Congrats to EFF and the dancing baby

Sarah Hinchliff Pearson, September 18th, 2015


There are plenty of examples to depict our broken copyright system, but the “dancing baby” case is one of the most notorious. That’s the one where Universal Music used the DMCA to take down a 29-second YouTube video of an adorable baby dancing to “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince. Putting aside the legal questions, it is unclear what motivated Universal Music to go after this home movie where the Prince song was almost indecipherable. It’s impossible to imagine people were using the short video as a substitute for buying Prince albums, and of course, it’s impossible to imagine this sort of enforcement would help the troubled record industry earn goodwill from the public. But sadly, this is (or at least was) the state of copyright.

Most DMCA takedowns result in quiet removals of content, but this one resulted in 8 years of litigation that continues to this day. The mother of the dancing baby, Stephanie Lenz, teamed up with EFF and fought back. They sued Universal Music for violating Section 512(f) of the DMCA by misrepresenting their claim in the takedown notification. The fight continues, but the good news is this week the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion that affirmed some of the key principles at stake in the case.

Specifically, the panel of circuit judges held that copyright holders have to consider fair use before sending a DMCA takedown notification. The court also definitively explained something most of us already knew – fair use is authorized by law. It’s not simply an excuse for infringement or even an affirmative defense. It is outside the scope of copyright.

The decision wasn’t perfect. It went on to state that if copyright holders like Universal fail to consider fair use before sending a takedown, it just creates a question of fact for the jury to decide whether the rights holder had a good faith belief that the claim was valid. The court also made a somewhat confusing reference to copyright holders who use automated systems to determine what content to have taken down, stating that doing so was a reasonable solution but not explaining how that would possibly account for fair use.

Nonetheless, the key takeaway from the case was a win for fair use. It confirmed that exceptions and limitations to copyright are affirmative rights, and it created a mechanism to help deter sham DMCA takedowns. Given how easy it is to have content removed using the DMCA, it is increasingly the tool of choice for anyone looking to have content removed online, whether or not they have a valid copyright claim. This case should help deter at least the most blatant bad actors from misusing the statute in this way.

Perhaps the case also symbolizes a larger shift in how rights holders view reuse of their content. Not every use of copyrighted content is infringing, and not every use is a threat.

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U.S. Secretary of Education highlights Schools using OER to #GoOpen

Cable Green, September 15th, 2015

Williamsfield video by U.S. Department of Education is licensed CC BY

I’m pleased to announce two important updates from the U.S. Department of Education!

#1: Williamsfield Community Unified School District embraces OER

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Williamsfield Community Unified School District in Illinois to highlight the progress the rural school district has made in shifting to digital and open educational resources (OER) to connect their students to the world. “The walls break down,” Zack Binder, the Pre K-12 Principal said. “You’re no longer in Williamsfield, Illinois. You have the same access to this information that anyone in the world does.”

Over the past two years, the 310-student district decided to adapt and adopt OER (e.g., EngageNY) rather than procuring new commercial textbooks for students, and direct those savings towards new devices for students.

“We worked to start leveraging open education resources in May of 2013. It coincided with a decision to purchase—or not purchase—a math textbook series. We decided to leverage OER and invest the money that was allocated for textbooks into technology and technological infrastructure,” said Williamsfield Superintendent Tim Farquer.

While this move saved money, and allowed the district to buy tablets and laptops for students and teachers, it was mostly about using Creative Commons (CC) licensed educational resources to make the content better – it helped change the classroom by empowering teachers and students to customize learning resources for students.

“The biggest transition for me, from what it was like before to what it is like now, is that kids can do things that they’re interested in, instead of having one prescribed way to do things that comes from a textbook,” said Lori Secrist, a district science teacher.

The newly formed K12 OER Collaborative, an initiative led by a group of 12 U.S. states, has similar goals and is in the process of creating comprehensive, high-quality, OER-supported K–12 mathematics and English language arts that are aligned with state learning standards.

If you’d like to replicate this in your school district, see the CC-USA FAQ on OER in Williamsfield.

#2: U.S. Dept of Ed hires its first full-time OER leader

Secretary Duncan announced today the hiring of the Department’s first full-time OER position to lead a national effort to expand schools’ access to high-quality, openly-licensed learning resources and help districts and states follow the path of Williamsfield. Andrew Marcinek will serve in the Department’s Office of Educational Technology (OET) as the first “Adviser for Open Education.”

“Creating a dedicated open education adviser position at the Department will greatly enhance our ability to support states and districts as they move to using openly licensed learning resources,” said Richard Culatta, Director of the OET. “The use of openly-licensed resources not only allows states and districts to adapt and modify materials to meet student needs, but also frees up funding to support the transition to digital learning.”

The availability of low-cost, high-quality learning resources in U.S. K12 public schools is a priority for President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative.

These exciting moves are part of the growing momentum within the Obama Administration to support OER and open access to publicly funded resources. Last month Creative Commons and 100 other organizations signed a letter calling on the White House to ensure that educational materials created with federal funds are openly licensed and released to the public as OER. Creative Commons looks forward to working closely with the Department’s new Open Education Adviser and will continue working with our partners to advance OER and open licensing policy in the U.S. Government, and around the world with the members of the Open Policy Network and the CC Affiliate Network.

Join the conversation on social media with @creativecommons using hashtags #ReadyforSuccess / #GoOpen / #OER

Related press / blog posts:

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CC Global Summit Program Schedule

Timothy Vollmer, September 10th, 2015


We’re happy to present the draft program schedule for the 2015 Creative Commons Global Summit in Seoul. In addition to the keynotes, the program contains a diverse selection of sessions ranging from open business models, 3D printing and design, open education, CC technology, copyright reform advocacy, open access, and community cooperation. The summit includes Creative Commons partners from around the world, and will incorporate sister organizations such as EFF and companies like Shapeways and 500px. The program highlights several Korean organizations and projects in the creative industries and open data sector. Art Centre Nabi, a major art gallery in Korea, is preparing a special exhibition related to CC to celebrate the Global Summit.

We received over 130 session proposals, and our programming committee (comprised of the CC Korea team and other CC affiliates, staff, and board) worked to incorporate as many program ideas as possible considering the time and space constraints. The summit will be held at the National Museum of Korea and adjacent National Hangeul Museum on the 15th and 16th October and at the Content Korea Lab on the 17th. We are grateful to our lead sponsor Private Internet Access and all our sponsors for their meaningful support of this year’s summit.

The program is still subject to change. Also, it’s not too late to register for the summit. Join us for what looks to be a fantastic event.

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Our Kickstarter was a huge success, thanks to all of you!

Sarah Hinchliff Pearson, August 20th, 2015

We are thrilled to announce that 1,687 people backed our Kickstarter campaign, which successfully raised $65,420 – over 130% of our funding goal. We’re told by Kickstarter that Creative Commons is now among the top 5% of publishing projects in the history of the crowdfunding platform. All thanks to you, our supporters!

Screenshot of Kickstarter

What’s next?! Email us (sarah@creativecommons.org) to nominate companies or creators who we should profile in our book and see our work in progress by following the project on Medium.

Thanks for sharing!


CC Global Summit Logo Winner

Timothy Vollmer, August 18th, 2015




Congratulations to Naresh Agrawal, the winner of the Creative Commons Global Summit logo competition. Naresh said, “I found the work of your organization inspiring and thought that it would be great to be a part of your journey.” We received nearly 50 logo submissions. Thanks so much to everyone who entered the contest, and to the hundreds of voters!

The programming committee is hard at work reviewing the proposed sessions for the summit. Registration is open, so sign up to join us in Seoul 14-17 October. Early bird registration ends this Sunday, 23 August.

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Next round of CC Global Summit keynotes

Timothy Vollmer, August 11th, 2015

Two weeks ago we announced the initial set of speakers for the Creative Commons Global Summit. Today we’re happy to share two additional keynotes for our event: Soh-Yeong Roh and Kilnam Chon. The summit will take place in Seoul, South Korea from 14-17 October. Be sure to register for the summit–early bird registration ends 23 August!

soh-yeong roh_blog
Soh-Yeong Roh by photo.naepflin.com licensed under CC BY.

Soh-Yeong Roh is the founder and Director of Art Center Nabi in South Korea. She founded the center in 2000, transforming a contemporary art museum into a new media arts center. Nabi brings together art, technology, humanities, and industry, to create new art and cultural artifacts. As the main venue for new media art production in Korea, Nabi promotes cross-disciplinary collaboration and understanding among science technology, humanities, and the arts. Ms. Roh is also a board member of Creative Commons Korea.

Kilnam Chon via ICANNWiki licensed under CC BY-SA.

Kilnam Chon helped the development of the Internet in Asia and the rest of the world and is an outspoken advocate for open systems. In 2012, he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Internet Society’s (ISOC) Internet Hall of Fame. Chon developed the first Internet in Asia called SDN in 1982 and has worked on networking systems since the early 1980s. He founded and is a chair of numerous organisations including the Asia Pacific Networking Group (APNG) and Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN). Recently his research and projects have focused on building institutional and cultural infrastructure for ecological and sustainable Internet and cyber commons.

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4.0 Bahasa Indonesia translation – and a book!

Jessica Coates, August 5th, 2015

Hot on the heels of the announcement a few weeks ago of new Japanese and Māori translations of our 4.0 licences, we have another new Asia-Pacific translation to celebrate – Bahasa Indonesia. Even more exciting, this time the translation team has gone above and beyond to complete a companion project – a Bahasa Indonesia translation of Open Content – A Practical Guide to Using Creative Commons Licences, creating a local how-to guide to go with the new licence translations.

With approximately 42 million native speakers and about 260 million speakers in total, Bahasa Indonesia is one of the world’s most widely spoken languages. The official translation of 4.0 was undertaken by CC Indonesia’s Alifia Qonita Sudharto, with supervision from Project Director Ari Juliano Gema and assistance from the Wikimedia Indonesia team. The translation process began in January and after a fairly quick and non-controversial drafting and consultation period went live on Wednesday.

The translation was relatively easy and uncomplicated compared to other 4.0 translation efforts. This is partly because of experience gained by the team translating the 3.0 licences, but also because more and more Indonesians are becoming familiar with the content and purpose of the licences. This sped up the drafting process, as everyone began on the same page, making language approval much simpler right from the start. This compares to the 3.0 process, when the debate started with whether “law firm” should be translated as “firma hukum” or “kantor hukum” in the preamble and continued throughout the licence. For 4.0, the team was able to focus on substantial matters such as the decision to translate “Similar Rights” as “Hak-hak Serupa”, rather than “Hak Terkait” which literally translates as “Related Rights”.

The team decided to build upon this growing local knowledge by ensuring there was a good guide for those wanting to take up the licences. Rather than writing their own, they chose to translate an existing resource that already had a strong reputation for being clear and thorough. This led them to Open Content, a joint publication of Wikimedia Deutschland, the German Commission for UNESCO and the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Centre. To further help to build local knowledge resources, they have also created a Bahasa Indonesia infographic poster which explains the difference between copyright, patents and trademarks for Indonesians.

Wikimedia Indonesia will proudly host an official launch of the new licence translations and the two new publications at their Jakarta office on 15 August.

Congratulations to the translation team for completing not one but two difficult translations, and for coming up with such an amazing initiative to encourage local understanding and uptake of CC. We can’t wait to see the resulting growth in open resources in Indonesia.

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Obama administration should require sharing of federally funded educational resources under Creative Commons licenses

Timothy Vollmer, August 4th, 2015

White House_600
White House by Diego Cambiaso, available under the CC BY-SA license.

Today, Creative Commons and a broad coalition of education, library, technology, public interest, and legal organizations are calling upon the White House to take administrative action to ensure that federally funded educational materials are made available as Open Educational Resources (OER) for the public to freely use, share, and improve.

We ask the administration to adopt a strong Executive branch-wide policy requiring that educational, training, and instructional materials created with federal funds be shared under an open license. Some agencies have already implemented an open licensing policy for the outputs of federal grants, including the $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program, jointly administered by the Departments of Labor and Education. In order to receive these funds, grantees are required to license to the public all work created with the support of the grant under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY) license.

In issuing this public statement, we hope to ensure that the billions of taxpayer dollars invested in the creation of educational materials produce resources that are freely available to the members of the public that paid for them. The administration has both an educational and economic imperative to increase access to learning and workforce development opportunities. Further, it has the opportunity to spur innovation through opening access to a wealth of educational resources that can be improved and built upon.

To ensure that administrative policy advances these goals, the coalition has outlined five core principles for executive action:

  1. Adopt a broad definition of educational materials.
  2. Provide free online access to these educational resources.
  3. Create conditions that enable easy reuse of materials.
  4. Require prompt implementation of the policy.
  5. Mandate regular reporting of progress and results.

The following can be attributed to Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons:

“By embracing Creative Commons licenses for the digital education and training outputs of federal agency grant making, the Obama administration will be demonstrating its commitment to collaboration, innovation, and effective government spending. When we contribute publicly funded educational materials to the public commons, everyone wins. This type of sharing is worth fighting for.”

A copy of the complete letter is available here. You can show your support for open access to publicly funded education materials by signing it too.


Announcing the first round of Global Summit keynote speakers

Timothy Vollmer, July 28th, 2015

We’re happy to announce the first set of keynote speakers for the 2015 Creative Commons Global Summit:

  • Lila Tretikov, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation
  • Yochai Benkler, author and law professor at Harvard Law School
  • Julia Reda, Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur of the Parliament’s review of the EU Copyright Directive
  • Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons

The 2015 CC Global Summit will take place in Seoul, South Korea 15-17 October. Every two years, a vibrant international community of experts, academics, and activists engaged in stewarding and expanding CC come together to celebrate the commons, share ideas, and collaborate on projects. We’re excited to host this diverse set of leaders to share and engage with our community of copyright experts and commons advocates in Seoul. We’ll be announcing additional speakers and sessions in the coming weeks.

Summit registration is open. The early-bird registration discount will be available until 23 August, so sign up now!

Lila Tretikov by Lane Hartwell, available under the CC BY-SA license.

Lila Tretikov is the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia. Wikipedia is freely available in 290 languages and used by nearly half a billion people around the world every month.

yochai_benkler_600Yochai Benkler by Joi Ito, available under the CC BY license.

Yochai Benkler is the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. He studies commons-based peer production, and published his seminal book The Wealth of Networks in 2006.

Julia Reda by Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland, available under the CC BY license.

Julia Reda is a Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur of the Parliament’s current review of the 2001 EU Copyright Directive. Reda’s report outlining potential changes to EU copyright law was approved by the Parliament in July.

Ryan Merkley by Rannie Turingan, available under CC0.

Ryan Merkley is the CEO of Creative Commons, the global nonprofit that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. Ryan was Chief Operating Officer of the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit parent of the Mozilla Corporation, creator of Firefox.

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Happy 150th, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland!

Jane Park, July 28th, 2015

Alice’s Abenteuer im Wunderland
Alice’s Abenteuer im Wunderland / Public Domain

This year is the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In celebration, Medium and the Public Domain Review have teamed up to host A Mad Hatter’s Mashup Party, complete with the original text, illustrations, animated GIFs, and silent film adaptations in the public domain and under CC licenses.

This is a great opportunity to creatively engage with the Commons and put Medium’s CC licensing feature to work. A dozen Lewis Carroll experts will also be participating by annotating a special version of the text one chapter a week. 

The party starts today, July 28, and continues for as long as anyone wants to join. We’ll be recommending our favorite pieces on Medium.

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