Commons News

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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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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