Commons News

Nature on open access publishing

Matt Haughey, June 9th, 2004

One of the kings of scientific publishing, the journal Nature, has recently launched a forum to bring together articles and information about open access publishing. They’ve even got an RSS feed for updates to the forum.

It’s great to see a top journal open a dialogue about a somewhat controversial issue in the scientific publishing industry. In an age of ever increasing journal subscription costs and shrinking library budgets, many smaller journals have embraced the concept of open access publishing and a prominent journal started with the issue at heart, but many larger publishers have distanced themselves from the topic. [via furdlog]

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World’s Coolest Man?

Glenn Otis Brown, June 7th, 2004

Cabinet minister by day, mover of souls by night. At total ease bouncing from baritone to falsetto and back again. As nimble on stage as those half his age. Master of a crowd and, in person, friendly as can be. Gold-selling and Creative Commons-adopting. Is Gilberto Gil the world’s coolest man?

Gil and Team

Minister Gil with assistant director Neeru Paharia, CC video director Danny Passman, cinematographer Andrew Sachs, and me.

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Wired News

Press Robot, June 7th, 2004 Leaves Door Open” by Katie Dean

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Wired Magazine

Press Robot, June 7th, 2004

The Free & The Unfree” by Wired staff

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Boston Globe

Press Robot, June 7th, 2004

Go ahead. Share.” by Joan Anderman

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Macworld UK

Press Robot, June 7th, 2004

Ebook Seller Offers AAC” By Macworld staff

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Garageband adds Creative Commons

Matt Haughey, June 7th, 2004

Wired has a short write-up of the GarageBand (the website for musicians, not the Apple software) annoucement to include a Creative Commons license during song uploads. If you’ve never tried out GarageBand, sign up and give it a whirl. Listeners rate song samples as one vs. another, and you can view the top rated songs in numerous genres. There’s an impressive array of music, all from unsigned bands. On the musician side of things, you can upload music and get feedback and ratings from fans, sort of like a musical

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Harry Potter and Wizard People

Matt Haughey, June 7th, 2004

The NY Times has an interesting story of a new movie project called Wizard People, Dear Reader. It’s a derivative work where the first Harry Potter movie plays while artist Brad Neely creates his own soundtrack to the film. It falls into a gray area of law and Warner Brothers declined to comment on it.

If you can’t make it out to one of the live shows, the Illegal Art site has the soundtrack available for download, which you can set up to watch at home if you have a copy of the Harry Potter DVD.

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Brazil Re-cap

Glenn Otis Brown, June 7th, 2004

A few more words about the iCommons Brazil launch. It is hard to do the event justice. It was completely overwhelming, a true celebration, and we’ve only now recovered from the whole thing and regrouped.

As you know, iCommons Brazil made its debut at the 5th Annual Software Livre conference in Porto Alegre. An afternoon plenary, attended by an audience of about 1000, was the stage for the announcement.

Claudio Prado, Coordinator of Digital Culture of the Ministry of Culture of Brazil and one of the visionaries behind Brazil’s many tech initiatives, moderated the dozen-or-so panelists. The first to speak was Joaquim Falcao, Dean of FGV Law School, iCommons Brazil‘s lead institution. Prof. Falcao told a story about Amerigo Vespucci, the explorer, and his famed correspondence from his travels in the “New World.” Vespucci’s letters gained life, and a broad and prominent readership (including Sir Thomas More and Machiavelli), only as his readers and re-publishers began to build upon his letters. Some added illustrations to Vespucci’s original text. Others translated the Italian into Latin. Someone gave the collection of letters a zippy new title. In an early example of adaptation, Thomas More drew from Vespucci in writing his Utopia. So central were the letters to the early identity of the land that it later became his namesake. But not before being feminized (that is, once again re-tooled): America. In the modern age of maximalist copyright, said Joaquim, such collective authorship would stand little chance.

Lawrence Lessig followed Falcao on the dais. (You may recall that Lessig has allowed free derivatives of his new book Free Culture, and that a downright Vespuccian flourishing of formats has resulted.) Lessig stirred the crowd with a theme (“free speech, free markets, free software, free culture, free will”), marveled over the conference’s teeming enthusiasm for software livre, and said the U.S. should learn to follow Brazil’s example in the field.

Next came Ronaldo Lemos, iCommons Brazil‘s leader and director of FGV Law School’s Center for Technology and Society. Ronaldo introduced the excellent Portuguese versions of Get Creative and Reticulum Rex, and I giddily watched from the cheap seats, high-fiving FGV staffer Jorge Rosa, who along with Ronaldo, Carlos Affonso de Souza, and Bruno Magrani, translated the cartoons.

Ronaldo explained the natural match between Creative Commons and Brazil, noting that CC’s collaborative ethos echoes that of Tropicalism, an artistic and political movement of the ’60s and ’70s that celebrated Brazilian culture as a hodgepodge of high and low, indigenous and import, old and new. Ronaldo then announced the retirement of the name “Sampling license” and the birth of Recombo, a change I explained in an earlier post.

Berkman Center faculty director William Fisher also spoke, sketching out the many possible futures of music online and putting the day’s events in context. Linux International president Jon Maddog Hall received the warmest audience welcome . . . until Minister Gilberto Gil, delayed by a cabinet meeting in Brasilia, entered the massive room from the back and made his way up the center aisle like a prizefigher approaching the ring, waves of body guards, flashbulbs, and admirers trailing him. Gil took the stage and shook Maddog’s hand. Maddog wrapped up his address — about the birth of the piano as open-source instrument, among other things — and received a standing ovation. (Read
Maddog’s account
of the conference.)

Minister Gil then spoke, waxing eloquent about technology and culture and even performing a dramatic reading of John Perry Barlow’s “Selling Wine Without Bottles.” A handful of speakers followed Gil, among them my friend and free software force Marcelo Branco and anthropologist/music expert Hermano Vianna, and the session concluded with Gil’s ceremonial signing of the Recombo license as his song “Oslodum” played over the PA.

Later Gil rocked the Santander Cultural Center in downtown Porto Alegre with a powerful show: classic crowd pleasers (e.g. “Aquele Abraco”), a cleverly re-arranged Marley cover or two, and plenty of audience participation. VJ Pixel poured psychedelic images across the stage, including some mind-bending manipulations of the Creative Commons animations and icons (Ryan Junell‘s original handiwork). It was an amazing media moment when Gil’s live image hovered on the wall alongside his animated likeness, from Reticulum Rex, as the crowd danced with abandon.

Finally, a Creative Commons camera crew was onhand to capture all the action. We’ll keep you posted on the short video we’ll produce from the event. In the meantime, we cannot thank the iCommons Brazil team, the Software Livre conference participants, and Mr. Gil enough.

(Here’s another account, if you read Portuguese.)

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Copyright and the death of Public Enemy’s sound

Matt Haughey, June 6th, 2004

Stay Free Magazine has a great interview with Chuck D and Hank Shocklee from Public Enemy. In it, they discuss how lax copyright laws of the late 1980s allowed them to produce thickly sampled songs for their first two major label releases. “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” and “Fear of a Black Planet” were revolutionary albums that changed the landscape of hip-hop, but due to groups sampling larger portions of songs, record companies came back against their own rap artists, demanding higher and higher license fees for each and every sample.

As Chuck D and Hank Shocklee attest, this change in licensing and law changed the sound of Public Enemy forever as license fees for samples became prohibitively high. They describe their more recent releases as sounding “soft” because they’ve resorted to recreating samples in the studio using live instruments, to get around master sampling license fees.

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