Free! Music! Sampler now shipping

Elliot Harmon, December 5th, 2013

Our friends at Musikpiraten e.V. just let us know that the Free! Music! Sampler is now shipping. You might remember this year’s Free! Music! Contest. The winners have been chosen, and the heavily exclamatory compilation album looks gorgeous. You can listen to all the tracks and download the album from Musikpiraten’s Bandcamp page.

While you’re there, check out Musikpiraten’s advent calendar, which will feature a new CC-licensed song every day between now and Christmas Eve (mobile version).

Comments Off on Free! Music! Sampler now shipping

Give open: CC’s holiday shopping list

Elliot Harmon, December 3rd, 2013

If you’re scurrying for gifts this year, consider giving open. We’ve put together this list of a few of our favorite openly licensed gifts. What did we miss? Add your favorites to the comments.

Sita Sings the Blues merchandise

Not only is Sita a great film, but it has some of the most unique and beautiful merchandise ever. I’ve actually always thought this was the success of her business model – having things people actually want to buy. I’ve always been particularly fond of the peacock phonograph pendant. Review by Jessica Coates

xkcd volume 0

The first collection of the best geek comic out there. There’s something for everyone in this volume, whether they’re a lover, a gamer or a mathematician. There’s even something for us copyright geeks, with the complete adventures of Doctorow, Lessig, et al in their complete superhero garb. Review by Jessica Coates

Open Design Now

Open Design Now is been one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read this year on openness. It’s available for free online under a Creative Commons license or available for purchase as a hard copy. Highly recommended read for anyone interested in the intersection of open design and physical objects. Review by Paul Stacey

This Stool Rocks

Yup, it’s a rocking stool. It’s such an elegant innovation in design that once you see it, you wonder why it took so long for someone to think of it. If you have access to a CNC machine, you can download the CC-licensed design and build your own. Assmbly will make one for you, and even carve your logo on the seat, but order now: there’s a waiting list. Review by Elliot Harmon

Cards Against Humanity

One of the best card games out there, perfect for long nights with good friends and a bottle of whisky. Like Apples for Apples, but far more surreal and less suitable for children. Download the whole thing from their website and spend hours turning it into a neat game; or just shell out $25 and get the pretty one to begin with. Also available in Spanish, Dutch, pirate and many other languages thanks to its CC license and fan translations. Review by Jessica Coates


The Phylo trading card game is a CC licensed online initiative aimed at creating a Pokemon-like resource but using photos of real animals and plants as a means of helping children learn about biodiversity. Review by Paul Stacey

Group Works

Sticking with cards, I also really like the Group Works pattern cards. These are really useful for anyone who plans meetings, conferences, retreats, and other group sessions. If you are a facilitator, these cards help you plan and create meaningful events. You can download the free, CC-licensed deck or purchase one. Review by Paul Stacey

Dead Unicorn: Pandemic

Dead Unicorn makes melodic pop-punk music that’s surprisingly fun, given their fixation on writing songs about disease. They’re also the guys behind my favorite “about CC” video ever. Earlier this year, the band Kickstarted Pandemic and printed a limited run on colored vinyl (they identify the color as “piss yellow.”) Give it to your weird nephew who thinks you aren’t cool. Review by Elliot Harmon

Public Domain Review prints

If you’re not already following The Public Domain Review (a project of our friends at The Open Knowledge Foundation), you should be. Every day, they post a new find from the endless supply of public domain treasures and oddities. This year, the PDR launched a store full of public domain goodies to help raise money. My favorite is the print of an 1887 woodcut designed to teach Japanese children English words. Review by Elliot Harmon

Team Open trading cards

Of course we had to sneak ourselves onto this list. We worked with the webcartoonist Luke Surl on the drawings for our Team Open interview project. We think he perfectly captured the spirit of the subjects we interviewed. Everyone who donates $25 (USD) or more to CC gets their own complete set of trading cards.


Support Creative Commons on #GivingTuesday

Elliot Harmon, December 3rd, 2013

Billy Meinke with our 92 donors. Are you number 93?

Today, nonprofits and donors around the world are celebrating #GivingTuesday. When you’re deciding what organizations to support this year, we hope you consider Creative Commons.

We have a lot to celebrate together this year. Last week, we unveiled Version 4.0 of the Creative Commons license suite, an accomplishment that reflects two years of work by literally hundreds of people.

More than any CC license before, Version 4.0 reflects the power of the CC movement. It was built upon the expertise of our amazing global community, a community that you join when you license or use content under CC licenses. We’re glad to be on your team.

If you’re proud of what we’ve accomplished together, consider making a donation to support CC’s work in 2014.

Comments Off on Support Creative Commons on #GivingTuesday

School of Open begins investigating its impact with the OER Research Hub

Jane Park, December 2nd, 2013

milton keynes
Milton Keynes / CC BY

I took up residence in Milton Keynes, England, for one week in October as the Linked OER Research Hub Fellow for the School of Open. The School of Open is a community of volunteers from all around the world who are developing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of openness in their field of choice, whether that’s education, science, research, or community design. The free education opportunities consist of online courses, face-to-face workshops, and in-person training programs. Whatever the format, volunteers seek to help people do what they already do better with the aid of open resources and tools. One obvious example is helping educators to find and use free and open educational resources (OER) for the classroom.

In developing these opportunities, we decided it would be a good idea to simultaneously attempt to measure the impact of our activities. We teamed up with the OER Research Hub for a Linked Research Fellowship, which would provide funding for travel/accommodations and a researcher to help with administering, collecting, and analyzing School of Open data. Since we only just launched in March and have a limited data set to work with, we decided to start by focusing on a subset of our online, facilitated courses. School of Open volunteers administered optional surveys in four courses: Copyright 4 Educators (AUS), Copyright 4 Educators (US), Creative Commons for K-12 Educators, and Writing Wikipedia Articles: The Basics and Beyond. The surveys gather feedback from participants on their sharing practices and attitudes towards OER before and after the course. In combination with feedback from the facilitators themselves and archival course material, we hope to write up a short report on our preliminary findings. This report will likely identify gaps where more research is needed, which we hope to conduct during our next round of facilitated courses in March 2014. Then we will publish a final report with our findings in the third quarter of 2014.

My week with the OER Research Hub


As a linked fellow, my week with the OER Research Hub was organized around meeting with Beck Pitt, the researcher I have been working closely with around collecting the data, in addition to meeting the rest of the Hub’s research team and Open University staff working on open education projects of interest to the School of Open. Since I had been and would continue to work on aggregating and analyzing the data remotely, it was crucial to make the most of my stay through face-to-face meetings. Through these meetings, I was thrilled to discover additional areas for collaboration. They are:

  • OER Research course: A School of Open course on how to conduct research openly, especially in the field of OER, to be developed in conjunction with an OER research toolkit that the OER Research Hub team is already developing. The initial concept for the course is still being shaped, but we imagine the course to be for those who are leading open education projects of their own that don’t currently have the resources to measure the impact of their project. This course would equip them with the methods, tools, and familiarity with ethical, privacy, and cultural issues researchers need to consider when conducting research. We aim to have the course developed in time to be part of a facilitated round of School of Open courses in the second quarter of 2014, and to exist thereafter as a stand-alone course for anyone to take at any time.
  • Open Translation course: A School of Open course on open translation, or more specifically, how to translate materials that are openly licensed and what that means. The TESS-India project at the Open University already runs translation workshops for its volunteers in various regions of India to translate OER addressing regional, cultural, and linguistic issues for translation into several Indian languages including Hindi. As part of the workshops, TESS-India will include a day/session on OER and open licensing and what that means for translation. As these workshops will be recorded, we will have video in addition to the workshop resources which can be adapted into an online course for translators around the world. We hope to work with TESS-India to prepare this course for 2014.
  • OpenLearn OER course: A joint OpenLearn and School of Open course on OER, drawing on existing resources like Creating open educational resources.
  • CC license and OER education for the OER Research Hub’s K-12 educator networks, such as the Flipped Learning Network, in the form of webinars and media such as infographics.

mozfest candy
Mozfest candy / CC BY

For our main collaboration — research on School of Open courses — we were able to ready some of the data we had collected for the Mozilla Festival, where Beck hosted a “scrum” on visualizing open education data called the Open Ed Data Detective. Throughout the festival, several participants came by to experiment with the School of Open data along with other data the OER Research Hub made available. In addition to preparing for the data scrum, we collected and compiled most of the initial data on the School of Open courses listed above, including web analytics and data for all 13 stand-alone courses. We outlined a plan for completion of a report on preliminary research findings, follow-up interviews we will conduct with facilitators and course participants, and additional research we will conduct in 2014 during Round 3 of School of Open’s facilitated courses.

For a research residency that lasted less than a week, we made a tremendous amount of progress. I look forward to working closely with the OER Research Hub and Open University staff in the coming months!

Comments Off on School of Open begins investigating its impact with the OER Research Hub

Human Services Taxonomy

Puneet Kishor, December 2nd, 2013

[written in collaboration with Erine A. Gray, founder, Aunt Bertha and the Open Eligibility Project]

Text-based search is powerful. However, as more and more information is digitized and made available on the internet, the effectiveness of text-based search could stand to be supplemented with other technologies.

Aunt Bertha logo Aunt Bertha, an Austin, TX–based B Corporation, focuses on helping people to find government and charitable human service programs on the web. In the United States, there are 89,000 governments, a million charities, and more than three hundred thousand congregations. Many of these organizations provide food, health, housing, or education programs to those who need it (the “Seekers”). Aunt Bertha’s goal is to index all these programs so that the Seekers can find help in seconds.

Launched in the fall of 2010, Aunt Bertha founders learned something very interesting early on. In a medium-sized city, a Seeker can have at least 500 government and charitable programs to choose from. The user experience designer must ensure that the Seekers can easily find the program that fits their need, a task that’s harder than it might seem: not only are the Seekers are multi-faceted and complex; so are the programs that serve them. A common language that described both the Seekers and the available human services would go a long way to help as text-based search alone would not work. Enter the Open Eligibility Project.

Open Eligibility Project Realizing that other organizations were facing the same problem — and that there had been attempts at categorizing these types of programs before, but the terms and methodologies used were full of bureaucratic jargon — the Open Eligibility Project set out to simplify the taxonomy, the terms that describe human services.

There are two important facets to human services taxonomy: Human Services and Human Situations. Human Services are simply the services provided by the organization—examples include clothes for school, computer classes and counseling. Human Situations are simply the attributes of the Seeker—for examples, mothers, ex-offenders or veterans. Here is one example of the use of this taxonomy on Aunt Bertha:

WIC Program

It is not always easy to find the balance between comprehensiveness and ease-of-use. For this project to be successful, a tension should always exist between these two goals. Lean too far one way and it becomes suitable only for the policy wonks. Lean the other way, and it loses specificity and the Seekers can not find what they are seeking.

Since launching the Open Eligibility Project, there has been some interesting traction in the area of human services taxonomy. Just this year, a new Civic Services Schema was submitted and accepted by Schema.org. The ServiceAudience field of the spec, in particular, is a great fit for Open Eligibility’s Human Situations tags. If government agencies adopt this spec, it will make their programs more findable by people who fit those situations (ex: programs for veterans, programs for foster children, etc.).

What’s Next

Aunt Bertha seeded the Open Eligibility Project with all of the types of services and situations listed on Aunt Bertha. But, there are more out there though, and help from others would make the taxonomy even better. That is why the founders were attracted to Creative Commons, and decided to release the taxonomy on Github under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Hackers, coders, and those concerned generally with human services are invited to join the Google+ community, and to contribute to the project on the Github page, or to connect with Aunt Bertha on Facebook or Twitter.

Comments Off on Human Services Taxonomy

European directive on collective rights management: Collecting societies must allow use of CC licenses

Paul Keller, November 26th, 2013

Today the JURI (legal affairs) committee of the European Parliament approved the compromise text of the proposed directive on collective rights management in the EU (478 KB PDF, passages in bold are changes from the original proposal). The main objective of the directive is to facilitate the licensing of music throughout Europe (which is currently being done on a country-by-country basis) and to increase the transparency and accountability of collective rights management organisations operating in Europe.

Creative Commons has been following the discussions about the directive. Many collecting societies for authors of musical works prevent their members from electing alternative licensing frameworks, such as Creative Commons licenses, for their work. The directive provided an opportunity to change this situation by establishing clear rules for all European countries.

Over the past few years Creative Commons and its European affiliates have teamed up with Collecting Societies to allow, on a controlled basis, pilot projects that allow members of the participating societies to use the NonCommercial CC licenses. Such pilot projects have been launched in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and France, and they have demonstrated that collective rights management and the use of Creative Commons licenses can go hand in hand.

During the discussion of the directive, Creative Commons advocated (together with others) that the directive should include provisions that would ensure that members of collecting societies can individually license their rights. As a result, the European Parliament introduced language in the directive that requires collecting societies to allow their members ‘to grant licences for the non-commercial uses of the rights, categories of rights or types of works and other subject matter of their choice.

We are happy to report that this new provision (article 5.2.a) has made it into the final text that was voted on in the European Parliament today. This means that once the directive has been adopted (there is one more vote in Parliament which is basically a formality), members of all European Collecting Societies will have the rights to grant licenses for non-commercial use of their work, opening the door for the use of the three Creative Commons licenses that allow non-commercial use of the licensed work.

Creative Commons applauds the European lawmakers with this step. The new directive will strengthen the rights of members of collecting societies, and we are looking forward to a future where musicians all over Europe enjoy more flexibility in sharing their creations.

Comments Off on European directive on collective rights management: Collecting societies must allow use of CC licenses

Press release: Creative Commons launches Version 4.0 of its license suite

Elliot Harmon, November 26th, 2013

Download the press release (67 KB PDF).

Creative Commons launches Version 4.0 of its license suite
Refreshed copyright licenses function globally and cover new rights

Mountain View, CA, November 26, 2013: Creative Commons (CC) announced today that Version 4.0 of its licensing suite is now available for use worldwide.

This announcement comes at the end of a two-year development and consultation process, but in many ways, it began much earlier. Since 2007, CC has been working with legal experts around the world to adapt the 3.0 licenses to local laws in over 35 jurisdictions. In the process, CC and its affiliates learned a lot about how the licenses function internationally. As a result, the 4.0 licenses are designed to function in every jurisdiction around the world, with no need for localized adaptations.

In a blog post celebrating the launch, CC general counsel Diane Peters acknowledged the role that CC’s affiliates played in developing the new licenses. “The 4.0 versioning process has been a truly collaborative effort between the brilliant and dedicated network of legal and public licensing experts and the active, vocal open community. The 4.0 licenses, the public license development undertaking, and the Creative Commons organization are stronger because of the steadfast commitment of all participants.”

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Creators and copyright holders can use its licenses to allow the general public to use and republish their content without asking for permission in advance. There are over half a billion Creative Commons–licensed works, spanning the worlds of arts and culture, science, education, business, government data, and more.

The improvements in Version 4.0 reflect the needs of a diverse and growing user base. The new licenses include provisions related to database rights, personality rights, data mining, and other issues that have become more pertinent as CC’s user base has grown. “These improvements may go unnoticed by many CC users, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important,” Peters said. “We worry about the slight nuances of the law so our users don’t have to.”

Additional Information:

1 Comment »

CC’s Next Generation Licenses — Welcome Version 4.0!

Diane Peters, November 25th, 2013

We proudly introduce our 4.0 licenses, now available for adoption worldwide. The 4.0 licenses — more than two years in the making — are the most global, legally robust licenses produced by CC to date. We have incorporated dozens of improvements that make sharing and reusing CC-licensed materials easier and more dependable than ever before.

We had ambitious goals in mind when we embarked on the versioning process coming out of the 2011 CC Global Summit in Warsaw. The new licenses achieve all of these goals, and more. The 4.0 licenses are extremely well-suited for use by governments and publishers of public sector information and other data, especially for those in the European Union. This is due to the expansion in license scope, which now covers sui generis database rights that exist there and in a handful of other countries.

Among other exciting new features are improved readability and organization, common-sense attribution, and a new mechanism that allows those who violate the license inadvertently to regain their rights automatically if the violation is corrected in a timely manner.

You can find highlights of the most significant improvements on our website, track the course of the public discussion and evolution of the license drafts on the 4.0 wiki page, and view a recap of the central policy decisions made over the course of the versioning process.

The 4.0 versioning process has been a truly collaborative effort between the brilliant and dedicated network of legal and public licensing experts and the active, vocal open community. The 4.0 licenses, the public license development undertaking, and the Creative Commons organization are stronger because of the steadfast commitment of all participants.

With the 4.0 licenses published, we will be turning our attention to official translations of the legal code in partnership with our affiliate network and larger community. Translations of our new deeds are also underway, with a significant number already completed.

Thank you and congratulations to everyone who participated in making 4.0 a reality!


Are you on #teamopen? Support Creative Commons.

Elliot Harmon, November 25th, 2013


Meryl and our 67 donors. Are you number 68?

There are over half a billion pieces of Creative Commons–licensed content in the world. That’s an impressive number, but it only hints at how powerful and widespread CC licenses have become. The real impact is in the stories of how people like you use CC licenses. When you use a CC-licensed photo in a presentation or share your latest song under CC, you’re a part of the story of CC’s impact in the world. We’re proud to share in this amazing journey with you.

Today, we’re excited to launch Team Open, a new initiative of our staff and community. We’ve been spending the past few months talking to the CC community, looking for its favorite stories of how CC licenses benefit real people. You’ll meet a young scientist fighting cancer with free research, an entrepreneur who’s putting the public back in public domain, and a quirky musician who’s built his career on giving music away. We hope these stories inspire you, and we hope you feel inspired to share them with your friends and colleagues.

We’re also launching our annual fundraising campaign today. We have some cool giveaways this year, including a Team Open t-shirt and set of trading cards. To make it fun, we’re setting a little goal for ourselves. We’d like to see 600 donors by January. We’ll be keeping you up-to-date on our progress via Twitter and Facebook. If Creative Commons is important to you but you’ve never made a donation, this could be the day!

CC is more than a license to share; it’s a license for all of us to create a better world.

Comments Off on Are you on #teamopen? Support Creative Commons.

CC to European Commission: No restrictions on PSI re-use

Timothy Vollmer, November 25th, 2013

Creative Commons has responded to the European Commission’s consultation on recommended standard licenses, datasets and charging for the re-use of public sector information (PSI). See our response here. The Commission asked for comments on these issues in light of the adoption of the new Directive on re-use of public sector information. The Directive 1) brings libraries, museums, and archives under the scope of the Directive, 2) provides a positive re-use right to public documents, 3) limits acceptable charging to only marginal costs of reproduction, provision, and dissemination, and 4) reiterates the position that documents can be made available for re-use under open standards and using machine readable formats. CC recognizes the high value of PSI not only for innovation and transparency, but also for scientific, educational and cultural benefit for the entire society.


The Commission has not yet clarified what should be considered a “standard license” for re-use (Article 8). The dangers of license proliferation–which potentially leads to incompatible PSI–is still present. But it’s positive that the Commission is using this consultation to ask specific questions regarding legal aspects of re-use.

Part 3 of the questionnaire deals with licensing issues. One question asks what should be the default option for communicating re-use rights. We believe that there should be no conditions attached to the re-use of public sector information. The best case scenario would be for public sector information to be in the public domain, exempt from copyright protection altogether by amending national copyright laws. If it’s not possible to pass laws granting positive re-use rights to PSI without copyright attached, public sector bodies should use the CC0 Public Domain Dedication (CC0) to place public data into the worldwide public domain to ensure unrestricted re-use.

Another question first states that the Commission prefers the least restrictive re-use regime possible, and asks respondents to choose which condition(s) would be aligned with this goal. Again, we think that every condition would be deemed restrictive, since ideally PSI would be removed from the purview of copyright protection through law or complete dedication of the PSI to the public domain using CC0. If the Commission were to permit public sector bodies to incorporate limited conditions through licensing, then they should be expected to use standard public licenses aligned with the Open Definition (with a preference for “attribution only” licenses). A simple obligation to acknowledge the source of the data could be accomplished by adopting a liberal open license, like CC BY. Such a license would also cover other issues, such as acknowledging that an adaptation has been made or incorporating a waiver of liability. Some of the conditions listed would be detrimental to interoperability of PSI. An obligation not to distort the original meaning or message of public sector data should be deemed unacceptable. Such an obligation destroys compatibility with standard public licenses that uniformly do not contain such a condition. The UK’s Open Government License has already removed this problematic provision when it upgraded from OGL 1.0 to OGL 2.0.

In addition to mentioning CC licensing as a common solution, the questionnaire notes, “several Member States have developed national licenses for re-use of public sector data. In parallel, public sector bodies at all levels sometimes resort to homegrown licensing conditions.” In order to achieve the goals of the Directive and “to promote interoperable conditions for crossborder re-use,” the Commission should consider options that minimize incompatibilities between pools of PSI, which in turn maximize re-use. As far as we are concerned that means that governments should be actively discouraged from developing their own licenses. Instead, they should be encouraged to adopt standard public licenses aligned with the Open Definition. But even better would be to consider removing copyright protection for PSI by amending copyright law or waiving copyright and related rights using CC0.

Europe graphic designed by Monika Ciapala; Public Domain.

1 Comment »

previous pagenext page