Yelabuga Medieval Tower / Ерней / Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Every day, millions of people rely on CC licenses for all manner of sharing, from merely redistributing recordings or using images found on Flickr in presentations, to leveraging massive collaborative works developed on wikis in educational settings. All of this normally happens very quietly and without fuss or exception, so long as simple license conditions are respected and those involved have no other reason for complaint. But the exceptional (rare, that is) conflict proves the simple rule that CC licenses operate as designed and as advertised: disregard the license conditions and copyright is at issue; follow the conditions and copyright is not.
As an example of the former, almost exactly a year ago we announced that the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike (BY-SA) license had been successfully enforced in a case in Germany. There, a far-right political party had used a photo under BY-SA without providing proper attribution to the author and other information required by the license. The photographer sued to enforce the license, and the district court of Berlin agreed and issued an injunction against the user.
As an example of the latter, members of the Wikitravel community (together with many who left long ago to found Wikivoyage) recently announced plans to migrate to a new travel project hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation (meaning a new sibling project alongside Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikipedia and others). All of these sites use BY-SA, which enables the reuse of content among those sites even when conflicts arise or differences of opinion exist about website administration or community management, for example. Indeed, BY-SA was designed precisely to enable this kind of reuse and repurposing of content. In this particular instance, Internet Brands, which currently runs WikiTravel, sued (PDF) two Wikitravel volunteers for trademark infringement, unfair business practices and conspiracy, and seeks a court order enjoining them generally from doing anything that misleads the public into believing the new website is affiliated with Wikitravel, among other things.
Wikimedia Foundation decided to support those volunteers (who are also Wikimedia volunteers) in their legal defense, and in its blog post explained that it did not think it appropriate for Internet Brands to attempt to intimidate the volunteers from communicating freely on their dissatisfaction with IB’s management of the Wikitravel community. As a result, Wikimedia Foundation filed a separate request for declaratory judgment (PDF) seeking a declaration that, “under the terms of the CC License, [Internet Brands] may not restrict the use, reproduction, sale, or modification of content on the Wikitravel website in any manner other than requiring attribution to the creator of the content and that the content be maintained under the same licensing terms”. In addition, the Foundation argues that “[Internet Brands] has no lawful right, title or interest under the CC License to prevent use of such content created by volunteer users and administrators on the Wikitravel website”.
A few claims in the dispute provide the opportunity to highlight some important features of BY-SA and the other CC licenses. First, all CC 3.0 licenses contain mechanisms that protect licensors wanting to distance themselves from the projects and individuals reusing the CC-licensed content in ways allowed by the license, for any reason whatsoever. Our licenses contain a “no endorsement, no sponsorship” clause that prohibits users from implicitly or explicitly asserting or implying “any connection with, sponsorship or endorsement by” the author, the licensor or others to whom attribution is being provided, either for the licensee herself or the work as reused. Additionally, anyone modifying content (when allowed by the license, as BY-SA does) must clearly label or identify that changes have been made, thereby ensuring modifications are not wrongly associated with the original author. Finally, where the original author or licensor wants to completely disassociate themselves from particular reuses, they have the right to request that all attribution and mention of them be removed, and those reusing the work must do so to the extent practicable. These mechanisms provide effective tools for those concerned about being affiliated with permitted reuses of their works.
Second, an assertion in the dispute relates to whether proper attribution has been provided. While the factual underpinnings of this claim are not provided in the court filings and it does not appear the content is question is being used at this time, it’s worth mention that Creative Commons tools provide a sophisticated yet flexible method for reusers to provide proper attribution. All CC licenses permit attribution to be provided in a manner “reasonable to the medium or means” used by the licensee, and for credit to be provided in a “reasonable manner.” This flexibility facilitates compliance by licensees – minimizing the risk that overly onerous and inflexible attribution requirements are simply disregarded as being too difficult – while at the same ensuring that credit is still provided. This makes it easy for reusers to “do the right thing.”
Whatever the decision the court makes regarding the other claims by Internet Brands against the Wikitravel volunteers, it is clear that under the terms of BY-SA, the Wikitravel content can and should be used on other websites, so long as the users comply with the requirements of the license.4 Comments »
If you work with K-12 students in the United States (or if you are one), then you’ll want to know about this video competition. Engage 2012 asks young people to create short videos about political issues impacting their communities. All entries will be uploaded to YouTube under CC BY, meaning lots of great fodder for future remixes.
Every four years, American voters decide who calls the White House home. And the road to the election is full of questions. How does the next presidential election affect you, your family, and your neighborhood?
Answers to this question appear in newspapers, on television, and on the radio. But we want to know what the story is in your community. There’s just one question: Can you tell us in two minutes?
The Engage in Democracy 2012 Student Journalism Challenge is a competition for K-12 students from across the United States and its territories. Our goal is to involve you in the political process.
To participate, shoot a video under two minutes in length using stories from around your community with a focus on one of these six big election topics:
- Voter Turnout
- Jobs and the Economy
- Education Reform
- Health Care
- Energy and the Environment
The contest is open through November 5.Comments Off
Ten years after the release of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, OA advocates last week released updated recommendations in support of open access around the world, touching on areas including policy, licensing, sustainability, and advocacy. Of particular interest are recommendations that urge funders to require open access when they make grants: “When possible, funder policies should require libre OA, preferably under a CC-BY license or equivalent.” When funding agencies institute open access policies for the grant funds they distribute, they increase the impact of the research produced. This is because the outputs can be widely reused under the CC-BY license, which allows for reuse for any purpose (even commercial) so long as attribution is given to the author.
The updated recommendation document includes a section on licensing and reuse (see the three listed below). The document “recommend[s] CC-BY or an equivalent license as the optimal license for the publication, distribution, use, and reuse of scholarly work.”
OA repositories typically depend on permissions from others, such as authors or publishers, and are rarely in a position to require open licenses. However, policy makers in a position to direct deposits into repositories should require open licenses, preferably CC-BY, when they can.
OA journals are always in a position to require open licenses, yet most of them do not yet take advantage of the opportunity. We recommend CC-BY for all OA journals.
In developing strategy and setting priorities, we recognize that gratis access is better than priced access, libre access is better than gratis access, and libre under CC-BY or the equivalent is better than libre under more restrictive open licenses. We should achieve what we can when we can. We should not delay achieving gratis in order to achieve libre, and we should not stop with gratis when we can achieve libre.
Creative Commons is looking for an experienced, innovative, and technically inclined individual to drive product development at CC. This individual will play a highly influential role in the future of Creative Commons as we look to the next 10 years.
For those that have been paying attention, this is indeed a re-imagination of the previous solicitation for a Chief Technology Officer. This role has expanded to be a more general direction setting position within CC vis-a-vis tools and products that will enable and sustain CC and its community.
Creative Commons started with a vision of leveraging the Internet to scale the sharing of our collective cultural, scientific, and educational output. To that end, there is an unimaginable number of freely licensed works to build upon, and to build services around, and 90% of the technical groundwork is laid (meaning, of course, there is still more than 90% of the way to go!). Now is an incredibly exciting time to lead the product and technology efforts of Creative Commons — be part of a great team, help communities yearning to share better and more effectively, and engage with developers around the world to help build a better future.
And it is an interesting place to work! Some unique aspects of the CC technical and product team:
- All software developed by CC is free software; see our source repositories and bug tracker;
- We have a small (two software engineers, one system administrator) technology team focused on maintaining and improving CC’s services (implemented using Python, CiviCRM, WordPress, MediaWiki, and other technologies); additionally technology suffuses all of our work, including when policy-oriented — the technology team and especially CTO are frequently called on to provide leadership on broad issues;
- See our CC Labs blog for occasional posts on the details of our technical work and thoughts on related happenings;
- Watch recordings of past CC technology summits;
- Read about the CC Rights Expression Language, a set of recommendations implemented across CC’s services and by many publishers.
We’re accepting resumes through October 12. See the job posting for details.3 Comments »
Importantly, the change represents a valuable contribution to the European Commission’s agenda to drive growth through digital innovation. Online open data is a core resource which can fuel enterprise and create opportunities for millions of Europeans working in Europe’s cultural and creative industries. The sector represents 3.3% of EU GDP and is worth over €150 billion in exports.
Europeana’s announcement was praised by Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission, who said:
Open data is such a powerful idea, and Europeana is such a cultural asset, that only good things can result from the marriage of the two. People often speak about closing the digital divide and opening up culture to new audiences but very few can claim such a big contribution to those efforts as Europeana’s shift to creative commons.
The Creative Commons Affiliate teams in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, through partner organizations Institute for Information Law (IViR), Kennisland, and the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg provided expert support to Europeana during this process. Europeana has been at the forefront of exploring ways to share the European cultural record. They are one of the first adopters of CC’s Public Domain Mark and continue to support a vibrant, healthy public domain.5 Comments »
Two years ago, I was trying to organize my first Creative Commons-sponsored event, a joint CC-USGS workshop titled Law and the GeoWeb. I ran into Lee in the keynote room at the CODATA conference in Cape Town and asked him to suggest a speaker from Microsoft. Lee said he would do better — he would host the entire workshop at his digs at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA. Several conversations and emails later the workshop was made possible with generous provision of the facilities, food, and transportation, and the entire workshop was also taped and archived for posterity, all because of Lee’s spontaneous offer. At one point I asked him, “Why?” Lee replied that that’s what he did, he worked to promote conversations on free and open access to science. That is simply what Lee did.2 Comments »
After more than two years of hard work, the CC China Mainland 3.0 licenses are ready for use. Congratulations to Chunyan Wang and the entire CC China Mainland team. Thank you to everyone who helped create these licenses, including the community members who participated in the public discussion.
The China Mainland licenses are now available on the CC license chooser. You can learn more about the CC China Mainland team and their work on the CC wiki and at http://creativecommons.net.cn/. The CC China Mainland 3.0 licenses are one of the last 3.0 ports to conclude, with the few other remaining suites expected to be launched prior to publication of the version 4.0 licenses. As announced to affiliates at the CC Global Summit in Warsaw almost a year ago, and reiterated last October and this past February, other than a very few ports then well underway, Creative Commons put the porting process on hold. This has allowed staff and our affiliates to focus more fully on the important work of versioning the license suite. We encourage all affiliates, CC community members and others interested in CC licenses to contribute to the 4.0 discussions currently in progress.1 Comment »
A few days ago the Students for Free Culture (SFC) published a provocative blog post called “Stop the inclusion of proprietary licenses in Creative Commons 4.0.” The article urged Creative Commons to deprecate (meaning “retire” or similar), or otherwise change the way Creative Commons offers licenses containing the NonCommercial and NoDerivatives terms, because they “do not actually contribute to a shared commons.”
The SFC blog post raises important questions about the opportunities and challenges presented by the NC and ND licenses. The NC and ND licenses currently make up four of the six licenses in the CC license suite:
These issues have surfaced frequently over the years, in varied forums and by a variety of stakeholders. CC studied the NC issue from 2008 to 2009, investigating how online populations understand noncommercial use in the context of the NC licenses. The previous year, CC acknowledged the differences between the NC and ND licenses on the one hand, and BY and BY-SA on the other, by announcing placement of the free cultural works seal on the BY and BY-SA deeds as part of an “effort to distinguish among the range of Creative Commons licenses”.
At the same time, CC celebrates successful adoption of the NC and ND licenses, in part because those licenses signal a desire to be more open than the alternative of “all rights reserved.” Moreover, those adopters may eventually migrate to more open licenses once exposed to the benefits that accompany sharing. But this duality opens CC to criticism (if not also confusion) about our identity and mission.
CC committed to addressing this issue most recently with the launch of the 4.0 license process following consultation with the CC affiliates at the 2011 Global Summit in Warsaw. We fully intend to engage in a manner that is inclusive of a wide range of voices and interests. In this way, CC will be best positioned to make informed, thoughtful decisions with the input of our community (defined in the broadest sense), our affiliates, and our adopters (both would-be and existing).
While the specific challenges to NC and ND are not tied to the 4.0 versioning process per se, they’ve been raised in the context of the 4.0 NonCommercial dialogue. The decision not to change the definition of NonCommercial itself in 4.0 now gives way to the broader policy discussion of the role that the NC (and ND) licenses serve, and CC’s stewardship of and communications around those licenses.
As license steward, we are accountable to our stakeholders and global community, and must be transparent about decisions and how we act (or not) on the proposals that have been put on the table. These proposals span a wide range and include more clearly differentiating the licenses aligned with the Definition of Free Cultural Works from those that are not, to providing more education to licensors about the consequences of license choice, to disassociating Creative Commons from the NC and ND licenses altogether, among others.
Here’s what you can expect from CC:
- Please continue to use the CC-Community list (as opposed to the CC license development list) as the venue for discussions about the various options, proposals, and considerations for NC and ND.
- CC will collect, analyze and synthesize ideas and proposals, identify possible policy changes, and communicate potential implications of each. CC will look to these various proposals with the recognition that any policy change cuts across the entire community and organization, including education, data and science, legal, technical, etc. CC will share this information publicly in an easy to understand fashion that includes the relevant historical and contextual framing.
- CC will hold stakeholder consultations that include adopters, CC affiliates, funders, and the broader community. These might take the form of email discussions, community phone calls or IRC chats, etc.
Other suggestions for actions are most welcome.22 Comments »
We’re psyched to be a part of OKFestival: Open Knowledge in Action. The OKFestival takes place September 17-22, 2012 in Helsinki, Finland, and features “a series of hands-on workshops, talks, hackathons, meetings and sprints” exploring a variety of areas including open development, open cultural heritage, and gender and diversity in openness. You can buy tickets to the festival for any number of days until September 16 at http://okfestival.org/early-bird-okfest-tickets/. The OKFestival website has all the details, including the preliminary schedule.
We are particularly interested in and helped to shape the Open Research and Education topic stream, where we are leading an “Open Peer Learning” workshop on Wednesday (Sept 19) from 11:30am to 3:30pm. For the workshop the School of Open (co-led by Creative Commons and P2PU) is combining forces with the OKFN’s School of Data to explore, test and develop learning challenges around open tools and practices in data, research, and education. Participation in the workshop is free (you don’t even have to buy a festival ticket), but space is limited, so RSVP at: http://peerlearningworkshop.eventbrite.com/
The workshop will be held in this awesome space, reserved for four HACK workshops:
For those of you able to come to Helsinki, look out for our CC staff reps, Jessica Coates and Timothy Vollmer, along with many of our European affiliates who will be holding a regional meeting on Day four of the fest.
For the rest of you, you can still participate in helping to build initiatives like the School of Open from wherever you are by visiting http://schoolofopen.org/ and signing up for the mailing lists there.Comments Off
The European Commission has opened a public consultation period on the topic of “Opening Up Education.” The objective of the consultation is to explore the perceived need for EU action to promote the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) in education. Interested stakeholders (including organizations, public bodies, citizens) can complete the questionnaire on this consultation.
From the summary document (PDF):
While OER and the use of ICT in education are high on the agenda of policy makers in the educational sphere, OER and ICT have not yet reached a critical threshold to be fully exploited across all education and training sectors. Several actions have been undertaken over the years by the EU and Member States, but in a fragmented, short-term manner, without prospects for long-term sustainability. A comprehensive initiative at EU level could match the scope, size and complexity of the challenges, and respond to the increasing demand to tap into the potential of OER and ICT to modernize education. Such a strategy could provide a significant push to improve the way educational content is produced, accessed and used to teach, learn or connect with peers.
The consultation period ends 13 November 2012. Following on from the June 2012 UNESCO OER Declaration, the EU consultation can be a productive vehicle for continuing the exploration of and support for Open Education in Europe and around the world.3 Comments »