozilla Labs and the Firefox team, as well as the open source startup Ximian (acquired by Novell).

Dan grew up in sunny Venezuela. He has lived in the US since going to Duke University, where he graduated with a BS in computer science and minors in economics and Italian. He loves to cook and experiment with his sous vide machine. We look forward to Dan sharing his culinary delights and product vision with all of us at CC!

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Remembering Aaron Swartz

Lawrence Lessig, January 12th, 2013

Lawrence Lessig and Aaron Swartz
Lawrence Lessig and Aaron Swartz (2002) / Rich Gibson / CC BY

Friends and Commoners,

It is with incredible sadness that I write to tell you that yesterday, Aaron Swartz took his life. Aaron was one of the early architects of Creative Commons. As a teenager, he helped design the code layer to our licenses, and helped build the movement that has carried us so far. Before Creative Commons, he had coauthored RSS. After Creative Commons, he co-founded Reddit, liberated tons of government data, helped build a free public library at Archive.org, and has done incredibly important work to reform and make good our political system. (DemandProgress.org, his most recent org, was instrumental in blocking the SOPA/PIPA legislation one year ago.)

More than all that, Aaron was a dear friend to all of us, and an inspiration to me and many of you. Our prayers are with his parents and those who knew his love. But everything we build will forever know the product of his genius.

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Join Creative Commons During Open Education Week (March 11-15)

Jane Park, January 9th, 2013

562x252-oew-web-banner

This year Open Education Week takes place on March 11-15 and features a series of events, workshops, project showcases, and webinars from around the world. If you care about sharing knowledge, reducing barriers to educational access, and helping to grow the amount of free and open educational resources (OER) available on the web — join Creative Commons and many other organizations and institutions by answering the Call for Participation.

Simply submit your proposed activity by January 18. Activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Provide a Project Showcase highlighting some aspect of open education in your project, organization, region or country
  • Offer a webinar or virtual Question and Answer session on a topic of interest
  • Create or share basic resources about the open education movement
  • Host a local event during Open Education Week
  • Form a Working Group to address a common problem or opportunity
  • Propose another activity—we invite you to be creative!
  • Contribute your skills to creating, organizing, coordinating or spreading the word about Open Education Week

As part of Open Education Week, Creative Commons and its affiliates are hosting and participating in local events and webinars on OER, Version 4.0 of the CC licenses, the Open Policy Network, School of Open, and more. In addition, the School of Open will officially launch its first set of courses that week, including courses on copyright and Creative Commons for educators. Courses will be free to take and free to reuse and remix under P2PU’s default CC BY-SA licensing policy.

To participate in Open Education Week, visit http://www.openeducationweek.org.

To be notified when School of Open courses start, sign up for the School of Open announce list. If you’d like to get involved in building courses for launch, visit http://schoolofopen.org.

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Lawrence Lessig’s WSJ Article on Bassel Khartabil

Elliot Harmon, January 8th, 2013

Bassel
Bassel / joi / CC BY

Today in the Wall Street Journal, Creative Commons co-founder Lawrence Lessig has a thoughtful piece about Bassel Khartabil, the longtime CC volunteer who has been detained by Syrian authorities since March.

In late 2012, Foreign Policy named Mr. Khartabil one of this year’s top 100 thinkers. The magazine singled him out for “fostering an open-source community in a country long on the margins of the Internet’s youth culture.”

But Mr. Khartabil wasn’t able to accept that honor. He was arrested in March by Syrian authorities because of his work and has been held — at times in utter isolation — ever since. His family fears the very worst.

Mr. Khartabil isn’t a partisan, aligned with one Syrian faction against another. He represents a future, aligned against a totalitarian past. The Syrian government is fearful of the potential threat to the totalizing control that defines the modern Syrian state. The government thus wants to shut the free-software, free-culture movement down, in a way that only a totalitarian regime can.

Please join us in urging Syrian authorities to release Bassel. Sign the letter of support and follow the most recent updates at freebassel.org.

Related

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Happy Public Domain Day

Timothy Vollmer, January 1st, 2013

Each year on January 1st, copyright protection expires for millions of creative works, allowing those works to be used by anyone without restriction or need for permission. On this Public Domain Day, we celebrate the rich creative works that have risen into the public domain, and mourn the massive number of works that could have been in the public domain but which aren’t due to unreasonable copyright extension or the chilling effects created by Byzantine copyright term schemes. The excellent Public Domain Review–which catalogs and offers some interesting insight, explanation, and analysis into unique and unusual treasures in the public domain–has profiled some great works from the Class of 2013. But in other countries, nothing will enter the public domain again this year.

While copyright terms continue to be extended and policymakers support a detrimental enforcement agenda, there has been no shortage of encouraging work in support of a robust and expanded public domain.

  • The Internet Archive announced this year a massive trove of over 1,000,000 mostly public domain content available for download over Bittorrent. In similar fashion, video archivist Rick Prelinger pointed us toward a big collection of public domain video footage.
  • Musopen continues to be a promising project initially dedicated to providing copyright free music content: music recordings, sheet music and a music textbook.
  • There’s ongoing efforts to educate the public about the public domain. The Public Domain Review published the Guide to Finding Interesting Public Domain Works Online, and P2PU is working on developing the Public Domain Detective course.
  • At the international policy arena, the public domain continues to be a topic on the agenda at venues like WIPO, where there have been discussions about how to support access to the public domain. The Communia Association has been at the forefront in championing support for broad access to public domain materials, and has been urging policymakers around the world to adopt liberal policies promoting wide access to public domain content. Communia–of which CC has been a longtime member–has been a key participant to these conversations at WIPO. CC has also been involved.
  • Communia published “The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture” as well as a comprehensive report detailing the efforts of the group during the three years it operated as the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain.
  • Creative Commons continues to offer tools in support of the public domain. These include the CC0 Public Domain Dedication, which is a tool for authors to waive all copyright and related rights, thus putting their work in the public domain prior to the expiration of copyright. This is a crucial tool in use around the world for high profile projects. In September of this year, Europeana released 20 million records into the public domain using CC0. This release is the largest one-time dedication of cultural data to the public domain using CC0, and the dataset consists of descriptive information from a huge trove of digitized cultural and artistic works. In addition, the Public Domain Mark is used to mark works already in the worldwide public domain, such as for very old works where it is clear that the copyright has already expired.
  • In fact, more libraries are releasing metadata under CC0, and public domain may become the norm for libraries in sharing their data.

As you can see, there’s a ton of positive work being done to help increase our access to creative content in the public domain. But the work is not done: the longer we do not have access to these works the less rich our culture will be moving ahead. Let’s keep working on it and demanding access to content that could (and should) be available to all.

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New Zealand Open Data Conference

Puneet Kishor, December 22nd, 2012

As research communities worldwide look for new ways to make the scientific process and its data and results more open and participatory, New Zealand is showing us how it is done.

In July 2010, The New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL) approved by the Cabinet provided guidance for agencies to follow when releasing copyright works and non-copyright material for re-use by others. NZGOAL seeks to standardise the licensing of government copyright works for re-use via Creative Commons New Zealand law licences and recommends the use of ‘no-known rights’ statements for non-copyrighted material.

Then in August 2011, the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government was also approved by the Cabinet whereby the government committed to actively release high value public data “to enable the private and community sectors to use it to grow the economy, strengthen the social and cultural fabric, and sustain the environment… to encourage business and community involvement in government decision-making.”

And earlier this month in December 2012, a report of the Education and Science Committee presented to the House of Representatives of the 50th Parliament an Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy. Among its recommendations were that the Government:

  • review the intellectual property framework for (NZ) education system to resolve copyright issues that have been raised, including considering Creative Commons policy.
  • consider the advantages and disadvantages of whether all documentation produced by the Ministry of Education for teaching and learning purposes should be released under a Creative Commons licence.

In keeping with this spirit, a group of researchers committed to bringing an Open Research conference to Australia and New Zealand are organizing a three day event February 6-8, 2013 in Auckland.

The purpose of this conference is to explore new, open models of research that speed up the effective transfer of research results and improve economic, environmental and social impacts. A growing community of researchers around the world are investigating new commercial and academic models to enhance the reach of their research. These new ways of doing research openly are akin to changes happening in the IT and business world, where open innovation has enabled people to achieve more together than they ever could alone.

Creative Commons plays a key role in promoting openness in science. Events such as this one in Auckland demonstrate the concern about open science that the community shares with Creative Commons. In the end, only good things can come out of openness, sharing and broad participation. Creative Commons is very pleased to see this event take place, and wishes it utmost success.

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