Commons News

The Power of Open: over 400 million CC-licensed works, with increasing freedom

Mike Linksvayer, June 27th, 2011

The Power of Open, released last week, demonstrates the impact of Creative Commons through stories of successful use of our tools by artists, educators, scientists, and institutions of all types.

The book also features two pages sketching the socio-economic value (separately, we’re looking at this in-depth; follow these posts) and numerical adoption of CC tools. The latter especially is asked about frequently by CC staff, affiliates, and community, and by people writing about CC: “How many things are released under CC licenses?” What The Power of Open says on this follows (slightly edited for format).

How Has Adoption of Creative Commons Grown?

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 below – from under 1 million works after the first year, to over 400 million at the end of 2010.

While the chart above shows incredible growth, the absolute number of licensed works is probably far larger. Due to the conservative way we estimate, only numbers from Yahoo! Site Explorer and Flickr are actually reflected. The most significant adoption event in Creative Commons’ history, the migration of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites to CC BY-SA starting in June 2009, is not directly reflected in the chart. Furthermore, due to changes at Yahoo!, even relative growth is probably understated starting around May 2010.

As use of Creative Commons licenses has grown, the mix of licenses used has changed. After its first year, only about 20% of works were licensed to permit in advance both remix and commercial use – that is, considered fully free or open. After 8 years, that proportion had approximately doubled.

This change seems to indicate that once creators have experienced the power of open, they want more of it!


After “How many things are released under CC licenses?”, “Which CC license is most popular?” often follows. The answer won’t be found above, but given the trend towards more freedom, should not be a great suprise. Early in CC’s history, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (BY-NC-SA) was the overwhelming favorite. Other licenses, especially Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA), slowly gained ground over the years. In July 2009, BY-SA became the most popular, and has since pulled further ahead. These changes, and more, will be charted in future posts.

For now, if you’d like to examine the raw data yourself, please see this post’s technical companion on CC Labs.

If you’re involved in a CC-enabled site, please consider adding a CC site portal with metrics like Flickr’s — invaluable as a feature for your users and as source of CC metrics.

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Open Knowledge Conference 2011

Mike Linksvayer, June 24th, 2011

The Open Knowledge Foundation’s annual conference, OKCon, is next week in Berlin. They’ve put together an amazing program featuring some of the most exciting projects and speakers in the free/libre/open universe beyond software — though free software is not unrepresented — Richard Stallman is giving what should be an extremely interesting talk on Free/Libre Software and Open Data.

I’m very happy that CC’s policy coordinator, Timothy Vollmer, will be co-presenting with the OKF’s Jordan Hatcher on Open Data Licensing. This follows up on my and Jordan‘s presentations at the Share-PSI workshop in May.

I would also like to highlight sessions by CC project leads from France, Guatemala, and Poland:

Go if you can!

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

Jane Park, June 24th, 2011

Since last fall, we’ve been talking at length to various creators about their CC stories—the impact Creative Commons has had on their lives and in their respective fields, whether that’s in art, education, science, or industry. We are thrilled to announce that we have cultivated the most compelling of these stories and woven them together into a book called The Power of Open. The stories in The Power of Open demonstrate the breadth of CC uses across fields and the creativity of the individuals and organizations that have chosen to share their work via Creative Commons licenses and tools.

The Power of Open is available for free download at http://thepowerofopen.org under the CC Attribution license. It is available in several languages, with more translated versions to come. 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.

We could not have produced this work without the support of all of our creators, many of whom began telling their stories at our Case Studies wiki project, which we encourage you to contribute to—as your story may also be highlighted in publications like The Power of Open!

We would also like to extend deepest thanks to our sponsors, without which this book would just be a bunch of undeveloped stories sitting on a wiki. Thanks to Google, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Mozilla, JISC, PLoS (Public Library of Science), Omidyar Network, Open Society Foundations, the New America Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Microsoft, Microsoft Research, MacMillan, Wellcome Trust, ict Qatar, loftwork, FGV Direito Rio, faberNovel, and Silicon Sentier!

Launch Events

But that’s not all—The Power of Open is launching with events around the world! The official launch is 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. Additionally, the first event already took place on June 16 in Tokyo, Japan, with Creative Commons Chairperson Joi Ito introducing the book to the Asia/Pacific region. For the full list of events taking place in Brussels, Rio de Janeiro, London, and Paris, head on over to the http://thepowerofopen.org.

Keep up-to-date on the launch events by using the tag #powerofopen on social media.

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Introducing the 2011 Creative Commons Interns!

Aurelia J. Schultz, June 22nd, 2011

Summer at Creative Commons is always an exciting time and this year we welcome two talented students to share it with us at our Mountain View office!

casey
Copyright and related rights waived via CC0

Casey Fiesler is this year’s Google Policy Fellow. A PhD candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Casey also attended Vanderbilt University Law School. Casey’s PhD work is in the area of Human-Centered Computing. Her work at Creative Commons this summer will involve intense research into how remix artists create and interact with copyright law and technology and how Creative Commons has changed the discourse around copyright law.

jorge
Copyright and related rights waived via CC0

Jorge Vargas comes to us from Bogota, Colombia where he has been an active member of the CC Colombia team. He is in his fourth year of law school at Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota and also interns with the Colombian office of an international law firm. As this year’s legal intern, Jorge will be working on a variety of research projects and coordinating with our international Affiliate Network.

A huge welcome to both Casey and Jorge! And if you’re interested in an internship next year (2012), keep in mind that we’ll post a call for applications around February. Get your resumes into shape starting now!

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License or public domain for public sector information?

Mike Linksvayer, June 20th, 2011

Mike Masnick at Techdirt asks Does It Make Sense For Governments To Make Their Content Creative Commons… Or Fully Public Domain?

Ideally all Public Sector Information (PSI; government content and data) would be in the public domain — not restricted by copyright or any related rights. Masnick points to the U.S. federal government’s good policy:

nearly all works produced by the [U.S.] federal government automatically go into the public domain, and don’t receive any form of copyright

Unfortunately it is not quite that good: works produced for the U.S. federal government, but not directly by federal government employees or officers are covered by copyright — including works acquired, produced by contractors, and funded by grants. Furthermore, works produced by U.S. federal government employees are only unambiguously free of copyright in the U.S., thus cannot be considered in the public domain worldwide. This is not to say that the U.S. federal government policy is not stellar — relative to policies of other levels of government within the U.S., and those of other governments worldwide, it truly is, to the particular and tremendous benefit of the U.S. people and economy. But we live in a globalized and highly interconnected world now, and even that stellar policy could be improved.

This brings us to another question: how to improve policy around PSI? The status of U.S. federal government works is specified in the U.S. Copyright Act. Crown Copyright is specified in the copyright acts of various commonwealth jurisdictions. Similarly many other jurisdictions’ copyright acts specify the status of and any special limitations and exceptions to copyright for government works. Clearly changing a jurisdiction’s copyright act or otherwise changing its default status for PSI (preferably to public domain) would be most powerful. But they aren’t changes anyone can effect relatively quickly and deterministically (historically opening up a copyright act has led to more restrictive copyright).

In the meantime (presumably many years) there’s a tremendous desire to make government more accessible and unlock the value of content and data that is funded, held, and produced by governments — and existing public sector copyright defaults are recognized as a barrier to achieving these benefits. Especially in the last few years, governments have been implementing their own directives aimed to modernize PSI while some government agencies and politicians look to move more quickly within their remits, and activist citizens push to clear barriers to the potential of “open government” or “government 2.0″ with utmost urgency. This is where government use of a standard public license, usually one of the Creative Commons licenses, makes lots of sense. An agency, province, city or other body that holds copyright or funds the creation of copyrighted works can choose to open its or funded content by releasing under one of the Creative Commons licenses, or if they are really progressive, under the CC0 Public Domain Dedication.

Many governments are using CC tools in just these ways, and we expect that many more will in the coming years. That said, if any do manage to change policy defaults for PSI such that more government content and data is automatically in the public domain — we will be cheering all the way. In fact, we already have a tool for marking and tagging works that are in the public domain worldwide. The CC Public Domain Mark is currently applicable to really old works, but it would be lovely if a government were to decide to by law make all of its content unambiguously public domain, worldwide, thus making the CC Public Domain Mark applicable (of course there is no requirement to use the mark; it is just there for people and institutions that wish to use it to signal to humans and machines the public domain status of a work).

A couple caveats. First, whether they ought to or not, many governments like using copyright to control PSI. Sometimes the desire comes from a good place, e.g, to have the information be used in a way so as to not mislead the public, imply endorsement of the government, or imply that other regulations, e.g., privacy, do not apply. CC licenses have mechanisms to address these concerns where relevant (e.g., attribution to original URL, noting adaptation, non-endorsement) and government licensing frameworks (or non-binding guidelines in the case of the public domain) that explain orthogonal rights and responsibilities (e.g., privacy) but do not create incompatible licenses are key to addressing these concerns.

Second, although as noted above, usually use of any CC license would give the public more rights to PSI than they have now. But, licenses with a NonCommercial or NoDerivatives restriction set the bar too low. Clearly to maximize the value of public sector information, business needs to have access, and to maximize the ability of citizens to do interesting things with content, adaptation needs to be permitted. We strongly prefer governments use fully free/open CC tools — the CC0 Public Domain Dedication and CC Attribution (BY) and Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA) licenses. The Definition of Free Cultural Works and Open Knowledge Definition spell out why those tools are preferred in general. We look forward to working with the Open Knowledge Foundation and others to flesh out the specific and even more compelling case for fully free/open PSI.

Further reading:

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4 Stars for Metadata: an Open Ranking System for Library, Archive, and Museum Collection Metadata

MacKenzie Smith, June 17th, 2011

This post was written by participants of the LOD-LAM Summit which was held on June 2nd/3rd in San Francisco and is crossposted on the Open Knowledge Foundation blog and the Open bibliography and Open Bibliographic Data blog. For author information see the list at the end of this post.

The library, archives and museums (i.e. LAM) community is increasingly interested in the potential of Linked Open Data to enable new ways of leveraging and improving our digital collections, as recently illustrated by the first international Linked Open Data in Libraries Museums and Archives Summit (LOD-LAM) Summit in San Francisco. The Linked Open Data approach combines knowledge and information in new ways by linking data about cultural heritage and other materials coming from different Museums, Archives and Libraries. This not only allows for the enrichment of metadata describing individual cultural objects, but also makes our collections more accessible to users by supporting new forms of online discovery and data-driven research.

But as cultural institutions start to embrace the Linked Open Data practices, the intellectual property rights associated with their digital collections become a more pressing concern. Cultural institutions often struggle with rights issues related to the content in their collections, primarily due to the fact that these institutions often do not hold the (copy)rights to the works in their collections. Instead, copyrights often rest with the authors or creators of the works, or intermediaries who have obtained these rights from the authors, so that cultural institutions must get permission before they can make their digital collections available online.

However, the situation with regard to the metadata — individual metadata records and collections of records — to describe these cultural collections is generally less complex. Factual data are not protected by copyright, and where descriptive metadata records or record collections are covered by rights (either because they are not strictly factual, or because they are vested with other rights such as the European Union’s sui generis database right) it is generally the cultural institutions themselves who are the rights holders. This means that in most cases cultural institutions can independently decide how to publish their descriptive metadata records — individually and collectively — allowing them to embrace the Linked Open Data approach if they so choose.

As the word “open” implies, the Linked Open Data approach requires that data be published under a license or other legal tool that allows everyone to freely use and reuse the data. This requirement is one of most basic elements of the LOD architecture. And, according to Tim Berners-Lee’s 5 star scheme, the most basic way of making available data online is to make it ‘available on the web (whatever format), but with an open licence’. However, there still is considerable confusion in the field as to what exactly qualifies as “open” and “open licenses”.

While there are a number of definitions available such as the Open Knowledge Definition and the Definition of Free Cultural Works, these don’t easily translate into a licensing recommendation for cultural institutions that want to make their descriptive metadata available as Linked Open Data. To address this, participants of the LOD-LAM summit drafted ‘a 4-star classification-scheme for linked open cultural metadata’. The proposed scheme (obviously inspired by Tim Berners-Lee’s Linked Open Data star scheme) ranks the different options for metadata publishing — legal waivers and licenses — by their usefulness in the LOD context.

In line with the Open Knowledge Definition and the Definition of Free Cultural Works, licenses that either impose restrictions on the ways the metadata may be used (such as ‘non-commercial only’ or ‘no derivatives’) are not considered truly “open” licenses in this context. This means that metatdata made available under a more restrictive license than those proposed in the 4-star system above should not be considered Linked Open Data.

According to the classification there are 4 publishing options suitable for descriptive metadata as Linked Open Data, and libraries, archives and museums trying to maximize the benefits and interoperability of their metadata collections should aim for the approach with the highest number of stars that they’re comfortable with. Ideally the LAM community will come to agreement about the best approach to sharing metadata so that we all do it in a consistent way that makes our ambitions for new research and discovery services achievable.

Finally, it should be noted that the ranking system only addresses metadata licensing (individual records and collections of records) and does not specify how that metadata is made available, e.g., via APIs or downloadable files.

The proposed classification system is described in detail on the International LOD-LAM Summit blog but to give you a sneak preview, here are the rankings:

★★★★ Public Domain (CC0 / ODC PDDL / Public Domain Mark)
★★★ Attribution License (CC-BY / ODC-BY) where the licensor considers linkbacks to meet the attribution requirement
★★ Attribution License (CC-BY / ODC-BY) with another form of attribution defined by the licensor
★ Attribution Share-Alike License (CC-BY-SA/ODC-ODbL)

We encourage discussion of this proposal as we work towards a final draft this summer, so please take a look and tell us what you think!

Paul Keller, Creative Commons and Knowledgeland (Netherlands)
Adrian Pohl, Open Knowledge Foundation and hbz (Germany)
MacKenzie Smith, MIT Libraries (USA)
John Wilbanks, Creative Commons (USA)

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Seeking Rockstar Operations and HR Support!

Jennifer Yip, June 16th, 2011

We are currently recruiting for a full-time Office Manager/HR Assistant at Creative Commons. We’ve been settling into our new space in downtown Mountain View, and need expertise in office management. If you have additional experience in human resources administration, then please send us your application via email to “jobs@creativecommons.org.” The ideal candidate will possess creative problem-solving skills, a fun sense of humor, and proficiency with using cutting edge technology. As a CC staff member, you will enjoy a rich benefits package, generous vacation/sick leave, a respectful work environment, and access to opportunities to learn more about the field.

New CC Office
New CC Office by Creative Commons / CC BY

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Brazil introduces OER into federal legislation and adopts local government policy

Timothy Vollmer, June 15th, 2011

IMG_0309
OER seminar at the Sao Paulo Legislative Assembly by reanetbr / CC BY

There’s been some exciting announcements in support of open educational resources (OER) in Brazil over the last few weeks.

First, legislation was introduced into Brazil’s House of Representatives. The bill deals with three main issues: It 1) requires government funded educational resources to be made widely available to the public under an open license, 2) clarifies that resources produced by public servants under his/her official capacities should be open educational resources (or otherwise released under an open access framework), and 3) urges the government to support open federated systems for the distribution and archiving of OER. Last week in São Paulo, a group of educators, journalists, policymakers, activists, and OER experts held an event at the Legislative Assembly to discuss open education projects and promote OER policies. In addition to this federal legislation, a similar bill will be introduced at the São Paulo state level.

Second, the municipality of São Paulo Department of Education has now mandated that all its educational and pedagogical content will be made available under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial Share-Alike (BY-NC-SA) license. From the translated announcement:

“We didn’t have an appropriate way to license our content”, says Alexandre Schneider, Secretary of Education. “We hold the rights to our content because we created it, and we realized it would be right to release it under a license that allows everyone to use and adapt what was created with public money.”

Congratulations to the REA-Brasil (OER-Brazil) team on these recent successes and ongoing commitment to supporting open education in Brazil.

 

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Commonwealth of Learning adopts CC BY-SA as part of new OER policy

Jane Park, June 14th, 2011

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), an intergovernmental organization that “helps governments and institutions to expand the scope, scale and quality of learning,” has defined a new policy on open educational resources (OER). In addition to recognizing the importance of OER for teaching, learning, and collaboration among institutions and governments, the Commonwealth of Learning states that it will “encourage and support governments and institutions to establish supportive policy frameworks to introduce practices relating to OER.”

The new policy specifies that COL will “release its own materials under the most feasible open licenses including the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license.” The CC BY-SA license is currently used for more than 17 million Wikipedia articles in 270 languages, not to mention a plethora of other Wikimedia Foundation projects. Furthermore the CC BY license is compatible with CC BY-SA, and CC BY is used by OER platforms like Connexions and Curriki.org.

We are thrilled at this new development by COL, one of the leading intergovernmental organizations in education! Read the full policy here, and learn more about how IGOs benefit by adopting Creative Commons licenses for their own works.

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Albanian translation of CC license suite ready for review

Jane Park, June 10th, 2011

Volunteers from the Albanian community have translated the Creative Commons license suite into Albanian, and would like your help to review the translated text! To leave feedback on the translations, you will need a CC wiki account; once you are logged in, you can comment on the Discussion pages.

Anyone can help translate CC licenses and legal tools via our License and Legal Tools Translation Project. Though translations of the international licenses (formerly known as the “unported” licenses) cannot be used to license works, the translation process can be useful for helping your community learn how our licenses operate, and gives others the opportunity to read the licenses in their native language. Translating the international licenses may be useful for jurisdictions without ported licenses, particularly now that CC has suspended new 3.0 porting projects while we prepare for version 4.0.

Learn more about the translation process and how to get involved at the wiki page.

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