Commons News

Contribute to Open Education Week

Cable Green, January 21st, 2012

Open Education Week 5-10 March 2012: Call for participation.

Please fill out the Open Education Week contributor’s form by January 31, 2012.

Join your colleagues around the world to increase understanding about open education! Open Education Week will take place from 5-10 March 2012 online and in locally hosted events around the world. The objective is to raise awareness of the open education movement and open educational resources. There are several ways you and your organization can be involved:

1. Provide a pre-recorded informational virtual tour of your project, work, or organization. This should be focused on the work you’re doing in open education, designed for a general audience. These can be done in any language.

2. Offer a webinar. Webinars are well suited for topics of general interest, such as what’s happening in open education in a particular area or country, or topics that offer discussion possibilities. Webinars can be scheduled in any language, 24 hours a day. Organizers would also like to feature question and answer sessions in a variety of languages and time zones.

3. Pre-record a presentation on open education concepts. Do you have an inspiring presentation about open education? Can you discuss the issues that open education seeks to address in your country, region or globally? Organizers plan to feature short, introductory overviews of open education and OER for different audiences, such as those new to the idea, policy makers, faculty, etc. Presentations in any language are welcome.

4. Create or share text-based, downloadable information. This should be information on the open education movement, in any language, appropriate to introduce the movement and its important concepts to a variety of audiences. Specific information on your project can be linked to from the open education week website.

5. Sponsor or host a local event during the week of 5-10 March. This could be a community discussions, a forum on open education, a challenge and/or a celebration. Organizers invite you to get creative with planning events. Suggestions and support will be available on the open education week web site, and the planning group is happy to work with you to create bigger impact.

Let Open Education Week organizers know how you would like to participate by filling out the attached form, also available on the www.openeducationweek.org website, or contacting them at openeducationwk@gmail.com. The OCW Consortium is coordinating this community run event. There is no cost to participate. Follow us on twitter at #openeducationwk and facebook at facebook.com/openeducationwk.

Please fill out the Open Education Week contributor’s form by January 31, 2012.

Attribution to OCWC Blog post by Mark Lou Forward.

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Job opportunity: Chief Technology Officer at Creative Commons

Jane Park, January 18th, 2012


mlinksva / CC BY

It’s a new year, which means it’s also the perfect time to re-start our search for Chief Technology Officer at Creative Commons! Mike Linksvayer, Vice President and former CTO, says,

“This is a fun job (I was Nathan’s predecessor, from 2003-2007) that offers technical, management, and communications challenges and opportunities for growth and impact… Now is an incredibly exciting time to lead the technology efforts of Creative Commons — be part of a great team, help communities yearning to share better and more effectively (e.g., see our new Learning Resources Metadata Initiative), and engage with developers around the world to help build a better future.”

See the full job description/how to apply at our Opportunities page, and please forward to all interested!

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Comments to the White House Inquiry on Public Access to Publicly Funded Research Publications, Data

Timothy Vollmer, January 13th, 2012

In November we wrote that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was soliciting comments on two related Requests for Information (RFI). One asked for feedback on how the federal government should manage public access to scholarly publications resulting from federal investments, and the other wanted input on public access to the digital data funded by federal tax dollars.

Creative Commons submitted a response to both RFIs. Below is a brief summary of the main points. Several other groups and individuals have submitted responses to OSTP, and all the comments will eventually be made available on the OSTP website.

Response to Publications RFI

  • The public funds tens of billions of dollars in research each year. The federal government can support scientific innovation, productivity, and economic efficiency of the taxpayer dollars they expend by instituting an open licensing policy.
  • Scholarly articles created as a result of federally funded research should be released under full open access. Full open access policies will provide to the public immediate, free-of-cost online availability to federally funded research without restriction except that attribution be given to the source.
  • The standard means for granting permission to the public aligned with full open access is through a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.

Response to Data RFI

  • If the federal government wants to maximize the impact of digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research, it should provide explicit, easy-to-understand information about the rights available to the public.
  • The federal government should establish policies that insure the public has cost-free, unimpeded access to the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. Access to this data should be made available as soon as possible, with due consideration to confidentiality and privacy issues, as well as the researchers’ need to receive credit and benefit from the work.
  • The federal government can grant these permissions to the public by supporting policies whereby 1) data is made available by dedicating it to the public domain or 2) data is made available through a liberal license where at most downstream data users must give credit to the source of the data. CC offers tools such as the CC0 waiver and CC BY license in support of these goals.
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We are still against SOPA/PIPA (plus best practices on marking CC-licensed works)

Jane Park, January 12th, 2012

In the next two weeks, the U.S. Congress will take up deliberations on SOPA/PIPA, the Internet censorship bills. We’ve written about it here and here, and we’re writing again to help stop U.S. American Censorship of the Internet.

On a related note, Vice.com notes that the website of the author of SOPA, U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, did not properly attribute its use of a CC BY-NC-SA licensed photo (Mist Lifting off Cedars) by Flickr user dj @ oxherder arts, aka DJ Schulte.

Here’s the photo, with attribution (aka how we normally attribute photos on this blog):


Mist Lifting off Cedars / dj @ oxherder arts / CC BY-NC-SA

As anyone who has read the CC license deeds know, all CC licenses require attribution, which is clearly summarized at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0 (and all CC license summaries):

Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work.

Additionally, the complete license (aka legal code) is linked at the top of all deed summaries. We’re continually trying to help users understand how to properly mark CC-licensed works; to avoid mis- or non-attribution situations like the above, or for more info, see our FAQ and Marking best practices for users of CC-licensed content.

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CC Releases New Data FAQs

Sarah Hinchliff Pearson, January 11th, 2012

We have done a lot of thinking about data in the past year. As a result, we have recently published a set of detailed FAQs designed to help explain how CC licenses work with data and databases.

These FAQs are intended to:

    (1) alert CC licensors that some uses of their data and databases may not trigger the license conditions,

    (2) reiterate to licensees that CC licenses do not restrict them from doing anything they are otherwise permitted to do under the law, and

    (3) clear up confusion about how the version 3.0 CC licenses treat sui generis database rights.

To develop FAQs to meet these goals, we focused on the following considerations:

  • We cannot answer the question of whether and to what extent data and databases are subject to copyright as a general matter. Instead, we can arm licensors and licensees with the questions to ask to make their own determination.
  • Complex legal questions about copyright law are not unique to data and databases. (Copyright exceptions and limitations raise similar quandaries, as does the question of what constitutes an adaptation, etc.) We should keep this in mind before we over-complicate and over-explain the nuances of CC licenses as they relate to data. On the other hand, it is important to acknowledge there are significant limitations of copyright law as it applies to purely factual data and databases, so CC licensors are not misled about what they get by applying a CC license to their works.
  • We need to make clear that, unless the licensor chooses to delineate, CC licenses don’t distinguish between data and databases. All copyrightable content within the scope of the license is treated the same; the only difference is how the law operates with respect to different types of content. Nonetheless, if we over-emphasize this point we risk misleading the public about the practical application of CC licenses to data and databases.
  • CC’s interpretation of how its licenses apply to data and databases raises intricate policy decisions for CC. Specifically, CC has to navigate the inherent tension between, on the one hand, arguing against the current international regime of overly restrictive copyright control and, on the other, advocating an interpretation of copyright law that maximizes proprietary control over factual data. CC has made policy decisions about data in the past after extensive deliberation with our community. Now, as we prepare for version 4.0, we ask our community to help us re-examine prior decisions in light of policy developments over the past five years. Please contribute to the discussions about licensing database rights in 4.0, as well as other related issues.

For those of you who have watched or participated in CC’s work in the data arena over the years, these FAQs update and now fully replace the original data FAQs published by Science Commons. While the law has not changed materially since those original FAQs were first published, Creative Commons (which now fully integrates Science Commons) has worked to clarify how its 3.0 licenses work with databases in practice, rather than focusing on the normative question of whether and how users should apply (or not apply) our licenses in that regard, which was clearly the focus of the earlier FAQs.

We hope this new resource will be useful to those of you grappling with data licensing and helps to clarify how our licenses operate in practice. We welcome your feedback.

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New pilot project allows collecting society SACEM members to use Creative Commons licenses

Paul Keller, January 10th, 2012

A new pilot project between Creative Commons, Creative Commons’ legal affiliate in France, and the French collecting society SACEM allows SACEM members to license their works under one of the three non-commercial CC 3.0 licenses. Previously, authors and composers of musical works represented by SACEM (the biggest French collecting society) were prevented from using any of the CC licenses, as SACEM requires that its members transfer their rights to the collective on an exclusive basis.

This is the fourth major collecting society pilot supported by Creative Commons. CC maintains ongoing pilots with BUMA/STEMRA (Netherlands), KODA (Denmark), and STIM (Sweden). Each pilot provides the opportunity for members to take advantage of CC licenses in connection with their use under the terms of the agreements reached with each society.

The CC/SACEM pilot makes it possible for SACEM members to apply one of the three non-commercial licenses to (some of) their works. These works can then be shared (and remixed if the license allows derivative works) for non-commercial purposes under the terms established by the agreement negotiated with SACEM. At the same time SACEM will continue to collect royalties for commercial uses of these works.

Bernard Miyet, President of SACEM’s Management board, points out that this approach balances the desire to share music non-commercially with the need for renumeration for commercial uses of the works in question:

“This agreement shows the willingness of SACEM to adapt to the practices of some of its members, particularly as regards digital uses. It’s an advantage for authors, composers and publishers, who, if they wish to, can promote their works non-commercially in a defined legal framework, while retaining the possibility of receiving a fair and effective remuneration for the exploitation of their creations. I am proud to have reached this balanced agreement that meets the expectations of many creators.”

Creative Commons is pleased to see SACEM allowing its members to make use of CC licenses, giving them more flexibility to adapt to the digital environment. We hope that this pilot will be embraced not only by creators in France, but also serve as inspiration to collecting societies in other jurisdictions, many of whom still block their members from using CC licenses altogether.

More information about the pilot including a list of SACEM-related Frequently Asked Questions can be found on our wiki, the website of Creative Commons France and on the SACEM website.

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CC News: Welcome CC Kazakhstan and CC Rwanda

Jane Park, January 9th, 2012

Stay up to date with CC news by subscribing to our weblog and following us on Twitter.

Happy New Year! We head into 2012 with exciting new CC developments from all over the world.

CC Kazakhstan and CC Rwanda

At the end of 2011, we announced two new CC Affiliates from Kazakhstan and Rwanda. Led by Rauan Kenzhekhanuly and including Almas Nurbakytov, Nartay Ashim and Balashov Talgat, the Kazakhstan team is supported by Wikibilim, a non-profit organisation which also operates as the local representative of Wikimedia. The Rwanda team, led by Jacques Murinda and including Fred Byabagabo and Prosper Birama, is working in conjunction with the Open Learning Exchange (OLE), an NGO supported by the Rwandan Ministry of Education, which aims to provide universal access to basic education by 2015. We welcome both these teams to our Affiliate Network, and look forward to working with them as they develop the CC community in their regions. This brings the total number of official CC Affiliates to 72, the highest level since the project launched in 2002. Read more.

Ugandan 3.0 Licenses now open for public discussion

Many of you already know that we have begun working on the next version of licenses, the 4.0 suite. Even while this process has begun, we are finishing a few remaining, important 3.0 ports. One of these is the Uganda 3.0 license suite, which we are pleased to announce is now open for public discussion. This is particularly noteworthy, as the Ugandan license suite is only the second tailored suite from the Sub-Saharan Africa region to reach the public discussion stage (after South Africa). These new licenses will be useful to many Anglophone African countries that share similar copyright laws and legal histories. We welcome all those who are interested to view the Uganda BY-NC-SA draft and contribute their comments this month. Read more.

CC and the 3D Printing Community

With the exception of CC0, the Creative Commons licenses are only for granting permissions to use non-software works. The worlds of software and engineering have additional concerns outside of the scope of what is addressed by the CC licenses. 3D printing is a new medium which encompasses both the creative domains of culture and engineering, and often 3D printed works do not fall neatly into either category. The purpose of the following article is to explore the similarities between the community that has grown around 3D printing and that of the commons which CC strives to empower. A later article will explore problems with adopting CC in the 3D printing community. Read the article here.

In other news:

  • Our campaign is still going on through January 15. If you haven't donated yet, now's your chance! (Thanks a million to those of you who have. We could not continue to exist without you.)
  • The Creative Commons Board of Directors held its year-end annual board meeting on December 9, 2011.
  • One week later, CC celebrated the 9th birthday of its license suite.
  • CC’s Russian affiliate Institute of the Information Society (IIS), in collaboration with the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies, organized an international seminar and expert meeting last month in Moscow.
  • Lastly, we'd like to give a shout-out to some recent developments at Mozilla: the release of Mozilla Public License 2.0 and a great publication called, Learning, Freedom & the Web, based on Mozilla’s eponymous festival in Barcelona last year, published under CC BY-SA.

Banner photo: Early morning in Almaty by Irene2005 / CC BY (left) Volcano by johncooke / CC BY (right)

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Stop U.S. legislation that would block public access to publicly funded research

Timothy Vollmer, January 6th, 2012

In December 2011 the U.S. House of Representatives introduced The Research Works Act (H.R.3699), a bill that will ban public access to publicly funded research. SPARC says, “Essentially, the bill seeks to prohibit federal agencies from conditioning their grants to require that articles reporting on publicly funded research be made accessible to the public online.” The bill was introduced by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). The sponsorship by Issa is odd considering his strong support for OPEN Act, the tolerable alternative to the SOPA/PIPA legislation. The bill stands in stark contrast to OSTP’s recent request for ideas about how the U.S. government can support public access to federally funded research articles and digital data (note: you can still submit comments until January 12 to the OSTP call). One of the primary proponents of the The Research Works Act is The Association of American Publishers, who describe the bill in a press release:

The Research Works Act will prohibit federal agencies from unauthorized free public dissemination of journal articles that report on research which, to some degree, has been federally-funded but is produced and published by private sector publishers receiving no such funding. It would also prevent non-government authors from being required to agree to such free distribution of these works. Additionally, it would preempt federal agencies’ planned funding, development and back-office administration of their own electronic repositories for such works, which would duplicate existing copyright-protected systems and unfairly compete with established university, society and commercial publishers.

The legislation would be toxic for progressive initiatives such as the NIH’s Public Access Policy, which requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the PubMed Central digital archive. PubMed Central provides free public access to research the public pays for. SPARC’s Alliance for Taxpayer Access website has outlined specific ways that supporters of public access can speak out against this proposed legislation. Especially helpful is contacting the Congressional offices listed below. Please voice your support for public access to publicly funded research.

Representative Issa
@DarrellIssa
http://issa.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=597&Itemid=73
Fax: (202) 225-3303

Representative Maloney
@RepMaloney
https://maloney.house.gov/contact-me/email-me (Using zip code 10128-3679)
Fax: (202) 225-4709

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – especially if you’re a constituent.
http://1.usa.gov/zDqnne

Your representative – through the Alliance for Taxpayer Access Action Center: http://www.congressweb.com/cweb2/index.cfm/siteid/sparc

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Ugandan 3.0 Licenses now open for public discussion

Aurelia J. Schultz, January 4th, 2012

Many who follow Creative Commons and its work already know that we have begun working on the next version of licenses, the 4.0 suite. Even while this process has begun, we are finishing a few remaining, important 3.0 ports.

One of these is the Uganda 3.0 license suite, which we are pleased to announce is now open for public discussion. This is particularly noteworthy, as the Ugandan license suite is only the second tailored suite from the Sub-Saharan Africa region to reach the public discussion stage (after South Africa). These new licenses will be useful to many Anglophone African countries that share similar copyright laws and legal histories.

We welcome all those who are interested to view the Uganda BY-NC-SA draft and contribute their comments this month. The next step for the Ugandan team will be to incorporate changes from the public discussion and to prepare the remaining five licenses for a complete Uganda 3.0 license suite.

A huge thank you to CC’s Ugandan Affiliate, the National Book Trust of Uganda (NABOTU) and the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), and the large CC Uganda Team led by Moses Mulumba for all their hard work!

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CC and the 3D Printing Community

Jonathan Palecek, January 4th, 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP0rD0dG5oA


Time-Lapse of a RepRap Printing Interlocking Rings by Jonathan Palecek / CC BY.

With the exception of CC0, the Creative Commons licenses are only for granting permissions to use non-software works. The worlds of software and engineering have additional concerns outside of the scope of what is addressed by the CC licenses. 3D printing is a new medium which encompasses both the creative domains of culture and engineering, and often 3D printed works do not fall neatly into either category. The purpose of this article is to explore the similarities between the community that has grown around 3D printing and that of the commons which CC strives to empower. A later article will explore problems with adopting CC in the 3D printing community.

3D printing is still very much a niche, and so a brief explanation is in order before discussing the culture behind it. 3D fabrication technologies are essential in contemporary manufacturing, and a wide variety exist. 3D printing generally speaks of what is called an “additive” process; in which an object is realized by building up layers of solid material. RepRaps and Makerbots – two types of 3D printers discussed in this article – are additive printers that typically print in plastic.

The role of 3D fabrication in our society is wide reaching, from being an essential stage in developing molds of parts for mass production, to enabling contemporary architects to produce novel designs that would have been impossible to construct only a few decades ago. It is a process that is so pervasive behind the scenes of every day life, yet entirely invisible to most individuals. Up until recently the cost of the machinery involved had limited the use of the technology. And so despite the incredible flexibility of the medium, it remains to be fairly obscure.

In 2004, the RepRap project set out to produce a low cost design for a 3D printer capable of printing all of its own parts. While the current designs are able to print some of their own parts – about 40% for the Prusa Mendel – the rest of the parts consist of generic standard hardware, most of which is available at local stores. The project has been successful in accomplishing the low cost goal – a RepRap costs about $700 or so to build. A large portion of why the RepRap is so interesting is that the schematics are released under the GNU GPL copyleft license. This means that anyone can copy and improve the project as long as they share alike their modifications, just as one must with GPL’ed free and open source software.

RepRaps are notorious for requiring some technical skill – and a good deal of patience – to build and operate. This is especially true with the project’s earlier designs. Makerbots were derived from the early RepRap designs, but were refined to be more accessible. Makerbot kits are available for about $1300 and are said to be only as complex as an Ikea furniture set. One can purchase a fully assembled Makerbot for about $2500. Widespread home adoption is still unlikely in the near future due to cost. However, these printers are affordable for small businesses and schools, potentially giving them a much greater social impact than their significantly more expensive ancestors.

Makerbot – the company that produces Makerbots – is a wonderful example of open hardware done right in a business. The free and open hardware designs from the early RepRap project made Makerbots as we know them possible. In turn, the accessibility of Makerbots allowed the low cost 3D printing community to grow rapidly in numbers. Because the designs for the printers were released under an open license, individuals in the community were free to design their own upgrades. Many of these upgrades were adopted back into the standard product design. Perhaps the single greatest contribution by Makerbot to the RepRap project was developing a stronger 3D printing community, bringing in new talent to the RepRap project.

If Makerbot were ran like an old-school business – one with clandestine trade secrets and which considers its customers to be consumers and not kin – the community could not have grown as it did. Makerbot’s customer base would have been severely limited. Similarly, if the RepRap project had chosen a non-commercial approach to licensing, it would not have been able to empower Makerbot to bootstrap the community as it did. This feedback loop between community and commerce is what powers this new medium’s ability to change the world as we know it. The phenomena observed here is not unique to open hardware; it is often seen at work in the free software realm, and can work well with free culture.

Thingiverse – a social site run by Makerbot – provides a basic framework for tracking derivative work from project to project. Some works on the site see little interest from other members. Other works spawn an endless tree of variations. “Screwless Heart Gears” by [Emmett] is a popular model on thingiverse which exists in one of the branches of such a tree of derivative works. Thingiverse’s framework assumes that a derivative work only has one ancestor, which is not always accurate. And some times the ancestor is off site. Judging from the comments, the root of this tree would be this video. From this inspiration, [Greg Frost] created a program – released under the GNU LGPL license – that generates similar gears, and his own version of the “Broken Heart” model, also released under the LGPL license. [Emmett] used this program to generate the “Cube Gears” model (released under the CC-BY-SA license), from which there are many derivatives by a variety of individuals. The broken heart model ended up going through a variety of revisions just as well as it spawned many interesting variations.

The broken heart model illustrates both the new potential for incredible works to be produced. Artists and engineers are able to collaborate to produce objects with both cultural value and dynamic mechanical aspects. The variations of the broken heart model happened candidly – people worked on it for the fun of it. The broken heart model also illuminates legal gray area. The legal dangers of this sort of gray are very well covered by the paper “It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw it Up: 3D Printing, Intellectual Property, and the Fight Over the Next Great Disruptive Technology“, written by Micheal Weinberg.

3D printing is an incredible new medium which has great potential to change the world as we know it. The ways it can empower us are in line with the philosophy of the read/write culture that Creative Commons works to support, and we should all be very excited about this.

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