Some clarifications about the “Commonwealth” list

Glenn Otis Brown, August 19th, 2004

A few of you have expressed concern about a discussion list we announced recently. These are all good points and I feel I should make a couple of things clear:

(1) It is never a foregone conclusion that a project in discussion will be adopted by Creative Commons. Check out the image on our discuss page, laying out the model. Projects live or die on the merits, and your take on the merits matters. So if you find the project description murky or if you think the project is completely barking up the wrong tree, please say so on the list. I will probably link to the comments on our initial blog entry and post them to the list myself. Anyway, the point is: the discussion lists should be considered laboratories, or seminars — places to talk about and bang-up innovative licensing ideas, even ones a little outside the norm, and see if they hold up. Already your comments have been valuable in this way, and made a few on the staff here think more carefully about what this list is supposed to be about.

(2) If Creative Commons ever gets into what is vaguely being referred to as “commercialization” of content, it will never extend beyond facilitating what, say, the folks at Magnatune are doing: helping authors declare “some rights reserved,” then to charge, if they want to, for uses of those reserved rights. For example: Joe picks a Creative Commons no-derivatives license, but then a movie studio comes along and wants to include it in a film — what tools might CC consider including along with our licenses that will help Joe exercise the best of both worlds? That’s the question I’m interested in, and if the discussion list in question is ranging afield from this basic principle, then I’ll be commenting on it, too.

We certainly won’t, as one comment imagines, turn commercial ourselves: the IRS would have a thing or two to say about that, our board would probably have my head well before that happened, and as a matter of conscience I’d be long gone well before even that.

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Industry analysts releasing licensed whitepapers

Matt Haughey, August 19th, 2004

Redmonk is an analyst firm that studies the Technology industry. One aspect of their work is publishing whitepapers on various technology subjects, which are usually sold for hundreds of dollars to companies seeking research. Tech magazine InfowWorld noticed their most recent publication was released for free, and on top of that, licensed under Creative Commons. Stephen O’Grady of Redmonk explains the reasoning behind the licensing in this post to his technology weblog. In a followup post, he sums up the paralells between Creative Commons licensed technology papers and open sourced code:

“I see no reason to believe that the open source model is any less applicable to our business model than it is to software. It’s not one-to-one, of course, because of the inherent differences between source code and analysis, but at the end of the day they are both just information. Information that can be used and built on. If you allow it.”

It’s great to see an analyst firm try out licensing their whitepapers, and I hope it’s the start of a new trend in the industry.

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New Zealand’s Digital Strategy

Neeru Paharia, August 19th, 2004

The New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development recently released a draft of its Digital Strategy, and makes a mention of Creative Commons in reference to builing an online repository of published works.

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Wired presents a Creative Commons benefit in NYC, Sept 21st

Matt Haughey, August 19th, 2004

Wired presents: the Creative Commons benefit
click for full sized announcement

Tuesday, September 21, 2004, Wired Magazine will throw a benefit for Creative Commons featuring a concert by David Byrne (with the Tosca Strings) and Gilberto Gil. It will take place at 8PM at The Town Hall in New York City. Proceeds from the concert will go to support the non-profit efforts of Creative Commons.

Tickets are available now from Ticketmaster or, after September 1st, at the Town Hall box office. If you’re in NYC and want to help support the work of the Creative Commons, come on out and enjoy a great concert.

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CC on Seybold DRM Panel

Mike Linksvayer, August 17th, 2004

I’m speaking on a DRM Roundtable 10:30AM tomorrow at Seybold San Francisco. The panel will address current and future trends in Digital Rights Management (or the pejorative: Digital Restrictions Management).

We have two FAQs addressing Creative Commons and DRM, reproduced below:

Is Creative Commons involved in digital rights management (DRM)?

No; we prefer to describe the technical aspect of our work as digital rights description. Whereas digital rights management tools try to prevent certain uses of copyright works and restrict your rights, we’re trying to promote certain uses and grant you rights. Instead of having software say, “No, you cannot modify this file,” we want it to say something more like “The author will let you modify this file, but in return, give her credit.”

While the tools are similar, our goals are different. Instead of using one of the many DRM formats, we’ve chosen to go with the W3C’s RDF/XML format. Instead of saying “We’re not placing these restrictions,” we say “We grant you these permissions,” so that search engines and other applications can easily find generously licensed works and sort them.

A physical analogy may be helpful. It’s DRM’s job to put up signs that say “No Trespassing.” It would seem silly to take those signs and change them to say “Yes Trespassing,” which is what using a DRM format to express our licenses would be like. Instead, we’re building new signs that say “Welcome, Please Come In,” and that use different colors and designs to convey their different messages.

We’re leaving “enforcement” to the law, social norms, and the good faith of the participants. Our tools act as informative aids, not instruments of control. We want to help copyright holders notify others of their obligations and freedoms, and to help everyone find places on the Internet where creative reuses are encouraged.

What happens if someone tries to protect a CC-licensed work with digital rights management (DRM) tools?

If a person uses DRM tools to restrict any of the rights granted in the license, that person violates the license. All of our licenses prohibit licensees from “distributing the Work with any technological measures that control access or use of the Work in a manner inconsistent with the terms of this License Agreement.”

For those not lucky enough to attend the panel, in addition to covering the FAQ points above I will give examples for positive use cases of Digital Rights Description in the areas of

  • Discovery
  • Expression
  • Commerce
  • Resource Management

and draw some broad distinctions between DRM and DRD:

  • Copy/Use promotion vs. Copy/Use protection
  • Encourage fans vs. Discourage casual pirates
  • Resource management vs. Customer management
  • Web content model vs. 20th century content model
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Announcing the commonwealth

Matt Haughey, August 16th, 2004

A few weeks back, we unveiled a new list for discussing the intersection of Creative Commons licenses and business, dubbed Commonwealth. It’s headed by Marshall Van Alstyne, an Associate Professor of Information Economics at Boston University. The welcome message to the list details the goals for the list and plans for exploring hybrid licensing systems. If you’d like to sign up, the list’s homepage is the place to start.

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Dan Gillmor interview up

Matt Haughey, August 13th, 2004

We caught up with Dan Gillmor this week and conducted a short interview about the future of journalism and his new book, We The Media.

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Live Modern

Matt Haughey, August 12th, 2004

Live Modern is a new community site that describes themselves as “a free and open community for modern home buyers, architects, builders, developers, lenders, realtors–anyone interested in modernist housing.” They’ve got a Creative Commons license on all their own content, a section devoted to a new, affordable, custom modern home called The Glide House, a blog started by someone purchasing a Glide home of their own, as well as an architect’s blog covering the real-time development of a new home design. If you’re into sleek, modern homes, this site is a real treat.

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Open Audiobooks Project

Matt Haughey, August 12th, 2004

We’ve seen a couple audiobook projects popup around Creative Commons licensed books recently (Lessig’s audiobook and Doctorow’s audiobook), but this new Open Audiobooks Project aims to collect recordings of public domain books. They’re kicking off the project by recording Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. If you’re a fan of the book, have a good voice, and want to contribute to the project, sign on their site.

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30,000 songs licensed on Soundclick in one month

Neeru Paharia, August 12th, 2004

Soundclick, one of the Internet’s biggest music community sites, prominently integrated our license engine just one month ago. In that time, over 30,000 tracks have been licensed under Creative Commons licenses. Genres vary, and many of the tracks allow derivatives, so break out your music editing software and mix away.

More details from the press release.

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