Commons News

Paul Brest Named Creative Commons Chair

Cathy Casserly, November 29th, 2012

Read the full press release. (PDF)

I’m delighted to announce that Paul Brest has been elected chair of the Creative Commons board. Paul will begin as chair in December, coinciding with CC’s tenth anniversary celebrations.

Throughout his career, Paul has bridged the worlds of law, philanthropy, and academia, most recently as president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and, before that, dean of Stanford Law School. He’s widely recognized as an expert on constitutional law, problem solving and decision making, and philanthropic strategy, having written books and taught classes at Stanford on these subjects.

I can’t think of a better choice than Paul. He has that rare combination of strong instincts and the knowledge and rigor to back those instincts up. He’s the leader we need to carry CC into the next decade.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to recognize Joi Ito for his years of service as chair. During Joi’s time as chair, he’s helped CC grow as an organization, both in global influence and in its relevance to a changing technology landscape.

Please join me in thanking Joi and welcoming Paul.

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CC-Licensed Documentary Explores Personality Rights Issues

Elliot Harmon, November 19th, 2012

A few weeks ago, CC received an interesting email from filmmaker Annie Berman. She told us about a CC-licensed documentary she’s been working on called The Faithful. The film explores issues of fandom and ritual, with Elvis Presley, Pope John Paul II, and and Princess Diana as its focal points.

As Annie was working the film, she contacted by Robert Sillerman — owner of the name, image, and likeness of Elvis Presley — for an interview. And suddenly, The Faithful was not only about the followers of iconic figures, but also about who owns their images.

THE FAITHFUL Teaser, as seen at REMIX NYC from Fish in the Hand Productions on Vimeo.

The film features an interview with CC founder Lawrence Lessig. In the clip below, Larry answers a pressing question: can Annie Berman make this film?

Excerpts from Lawrence Lessig Interview, THE FAITHFUL from Fish in the Hand Productions on Vimeo.

You can support the film on Kickstarter through the end of November. For more CC-licensed projects, visit our Kickstarter page.

Updated November 20: We incorrectly reported that Robert Sillerman initially contacted Annie Berman while she was working on the documentary. She contacted him.

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Introducing the CC Science Advisory Board

Puneet Kishor, November 16th, 2012

Creative Commons has formed a new Science Advisory Board (SAB) to guide its science program and to provide overall strategic vision and focus. The SAB brings legal, institutional as well as domain-specific knowledge in the use and sharing of scientific tools and data. Our SAB is made up of eminent scholars and practitioners from different disciplines and four continents who have volunteered to provide us both the domain expertise as well as regional perspective to help create a truly globally responsive program. We are grateful to Gilberto Camara, Michael Carroll, Robert Chen, Juncai Ma, Peter Murray-Rust, Mackenzie Smith, and John Wilbanks for their time and insight.

Creative Commons works with scientists and institutions, providing education and outreach on the right technologies and licenses to maximize legal interoperability of scientific data and tools. Since most science is both cross-discipline and cross-border, legal interoperability of data and tools facilitates collaboration, enables reproducibility and verifiability, and makes it possible to extract a higher return on investment in publicly funded scientific programs through reuse of information.

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500px Announces Creative Commons Licensing Options

Elliot Harmon, November 16th, 2012

Read the full press release. (PDF)

This morning, photo-sharing platform 500px announced that it now offers Creative Commons licensing options. 500px has become a hub for talented photographers in recent years, and it’s great to see it join the ranks of CC-enabled platforms.

From the press release:

“While our platform still defaults to full copyright protection as it always has, we want to give our photographers as much flexibility as possible to spread their work and build their profiles and businesses,” says Oleg Gutsol, CEO, 500px. “Our move to offer Creative Commons licensing is another way we’re providing additional services and value to meet the needs of our growing community.”

With tens of millions of high quality professional photos potentially now available through Creative Commons, 500px is planning for the increased traffic from bloggers, publishers and media outlets that have been clamoring to get at the content for several years.

“We’ve built content searching by keywords and applicable license right into the functionality,” says Gutsol. “Our hope is that this targeted searching makes it seamless for people to find the content they’re looking for.”

With this rollout, 500px joins the ranks of other prominent rich media communities such as Vimeo, SoundCloud and YouTube who already have Creative Commons in place.

“500px is a great addition to the family of CC-compatible media platforms,” Creative Commons CEO Cathy Casserly said. “500px caters to a talented and intelligent community of photographers, just the sort of users we’re always excited to see licensing their work under CC. I’ll be curious to see how creative people everywhere reuse and remix the work of 500px photographers.”

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Building an Innovation-Based Economy with Creative Commons

Cable Green, November 15th, 2012

In a paper released in conjunction with a panel discussion, the Brookings Institution identifies promising policy ideas to encourage entrepreneurship and innovative growth in the technology industry.

“We need to improve knowledge transmission through faster adoption of digital textbooks, more widespread use of creative commons licenses for instructional materials developed with taxpayer dollars, and policy changes that speed education innovation.”

“In an era of limited resources, educators must figure out how to do more with fewer financial resources. One action that would improve school efficiency and financing is to have educational resources developed with taxpayer dollars be licensed under a creative commons license that would improve accessibility to instructional materials. Budget circumstances require schools to get more efficient, boost productivity, and make do with fewer financial resources. While this poses obvious problems for school districts, it also creates the possibility of making changes in business operations that are innovative and transformational.”

“Throughout each of these initiatives, we should have metrics assessing education innovation implementation and impact. We should determine how fast we are transitioning from paper to digital textbooks, leverage the use of creative commons licenses, and enforce changes in education policy and accreditation that encourage more innovative approaches to learning and achievement.”

The report also endorses FRPAA legislation that would “mandate public dissemination of federally funded research within six months of publication (for agencies with extramural funding exceeding $100 million).”

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WIPO’s Broadcasting Treaty: Still Harmful, Still Unnecessary

Timothy Vollmer, November 14th, 2012

Creative Commons has been involved in discussions at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) over the last several years, and we’ve made interventions in support of the public domain, as well as other topics.

One issue in particular that is resurfacing at WIPO is a draft treaty for the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations, or “Broadcasting Treaty.” If passed, the Broadcasting Treaty would grant to broadcasters a separate, exclusive copyright-like right in the signals that they transmit, separate from any copyrights they or others may have in the content of the transmissions. Some advocates of the treaty support granting these rights to broadcasters for a minimum of 50 years (and others, for a minimum of 20). And, because these additional rights would add a layer of rights atop the underlying copyright in the works being broadcast, the Broadcasting Treaty would permit broadcasters to restrict access to works already licensed under a Creative Commons license, or in the public domain. This new set of rights would unnecessarily complicate the rights-negotiation process that Creative Commons has attempted to simplify.

Antennas to heaven

Antennas to Heaven / mhiguera / CC BY

The Broadcasting Treaty has been on and off WIPO’s agenda since at least 1996. This is not the first time that CC has voiced its concern about the potentially harmful effects of a Broadcasting Treaty. In 2006, we signed a letter of concern (PDF) with 37 other organizations representing a broad range of information technology, consumer electronics and telecommunications companies, library associations, and civil society organizations. The letter told WIPO that if a treaty is deemed necessary, it should be based on a “signal-based” approach, focusing specifically on protecting broadcasting signals from intentional misappropriation or theft. The statement called for the inclusion of a mandatory baseline set of limitations and exceptions in order to ensure that uses of broadcasted content that are lawful under copyright law are not inhibited by the treaty. And in general, the letter questioned the need for a Broadcasting Treaty in the first place, suggesting that current legal frameworks already provide the necessary enforcement mechanism for “signal piracy” (unauthorized use of a broadcast, prohibited by the broadcaster).

Why is a Broadcasting Treaty problematic for users of Creative Commons licenses?

A report (PDF) by Professor Patrícia Akester, commissioned by UNESCO, concluded that a Broadcasting Treaty could “prevent or restrict the flow of information with respect to materials which may not be protected by copyright, such as news of the day, or which are in the public domain, because their term of protection has expired or in relation to materials created by third parties who do not wish to prevent dissemination of the latter… . For example, a broadcast of a speech by a public official may be covered by the scope of the proposed Treaty, even though it may not be protected by copyright, and a broadcast of materials under a Creative Commons license may prevent users from fixing such materials.” Anyone who would want to use a broadcast would have been compelled to get permission from the broadcaster in addition to the copyright holder. This would negatively affect users of Creative Commons licenses. It would grant broadcasters an additional right above and beyond those rights granted to the copyright holder. So, even though CC licenses provide for a clear set of permissions in advance, broadcasters’ rights could trump those rights, requiring that a user get permission or pay a license fee to the broadcaster to use the broadcasted content. Most WIPO member nations have agreed to pursue the more limited signal-based approach, but it’s not clear whether this path would avoid interfering with the permissions granted from the Creative Commons licenses.

CC licenses forbid licensees from applying adding technological protection measures (DRM) to a work if doing so prohibits other users from exercising the rights granted under the license. A broadcast treaty that authorizes application of DRM to their signals — depending on its final scope — would very likely conflict with that prohibition. Moreover, the Treaty permits countries to enact far-reaching anti-circumvention laws that stop users from breaking DRM to use the broadcast content — inclusive of any CC-licensed content, which by the terms of the license is expressly permitted. This may put licensees in a situation of either not being able to exercise rights granted under copyright via the CC licenses, or risk violating law when they circumvent the technological protection measure to do so.

Adding additional intellectual property rights via a broadcast right is bad policy and yet another representation of the expanding rights grab from entities who are not the copyright holder. And said well by Public Knowledge, “Intellectual property rights should go to authors or inventors, not middlemen.” This statement represents the underlying utility of Creative Commons since its inception: CC licenses provide powerful yet easy-to-implement solutions in order to reduce the legal transaction costs associated with sharing content. In addition, the Broadcasting Treaty could give rise to a sort of re-enclosure of the public domain by granting rights to broadcasters even after a user has placed a work in the public domain using the CC0 Public Domain Dedication.

The creation of new “copyright-like” rights has been increasing over the last several years, to the detriment of creativity and innovation. The Broadcasting Treaty is a direct attack on the rights of creators to share their work as they see fit under the existing (and increasingly protectionist) copyright regime. As Mike Linksvayer wrote in 2010, “With a proliferation of rights, it is harder to know who has exclusive control over what, or whether multiple parties have exclusive control over different rights over a work. This phenomenon of too many property claims forms what is sometimes called an anticommons — overlapping exclusive claims can prevent anyone from using a work — the opposite (thus “anti”) of a commons, in which anyone may use a work under a clear, easily discernible set of rules.” Creative Commons licenses have been a successful mechanism for creators who want to share to communicate their intentions clearly in an environment that has been increasingly hostile toward them. The Broadcast Treaty is antithetical to these methods of sharing and collaboration, but perhaps most harmful to CC-licensed works and to the public domain.

Bottom line: A Broadcasting Treaty is not needed

Is there need for such a treaty? Public interest advocates point out that the additional rights granted to broadcasters via a Broadcasting Treaty are simply not necessary because broadcasters already have legal remedies available to them to combat signal theft. An often cited example is the famous case of the Canadian company iCraveTV. iCraveTV decided to broadcast via the Internet 17 US-based channels on the grounds that local laws allowed it to transmit wireless broadcast cable signals without paying. And, because these channels were received at the Canadian border, iCraveTV argued it was exempt from paying royalties. Broadcasters in the US sued iCraveTV alleging copyright infringement. iCraveTV quickly settled, and the site shuttered shortly thereafter.

Copyright law already grants a complex bundle of rights to authors, and most of the time broadcasters are either copyright holders or licensees of copyrights. Public Knowledge notes, “broadcast signal piracy is almost always also copyright infringement and already illegal.” Similarly, Knowledge Ecology International wonders why the Broadcasting Treaty is necessary: “[W]e have yet to hear a cogent explanation of the problem the treaty is supposed to solve, or how it will work. We have asked the US government and other countries to explain what piracy problem the broadcaster treaty is expected to solve that can’t be solved by enforcing existing copyright laws and related rights laws, and we are still waiting for an answer.”

Establishing a Broadcasting Treaty could in effect negate the permissions that users of Creative Commons licenses wish to communicate, and grant unwarranted rights to broadcasting organizations that have added little or no value to the underlying work being transmitted. The proposed benefit to society resulting from creation and enforcement of additional rights for broadcasters under a Broadcasting Treaty is unclear. If there is a dire need to create additional rights for broadcasting organizations, the data demonstrating this need should be presented and impartially evaluated. If there is no discernable reason backed up by data, then the treaty should be abandoned.

What are the next steps?

Right now WIPO has released a working document (PDF) on the draft treaty, to be discussed and negotiated at the upcoming WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) meeting taking place in Geneva 19-23 November. Creative Commons is considering developing an intervention for the meeting, as we have permission to attend and contribute to the WIPO proceedings alongside other NGOs. We urge WIPO to make these deliberations as transparent as possible so that the public knows about the discussions. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has already raised concerns that WIPO is pushing for a treaty to be signed quickly. And they also released a statement (PDF) during the July SCCR meeting. WIPO should carefully consider the implications to the public interest and properly address the recommendations from civil society organizations.

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TAG 2012 Keynote: Growing Into Mission-Supporting Technology

Cathy Casserly, November 13th, 2012

Today, I’m honored to be a keynote speaker at the Technology Affinity Group conference in Monterey, CA. I’ll be talking about my career and my experiences in the open space, and sharing three suggestions for the foundation community:

Technology deserves a bigger place at the table. Technology is what drives the big innovations in the philanthropic world, but all too often, the technology people don’t have enough of a voice in a foundation’s leadership. That’s a problem that I think foundations need to address before they can work at full potential.

Share by default. When foundations share their data, it’s often the exception rather than the rule. What if foundations made sharing the default? Yesterday, we blogged about a group of foundations making a commitment to share their grant data regularly, openly, and in a usable format. I’ll be applauding the Reporting Commitment and urging other foundations to get onboard.

Bake open into philanthropy. Every foundation wants to get the most good for its money. There’s a strong argument that grant dollars go further if they go toward openly-licensed work and resources.

Do you have any questions or thoughts from the session? Share them in the comments.

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Foundations Step into Open Data Sharing

Elliot Harmon, November 12th, 2012

In the past few weeks, the Foundation Center and the philanthropic world have taken two big steps forward in transparency. First, 15 of the nation’s largest foundations joined the “Reporting Commitment,” agreeing to release grant information regularly through Foundation Center’s Glasspockets repository. Then last week, the Foundation Center relaunched IssueLab, an extensive repository of third-sector research. IssueLab’s mission is to “gather, index, and share the collective intelligence of the social sector” more effectively.

All of the IssueLab metadata is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA and all of the content is accessible (for reading, if not necessarily for other uses) for free. Everything released to Glasspockets under the Reporting Commitment is licensed under BY NC.

OPEN

Open/Closed / Antti T. Nissinen / CC BY

Taken together, these initiatives present some interesting possibilities for the future of open data in the foundation space. Foundation Center president Bradford K. Smith discussed the implications of both initiatives in a blog post:

If you think foundations are only ATM machines and nonprofits just service providers, think again. With the launch of IssueLab, there is one place you can go to find more than eleven thousand knowledge products published, funded, produced, and/or generated by foundations and nonprofits in the U.S. and around the globe.

Last month, the Foundation Center announced the Reporting Commitment, an effort by fifteen of America’s largest philanthropic foundations to make their grants data — who they give money to, how much, where, and for what purpose — available in an open, machine-readable format. Starting today, through IssueLab, the social sector can also access what it knows as a result of that funding. A service of the Foundation Center, IssueLab gathers, indexes, and shares the sector’s collective intelligence on a free, open, and searchable platform, and encourages users to share, copy, distribute, and even adapt the work. It’s a big step for philanthropy and “open knowledge.”

Smith went on to explain why it’s important that these resources aren’t just freely available; they’re openly licensed too:

Free is good, but IssueLab promotes openness in a number of other ways. First, the metadata — the abstracts and “tags” developed for all reports in the collection — is available under a Creative Commons license and can be grabbed and/or remixed by anyone as long as they use it for non-commercial purposes. Second, only work that is available for free is included in the IssueLab collection. These are public “assets,” in that the organizations which produced them already have tax-exempt status and/or have received government funding, and they should be easy for the public to find. Sorry but Kardashian Konfidential will not be found on IssueLab. Third, IssueLab itself is an open-source platform whose underlying codebase/framework is continually being improved by a community of developers. And fourth, our own developers embrace the Open Archives Initiative (OAI), which develops and promotes interoperability standards to facilitate the efficient dissemination of online content.

Here at Creative Commons, we’re big proponents of foundations and other institutions sharing their data — and the works they produce or fund — under an open license. It makes sense for foundations to reciprocate the public’s trust by showing how philanthropic dollars have been spent, and the foundations that join in the Reporting Commitment make that information available much sooner and much more easily than it is under the federally-required information returns. By use of Glasspockets, the public can see and compare the activities of the participating foundations. Private foundations are tax-exempt because they are dedicated to the public benefit; those that share their data and research in ways that invite the reuse and contributions of others add a valuable new dimension to their public service.

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World OER Map: Will You Help Build It?

Cable Green, November 9th, 2012

Global Map Test

Global Map Test / Mike Rosenberg / CC BY

Here’s an exciting opportunity for the open education community. Susan D’Antoni, a long-time leader in Open Educational Resources (OER), is coordinating an important effort to map the global OER space.

You can join the list by sending an email to: oer-community-request@athabascau.ca and typing “subscribe” in the subject line. I have signed up to contribute. I hope you will too.

Read the complete announcement below for more information.

 

Dear Colleagues,

The following invitation is extended to any of you who might be interested in a discussion of how the OER community at large might design, create and sustain an OER world map of institutional initiatives – to help us connect and communicate.

The objective of this conversation is to consider together whether the global OER community could design and build a world map of OER institutional initiatives.

Over the past decade, there have been more and more initiatives in more and more countries. It has become difficult to have a sense of the global OER landscape. As we seek to communicate with stakeholders, as we seek to connect with potential partners and as we seek to learn from the experience of others, we might find useful a picture of the OER world – a global map of institutional and perhaps national initiatives as a starting point. Over time, an “OER World Map” could be enhanced as the community wished and found feasible.

Maps can be effective in communicating a message visually. There are already several global maps that have been created for specific OER groups, such as, the Open CourseWare Consortium and the Open University OLnet project in the United Kingdom.

As many of you will remember, the former IIEP OER community showed enormous energy in its interaction. And importantly, the community showed a capacity to self-organize. A number of groups came together to translate the report of the group’s consensus on priorities to advance the OER movement. If mapping the OER world were seen to be useful, perhaps the worldwide OER community could self-organize to build and maintain an OER world map together.

Our conversation is scheduled to take place online over a three-week period from 12 – 30 November. At the conclusion of the discussion a draft report will be sent to everyone for review and comment.

In addition to this international discussion in English, some groups have already decided to hold similar interactions in their own languages for their own communities or networks. Their input will be shared with the international group, and incorporated into the final report of our collective deliberation and conclusions. We hope others may also wish to organize separate discussions.

I will be back in contact with further details before we begin. I am very much looking forward to being back together again.

My best,

Susan

——————

Outline of the international discussion

Week 1: What could an OER world map look like? (12- 16 November)

  • Why map the OER landscape?
  • Essential information and visual presentation

Week 2: Could a world map be built collaboratively? (19-23 November)

  • Organizational approach for collaboration
  • Ensuring the quality of the information

Week 3: Reflection and next steps (26-30 November)

  • Design of an “OER World Map”
  • Organization
  • Resources available/needed
  • Next steps

Please:

  • Send an email to oer-community-request@athabascau.ca and type “subscribe” in the subject line.
  • Share this announcement with your colleagues and networks.
  • Plan a parallel or follow up discussion in your own language and network and give your feedback for the final report of all the discussions.
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Last Day to Support MediaGoblin!

Elliot Harmon, November 9th, 2012

If you follow Creative Commons’ various social media outlets, you’ve probably heard us talking about GNU MediaGoblin’s crowdfunding campaign. Today is the last day to support the campaign, so we wanted to give it one last shout-out.

CC alumnus Chris Webber is MediaGoblin’s lead developer. It’s an open-source media-hosting platform. It’s already CC-enabled, but Chris and his team have some exciting plans for its future, so they’re running a funding campaign with the help of our friends at the Free Software Foundation. Watch the video to see what’s on the horizon:

If you’d like to help spread the word, then click Retweet below:

You can also spread the word on identi.ca and Facebook.

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