Commons News

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

Jane Park, January 9th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lawrence Lessig’s WSJ Article on Bassel Khartabil

Elliot Harmon, January 8th, 2013

Bassel
Bassel / joi / CC BY

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy Public Domain Day

Timothy Vollmer, January 1st, 2013

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

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

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

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

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New Zealand Open Data Conference

Puneet Kishor, December 22nd, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Syria Deeply: CC-Licensed News Aggregator

Donatella Della Ratta, December 21st, 2012

In January 2009, Al Jazeera launched a pioneering initiative: the first news repository licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. At the time, restrictions imposed by the Israeli military in Gaza prevented international news outlets from reaching the Strip and reporting from within. Al Jazeera, which had the advantage of being the only news outlet with a correspondent on the ground, came up with a creative solution by making its exclusive footage available to be used, remixed, translated and re-broadcasted by everybody, including competitors.

Three years later, a similar situation is happening with Syria. Shortage of news is dramatic and reports from within the country are rare and often require that journalists’ lives are put at risk in order to gather information. This is why it is key to have initiatives such as Syria Deeply, a news aggregator launched two weeks ago by a team of journalists and technologists headed by seasoned reporter Lara Setrakian.

Syria Deeply is a news platform that aims to redesign the user experience of the Syria story, for greater understanding and engagement around a complex global issue.‬ The platform is part news aggregator, part interactive backgrounder, part original reporting and feature stories. And the great news is that the content on the site is entirely CC BY–licensed, in order to encourage sharing and viral distribution.

This is a major step in crisis reporting and will allow a wider audience to become more aware of the dramatic situation in Syria, fostering a better understanding of a complex issue by adding context and historical information to the headlines.

“I believe technology is the key to getting more and better news to a broader audience,” says Setrakian. Open licensing can support this process and spread more and better understanding on Syria-related issues.

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Creative Commons Asia Pacific Regional Meeting

Jane Hornibrook, December 21st, 2012

In November, representatives from CC projects in Asia Pacific nations came together in Jakarta, Indonesia. Every second year we gather in person to combine powers and plan for the future – and this time affiliates in South Korea, China Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand were hosted by CC Indonesia.

From legal matters to community building and sustainability, we dedicated a whole day to discussions on a range of key issues and challenges for us as individual affiliates and as part of the regional and global CC community. Some fantastic work has been going on in each jurisdiction, and 2013 could be a year of projects across borders. Strategic areas include breaking down language barriers through translation work, developing messaging for government and education sectors, and creating mentoring relationships among teams. The massive diversity in our region is actually a strength, especially for all the CC volunteers out there who might want to work on projects from another country – and all of this will inform our 2013 roadmap (to be posted online).

The second day was a public program for CC representatives and local speakers to run sessions on open government, open data, OER, the creative arts and general tips for beginners. CC Indonesia had a special reason to celebrate since they had recently translated the license chooser and deeds into Bahasa Indonesian, and could present on them for the first time. A translation of Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture (PDF) had also been launched in February by friends from KUNCI Cultural Studies Center in Yogyakarta. Followers around the country submitted reviews of the Indonesian text in the hope of snapping up one of the 15 travel scholarships to Jakarta. The CC Indonesia project is run out of Wikimedia Foundation’s Indonesian arm, and so the keynote speaker Kat Walsh expertly intersected both communities as the Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation and a CC Legal Council. The best moments included stand up comedian Pandji Pragiwaksono, #SKUBYB boys and girls rapping, a dance performance by CC Malaysia, Adhitia Sofyan on acoustic guitar and the giant dancing Ondel-ondel puppets.

For more, see the the program and presentations, public session notes, Flickr photos, and roundup video.

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São Paulo Legislative Assembly Passes OER Bill

Timothy Vollmer, December 21st, 2012

UPDATE: As of 15 February 2013 this bill has been vetoed by the Governor of the State of Sao Paulo.

Last year we wrote about the introduction of an OER bill in Brazil. Yesterday, the State of São Paulo approved PL 989/2011, which establishes a policy whereby educational resources developed or purchased with government funds must be made freely available to the public under an open copyright license. The Governor must sign the bill for it to become law. You can view the bill text (Portuguese) linked from the State Assembly website.

State-funded educational materials must be made available on the web or on a government portal. They must be licensed for free use, including copying, distribution, download and creation of derivative works, provided that the author retains attribution, the materials are used non-commercially, and the materials are licensed under the same license as the original. Essentially, the legislation language suggests a CC BY-NC-SA license, even if not specifically stated.

Congratulations to the State of São Paulo for passing this law. We’ve seen similar policies enacted in Poland, Canada, and the United States. PL 989/2011 will set a powerful positive precedent for other countries to follow, and São Paulo will be contributing to the worldwide movement to create a shared commons of high-quality Open Educational Resources.

For more information on these developments see the Recursos Educacionais Abertos site.

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School of Open: Highlights from the Class of 2012

Jane Park, December 21st, 2012

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Class of 2012 by P2PU / CC BY-SA
(See all Class of 2012 workshop participants)

It’s been an exciting year for School of Open, from the P2PU residency in Berlin, to the curriculum building meeting in Palo Alto, to the various course building workshops we ran in Helsinki, London, Mexico City, Berlin, and more. Our community, which started off with two active volunteers at the beginning of July, has since grown into a diverse group of voices and interests. However, we all share the common goal of furthering openness in our respective fields, and helping others to take advantage of open resources to further their own goals — whether they are teachers, artists, researchers, or students.

Below are highlights from the “Class of 2012,” and below that is what you can expect from the School of Open community in 2013 — because the world didn’t end after all.

2012 highlights

Note: The “we” pronoun used below refers to the School of Open community collectively, which consists of volunteers from the CC and P2PU communities – and beyond!

  • During the P2PU residency in Berlin, we put our heads together and figured out the what, how, and who of the School — including basic governance structure and logistics, philosophy, guidelines, and an initial set of short courses for independent learning.
  • These courses are Teach Someone Something with Open Content (part one and two); Get Creative Commons Savvy; and the Open Access Wikipedia Challenge. Lots of people have taken these courses already, and you can, too.
  • We planned the curriculum for more courses with a fantastic group of open advocates and experts at a two-day Convening on an Open Policy Institute and School of Open in Palo Alto.
  • Helsinki Class group shot

    Helsinki Class Group Shot / Timothy Vollmer / CC BY

  • We also held smaller course building workshops and discussion sessions at the Open Knowledge Festival, the Mozilla Festival, the Open Ed Conference, the Summit on Open Strategies, and the CC- Africa, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America regional meetings. You can see all events on our roadmap.
  • We held our first real world course sprint at the Open Video Forum, resulting in the draft course, A Look at Open Video. (A course sprint is like a book sprint, but the end result is a course instead of a book.)
  • We also held our first real world class in Ann Arbor, Michigan, based on Get CC Savvy.
  • We discussed and settled on a course review process for all School of Open courses…

…in the spirit of open governance, because we strive to work as openly and transparently as our name makes us out to be!

What to expect in 2013


The Library of Congress / No known copyright restrictions

In 2013:

  • We will officially launch our first set of courses during Open Education Week! (March 11-15). We have 16 courses in development: the bulk of these will be designed for independent learning, such as Get CC Savvy, but a few, such as Copyright 4 Educators, will be facilitated for a set period of time beginning in March. You can check out the full list of draft courses at http://schoolofopen.org.
  • We will run more offline workshops around the world. In fact, we are developing a course to prepare people for the delivery of workshops on open culture and related topics in informal spaces.
  • We will run additional course sprints. We have one in mind around open science data (watch out Bay Area) and another on open video (Berlin or London).

With the development of 16 courses; the running of offline workshops in cool spaces; and the emergence of the course sprint — we have a very full year ahead of us! If you would like to help shape any of the courses or activities above, join us at https://groups.google.com/group/school-of-open and introduce yourself and your area of interest. Additional ways to get involved and more info at http://schoolofopen.org.

That’s all folks! We wish you a wonderful holiday and a happy new year.

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Should Instagram Adopt CC Licensing?

Elliot Harmon, December 19th, 2012

A few days ago, Ryan Singel wrote a thought-provoking piece for Wired, suggesting that users pressure Facebook — and, by extension, its recent acquisition Instagram — to adopt Creative Commons licensing options.

Creative Commons embodied an ethos of sharing that went beyond just show-and-tell. It’s been a vital part of sharing on the net, which has given all of us access to no-cost printing presses in the form of blogs; cheap ways to create, edit, and share videos and photos; and democratized distribution channels such as YouTube and Reddit.

[…] Facebook is about Facebook. Sharing to them means sharing … on Facebook. Connecting with other people means connecting with other people … on Facebook. Like the old joke about fortune cookies, you have to append “on Facebook” to get the real meaning.

Instagram is still young, so perhaps it can buck its corporate master. But it’s yet to show a commitment to doing right by users and the public, and the recent decision to prevent Twitter users from seeing Instagram photos inside Twitter makes it highly unlikely the company considers being part of a larger sharing culture a priority.

The column — along with a controversial update to Instagram’s privacy policy — has triggered a wave of discussion online. From Kurt Opsahl at EFF:

Some of these problems are less pressing if the photo is intended to be public, and some users may actually want the opportunity for their photos to get wide spread fame and fortune. For those users, the better way forward is enabling users to easily license their photos with Creative Commons.

Other photo services offer revenue sharing with their users. For example, Yahoo’s Flickr not only offers the ability to mark photos with a Creative Commons license, but also has an opt-in program with Getty Images for users who want to commercialize the photos. While imperfect (Getty requires exclusive rights, and is incompatible with CC licenses), there is something to the notion of sharing the revenue with the user.

Alyson Shontell at Business Insider takes the debate a step further, with the provocative suggestion that Instagram should require its users to license their photos under CC by default:

Of course, this will enrage a lot of people. Facebook has been reprimanded for pushing privacy boundaries too far, and not all Instagram users may feel comfortable sharing their photos with the world.

But really, they already are. This just puts a legal framework around that sharing.

In all the flurry of attention, there’s one important point to keep in mind: Creative Commons licenses don’t cancel out user agreements. That is, when you upload media to Flickr or YouTube, it’s subject to the terms you agreed to when you signed up for those services, regardless of whether you license it under CC.

raining...

raining… / Denise Weerke / CC BY-NC

To put it a different way, when I upload a video to YouTube and license it CC BY, I’m entering two different agreements at once: one with YouTube (see 6. Your Content and Conduct) and one with any potential user via the CC license. It’s a good idea to be conscious about the agreements you’re making when you use any online service. There have even been various projects over the years to make terms of service and privacy policies as easy to read and understand as CC license deeds.

Of course, that’s not to say that there’s no value in media platforms adopting CC licensing natively. Indeed, platforms are where we’ve seen the most rapid uptake in CC adoption and the most potential for reuse. Have you ever uploaded a photo to Flickr and seen it show up on a blog post days or years later? That quick, painless reuse is only possible because Flickr makes it easy to search and sort photos by CC license. Users on other sites — including both Facebook and Instagram — sometimes add CC license info to their profiles manually. That’s better than nothing, but without a consistent, platform-wide implementation, finding those CC-licensed uploads can be very difficult.

And if the discussions over the past few days have shown anything, it’s that the demand exists for native CC implementation in Instagram. i-am-cc.org, the third-party archive of CC-licensed Instagram shots, has grown to nearly 5000 users in just a few months. A search for CC-licensed Instagram photos published on Flickr yields 167,000 results. The popularity of these solutions demonstrates that many Instagram users are willing to jump through a few hoops to share their photos under CC.

For our recent tenth anniversary celebrations, we profiled several media platforms that support CC licensing. Nearly all of the people we talked to said that user demand was a major factor in their decisions to use CC. We would be thrilled if Facebook and Instagram decided to start supporting CC licensing, but ultimately, your voice matters more than ours does.

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Legal Assistance for Game Developers: New Project from New Media Rights

Elliot Harmon, December 18th, 2012

Our friends at New Media Rights are putting together an ambitious project, a collection of videos called Legal Assistance for Game Developers (LAGD). NMR is in the last days of an Indiegogo campaign to fund the next season of LAGD videos.

From NMR:

The goal of the LAGD videos is to empower indies as well as people who want to enter the “mainstream” game industry with information on how they can prevent problems before they happen. Free access to this information up front, as well as access to direct legal services means that indie developers can spend more time making successful, innovative games and less time dodging legal threats.

In season two, we’d like to do episodes on some of these topics:

  • Cloning games: what you can do if your game has been cloned OR what you can get away with cloning
  • Privacy policies and data collection in mobile games
  • Putting together your own contracts without a lawyer in the indie games industry
  • An introduction to contracts in the mainstream game industry
  • FTC disclosure and advertising requirements
  • Venture financing and mergers/acquisitions

Interviewees include luminaries like Valve cofounder Gabe Newell, Gish designer Edmund McMillen, and IGN cofounder Peer Schneider.

Intriguingly, NMR has chosen a sliding-scale approach to CC licensing. All videos are currently licensed CC BY-NC. If the fundraiser reaches $20,000, the videos will be licensed CC BY-SA. At $30,000, CC BY, and at $50,000, NMR will release the videos into the public domain under the CC0 waiver.

But if you’re interested, act quickly. The fundraiser ends on Friday.

Read more:

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