Commons News

An Open Letter to TPP Negotiators: Copyright Term Extension Makes No Sense

Ryan Merkley, July 9th, 2014

Today, Creative Commons and over 35 other organizations published an open letter urging negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to rescind a proposal to extend copyright terms by another 20 years beyond its current, mandatory term.

This week, 12 Pacific rim countries are meeting in Ottawa, Canada, to continue secret negotiations of the widely criticized TPP trade agreement. Under the current TRIPS agreement, signatories are required to enact legislation granting copyright protection to individuals for the life of the author plus another 50 years. TPP negotiators, under the influence of large rights-holding companies, want to add another 20 years to the minimum copyright term.

If adopted, this extension would work to keep creative works out of the public domain for decades beyond the current term. It’s essentially a double-life sentence for all new works. This would be an incredible loss for the commons.

All creativity and knowledge owes something to what came before it – every creator builds on the ideas of their predecessors. Copyright is a limited right that is given to creators, but it also has a term limit to ensure we all benefit from culture and knowledge. Both the rights granted to creators and rights afforded to the public are necessary for a vibrant culture and the proliferation of knowledge. And the “Commons” in Creative Commons starts with the public domain. It’s the original corpus for remix. It’s why we’ve developed tools to better mark and dedicate content to the public domain. Together with hundreds of millions of works whose creators have chosen to share under generous terms of reuse with CC licenses, the commons is growing richer everyday.

Extending the term of copyright will undermine the potential of the public commons and needlessly limit the potential for new creativity. There is no logical reason to increase the term of copyright – an extension would create a tiny private benefit at a great cost to all of us. Most people agree that the existing term already lasts far past the amount of time required to incentivize creation (the original purpose of copyright) by granting creators a limited monopoly over a creative work. Copyright should strike a balance, giving an incentive to create while also giving the public permission to use and build on that creativity. In 2002, CC co-founder Lawrence Lessig argued against an additional 20 years of copyright protection in Eldred v. Ashcroft. Even Milton Friedman opposed the copyright term extension, calling it a “no-brainer.” Nearly all contemporary economists agree.

Increasing the term of copyright protection harms the commons. Any public policy that will further delay their entry into the public domain is contrary to the values we support – realizing the full potential of the Internet through universal access to the creativity that promotes active participation in culture and society.

Participating countries should should reject any measure in the Trans-Pacific Partnership introduced to increase the term of copyright protection. And TPP negotiations should be held in public and with the input of a broad set of stakeholders that include civil society and public interest representatives.

Although the letter has been presented to TPP negotiators today, they will remain open for further signatories to express their support. Interested organizations can endorse the letter here. Everyone can speak out by signing the petition at ourfairdeal.org.

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New report from CC: The future is open

Elliot Harmon, July 2nd, 2014

Today, we’re excited to launch our new annual report, The future is open. In this report, you’ll learn about:

  • Why the 4.0 CC licenses were a truly global effort.
  • The astounding community-building work that CC affiliates are doing all over the world.
  • Our work in open policy and support for global copyright reform.
  • How software developers are using CC licenses to make sharing on the internet easier.
  • The cool things you’re doing with CC licenses.

The report features illustrations by the awesome webcartoonist Luke Surl.

Check it out!

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CC0 official translation into French published

Kat Walsh, June 27th, 2014

CC0 now has an official translation into French. This is the second translation of CC0, and also only the second official translation of any CC legal tool (following CC0 in Dutch, published earlier this year).

There are many people who deserve congratulations on this accomplishment. This is often the case for translation projects, but it is especially true with French! According to the translation policy for our legal tools, we will be publishing only one official translation per language—for all of its speakers worldwide. This isn’t so difficult for some languages, which are primarily spoken in only one country. But with French-speaking countries around the world, many teams had to take part in this project so that the final text works for everyone, even across regional variations in language.

CC France did the tremendous task of leading the effort, coordinating their own team as well as others from Algeria, Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, Luxembourg, Morocco, Senegal, Switzerland, Tunisia, and collaborators from Framasoft.org and VeniVidiLibre.org.

The CC0 translations, as well as the upcoming translations of 4.0, are as close as possible to the original English, keeping the same legal meaning. Under our new translation policy, these will all be considered equivalent: anyone linking to the legal code may use any language. We think everyone should be able to understand the legal tools they’re using, and toward that end, we put a lot of thought into simplifying the language in 4.0. But it should be true in a language everyone can read–and thanks to the translation efforts of our affiliates, we are coming closer to this goal.

There are many more translation projects of CC0 and of 4.0 in progress; expect to see more announcements in the coming months! (You can take a look at the list of projects in progress.) To get involved with an existing translation project or begin a new one, please see the translation policy for information on getting started.

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Affiliate Project Grants Wrap Up

Meryl Mohan, June 23rd, 2014

Affiliate Project Grants Wrap Up
opensource.com / CC BY-SA

One year ago, CC announced the Affiliate Project Grants to support and expand CC’s global network of dedicated experts. With a little help from Google, we were able to increase the capacity of CC’s Affiliates to undertake projects around the world benefiting a more free, open, and innovative internet.

We received over 70 applicants, and we were able to fund 18 to tackle important work in their country – work like using music to break down physical barriers and give Palestinians a voice, gathering leaders in Tanzania to discuss how sharing information can help prevent diabetes, and helping Romanian librarians provide quality educational materials to all.

Watching these projects unfold over the last several months has been reaffirming for everyone at CC. The Affiliates are central to CC’s work, without whom we would simply not be closer to our goal of a more open internet.

Click here to find out the full details of the different grants, and read on to see what our 18 teams had to say on the results they achieved, motivations for their projects, the work still to be done, and lessons learned.

Congrats to the Affiliate teams for all the great work accomplished!

 


Results Achieved

 

 

“We are pleased that we were able to impact the way the people who shared their stories with us think about the concept of sharing stories. Some people when they were asked before to share their suffering and their personal stories on video were not totally sure they wanted to do it, but after seeing the output of their stories reflected on by poets and artists from all over the world, we think we were able to provide them a platform to express themselves and feel part of a greater community that is sharing the same hopes and fears.
[We want to expand] the project concept to other marginalized communities around the world.”
-Bashar Lubbad, Palestine, “Hope Spoken/Broken: Change in the Eyes of Palestinian Refugees

 

“The result was publication of a guide on free culture movements in Arabic and a website where it can be downloaded freely in e-book format: www.freecultureguide.net. We target artists, journalists, bloggers and other content creators and the general public who is unfamiliar to the free culture movement and concepts, as this is the first book of its kind in Arabic about this topic.”
-Ahmed Mansour, CC Morocco, “Creative BookSprint

 

“Lack of consumer level tools is still seen as a major obstacle in CC adoption. WpLicense is now a tool that can be applied to millions of blogs.”
-Tarmo Toikkanen, CC Finland, “WordPress License Revived

 

“More concretely, participants learnt how to: adapt traditional services to a non-traditional model; locate learning objects that can be reused under CC licence; investigate and use alternative publishing platforms; and apply project management processes to a hack project.”
-Matt McGregor, CC New Zealand, “Media Text Hack


The Cookbook / CC BY

 

“Museums and other memory institutions in Taiwan often have their collections digitized.
A major part of the digitized works shall be in the public domain. However, many of these institutions often keep these works in the equivalents of digital safes, and there are no easy ways to access and reuse them. Together with Netivism Ltd. (a social enterprise based in Taipei) CC Taiwan engaged with memory institutions and independent collectors in Taiwan about the tools and practices for public domain repositories.
Exemplary public domain repositories are being setup using MediaGoblin (a free software package for hosting media collections) with new extensions developed for and supported by this project grant.”
-Tyng-Ruey Chuang, CC Taiwan, “Practices and Depositories for the Public Domain”

 

 

“As a result of the interaction, the students were able to experience the Open culture which has caused a boom in the Kenyan tech scene. They identified industries that were etched on the sole foundation of Open tools in Kenya and were able to understand more experientially than before, the importance of such ideals.”
-Simeon Oriko, CC Kenya, “School of Open Kenya Initiative


 

“Obami, a platform for resource exchange for elementary school students, has seen a number of copyright violations. Instead of policing kids’ actions, the Creative Commons for Kids program will teach kids how to open and share their creative and educational works legally through the use of CC licenses [...] introducing Creative Commons to the next generation of Africa.”
-Kelsey Wiens, CC South Africa, “Creative Commons For Kids”

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Motivations

 

“Despite all the work we have done, CC is still an unknown concept to most people in the Arab region. We live in a copy/paste region where it will take a lot of hard work for people to understand the concepts of attribution. After a series of CC presentations in local schools (ages 12 to 18), we found that CC awareness is almost non-existent. On the other hand, our videos at wezank.com have been very popular online and we believe that using this asset to spread CC’s mission & vision would be highly effective across the region. [... This project] is about creating content in Arabic for the CC community, and at any stage, anyone wishing to present CC in Arabic will be able to use those videos.”
-Maya Zankoul, CC Lebanon, “CC Simply Explained in Arabic

Wezank
wezank.com / CC BY

 

“[Information is power]… In Africa, this rich geography of information doesn’t yet exist. And not because there isn’t the richness of knowledge, history or place, but, for a number of reasons, because there is little culture of contribution to the Internet.”
-Kelsey Wiens, Cross Regional Africa, “Activate Africa”

 

“If the government [in Japan] adopts CC BY or CC zero, data released under these terms will bring scalable impact on the public in a sense that it will help reuse of government data with minimum restrictions. The workshop materials are open to the public, and some of the attendees will learn to teach others, which give the project some ripple effects beyond its immediate outcomes.”
-Tomoaki Watanabe, CC Japan, “Workshops and Symposium for Open Data in Japan”

 

 

“In the Arab world there were several personalities who have a positive influence in the history of their country, in  different areas. That’s why I wish to publish with the help of the Arab community, an Arabic book under CC license, which tells us their lives, stories, and their influence on their own countries.”

-Faiza Souici, CC Algeria, “Arabic Icons”

 


“In Colombia, libraries and librarians have become one of the important civil society groups that are collectively seeking information, understanding and participating in public spaces trying to redefine copyright as a tool for access to knowledge and not just as a source of income for some people. [...] The material in this course will be open as a self-guided course that can be tapped on demand — individually, at a user-preferred time and date. Moreover, the course can be harnessed as a group, from a collective or specific institution, to be facilitated according to the possibilities and conditions of a given community.”
-Maritza Sanchez, CC Colombia / El Salvador / Uruguay, “An Online Course on Basic Copyright for Latinamerican Librarians”

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Work on the Horizon

 

 

“Latin Americans are creating and freely making available high quality and innovative music independently from big companies. But it is necessary to work better on both musicians understanding their rights and the power of sharing.”
-Renata Avila, CC Guatemala, “Promoting Free Music in Central and South America”

 
 

“While Chile has encouraged the creation of open access journals nationwide, researchers with high rates of publication and citation do not see them as a real possibility when publishing. Any policy to promote the creation of journals in Chile should consider factors that give them an edge in the scientific circuit and thus becoming a real possibility by leading Chilean scientists.”
-Francisco Vera, CC Chile, “Promotion of Open Knowledge in the Chilean Academia: Ways to Facilitate Adoption of Creative Commons in the Academic World

 

“The conclusion of this project is that there are only building blocks for Open Educational Resources (OER) in Romania since at the moment there is not a clear OER practice – only grassroots initiatives or projects with huge potential of becoming OER. Most of the projects we discovered in essence share the same philosophy behind OER, but they nevertheless omit to attribute a license for the created resources. In conclusion, more awareness and training activities are needed in order to reach a level of maturity regarding OER and their use.”
-Bogdan Manolea, CC Romania, “OER Awareness Activities for Librarians and Academics in Romania


CC Romania / CC BY

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Lessons Learned

 

 

“Because many pupils and students cannot access hard copy textbooks which are discouragingly expensive, the importance of Creative Commons licenses in closing the literacy gaps which have been brought about by income inequality cannot be overstated.”
-Moses Mulumba, CC Uganda, “Promoting Creative Commons Initiatives in Uganda


 

 
 

“The lessons that I learnt and which I can share is that grants from CC headquarters however, small [has great] potential impact to CC Affiliates as it acts as catalysts to the Affiliates to keep things going and mobilizing other funds locally.”
-Paul Kihwelo, CC Tanzania, “Tanzania Creative Commons Salon

 
 


 
 

“We learnt that there is a high level of interest in Creative Commons in Ireland, and a need to continuously engage with people who are interested in Creative Commons.”
-Darius Whelan, CC Ireland, “Awareness-raising Event in Dublin, January 2014

 
 
 

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New job at CC: Director of development

Ryan Merkley, June 20th, 2014

Today, we’re opening up a new job posting, for a director of development. This person will be in charge of raising money to support our work – building and maintaining our relationships with foundations, corporations, and individual donors.

From the job description:

Creative Commons is seeking a Director of Development to lead development on behalf of the organization. You will be responsible for securing the resources and relationships necessary to fulfill our vision to realize the full potential of the Internet – universal access to research and education, full participation in culture – to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity. Our reach is global and our ambitions are far-reaching — you’re going to have your work cut out for you.

If you have a great track record as a fundraiser; you want to help strengthen the free culture movement; and you want to work in a fast-paced, international organization; then we should talk.

To apply, please follow the instructions in the job listing.

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OKFestival Keynote Spotlight: Beatriz Busaniche

Elliot Harmon, June 19th, 2014

This guest blog post was written by Katelyn Rogers. It was originally published on the Open Knowledge Festival website.

The Open Knowledge Festival team is thrilled to announce that Beatriz Busaniche will be joining us as a keynote speaker in Berlin this year. Beatriz Busaniche is a free software and culture expert and advocate, a board member of the Vía Libre Foundation in Argentina, a professor at the University of Buenos Aires, a core team member at Creative Commons Argentina, and a founding member of Wikimedia Argentina.

Beatriz Busaniche’s “Freedom has Never Been Cheap – A Call to Action for Freedom and the Public Domain” will draw on the wealth of experience she has in fighting to keep the internet open and free. This talk will do more than simply explain how the public domain is at risk; Beatriz will call on all OKFestival participants to lead the way for the entire global open knowledge community.

Because ‘free’ as in ‘freedom’ has never come cheap, she will ask that we go beyond passive learning by joining forces and putting ourselves on the front line in the fight for a free public domain. To help us take those first steps, Beatriz will offer examples of and learnings from her own experiences as an activist fighting for the freedom of the public domain and, in doing so, her keynote will aim to truly address and impact the challenges which we are currently facing in the intellectual property debate.

Here is a sneak peak (in Spanish) of Beatriz speaking at TEDxCordoba, and as you may be able to see, we have a lot to look forward to!

Beatriz Busaniche’s Keynote will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Creative Commons board member and Web We Want lead Renata Avila. We will open up the discussion to questions from the audience as we begin to develop long term strategies for engaging the entire open knowledge movement in the defence of the public domain!

There are still tickets left. Join Beatriz Busaniche and hundreds of other members of the global open knowledge community at OKFestival from July 15th to July 17th to share experiences, learn from peers, and collectively build a stronger open knowledge movement. Don’t miss out, buy your OKFestival tickets today.

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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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