Commons News

Remembering Lee Dirks

Puneet Kishor, August 31st, 2012

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.

Lee Dirks and his wife Judy died this week in a car accident in Peru. The scientific and education community engaged in open access lost a champion and a friend.

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CC China Mainland launches 3.0 licenses

Aurelia J. Schultz, August 30th, 2012

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.

hack-2
China / Dainis Matisons / CC BY

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.

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Ongoing discussions: NonCommercial and NoDerivatives

Timothy Vollmer, August 29th, 2012

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.

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Counting down to the Open Knowledge Festival (Sept 17-22)

Jane Park, August 29th, 2012

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:

hack-2
hack-2 / juhuu / CC BY-NC-SA

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.

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European Commission wants to hear from you on “Opening Up Education”

Timothy Vollmer, August 27th, 2012

European Commission flags
European Commission / tiseb / CC BY

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.

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The Arab CC Community Celebrates with CC Iftars

Donatella Della Ratta, August 23rd, 2012

Last week, Muslims all over the world celebrated Eid al-fitr, a festivity which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, dedicated to fasting and praying. Since 2010, Arab world–based Creative Commons communities have celebrated Ramadan by organizing “Creative Commons Iftars” (CC Iftar) across the region.

CC Iftar Doha
CC Iftar Doha / CC Qatar / CC BY-NC-SA

A CC Iftar is a social event where people gather to celebrate the breaking of the fast, socialize, and talk about innovation, creativity, and the open web. CC Iftars are built around the spirit of sharing which lies at the basis of Creative Commons’ vision, and which people in Ramadan celebrate by breaking the fast together, partaking food, and giving to others.

This year, Creative Commons Arab communities have organized and celebrated CC Iftars in four Arab countries: Qatar, Tunisia, Morocco, and Iraq. CC Iftar Doha kicked off in the Qatari capital on August 13 at K108, a restaurant that redistributes its proceeds to charities working on issues such as unprivileged children’s education. Guests at the CC Iftar Doha were asked to share their ideas about inspiration and the outcome was crafted into a collaborative art project.

CC Iftar Iraq
CC Iftar Iraq / CC Iraq / CC BY

The day after, August 14, it was CC’s Tunisian community’s turn to join the CC Iftar project, with the first CC Iftar hosted in the country. Since the third Arab regional meeting “Sharing the Spring” was held in the Tunisian capital in summer 2011 to celebrate Arab youth’s blossoming innovation and creativity, Creative Commons Tunisia’s community — largely made up of photographers, cartoonists, musicians and techies — has been growing incredibly. Many community-led events, including the first CC Tunis Salon, have been hosted in the country. CC Tunis community gathered in the beautiful location of the Sidi bou Said park with home-cooked food (and lots of cats!) to discuss future projects to be held not only in the Tunisian capital but all across the country.

August 17 was our Moroccan community’s turn to host its first ever CC Iftar, with lots of people attending the gathering in Rabat. Morocco recently joined the broader CC Arab community by organizing Open Taqafa and the first Creative Commons Salon in Casablanca. The country has a vibrant artistic and musical scene, together with an high-skilled tech community, and many of these techies and artists are now joining their Arab peers’ efforts to bring more open and collaborative culture to the Arab world. CC Iftar Morocco was a big step in the direction of getting more regional cooperation over common open-culture-related projects.

CC Iftar Iraq
CC Iftar Iraq / CC Iraq / CC BY

On the very same day, CC’s Iraqi community was also organizing its first CC Iftar. Bloggers from the Iraqi network for social media (INSM) coming from different parts of the country gathered in Baghdad to celebrate openness and sharing with a wonderful CC chocolate cake. For those who were not able to attend the event physically, a skype session was held in order to join the celebrations virtually. Our CC team in Iraq has a Facebook page around which the community is gathering. Some of its members are regulars at CC Arab regional meetings and we hope to be able to hold CC events in Iraq more regularly, in order to familiarize the broader Arab community with the beauty and cultural richness of the country.

Despite the instability, violence, and political unrest still happening in many places in the region, the Arab world still has a strong will to move forward, create, and share. The community-driven enthusiasm and self-organization skills showed by the CC groups in Qatar, Tunisia, Morocco and Iraq prove this; hopefully next year new communities will be able to join and old communities will be able to come back to action.

As we conclude Eid al-fitr this year, our thoughts go out once again to Bassel Khartabil aka Safadi, CC Syria public lead. Bassel was one of the promoters of the CC Iftar project back in 2010, when he hosted an iftar in Damascus to celebrate cultural cooperation and sharing in a remix project with CC Lebanon. Bassel has been detained by Syrian authorities since March 15th, 2012. A campaign has launched to ask for his release and the response of Creative Commons’ communities worldwide has been overwhelming. We encourage you to spread the word and follow updates on the campaign’s site freebassel.org and on Twitter @freebassel.

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Meet Our New Senior Accountant, Senior Project Manager, and Project Coordinator for Science and Data

Elliot Harmon, August 22nd, 2012

Three new employees have joined Creative Commons in the last few weeks. Join us in welcoming Jenny Utke, Paul Stacey, and Puneet Kishor to the team.

 

Jenny Utke, Senior Accountant

Jenny is originally from Michigan but has lived in California for over 10 years. She started her career as an auditor at CPA firms in the Bay area, but has spent the remainder at various corporate industries doing general ledger accounting. She has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Grand Valley State University. Her hobbies include collecting arcade games, playing video games, hanging with friends, reading Stephen King, and watching TV.

 

Paul Stacey, Senior Project Manager

Paul is responsible for project planning and implementation of initiatives across Creative Commons ensuring alignment with organizational strategy, consistency of process across projects, and customer satisfaction with the results.

Paul’s entire career has revolved around innovative use of technology for adult education. Starting in the late 1990’s and going to present time, Paul’s work has been in the public higher education sector. From 1999 through 2003, Paul helped plan and launch a new online technical university in British Columbia. In late 2003, Paul joined BCcampus as the Director of Development supporting development of open educational resources across all postsecondary fields of study.

 

Puneet Kishor, Project Coordinator for Science and Data

Puneet likes to write programs that manipulate, analyze and visualize information from large datasets, but he worries what would happen to those data and results 50 or 100 years from now. He is unable to read the two decades old original digital version of his M.S. thesis even while he can read Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata written a few thousand years ago. This, in part, motivates his passion for permanently free and open access to scientific data.

Puneet’s main focus at Creative Commons is on science data policy. His extra-curricular engagements include developing tools and techniques for management and analysis of earth sciences data at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and research at the National Academies/CODATA on policy issues related to citation and licensing mechanisms for digital scientific information. Any spare cycles are devoted to jazz and beer, preferably concurrently.

 

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Library catalog metadata: Open licensing or public domain?

Timothy Vollmer, August 14th, 2012

catalogue
catalogue / elise.y / CC BY

As reported a few weeks ago, OCLC has recommended that its member libraries adopt the Open Data Commons Attribution license (ODC-BY) when they share their library catalog data online. The recommendation to use an open license like ODC-BY is a positive step forward for OCLC because it helps communicate in advance the rights and responsibilities available to potential users of bibliographic metadata from library catalogs. But the decision by OCLC to recommend the licensing route — as opposed to releasing bibliographic metadata into the public domain — raises concerns that warrants more discussion.

OCLC says that making library data derived from WorldCat available under an open license like ODC-BY complies with their community norms. There are other options, however, that are equally compliant. Harvard Library, for example, developed an agreement with OCLC earlier this year that makes its metadata available under the CC0 Public Domain Dedication. This means that Harvard relinquishes all its copyright and related rights to that data, thereby enabling the widest variety of downstream reuse. Even though it puts this information into the public domain, Harvard requests that users provide attribution to the source as a best practice without making attribution a legally binding requirement through a license.

There are good reasons for relying on community norms for metadata attribution instead of requiring it as a condition of a licensing agreement. The requirement to provide attribution through a contract like ODC-BY is not well-suited to a world where data are combined and remixed from multiple sources and under a variety of licenses and other use restrictions. For example, the library community is experimenting with new technologies like linked data as a means of getting more value from its decades-long collective investment in cataloging data. And we’re happy to see that OCLC has released a million WorldCat records containing 80 million linked data triples in RDF. However, we believe that requiring attribution as a licensing condition introduces complexity that will make it technically difficult — if not impossible — for users to comply.

Then there is the question of how to properly attach attribution information to a discrete bit of data (e.g. a single field, subfield, or triple). OCLC has helpfully provided guidelines around attribution for its linked data, but how would these work for member libraries that follow OCLC’s recommendation to adopt the ODC-BY license when they publish their own data? Library linked data collections are often derived from small subsets of many large collections and recombined with new relationships, potentially requiring separate attribution for each data element. In the case of OCLC’s data release, imagine that a user downloads the OCLC file containing 80 million linked data triples, extracts the ones she’s interested in, and then links them to her own catalog data to create a new linked dataset. The guidelines for the WorldCat data include the option of considering a WorldCat URI to be sufficient attribution, but how would that work for the library’s own bibliographic data or for additional data drawn from non-OCLC sources? The guidelines do not include recommendations for how libraries should implement their own data in such a way that reusers can comply with the attribution requirements imposed by the ODC-BY license. The community norms and best practices for reusing library linked data are not yet well defined, so relying on them in the context of a legally binding license is troubling.

Another question arises about the scope of the ODC-BY license with its focus on European database rights in addition to copyright — database rights that do not apply in the U.S. and that cover the database in its entirety but not its contents, making it uncertain whether it can be applied to a simple file of bibliographic data. And the question of whether copyright applies at all to bibliographic data, given its mainly factual nature, is doubtful and differs depending on legal jurisdiction. While the ODC-BY license may make good sense for OCLC to apply to WorldCat itself, it would be a questionable choice for a U.S. library that is looking to share some of its catalog data as a downloadable file.

Moreover, because most countries outside of the European Union — including the United States — do not grant protection to non-creative databases, the ODC-BY license does not operate except at best as a contractual restriction on those downloading directly from the licensor’s website. So this restriction, which is not based on any underlying exclusive property right, is unlikely to bind reusers that do not obtain the data directly from the original data provider. The absence of a binding contract coupled with the lack of any underlying property right means licensors may be surprised to learn they do not have a strong and effective remedy such as a claim of infringement against those downstream users. This is a known concern with the Open Database License, ODC-BY’s sister license that has the same license + contract design feature. Thus, the license in many instances simply will not protect the library that shared the data, or OCLC, in the manner they expect.

Another more general concern about using a licence to share bibliographic metadata has to do with its technical feasibility. This is evident in the Model language that OCLC recommends, which includes links to the WCRR Record Use Policy (WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities), community norms and an FAQ. Following these links takes readers to pages with yet more information about the requirements expected for members and non-members. The concern is not so much the opaqueness of the rules, but that they may become linked to a great number of records which have nothing to do with OCLC. For example, many members may only have started fairly recently to re-use records from OCLC, yet in the model language no distinction is made between OCLC and non-OCLC sourced records, again, because there is no feasible technical solution to differentiate between these. The result: attribution is (wrongly) given to OCLC for the whole database, and a large number of OCLC principles linked to the library database’s complete contents. While the ODC-BY and WCRR may well be well-intentioned instruments to turn the WorldCat data into a “Common Pool Resource” for OCLC members, it certainly lacks the technical solutions to demarcate where it begins and ends, potentially resulting in confusion and overreaching requirements for members that try to comply. Fundamentally, this begs the question whether library records shouldn’t just be public goods released into the public domain.

For all of the above reasons, cultural institutions including The British Library, Europeana, the University of Michigan Library, Harvard and others have adopted the CC0 Public Domain Dedication for publishing their catalog data online. From this, we see that a truly normative approach for the library community would be a public domain dedication such as CC0, coupled with requests to provide attribution to the source (e.g. OCLC) to the extent possible. Such an approach would maximize experimentation and innovation with the cataloging data, in keeping with the mission and values of the library community, while respecting the investment of OCLC and the library community in this valuable resource.

Contributors to this post: Timothy Vollmer, MacKenzie Smith, Paul Keller, Diane Peters.

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Great CC Resources from the Community

Natalya Berenshteyn, August 14th, 2012

For people wanting to learn about CC and its application in different sectors, there is a sea of materials available online. In particular, CC’s international affiliates create a huge number of educational resources that cross language and cultural boundaries.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my work sorting through some of these resources to identify some of the best, focusing on CC license use for public sector information, for publishing content on a variety of digital platforms, and for generating revenue. As promised, today I’ll highlight some of the resources I’ve discovered.

Intro to CC

For those who are just getting acquainted with Creative Commons:

  • CC Qatar’s Meet Creative Commons video offers a great introduction to the benefits of CC licensing, the different types of licenses in CC’s license suite, and how to choose a license that’s right for your work.
  • CC Poland has created a great quick guide to the licences in their open poster.
  • If you’re looking for more depth, the new School of Open initiative, a collaboration between P2PU and CC, is just getting off the ground, but it already offers the short Get CC Savvy course.

CC and Government

For those interested in the potential of CC licenses to encourage unexpected and innovative re-use of information collected and published by government agencies:

Journalism and Blogging

For those working on journalism and citizen media in the digital age:

Business Models

Finally, resources that demonstrate how open content licenses can form an important component of online revenue models:

  • Creative Sector Case Studies (1.1 MB PPTX), again from CC Australia, presents cases studies of creators generating revenue by releasing their work to the public under CC licenses.
  • Musician Dan Bull (via CC United Kingdom), writer Cory Doctorow (who has been writing on the subject for years), and filmmaker Nina Paley have all been interviewed about how (and why) they use CC-licensed works to build a relationship with their audience, increase their distribution, and promote themselves.
  • On his blog Techdirt, Mike Masnick has written some of the definitive articles about monetization through what he calls the “Connect with Fans + Reason to Buy” business model.

For more information on business models, see my fact sheet, Business Models for Creative Works & Creative Commons Licensing (90 KB PDF).

The links above represent just a small portion of the resources out there teaching about Creative Commons licensing in different spheres. For more materials, a good place to start is our wiki, which has pages that collect resources and case studies on a wide range of topics. For resources in your language or relevant to your country, check out your local affiliate’s website.

In closing, I wanted to mention that my internship at CC came to an end last week. I’ve really enjoyed working with the CC team and learning about the organization’s work, and hope to stay a part of the CC community.

Natalya can be reached via Twitter at @NBerenshteyn.

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CC Welcomes its New Regional Project Managers for Africa and the Asia-Pacific

Jessica Coates, August 8th, 2012

Tobias Schonwetter
Tobias Schonwetter
Ibtihel Zaatouri / CC BY

Alex Gakuru
Alex Gakuru
Erik Hersman / CC BY

Jane Hornibrook
Jane Hornibrook
Andrew McMillan / CC BY

SooHyun Pae
SooHyun Pae
dreamdrawing / CC BY

It is my great pleasure to welcome to CC’s staff our new Regional Project Managers for Africa and the Asia-Pacific — Tobias Schonwetter and Alex Gakuru (Africa) and Jane Hornibrook and SooHyun Pae (Asia-Pacific).

The role of the Regional Project Managers is to support and foster CC’s community in their regions. Creative Commons has volunteer teams operating in over 70 countries, all of whom work to support and promote the adoption of CC in their local jurisdictions, while at the same time providing valuable expertise and input to CC’s work globally. CC introduced the Regional Project Manager positions last year as part of a broader strategy to enhance the role and profile of this affiliate community.

Tobias, Alex, Jane and SooHyun have all worked with the CC community for many years, and are experienced advocates of open in their regions. The decision to appoint two project managers for each of the regions was influenced by a number of factors, including the strong pool of candidates and the size and cultural diversity of the geographic areas they will be covering. Each manager will work with their colleague to create a regional support team that is able to respond quickly and adeptly to the needs of their community. This follows the extremely successful application of the same model in Latin America, where Carolina Botero and Claudio Ruiz share the role.

Within each of the regions, we have specifically chosen the managers to have complimentary skills, locations, and backgrounds. Tobias is a lawyer and academic based in South Africa while Alex is a communication technologies expert working out of Kenya. Meanwhile, Jane is a Community Manager at the National Library of New Zealand and SooHyun is a translation expert in South Korea. All four of the managers have close ties to their local Creative Commons communities and either currently or formerly hold leading roles on their countries’ teams.

I would like to thank the outgoing project managers for these regions — Aurelia Schultz (Africa) and Chiaki Hayashi (Asia-Pacific) — who have both dedicated a great deal of time to building their local CC communities over the last year and have achieved wonderful results. Both are moving on because of time commitments, and will continue to work with CC in other roles.

I would also like to thank all who applied for the positions — we had an unexpectedly large response and there were many very strong candidates.

Congratulates to Tobias, Alex, Jane, and SooHyun on your appointments, and I look forward to working with you going forward.

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