Commons News

School of Open gets a facelift, plus other news

Jane Park, June 17th, 2014

Since our last comprehensive update, the School of Open has been creating new courses, planning continent-wide launches, conducting research, and making itself over.

soo webpage sn

New Web Space

We have a new web space! Previously, communications about our major projects have been scattered throughout the blogosphere and various wiki, Lernanta, and WordPress pages. But today we are happy to announce that there is one place you can visit to learn about and get involved with the School of Open, including newbies who just want to find a course to take.

Our web address hasn’t changed; it’s still http://schoolofopen.org. We invite any and all feedback at our new discussion space.

New Courses

After wrapping our first round of facilitated courses on copyright, Creative Commons, and Wikipedia earlier this year, we continued to develop courses for independent or group study. Here are the ones we recently launched, including a collaboration with Mozilla’s Webmaker initiative!

(Check out all of our stand-alone courses regardless of when they launched.)

How to use Open Educational Resources (OER)

Developed by Boyoung Chae and co. over at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), this course was initially designed to help onboard community college faculty and staff with the CC BY–licensed textbooks coming out of WA’s Open Course Library project. We’ve since worked with them to adapt the course for the general public!

The self-paced modules walk you through how to incorporate open educational resources into your teaching practice, in addition to using open licenses and locating existing OER. One past participant said,

“How to Use OER is a great introduction to this amazing development in education. This will establish a good foundation for understanding the various components of open resources or fill in gaps that you might have. I am grateful the course will remain open after completion so that the materials and discussions can be revisited.”

ABC of Copyright for Librarians in Latin America

This Spanish language course seeks to help librarians and library users strengthen their knowledge of copyright laws in Latin America and the challenges that exist to access to information in the 21st century. CC affiliates from Colombia, El Salvador and Uruguay, in collaboration with the Karisma Foundation, developed this course in response to increasingly restrictive copyright laws in Latin America and around the globe. The course contains examples, analysis and open models based on Latin American cases and legislation. Read more about the course launch here.

Mozilla Webmaker Training for Teachers (and other web users)

Mozilla Webmaker is all about transforming web users into web makers, aka citizens of the web who do more than just consume content, but also create it while leveraging open resources and tools. The new Mozilla Webmaker Training for Teachers embeds knowledge about open throughout its set of self-paced modules that will help you to:

  • “Integrate the mechanics, culture and citizenship of the web into your practice.”
  • “Bring creativity to your teaching through open, participatory methods.”
  • “Connect with fellow mentors and educators (especially those in your local area) to share knowledge and resources.”

New Survey

In collaboration with the OER Research Hub, we’ve been conducting research on the impact of School of Open courses. As part of this project, we invite you to participate in a survey we created for participants of stand-alone courses.

If you haven’t taken a course yet but plan to, the survey is linked at the end of every stand-alone course so you can take it when you do complete it. The survey will remain open through the end of August. If you have ever gone through a School of Open course on your own, please:

New Plans for a School of Open Africa

Volunteers in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Nigeria are planning for a School of Open Africa launch in September. Each region will develop and run a training program or course on the use and application of open resources. Stay tuned for a guest post detailing plans, and check out the current programs running in Kenya and South Africa for now:

School of Open Kenya Initiative
Creative Commons for Kids (South Africa)
Activate Africa (South Africa)


Interested in any of the above activities? Get Involved.

To receive future updates like this one, sign up for School of Open Announcements.


About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community for developing and running free online courses.

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Open Policy Network featured in Shareable

Elliot Harmon, June 11th, 2014

Open Policy Network-600

Cat Johnson at Shareable wrote an excellent interview with CC’s Timothy Vollmer on the Open Policy Network, and the importance of open policy in general.

It seems logical that publicly-funded resources would be made available to the public, but I know this is not always the case. What stands in the way of these resource being made available and how does the OPN plan to address this?

To most it does feel logical — ethical even — that the public should have access to the materials funded by its tax dollars. That’s why our mantra with regard to the Open Policy Network is “publicly funded resources should be openly licensed resources.”

Right now this is not the case. In fact, oftentimes the public has to pay for materials several times over before they are granted access to it. Take the example of scholarly publishing. Many university researchers receive grants from the federal government to conduct their work. The public pays for this. The researcher does their work and then publishes in a commercial journal. That journal then sells access back to universities through subscription fees to those publications. I think most people would see that this is not an efficient – or just – use of the public’s investments.

I think what’s standing in the way of systemic policy change right now is “business as usual”–incumbent interests want things to stay the same. They want their business models to endure forever, even with massive disruptions of digital information and the web, which have essentially pushed publishing and distribution costs to zero.

Read the full interview. And don’t forget, applications for the Institute for Open Leadership are due June 30.

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CC-licensed gifts for Dad (and an easy way to support CC)

Elliot Harmon, June 10th, 2014

Have you gotten your favorite dad a gift for Father’s Day yet? We’ve collected a few of our favorites. There’s bound to be something in this list for every father in your life, no matter whether he’s into classical music or experimental poetry. Those are the two main things dads like, right?

If you buy these (or anything) at Amazon and you’re in the US, then consider supporting Creative Commons through AmazonSmile. If you make a purchase between now and Sunday, then CC will receive $5, in addition to our cut of the purchase.

Kimiko Ishizaka, The Goldberg Variations

CC0

Ishizaka’s excellent performance showed up on numerous best-of-the-year lists in 2012. It’s also in the public domain under CC0, meaning that anyone can use it for any purpose, commercial or noncommercial, with or without attribution. When we interviewed Thomas Bonte about his involvement with the Open Goldberg Variations project, he said, “You either go all the way or you don’t do it. Kimiko wanted her work to be used by a lot of artists. And yeah, mission accomplished.”

Thomas Meyer, Beowulf

CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Every translation I’d read felt impenetrable to me with its block after block of nearly uniform lines,” Meyer writes. His translation of the ancient epic is many things – a gorgeous reimagining of how works from an oral tradition can look and behave on paper, an idiosyncratic melding of epic and experimental poetry – but it is stubbornly not block after block of uniform lines.

Lawrence Lessig, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress – and a Plan to Stop It

CC BY-NC 3.0

In the year and a half since its publication, the CC co-founder’s book on money in politics has sparked a major, national discussion on how wealthy contributors influence politicians and policies on both sides of the aisle. You could also consider making a donation in Dad’s honor to MAYDAY.US, Larry’s SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs.

Randall Munroe, xkcd volume 0

CC BY-NC 2.5

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

Add your favorite CC-licensed picks in the comments.

Previously: Give open: CC’s holiday shopping list

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Making the Case for Libraries in Latin America: A New School of Open Course

Jane Park, June 4th, 2014

abccopyright

Read about this course in Spanish on the CC Uruguay blog.

ABC of Copyright for Librarians in Latin America, or ABC del derecho de autor para bibliotecarios de América Latina, is a free, online course that launches today as part of the School of Open. This Spanish language course seeks to help librarians and library users strengthen their knowledge of copyright laws in Latin America and the challenges that exist to access to information in the 21st century.

From the launch announcement:

Public library seeks to provide equal opportunities in access to information, knowledge, recreation, culture, education, reading and writing for all their users. However, there are currently no minimum guarantees that allow libraries and archives carrying out activities related to their mission such as lending books or changing the format of a film (e.g. VHS to digital) for preservation purposes. For decades, protections for authors and/or rightsholders have been increased, while the guarantees of access and inclusion of copyright balances are at the mercy of political will.

This imbalance occurs especially in developing countries, as many developed countries have already generated standards seeking to better balance copyright.

To address these challenges, CC affiliates from Colombia, El Salvador and Uruguay, in collaboration with the Karisma Foundation, have developed a course for librarians, archivists, educators, university researchers, and anyone else in the Latin American region interested in these issues. ABC of copyright for librarians in Latin America is designed to strengthen the understanding of basic copyright concepts through examples, analysis and open models based on Latin American cases and legislation.

The course officially launches online on Internet Activa at 5pm Colombia time today (UTC-5). You can join the launch by filling out this form expressing your intent; however, registration to participate in the course is not required.

The course is also available as part of the School of Open as a self-paced course that can be taken at any time, licensed CC BY.

About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community for developing and running free online courses.

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Compatibility process and criteria published

Kat Walsh, June 4th, 2014

"Potato Power" (cropped), by Martin Fisch, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Martin Fisch / CC BY-SA 2.0

Compatibility with the ShareAlike licenses is now one step closer. After a month-long consultation, we have published our process and criteria for ShareAlike compatibility and are ready to begin evaluating candidate licenses. Licenses named as compatible under this process will be interoperable with the CC ShareAlike licenses, allowing more remixing of ShareAlike-licensed materials with other copyleft materials in the commons.

In the new process, CC will evaluate licenses by publishing a preliminary analysis and then holding a public community discussion. Candidate licenses must have a few basic characteristics, including a copyleft mechanism and some way of handling attribution. Additional considerations to take into account include the license’s treatment of Effective Technological Measures, and any additional conditions that the license imposes.

It has long been a goal of Creative Commons to make our ShareAlike licenses interoperable with other copyleft licenses. Larry Lessig has been writing about the importance of compatibility to the commons since before 3.0 was published, and a compatibility mechanism was included in 3.0 but never used.

We will be looking at the first candidate license in the next few weeks. If you would like to be involved in the discussions, please follow the cc-licenses list.

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Liberating the Haystack for the Needles

Puneet Kishor, June 2nd, 2014

This post with invaluable assistance from the CC legal and policy teams.

Text and data mining (TDM) is becoming an increasingly important scientific technique for analyzing large amounts of data. The technique is used to uncover both existing and new insights in unstructured data sets that typically are obtained programmatically from many different sources.

pbdb

PBDB Navigator screenshot released under a CC0 1.0 Public Domain Dedication

A few of the innovative examples include GeoDeepDive, a system that helps geoscientists discover information and knowledge buried in the text, tables, and figures of geology journal articles; improving human curation of chemical-gene-disease networks for the Comparative Toxicogenomics Database; and discovering a new link between genes and osteoporosis.

Legal Uncertainty

While the science and technology of TDM are complex enough involving information retrieval (IR), optical character recognition (OCR), and natural language processing (NLP), the legal complications are, sadly, equally dizzying. The legal status of TDM is unclear at best, both because there are a multitude of techniques to engage in TDM, and because the implications of various techniques vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This makes cross-national collaboration, integral to science, difficult at best. For example, TDM is generally considered to not implicate copyright in the U.S. There are several theories as to why TDM falls outside copyright, but the most obvious is that it uses copyrighted material for a transformative purpose and is therefore a fair use. Judge Baer, writing in Author’s Guild, Inc., et. al. v. Hathi Trust, et. al. (Case 1:11-cv-06351-HB)

“The use to which the works in the HDL are put is transformative because the copies serve an entirely different purpose than the original works: the purpose is superior search capabilities rather than actual access to copyrighted material. The search capabilities of the HDL have already given rise to new methods of academic inquiry such as text mining.”

Judge Baer goes on to state:

“I cannot imagine a definition of fair use that would not encompass the transformative uses made by Defendants’ MDP and would require that I terminate this invaluable contribution to the progress of science and cultivation of the arts.”

The clarity, however, is far from universal as the situation outside the U.S. gets muddy. While there have been a few welcome developments in the U.K., the copyright laws of many other countries have little to no clarity on whether TDM falls outside of the reach of copyright and related laws. Where TDM does implicate copyright, the license status of the original material can make automated access and analysis very complicated, requiring additional checks to ensure any material is only being used as permitted by the license. And, even where the relevant licenses are free and open, and conducive to TDM, contractual agreements between research institutions and publishers, who are often the gatekeepers of the corpora, can create significant hurdles.

Public Sentiment

In a comment on proposed U.K. exception for information mining, both iCommons and the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) supported the UK Government’s opinion that it is inappropriate for “Certain activities of public benefit such as medical research obtained through text mining to be in effect subject to veto by the owners of copyrights in the reports of such research, where access to the reports was obtained lawfully.” PLOS opined, “Enabling content mining is a core part of the value offering for Open Access publication services.” In its response to EU copyright review, LIBER stated, “All exceptions related to education, learning and access to knowledge to be made mandatory. In particular, we would like to see a specific exception for text and data mining for all research purposes.” OKFN’s Working Group on Open Access stated:

“We assert that there is no legal, ethical or moral reason to refuse to allow legitimate accessors of research content (OA or otherwise) to use machines to analyse the published output of the research community. Researchers expect to access and process the full content of the research literature with their computer programs and should be able to use their machines as they use their eyes.”

Support for text and data mining under the guise of “The right to read is the right to mine” has been demonstrated by other organizations including the declarations by Copyright for Creativity (July 2013) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Organizations (December 2013). If we as a society wish to realize the incredible potential for text and data mining, the practice should not be controlled through contractual terms or licensing.

Instead of relying on contractual restrictions or licensing to engage in text and data mining, non-consumptive uses of texts should be expressly eliminated from the reach of copyright and contract. The UK’s Hargreaves Report (PDF, p. 47) suggested the adoption of an exception to copyright law for non-consumptive uses, which are “uses of a work enabled by technology which does not trade on the underlying creative and expressive purpose of the work.”

Most recently, the UK copyright reform legislation introduced changes that makes it easier to engage in TDM for non-commercial purposes, allows storing of the corpus locally as long as it remains protected from general public access, and perhaps most importantly, disallows contractual negotiations that would make it difficult to conduct TDM.

The above sentiments are laudable, and copyright reforms friendly to TDM are very important, and we support such efforts. However, we believe the more knowledgeable potential users of TDM are about the technology and related issues, the better they will be able to negotiate conditions that make their research easy and efficient. Hence, we want to push forward with education and awareness building as a bottom-up effort.

Building Bottom-Up Support

Content Mine


Image by R. Mounce extracted from: doi: 10.11646/phytotaxa.163.5.1 licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC-BY) 3.0 license

We are working with the ContentMine team developing an agenda for a workshop that would provide training in TDM and educate the participants regarding the legal considerations through hands-on exercises. We will introduce the topic, the tools and techniques, tackle a specific problem, and then use that to expose researchers to the legal complications that they may encounter in conducting their research and the legal considerations they should keep in mind when choosing a license for their works. We have three objectives for this series of workshops—

  1. Introduce participants to the basic tools and techniques of text and data mining (TDM);
  2. Make participants aware of the legal intricacies of TDM and the implications of choosing the right licenses that enable TDM for downstream users;
  3. Nurture a community of practice whose members may draw upon each other for continued help.

To be clear, we are not intending the workshop to be a detailed and comprehensive training in TDM, and it is certainly not a replacement for expertise in this deep and comprehensive technique. Instead, the workshop is designed to be both an introduction to basic technical and legal concepts as well as an opportunity to get to network with experts as well as novices with interest in the field. We hope participants intending to use TDM for their work will be better informed when seeking collaboration with TDM experts.

TDM workshops

Original artwork by Puneet Kishor released under CC0 Public Domain Dedication

The first instance of this workshop will be held at the 2014 Open Knowledge Festival. We hope to follow it with one in Nairobi in Aug 2014 at the International Workshop on Open Data for Science and Sustainability in Developing Countries (OpenDataSSDC) organized by the CODATA Task Group on Preservation of and Access to Scientific and Technical Data in Developing Countries (CODATA PASTD), and one possibly at SciDataCon in New Delhi in Nov 2014. We hope to make these workshops a recurring event, building a roster of interesting exercises and problems to solve, and constantly improving the content based on audience feedback and ongoing research.

In cooperation with computing, legal and library experts, we will adapt the workshop agenda to make it more suitable and relatable to the host institutions. Our aim is to reach communities of researchers in countries that are otherwise under-represented in the global conversation on open science and data. We have identified researchers, and will continue to identify more, both on the technical as well as legal side with whom we intend to start building a network. If you are working with TDM, intend to work with TDM, and have expertise either in its technology or in related legal issues specific to your jurisdiction, please contact us.

We also intend to develop a community of practice for TDM, either standalone or via existing platforms such as StackExchange, and will utilize online resources such as forums, mailing lists, and a roster of technical, legal and institutional experts available to provide assistance with TDM.

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CC News: Why Creative Commons must succeed

Elliot Harmon, May 29th, 2014

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


Ryan Merkley / Rannie Turingan / CC0

Why Creative Commons must succeed

Why am I joining CC? Because its success is so vital, and I want to ensure we succeed. Creativity, knowledge, and innovation need a public commons – a collection of works that are free to use, re-use, and build upon – the shared resources of our society. The restrictions we place on copyright, like fair use and the public domain, are an acknowledgement that all creativity and knowledge owe something to what came before.”

CC is proud to welcome its incoming CEO, Ryan Merkley.

Open Policy Network
The Massachusetts State House
Tony Fisher / CC BY
(cropped, color adjusted, OPN logo added)

We’re excited to announce the launch of the Open Policy Network, a coalition of organizations committed to advancing policies that require open licenses for publicly funded materials. Find out how to get involved.

Lawrence Lessig, Webby Award
Lawrence Lessig
Joi Ito / CC BY
(cropped, Webby logo added)

Last week, Lawrence Lessig won a lifetime achievement Webby Award for his work as co-founder of Creative Commons. Have you heard his five-word acceptance speech?

Les licences Creative Commons
Les licences Creative Commons (still)
Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication
CC BY-SA

The French Ministry of Culture and Communications to embrace Creative Commons licenses. Watch the beautiful new video it made with CC France to explain CC licenses.

Authors Alliance logo
 
 
 

Who is speaking up for authors who want to see their works disseminated more freely? Enter the Authors Alliance.

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NSF grantee opens up wind technology training materials for fellow grantees

Jane Park, May 28th, 2014

WindTech TV, a collection of wind turbine technician training materials and simulation modules, is now available under a CC BY license. Developed as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education project, WindTech TV’s modules are aligned with industry standards and designed to be integrated into two-year college wind technology programs to sustain workforce development in the field of wind power.

Modules are currently being used by community colleges across the United States, and Principal Investigator Phil Pilcher wants to expand that impact through reuse by other grantees, including those part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program.

“WindTechTV has always been free, but we think that the CC BY license will increase usage. One of our project goals is to disseminate the materials nationwide. The CC license lets instructors and administrators know that they can use our videos as they wish when they are developing and delivering courses. Also, TAACCCT grantees who are working on alternative energy courses will now be able to reuse our video content, which should speed up development.”

All modules are available at http://www.windtechtv.org and videos are available from WindTech TV’s YouTube channel.

Related

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Apply now to participate in the Institute for Open Leadership

Timothy Vollmer, May 23rd, 2014

iol_small

Earlier this week, we kicked off the Open Policy Network. We announced that the first project within the Network is the Institute for Open Leadership. The Institute for Open Leadership is a training program to develop new leaders in education, science, public policy, and other fields on the values and implementation of openness in licensing, policies, and practices. The Institute is looking for passionate public- and private-sector professionals interested in learning more about openness and wish to develop and implement an open policy in their field.

Interested applicants should review the application information and submit an application by June 30, 2014. We plan to invite about 15 fellows to participate in the first round of the Institute for Open Leadership. The in-person portion of the Institute will be held in the San Francisco bay area in January 2015 (TBD: either January 12-16 or January 19-23). Applications are open to individuals anywhere in the world.

A central part of the Institute will require fellows to develop and implement a capstone open policy project. The point of this project is for the fellow to transform the concepts learned at the Institute into a practical, actionable, and sustainable initiative within her/his institution. Open policy projects can take a variety of forms depending on the interests of the fellow and the field where the project will be implemented.

Questions about the Institute for Open Leadership should be directed to opn@creativecommons.org. Our thanks to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Open Society Foundations for funds to kickstart the Institute for Open Leadership.

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The beginning of the Authors Alliance

Timothy Vollmer, May 22nd, 2014

authorsalliancesmall

Yesterday marked the launch of the Authors Alliance, a nonprofit organization that supports authors who want “to harness the potential of digital networks to share their creations more broadly in order to serve the public good.”

In an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, Authors Alliance founder Pamela Samuelson explained that the Authors Alliance will have a few different roles. Inwardly, the group will “provide authors with information about copyrights, licensing agreements, alternative contract terms,” and other practical legal information so that they can make their works widely and openly available. And externally, the Alliance will “represent the interests of authors who want to make their works more widely available in public policy debates,” and advocate for these reforms alongside like-minded public interest organizations.

The Authors Alliance was developed by Samuelson and several of her colleagues at the University of California Berkeley including Molly Van Houweling, Carla Hesse, and Thomas Leonard. The Alliance also has an advisory board made up of pre-eminent scholars, writers, and public interest advocates, including several members of the Creative Commons board of directors. The Authors Alliance is now accepting new members.

The Alliance has already developed a set of copyright reform principles, outlining its vision for changes to copyright law to support authors who write to be read.

We have formed an Authors Alliance to represent authors who create to be read, to be seen, and to be heard. We believe that these authors have not been well served by misguided efforts to strengthen copyright. These efforts have failed to provide meaningful financial returns to most authors, while instead unacceptably compromising the preservation of our own intellectual legacies and our ability to tap our collective cultural heritage. We want to harness the potential of global digital networks to share knowledge and products of the imagination as broadly as possible. We aim to amplify the voices of authors and creators in all media who write and create not only for pay, but above all to make their discoveries, ideas, and creations accessible to the broadest possible audience.

The principles include:

  1. Further empower authors to disseminate their works.
  2. Improve information flows about copyright ownership.
  3. Affirm the vitality of limits on copyright that enable us to do our work and reach our audiences.
  4. Ensure that copyright’s remedies and enforcement mechanisms protect our interests.

At the core, the Authors Alliance and Creative Commons share a similar goal: to provide useful resources and tools for creators who aren’t being served well by the existing copyright system. We’re excited to work with the Alliance on issues that support authors who write to be read–and the public interest for whom these authors create.

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