Commons News

CC Talks With: Sir John Daniel of the Commonwealth of Learning: Open Education and Policy

Timothy Vollmer, July 27th, 2011

Sir John Daniel has been working in open education from its earliest days. “Openness is in my genes,” he says. Sir John is President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning, or COL. COL is an intergovernmental organization comprised of 54 member states. The overarching focus area for COL is “learning for development.” It aims to help its member nations—especially developing countries—use technology and develop new approaches to expand and approve learning at all levels. Sir John’s first interaction at COL happened over 20 years ago, when he chaired its planning committee. At that time, he was president of Canada’s Laurentian University. He went from there to lead the Open University in the UK, and then served as head of Education at UNESCO. Sir John’s colleague, Dr. Venkataraman Balaji, is Director of Technology and Knowledge Management, and led the efforts in crafting COL’s recent Open Educational Resources policy.

What were the primary motivations in developing an OER policy at COL? What hurdles (legal, social, cultural) did you have to overcome, both within the organization and among the member states?

We’re in the open business, so it made sense to communicate a formal open policy prominently on our website. It really wasn’t a problem, and there were few hurdles inside COL. We drafted the policy, it went through a few iterations within our staff, and then we adopted it. That said, we should be clear that we didn’t take this policy to the member states for review. We’re a small organization, and we do not have a general assembly of our membership. So, we didn’t have to wade through the politics of getting all the states to sign on. However, we didn’t develop the OER policy just pat ourselves on our back. We want to show the world that supporting open education is how we all should behave these days.

The work of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) is very important, but to the outside observer it is sometimes not apparent what IGOs do. What does COL do to “encourage and support governments and institutions to establish supportive policy frameworks to introduce practices relating to OER”?

If I may be so bold, I think your question reflects an American bias. The United States and other large, powerful countries tend to operate bilaterally. Smaller countries prefer the facilitative, collaborative approach of working via intergovernmental organizations. UNESCO is the extreme example, where 193 countries operate democratically, and everyone’s voice is at least in principle equal. When I worked at UNESCO, I was surprised how seriously the member states took the recommendations that were developed. They trust that sort of process more than directives that come at them bilaterally.

In general, the IGO process aims to get countries to work together to do things they cannot do separately. One example is a virtual university for small states within the Commonwealth. Since two-thirds of the 54 member states are nations with populations of 2 million or less, they have fewer resources to spend on content creation. You can imagine when the dot com boom came along the small states were worried how they could come to terms with all the potential benefits (and address the challenges) of this rapidly changing digital, networked world. So their ministers of education looked at the challenge and said, “if we can’t crack it individually, why not crack it collectively?” COL helped them start a ‘virtual university’, which is not a new institution but a collaborative network where countries and institutions can work together to produce course materials as OER that they can all adapt and use. This virtual university has developed curriculum in various areas, such as a diploma in sustainable agriculture for small states. You can imagine that agricultural practices in a place like the atolls of the Maldives are very different than agriculture in the volcanic islands of Dominica. However, developing a vanilla version of the curriculum and then allowing each region to tailor the resources to the specifics of their own agricultural ecosystem has proved much more efficient than each state starting from scratch. A condition of participating in the virtual university is that anything you create must be released as OER.

COL has chosen the CC BY-SA license for its own materials. Can you describe how the organization decided upon this license for its resources?

Well, our policy simply says COL will release its own materials under the most feasible open license, which includes the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. We understand why MIT OCW adopted a noncommercial license for its materials—they were the first to do it and didn’t know what was going to happen. But now, we encourage people to not use noncommercial if they can avoid it, and we follow our own recommendation. It wasn’t until Dr. Balaji arrived that we were able to sort through the legal and technical challenges that COL, as an intergovernmental organization, faced in adopting an open license.

Many of the COL member states are located in the global south. How does an OER policy affect global south states differently than the global north?

I’m exaggerating quite a bit here, but we’ve observed that in the north people are more focused on producing OER and that in the south people are more focused on how they can use OER. Just a few months ago I was at the Open Courseware Conference in Boston. Perhaps three-fourths of the presentations there focused on producing OER, while only a small number were about re-purposing and reusing OER content. This has to change for the OER movement to take off.

In the south, there’s a cautious attitude of “there’s lots of stuff available, why not use it?” We’ve been encouraging the north to take a more universal approach and think multidirectionally. This is why we’re delighted that a school like the University of Michigan is using OER from Malawi and Ghana in its medical programs. Why should the University of Michigan create OERs about tropical diseases when there are folks that live in the tropics that can do it better? So, we encourage people to see OER production and use as a multi-directional flow.

Can you discuss the goals and outcomes of the Taking OER beyond the OER community project, organized by COL and UNESCO. What’s next?

This project has a long history, and really goes back all the way to the origin of the term Open Educational Resources. But more recently, in 2009 UNESCO hosted a world conference on higher education. That event didn’t ruffle feathers in the north so much, but influenced thinking in the south. It reiterated the importance of open distance learning, ICTs, and particularly emphasized the global sharing of OER to expand quality higher education. COL picked up the work with UNESCO. We realized that unless there is a much wider appreciation of what OER is, it’s not going anywhere. And as the name of the project implies, our goal was to advocate to those outside of the already-established open education community. We held six face-to-face workshops in Africa and Asia. These were mainly aimed at university presidents, quality assurance groups, and those interested in open distance learning.

Last December we held a policy forum at UNESCO in Paris to pull these threads together. We decided there that it would be helpful to develop a set of OER guidelines targeted at key stakeholder groups. These included governments, higher education institutions, teacher and student groups, quality assurance agencies, and qualification bodies. We’ve been iterating on these guidelines since then, and they are now being distributed for wide consultation. In October of this year there will be another policy forum where the OER guidelines for higher education will be put into final form. We hope to unveil these recommendations at the UNESCO general conference in November alongside an OER platform UNESCO will also be launching at that time.

Over the winter, we wish to conduct a rather extensive survey of governments around the world to find out where they are on policies related to OER, open access, open formats, and other related topics. Surveying governments is not an easy task, especially when they don’t always understand the questions you are asking. But, if all goes well, those survey results will be pulled together, to the end of working toward an update to the Cape Town Open Education Declaration. There’s a desire for COL and UNESCO to mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the term “Open Educational Resources” with a conference in June 2012 at which countries can sign an updated declaration.

What do you predict will be the impact of the COL OER policy, and what would you like to see come out of this? What can you recommend to other IGOs that are beginning to think about developing an open education policy?

My advice is to just do it and don’t get too fussed about the license at the beginning. We hope that our small organization, which seems to have an influence larger than its size, will be the grain of sand in the oyster for other IGOs. UNESCO is working to get on the right page; given their name it would seem peculiar if they are not more in the ‘open’ business. But I understand the problem with large organizations. When you look at UNESCO, you’ve got general assemblies with lots of people that don’t like things unless they’re invented there. For example, everyone in the world wants for there to be standardization in electrical sockets, as long as the standard that is adopted is the one they use. Those organizations interested in adopting an open policy should start small, and work their way through the problems as they go. If you try to make your entire back catalog available, you’ll be lost. Those big intergovernmental organizations should say, “from now on, we’re going to be as open as we can be.” An important thing is to adopt the philosophy of openness.

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Announcing new Creative Commons Regional Managers

Jane Park, July 22nd, 2011

Creative Commons is very pleased to announce a new team of Regional Managers to its ranks.


Claudio Ruiz by Joi / CC BY.                                        Carolina Botero by carobotero / CC BY.        Jonas Öberg by Mathias Klang / CC BY-ND.

New hires Jonas Öberg (Europe), Carolina Botero and Claudio Ruiz (Co-Managers, Latin America) will join existing CC staffers Chiaki Hayashi (Asia and the Pacific), Donatella della Ratta (Arab World), Aurelia J. Schultz (Africa), and our new Network Affiliate Coordinator, Jessica Coates, to form a new team dedicated to supporting our affiliate network worldwide.

Creative Commons has affiliate teams operating in over 70 countries, all of whom work to support the CC licenses in their local regions, while at the same time providing valuable expertise and input to CC’s broader work internationally. Many of these teams are volunteers, who undertake CC work because of a strong commitment to sharing and openness.

Adding staff support for our affiliates is part of a broader strategy CC is currently implementing to enhance the role and profile of this affiliate network. The Regional Managers will be dedicated to supporting and working with these local affiliates, while also working together to inform and shape CC’s ongoing development and policy making. They will also be instrumental in planning for our upcoming Global Summit—watch this blog for more news on that soon.

Each Regional Manager is based within their region, or has a strong history working with the region’s community. Several of the managers are long-running country leads drawn from the affiliate network itself. They bring a broad range of experience and expertise to their positions, from experience in private business to academia to experience within other core free culture organizations.

We welcome our Regional Managers on board, and look forward to their contributions to our community.

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[Re-]Introducing Greg Grossmeier, Education Technology & Policy Coordinator

Mike Linksvayer, July 21st, 2011

Greg Grossmeier was a CC intern, community assistant, and for the last year and a half, a volunteer fellow. He is rejoining CC staff as Education Technology and Policy Coordinator, initially focused on the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative.


How did you get involved in CC initially?

It all started back when I was a student at the University of Michigan School of Information working with the fledgling Open.Michigan initiative (of which current CC staff member Tim Vollmer was one of the founders). Open.Michigan is the initiative at the University of Michigan that helps faculty, students, and staff share their educational material with the world as OER (Open Educational Resources). I was drawn to this project primarily because it aligned with my background as a member of the Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) community. As I saw in the FLOSS world, our ability as creators of useful objects such as software and educational material to share these objects with each other in a way that allows them to not only read them, but also build upon them, is changing the way we interact with the world. One part of this ability is the legal assurance that you will not be sued for building upon someone else's work. This is where my interest, and involvement, with Creative Commons got its start.

I was an intern under the amazing Jon Phillips (rejon) during the summer of 2008 then stayed on as a Community Assistant for the next year. I continued my outreach as an unpaid fellow traveling to conferences until coming back to Creative Commons full-time.

Education Technology & Policy Coordinator, that's a mouthful. What does that mean? How does it relate to the work of other CC staff?

It is a mouthful! It means that I am the person you should talk to if you are working in the world of education, specifically Open Education, and have questions regarding integrating or consuming metadata, license choice and its ramifications, or any other legal, technical, or policy issue. This work dovetails nicely with the work being spearheaded by Tim Vollmer, Policy Coordinator, as I am focusing my time mostly in the education and technology realm while Tim also works on issues such as government data sharing and funder policy. I will be sort of a bridge between the CC technology team (note we’re hiring a CTO) and the policy and legal people, and a liaison for technology/policy discussions externally. My new boss is Cable Green, Director of Global Learning, who holds the big picture of how to scale OER.

I’m also looking forward to seeing how my new role can support and be informed by the work of the many OER leaders in the worldwide CC affiliate network.

You've been a copyright specialist at MLibrary for two years. There's a ton of cool stuff coming out of MLibrary. Tell us about that.

At MLibrary I worked for the Copyright Office which, contrary to what Melissa Levine’s (our fearless leader’s) title of "Copyright Officer" may imply, is not the copyright cop of the university. Instead, much of what I did was outreach and education on how faculty, students, and staff can share their scholarly works more broadly. This included issues of data sharing, open education, and open access publishing.

Specific to the library, the Copyright Office spearheaded the change of default CC license on the MLibrary website from CC Attribution-NonCommercial to CC Attribution. I hope that our reasoning for making the switch, which I outlined in a blog post, will help other galleries, libraries, archives, or museums (GLAM-institutions) adopt a similar license choice.

It is also about time for this year's Copyright Camp which is put on by MPublishing (the division within MLibrary that the Copyright Office resides). Copyright Camp is an unconference on all things copyright; from libraries to musicians, policy to practice, even education to robots!

Along with our outreach efforts, the Copyright Office also manages important projects at MLibrary including a new one concerning "orphan works."

So your most recent project is this orphan works thing, say more…

"Orphan works" are works (nominally books in our case) that are still under copyright but the copyright holder is not findable and/or contactable. These works are thus still unable to be legally reused without permission but there is no one to ask permission to reuse them.

With the leadership of Melissa and the help of my coworker Bobby Glushko, I built the process that powers the Orphan Works Project. The goal of the MLibrary Orphan Works Project is to either find the work's copyright holder OR determine that they are truly an orphan and make them available to users of MLibrary. (If you are a copyright holder of any works in the MLibrary collection, please fill out the form available on the project website.)

One could characterize part of the orphan works problem as one of a lack of metadata, or works with inadequate provenance. In a way, CC is mitigating future orphan works issues by making it easy for metadata to travel with works on the web.

You mentioned metadata and provenance, what excites you about the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative?

LRMI excites me because it will finally allow all of the hard work being done by the various online education projects (open or not) to correctly tag their works with important information (such as license, audience, subject, learning outcomes, etc) to be indexed and exposed by popular search engines. Currently we have a smorgasbord of education-specific search engines that attempt to give learners access to the world's knowledge but they routinely fall short due to technical limitations. If the metadata applied to these resources is consumed and used by popular search engines, learning management software, and even the student's own computer then, I hope, big advances in education can be made more easily.

How can people get involved in LRMI?

There is a Call for Participation (CfP) and more information on the LRMI project wiki page that has all of the details.

You're also a technologist, not just a metadata technologist — no disrespect to the meta! What do you do with the Ubuntu community?

The Ubuntu community was the first FLOSS community I felt at home in. When I moved to Michigan for graduate school there was no local community team (aka "LoCo" in Ubuntu parlance) so I took it upon myself to create one. Little did I know that there was a wonderful group of individuals waiting for something like this and the team took off. The Michigan LoCo Team has since been your go-to group for Ubuntu (and FLOSS) related activities including release parties and bug and packaging jams. During graduate school when I should have been studying for exams or writing papers I spent a lot of my Ubuntu/FLOSS time reporting and triaging bugs.

Do you see underplayed opportunities for CC and OER communities to leverage Ubuntu and other FLOSS communities and vice versa? Or instances that we just know more about?

Everywhere. The FLOSS community is first and foremost a sharing or gift economy. This aligns well with the OER community (as I said before). There are many FLOSS projects that are primarily developed to be used in OER (such as the OERbit publishing platform and OERca content management system from Open.Michigan) that could have far greater impact when applied to non-institution specific endeavors.

I also firmly believe that some of the sticking points holding wide spread adoption of OER back can be addressed using software, and specifically FLOSS. Examples of this are the Open Attribute browser plugin that makes attributing CC-licensed works dead simple, the Open Badges platform being created by Mozilla that will help online learners record and display their efforts, and AcaWiki which aims to make high-quality scholarly article summaries available in every discipline. These are all great projects to get involved with from both the education side and the software side, if you are looking for something to contribute to in your free time!


In addition to following Greg’s work on the Creative Commons blog, you can follow Greg on identi.ca and twitter.

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Seven successful launch events on The Power of Open

Jane Park, July 20th, 2011

From June 16 to July 8, The Power of Open launched in seven cities around the world: Tokyo, Washington DC, Brussels, Rio de Janeiro, London, Paris, and Madrid. Thanks to the diversity of our CC community, each launch event was unique and inspiring, emphasizing openness as relevant to local culture and policy. Here we recap some of the highlights from each event in the order they occurred.

Tokyo
In Tokyo, Japan, CC Japan took the lead and put on a wonderful event at Loftwork, a creative agency that provides creator-matching services for companies in need of artists, while using CC licenses to distribute some of its creators’ works to increase exposure. CC Japan’s launch featured an “Into Infinity” project showcase and a talk by CC Chairperson and MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito. The Japan launch was angled to increase awareness of CC in the digital culture of Japan, particularly focusing on digital artists, designers, technologists, and museums. According to Loftwork’s post, the event was a success! gathering artists and entrepreneurs in Shibuya who agreed that CC was a powerful tool for creators, and that creative innovation would accelerate the world of technology in coming years. More pictures of the event are available here.

Washington DC
In Washington DC, The Power of Open officially launched at The New America Foundation featuring a panel discussion that included CC CEO Cathy Casserly, Heather LaGarde at IntraHealth International, Rebecca MacKinnon at Global Voices Online, and Sherwin Siy at Public Knowledge. The DC event gathered leaders from foundations, innovators in business, and policymakers. The New America Foundation notes that “Discussion revolved not just around Creative Commons’ successes in advancing people’s businesses and causes but also on ways to continue its growth and to clear up misunderstandings about how its licenses work. Speakers, for example, repeatedly drove home the point that Creative Commons does not replace copyright but extends it in ways that give artists and writers more power, and its force has been repeatedly upheld in court.” The event was livestreamed, and video is also available at the post.

Brussels
The Power of Open launch in Brussels was hosted at GooglePlex, and featured a presentation and Q&A with Mark Patterson, the Director of Publishing for the Public Library of Science—that is transforming research communication via the use of CC BY for its scientific articles. The Brussels event gathered parliamentarians and others from the European Commission, focusing on the European Union’s flagship Digital Agenda initiative and the value of copyright and innovation in the digital age, specifically “In order to allow for a broader reach to new and larger audiences, key action areas focus on finding easier and more uniform solutions to pan-European licensing, simplifying copyright clearance and collective rights management, to name a few.”

Rio de Janeiro
In Brazil, the launch event was hosted by the FGV (Fundação Getulio Vargas) Rio Law School Center for Technology, featuring a presentation by Gabriel Borges at Fiat Automóveis, who discussed the process of creating the Fiat Mio, a concept car designed collaboratively via CC BY-NC-SA. Gabriel talked about the advantages of using CC for the project, and what led Fiat to choose CC for the designs. The event also featured Alexander Schneider, Secretary of Education of São Paulo, José Murilo, from the Digital Culture of the Ministry of Culture, Claudio Prado from the Brazil Digital Culture Laboratory, and Ronaldo Lemos at FGV Rio Law School. The discussion focused largely around CC for educational materials and changes in the political climate of Brazil. FGV covers the event in detail here.

TPoO_Wellcome_launch21
From left to right: Rachel Bruce (JISC), Frances Pinter (Bloomsbury Academic),
Jonathan Worth, Lord Merlin Erroll (House of Lords), Lisa Green (CC),
Patrick McAndrew (Open University)

London
The London event was a huge hit thanks to JISC, a longtime CC supporter who organized the event with us at the Wellcome Trust. JISC develops partnerships and programs on the innovative use of digital technologies for UK education and research communities. Diane Cabell, who attended the event, reports,

“Rachel Bruce, Innovation Director of JISC’s Digital Infrastructure project, introduced speakers Prof. Paul Webley of SOAS, Ben White of The British Library, and photographer Jonathan Worth, whose work has appeared in numerous publications and exhibitions and is part of the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery. Worth, one of the featured creators in The Power of Open, drew the greatest audience attention as he explained how he uses CC licenses for online copies of his work in order to drive sales of higher-value copies such as hard prints and signed editions. Worth detailed how his online collections have attracted attention from communities of dedicated fans of the celebrities who are subjects of his portraits. These communities closely follow the bidding on his fee-based editions. This social network conversation has further promoted his work and resulted in a number of prestigious and profitable special commissions. His online photography course at Coventry University has the highest number of registered students in the school.”

The discussion also focused largely around the recent Hargreaves Review report on intellectual property reform in the UK, and gathered British parliamentarians, publishers, and educators.

Paris
The Paris event was held at Le Lieu du Design, where Pierre Gerard, co-founder of Jamendo, presented, followed by a film screening by CC-using director Vincent Moon. Like Japan, The Power of Open launch in Paris focused largely on tapping into growing French digital culture, reaching creators at the intersection of design and technology. The crowd consisted of representatives from FuturEnSeine, coined the SXSW of France, where creators are recognizing how they can share works and contribute to innovation by using CC licenses, in addition to creators, free culture supporters and legal scholars from Wikimedia France, faberNovel and Cap Digital. An exciting time in France, the event stimulated discussions around current French HADOPI law (Creation and Internet law), and highlighted the ability of creators to choose rights and take control of their content.

Madrid

EOI (Escuela de Organización Industrial) hosted the last event in Madrid, welcoming CC Chairman Joi Ito to present the Spanish version of the book. EOI covers the event on their blog: “Leading experts from the European Union’s institutions, academia, private and public organisations joined Creative Commons to celebrate the launch of The Power of Open in EOI Business School.” The Madrid event was a great closer for the launch event series, focusing on Creative Commons’ vision for realizing the full potential of the Internet via the EU’s Digital Agenda: “With the Digital Agenda, the European Union has set the objective to develop a very fast Internet for the economy to grow strongly and to create jobs and prosperity, and to ensure citizens can access the content and services they want.” Business school students, finance and banking community representatives, the CC community, and a heavy press presence were in attendance.

Video and Resources

Video of the events above are being edited and will be available at thepowerofopen.org in the coming weeks. To keep up-to-date, follow us on social media or use the tag #powerofopen. And if you haven’t already, download and read The Power of Open and please share and remix it with your friends under CC BY. As Joi stated in Madrid, “the value of open isn’t merely static. The true power of open comes from creating an ecosystem in which innovating does not require asking permission.”

Lastly, stay tuned for another event in Doha, Qatar in September!

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Call for Participation: Learning Resource Metadata Initiative technical Working Group

Mike Linksvayer, July 18th, 2011

Or for short, LRMI tech WG CFP.

Read on for some exciting details about the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative, which we announced last month in collaboration with the Association of Educational Publishers.


The Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) to create a common metadata vocabulary for describing learning resources is seeking the participation of education metadata experts to participate in a technical Working Group over the next 6-12 months.

Spurred by the growing need to make online learning resources more discoverable and the opportunity created by the launch of schema.org (a Bing/Google/Yahoo! project to develop and encourage use of metadata vocabularies which can be used to enhance search results), LRMI has been formed. Its goals, in brief:

  • Document an abstract vocabulary representing the most common descriptions of learning resources used by existing educational metadata standards (e.g., Learning Object Metadata), by online publishers of learning resources (whether a machine-readable vocabulary is used or not), and addressing the contemporary desire to link learning resources to learning outcomes (e.g., Achievement Standards Network).
  • Create a concrete expression of the abstract vocabulary for use within the schema.org hierarchy. Given this deployment target and the motivation to increase discoverability, utility for enhancing search queries and results will be a desired property for each term in the abstract vocabulary.
  • Create a concrete expression of the abstract vocabulary as RDF, for interoperability with other applications and existing vocabularies. This drives another desired property for abstract vocabulary terms — to mirror the semantics of existing education matadata vocabularies to the extent possible, so that explicit equivalences and refinements may be established, protecting existing investments in educational metadata made by publishers and curators of learning resources and by institutions to date.
  • Liaise with search engines, learning resource publishers, communities, and repositories, and other potential distributors and consumers of education metadata (e.g., Learning Management Systems vendors, National Learning Registry) to promote adoption and impact of the vocabulary.
  • Explain the impact, value, and use cases of a common education metadata vocabulary to the general public, decision-, and policy-makers.

In order to ensure that LRMI hits a “sweet spot” of addressing real learning resource publishing practices, the requirements of search engines, and interoperability with existing education metadata (and hence achieves widespread adoption by publishers, repositories, and search and other application developers), we require the active engagement of experts in the field. Thus we are issuing this Call For Participation:

Technical Working Group members wanted to participate in researching and writing LRMI vocabulary and expressions. Tentatively weekly teleconferences, two face to face meetings. Commitment averages 2hrs/week over 6-9 months. This is a volunteer commitment. However, we do have funding for travel to face to face meetings if required.

LRMI’s work will occur in public. One does not need to participate in the Working or Advisory groups to follow, comment on, and contribute to LRMI. All interested parties are encouraged to join the LRMI Google Group/mailing list.

Please direct interest in Working group participation privately to lrmi@creativecommons.org, or if you wish, to the public mailing list.

We strongly encourage interest from around the world. Educational metadata efforts have historically arisen from various parts of the world, and improving discoverability and interoperability of learning resources is truly a worldwide challenge and opportunity.

Prospective timeline (2011-2012)

July 18:

  • publish CFP

August 1

  • announce initial WG
  • first WG teleconference
  • preliminary findings on existing education metadata vocabularies and real world use

late August/September:

  • first WG F2F
  • request domain expert and list feedback on findings re existing education metadata vocabularies and real world use

September

  • publish findings on existing metadata vocabularies and real world use
  • request domain expert and list feedback on first rough draft of abstract vocabulary

October

  • publish first draft of abstract vocabulary
  • request domain expert and list feedback on schema.org and RDF expression first rough draft

November

  • second draft of abstract vocabulary; release candidate pending bugs found in developing schema.org and RDF expressions
  • submit schema.org expression to first stage of to be determined schema.org process
  • work intensively with early adopters

December-January

  • finalize abstract vocabulary, schema.org and RDF expressions
  • finalize list of launch/1.0 publisher and application adopters

January-March

  • denote 1.0 of abstract vocabulary, schema.org and RDF expressions
  • launch with array of publisher and application adopters

March-ongoing

  • maintain and fix bugs
  • work to make adoption universal
  • pass on maintenance to established standards organization
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Creative Commons recruiting its next Chief Technology Officer

Mike Linksvayer, July 11th, 2011

DATABASE at Postmasters, March 2009
Laptop Stickers by Fred Benenson / CC BY. Does your laptop look like this? It doesn’t have to, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it does.

Since our previous CTO, Nathan Yergler, left CC to return to full-time engineering in April, we have been preparing to recruit his replacement. The time is now! See the full job posting on our opportunities page.

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. Using technology to enhance (rather than suppress) sharing has always been an important part of the CC story. Some background for the truly interested candidate:

  • 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.

Relative to when Creative Commons started with a vision of leveraging the Internet to scale sharing (and vice versa), there are an unimaginable number of freely licensed works to build upon, and to build services around, and 90% of the technical groundwork is laid (of course as an engineer you recognize that means 90% of the technical groundwork remains to be developed — and that’s just the beginning!). 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.

We’re accepting resumes through August 1. Again see the job posting for details.

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Support for Creative Commons grows in Russia

Jane Park, July 11th, 2011

Since Creative Commons Russia was initiated in March of last year, our Russian Affiliates have been working to make the CC licenses compatible with Russian law. Here, we give an overview of CC progress in Russia to date, while also celebrating the recent contribution of valued wartime images to Wikimedia Commons by Russian news agency RIA Novosti as part of the “Eternal Values” Project.

RIAN_archive_+662733_Recruits_leave_for_front_during_mobilization.jpg
Recruits leaving for the front during mobilization, Moscow. by RIA Novosti archive, image #662733 / Anatoliy Garanin / CC BY-SA 3.0

Currently, certain provisions of Part IV of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation do not permit authors to voluntarily grant copyright permissions. Thanks to work by CC Russia, the Council on Codification and Improvement of the Civil Legislation under the President of the Russian Federation is considering proposed revisions to Part IV of the Civil Code, which will facilitate introduction and use of CC licenses in Russia.

Our Affiliates in Russia believe that use of CC licenses will positively influence the socioeconomic and innovative development of the country, stimulating growth of open content as well as broadening public access to it. The proposed amendments are strongly supported by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who gave instructions to prepare the legislative amendments to the Civil Code late last year. Medvedev wants the existing framework to be adjusted to reflect not only the interests of copyright owners, but also the needs of the users.

It is important to note, however, that the matter is less complicated for Russian creators who want to share their works with the rest of the world. Syb Groeneveld, a past CC volunteer in Russia notes, “Every CC license is intended to be effective on a worldwide basis, whether “ported” to a specific jurisdiction or not… CC’s Unported licenses were created using standard terms from the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and other international treaties related to copyright and intellectual property… If you are the author and the copyright holder of a specific work, it is safe to publish something under the unported CC license. In fact, this is what many Russian musicians like Timur Izhbulatov and Melnar Tilromen are already doing at websites like www.Jamendo.com.”

The foremost example of a Russian creator sharing his works is perhaps the Russian President himself; his presidential website, www.kremlin.ru, is licensed under the CC Attribution 3.0 Unported license in an official letter to Wikipedia.

President Medvedev also uploaded the above 100th image of the “Eternal Values” project to Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY-SA license. The “Eternal Values” project celebrates the 70th anniversary of RIA Novosti by releasing the most valued images from its archives to the public.

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CC News: The Power of Open

Jane Park, July 7th, 2011

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

The Power of Open: Stories of creators sharing knowledge, art, & data using Creative Commons

Released a couple weeks ago, The Power of Open demonstrates the impact of Creative Commons through stories of successful use of our tools by artists, educators, scientists, and institutions of all types. The Power of Open is available for free download at http://thepowerofopen.org under CC BY. It is available in several languages, with more translated versions to come, and you can also order hard copies from Lulu. We hope that it inspires you to examine and embrace the practice of open licensing so that your contributions to the global intellectual commons can provide their greatest benefit to all people. The Power of Open was made possible by our supporters, to whom we are deeply grateful, and the numerous creators featured, initially as part of our Case Studies project. Read more.

Over 400 million CC-licensed works, with increasing freedom

powerofopen-adoption-chart-small

The book also features two pages sketching the socio-economic value and numerical adoption of CC tools. “How has adoption of Creative Commons grown?” is a difficult question given the decentralized nature of the web, but not as difficult as measuring economic value. Since Creative Commons’ first year, we have tracked the number of web links to Creative Commons licenses reported by search engine queries and the number of works licensed at major repositories. Derived from these a very conservative estimate of the approximate minimum number of licensed works at the end of each year is plotted at right – from under 1 million works after the first year, to over 400 million at the end of 2010. Read more.

Global Launch Events for The Power of Open

The Power of Open launched with events from around the world. The official launch occurred June 29 at The New America Foundation in Washington D.C., featuring Global Voices Online and IntraHealth, with CC CEO Cathy Casserly representing for staff. Additional launch events took place from June 16 in Tokyo, Japan, with the last event happening tomorrow, July 8, in Madrid, Spain. For the full list of events that took place in Brussels, Rio de Janeiro, London, and Paris, head on over to http://thepowerofopen.org/events. We will be reporting on outcomes from these events, so be sure to keep up-to-date by subscribing to our blog and using the tag #powerofopen on social media.

In other news:

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The Open Society Foundations encourage grantees to use CC licenses

Jane Park, June 30th, 2011

The Open Society Foundations (OSF) have adopted a new copyright policy that encourages its grantees to release their outputs under CC licenses. The OSF have long been releasing their own work products under a CC BY-NC-ND license, but now they have introduced a new clause to encourage OSF grantees to do the same:

“We believe that OSF’s mission is enhanced when our grantees’ Work Product is also made widely available to the public, with appropriate protection of legitimate interests. To that end, OSF is introducing a new clause into its grant agreements, whereby our grantees must advise OSF whether or not they will broadly license all Work Product created with OSF funds using a Creative Commons license, or otherwise.”

The Public Health Program, Information Program and Media Program are piloting this new policy with their grantees this year. For more information, read the OSF copyright policy.

For more information about funder policies and Creative Commons licenses, see our wiki.

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3rd Creative Commons Arab Regional Meeting and Concert

Donatella Della Ratta, June 29th, 2011


The 3rd Creative Commons Arab regional meeting will occur on June 30 to July 1, and will gather Creative Commons communities consisting of youth and civil society members across various fields (education, law, art, music) that are actively spreading the values of openness, sharing, peer-production, collaboration, and innovation in the Arab world. The meeting will celebrate these communities and values.

The meeting is in cooperation with Nawaat.org, the Tunisian blogging platform awarded the 2011 Netizen Prize by Reporters Without Borders, and is sponsored by the Al Jazeera Network. It will take place in Tunis, where the Tunisian revolution took place in December 2010, and the Arab youth began to reshape the region, giving a burst to creativity and cooperation as the basis of a better future for new Arab generations.

The meeting will feature a set of workshops with the following goals:

  • Raise awareness of open licensing and open source tools as ways to promote self expression, creativity, innovation and peer-production in an open and collaborative environment
  • Connect local individuals (bloggers, artists, activists, etc) and institutions (universities, schools, law professionals, cultural centers, etc) that share an interest in open licensing and open source with the broader Arab regional Creative Commons and open source community
  • Train these individuals and institutions to the actual use of open licensing and open source tools for creative works, self expression and business development
  • Create a work environment which is oriented to sharing knowledge and products
  • Foster original content production in Arabic which responds to countrys’ local needs
  • Enhance creative production in the Arab world and distribution in an open but legal way.

The workshops are entirely designed and led by volunteer members of the Creative Commons Arab regional communities from the following countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Qatar, UAE, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, and Palestine. Most of the workshops will be “hands on” and will be entirely led in Arabic. The outputs (visual art works, music works, blogs, etc.) will be regrouped and featured online after the meeting.

Each workshop will address one of the following issues:

1) Application of open licensing to education
2) Legal introduction to CC licenses
3) Visual art and creative remix
4) Youth music, Creative Commons, “Sharism”
5) Citizen journalism, social media, open licensing
6) Using Creative Commons & Social Networking to Create, Share, Network and Build your Personal Brand
7) Introduction to open source tools for creative people

All workshops are free, and open registration through the CC Arab mailing list and Nawaat.org has brought more than 50 participants from Tunis and other Tunisian municipalities (working language: Arabic). The plenary sessions are open to everyone and translation between Arabic and English will be provided. Access the full agenda of the meeting here.

Creative Commons Concert

To close the meeting, a free CC music concert will take place the evening of July 2nd at the Center for Arab and Mediterranean Music. Musicians from across the Arab world (Palestine, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon) and particularly those from Tunisia will pay a tribute to openness by performing their music (pop, hip hop, rock, classical Arab music) in a “jam session” sort of evening, where remix between the different artists will be encouraged and peer-production will be celebrated.

All music played during the performance will be released under a CC BY-NC license, and will be compiled to produce the first CC-released Arab music CD featuring the best young talented musicians in the Arab world. The CD will be launched and distributed this fall through a viral social game involving most of the Arab capitals and the online Arab communities. Al Jazeera Mubasher TV channel will broadcast the event live. The goal of both the concert and the CD is to boost the idea of openly licensed music and legal sharing in the region, encouraging the Arab youth to share music legally but also to produce their own through peer collaboration and remixes enabled by the CC licenses. Check out pre-coverage of the concert by Rolling Stone (ME) and Italian News Agency ANSA.

For more information on both events, see the Creative Commons Qatar announcement.

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