The basic idea of Creative Commons, offering free copyright tools, is copied from the free software movement. However, CC licenses are not intended to be used to release software, as our FAQ has always said.
One important reason why Creative Commons licenses should not be used to release software is that they aren’t compatible with existing free software licenses, most importantly the GPL from the Free Software Foundation, which is used by over half of free software projects. A commons fractured by legal incompatibilities is a weak commons, and it would be deeply contrary to our mission to fracture the commons of software. (It should also be noted that the FSF helped unfracture the non-software commons by facilitating Wikimedia’s migration to CC BY-SA as the main content license of Wikipedia and its sibling sites.)
While the vast majority of contemporary free software is released under the GPL or another free software license, there is also a long tradition of public domain software, which was free before the term free software existed. Indeed, prior to the 1970s, copyright did not apply to software. Currently, SQLite, an embedded database that you almost certainly use, is probably the most popular software that is dedicated to the public domain.
There are a variety of public domain dedications used to release software, which is mostly not a problem — to the extent such dedications are well-crafted, they don’t present a legal interoperability problem. This means it is possible to improve the state of the art in public domain dedications without harming the ecosystem. (Though this doesn’t mean an infinite variety of public domain dedications is optimal — at the extreme having to determine whether a new dedication is well-crafted each time one encounters a new public domain work would make using public domain works unattractive.)
In addition to licenses, Creative Commons also offers public domain tools. In creating the CC0 public domain dedication, we did set out to improve the state of the art in public domain dedications, and we think we’ve been pretty successful. Users seem to think so — ranging from governments and institutions to musicians.
We hadn’t set out with CC0 to improve on public domain dedications for software. However, since the release of CC0, we’ve been approached a number of times about using CC0 to dedicate software to the public domain. While we were happy to hear of this unanticipated demand, we wanted to tread very carefully so as to not create any unintended consequences for the free software ecosystem. This led to discussions with the Free Software Foundation, the steward of the GPL and moral leader of the free software movement.
We’re really happy to announce that the Free Software Foundation has added CC0 to its free software licenses list (which includes public domain terms). As usual, the FSF’s language is extremely clear, so we simply quote two sections from their list:
CC0 is a public domain dedication from Creative Commons. A work released under CC0 is dedicated to the public domain to the fullest extent permitted by law. If that is not possible for any reason, CC0 also provides a simple permissive license as a fallback. Both public domain works and the simple license provided by CC0 are compatible with the GNU GPL.
If you want to release your work to the public domain, we recommend you use CC0.
If you want to release your work to the public domain, we encourage you to use formal tools to do so. We ask people who make small contributions to GNU to sign a disclaimer form; that’s one solution. If you’re working on a project that doesn’t have formal contribution policies like that, CC0 is a good tool that anyone can use. It formally dedicates your work to the public domain, and provides a fallback license for cases where that is not legally possible.
We’ve also added an entry to the CC0 FAQ about using CC0 to release software, which you ought read if you’d like to do that. If you’re only familiar with the way CC licenses and public domain tools are typically used on web pages and other media, be aware that with free software, the full license (or public domain terms) are usually included with the software. In order to make this easy to do, we’ve taken this opportunity to fulfill a longstanding request — plain text copies of the “legalcode” for CC0 and CC’s six main international licenses. See CC software engineer Chris Webber’s post for details.
Special thanks to Chris Webber and the FSF’s Brett Smith for their persistent work to make the CC0 software recommendation possible.3 Comments »
Last Friday, we made plaintext versions of our core 3.0 (unported) licenses and CC0 available. This is something that some people have wanted for a long time. For example, Evan Prodromou made a draft of plaintext licenses a few years ago, but these never became official.
But now we do have official plaintext versions. Here’s a list:
- CC BY 3.0 legalcode.txt
- CC BY-SA 3.0 legalcode.txt
- CC BY-ND 3.0 legalcode.txt
- CC BY-NC 3.0 legalcode.txt
- CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 legalcode.txt
- CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 legalcode.txt
- CC0 1.0 legalcode.txt
For most works, plaintext legalcode doesn’t matter as linking directly to the deeds (say with the copy-paste output you get with the license chooser) is good enough, even ideal. And it’s important to note that the XHTML licenses are still the canonical versions. But for some projects plaintext legalcode may be a very good thing. For example, it is traditional practice in free and open source software projects to bundle your licenses along with your project. More and more FOSS projects are using Creative Commons licenses or CC0 for their non-software content, so having plaintext legalcode will probably be very useful in these instances. Additionally, some other projects which release their content in a way that is largely offline may benefit from plaintext legalcode.
If you need to provide licensing information about your work in a similarly plaintext way, you should follow this pattern:
<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME> <WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You should have received a copy of the license along with this work. If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>.
… replacing <WORK’S NAME> and <AUTHOR’S NAME> appropriately. (The first line in this example is optional.)
This push for an official plaintext legalcode release was spurred by the recent work with the Free Software Foundation on establishing the compatibility of CC0 with the GPL. It is important to note here that while CC0 is acceptable for software, Creative Commons licenses are not acceptable for software. The usage of plaintext legalcode as described in this post is intended for non-software content.
Copy / Paste Examples
For reference, here are some easily copy/pasteable examples of how you would annotate your works for all Creative Commons licenses, as well as CC0 (which is listed last).
CC BY 3.0:
<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME> <WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. You should have received a copy of the license along with this work. If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/>.
CC BY-SA 3.0:
<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME> <WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You should have received a copy of the license along with this work. If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>.
CC BY-ND 3.0:
<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME> <WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You should have received a copy of the license along with this work. If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/>.
CC BY-NC 3.0:
<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME> <WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. You should have received a copy of the license along with this work. If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/>.
CC BY-NC-SA 3.0:
<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME> <WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You should have received a copy of the license along with this work. If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/>.
CC BY-NC-ND 3.0:
<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME> <WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You should have received a copy of the license along with this work. If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/>.
CC0 1.0: (note, see here if using CC0 for software)
<WORK'S NAME> by <AUTHOR'S NAME> To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with <WORK'S NAME> has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to <WORK'S NAME>. You should have received a copy of the CC0 legalcode along with this work. If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/>.7 Comments »
Creative Commons is pleased to announce we have been awarded a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide support to successful applicants of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program with our partnering organizations Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative, CAST, and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
The free of charge technical assistance services will offer a competitive advantage for organizations seeking TAACCCT grant funds and ensure that the open educational resources created with these federal funds are of the highest quality. The partnering organizations will provide the following areas of expertise: open licensing, learning and course design, professional development, and adoption and use. TAACCCT applicants interested in these free services should include boilerplate language in their proposal. This suggested language, as well as a high-level description of services, can be viewed at our TAACCCT information page.
Creative Commons is excited to participate in this groundbreaking effort and grateful to The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its generous support in facilitating open learning.1 Comment »
March may be over, but the madness isn't! CC is helping to shape Japan relief efforts, moving offices, and playing an important role in open government.
Japan relief efforts use Creative Commons
Regardless of CC related efforts, we want you to do what you can to help Japan. But we also think it's pretty amazing that a number of great relief efforts are using Creative Commons licenses, and you can contribute to them. OLIVE is a Wikipedia-like site that provides much-needed information for quake survivors in various languages. With thousands of people displaced from their homes in Japan, many are surviving in make-shift homes and shelters, with scant resources. OLIVE provides practical and creative ways on how to best utilize available resources, such as how to stay warm in a cardboard house. You can help by contributing, editing, or translating articles on OLIVE – all available for reuse under CC BY. Read more about other CC relief efforts.
CC headquarters moves to Mountain View, California!
Spring is a time for change, as evidenced by our office move. We're not leaving our hearts in San Francisco, however; we're taking them plus our innovative spirits with us to Mountain View, California. As of April 1, the CC headquarters will be located in downtown Mountain View to be closer to all the activity brewing in Silicon Valley. Read more.
State of Play: Public Sector Information in the United States
As part of our blog series for the European Public Sector Information Platform (ePSIplatform) on the role of Creative Commons in supporting the re-use of public sector information, we have researched and published the State of Play: Public Sector Information in the United States. Beth Noveck, former United States deputy CTO of open government and now a Professor of Law at New York Law School, provides a great overview, noting that it is “an excellent report on open data in the United States” and “provides a concise and accurate primer (with footnotes) on the legal and policy framework for open government data in the US.” Read more.
In other news:
- Have an idea for a CC project? Learn how to develop a proposal and apply for funding at the P2PU "Getting your CC project funded" course! Deadline to apply is April 13.
- The annual Open Education Conference is calling for research proposals by May 13.
- Safe Creative, a Spain-based global intellectual property registry that allows users to publicly assert and identify their rights over a work, now enables creators to donate a portion of their sales to Creative Commons.
- CC talked with BCcampus on open educaton and policy. BCcampus is the institution that provides educational technology and online learning support to British Columbia’s 25 public colleges and universities.
- CC CEO Cathy Casserly receives the President's Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence.
- Firefox 4 was officially released by our awesome friends at Mozilla.
- NYTimes best-selling author Cory Doctorow talked up CC in a recent feature by the BBC: "How free translates to business survival."
- Lastly, we are hosting a CC Salon Palo Alto on Open Services Innovation. The April 25 event is free and open to all, but advance RSVP is required, so reserve your spot now!
Creative Commons is pleased to present with Hewlett-Packard (HP) Labs the next CC Salon: Open Services Innovation, at the HP campus in Palo Alto on Monday, April 25, from 6-8pm. This CC Salon will feature two speakers from HP Labs as well as author of Open Innovation and Berkeley professor Henry Chesbrough to discuss the topic of open services innovation as it relates to collaboration between businesses, universities, and in research in ways that spur creativity and maximize impact. Following a networking and refreshment hour, our speakers will each give a brief presentation sharing their personal work and experience. We will close with a period of questions and discussion from the audience. The event is free and open to the public, but due to security we are requiring that all attendees register in advance for this event.
Our speakers for the evening include:
Henry Chesbrough, Executive Director of the Center for Open Innovation at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. He is known as “the father of open innovation”, due to his book, Open Innovation (Harvard Business School Press, 2003). This book was named a “Best Business Book” by Strategy & Business magazine, and the best book on innovation on NPR’s All Things Considered. Scientific American magazine named him one of the top 50 technology and business leaders in recognition of his research on industrial innovation. His most recent book, Open Services Innovation (Jossey Bass, 2011) analyses open innovation in services’ contexts. It was favorably reviewed in The Economist, and is being translated into several languages.
Rich Friedrich, Director of the Strategy and Open Innovation Office in HP Labs. Leading a global team, Rich is responsible for the strategy and portfolio management of HP’s central research organization, applying Open Innovation to amplify and accelerate research investments, and technology transfer so that the company can monetize these technologies. In his strategic role he is responsible for research investments in nano-technology, exascale computing, cyber security, information management, cloud computing, 3-D immersive interaction, sustainability, social computing and commercial digital printing. HP’s Open Innovation program is recognized as the only global, open, competitive innovation program that has established deep and impactful research collaborations between industry and academia.
Jamie Erbes, Director, Services Research Lab, HP Labs. Jamie joined HP’s Office of Strategy and Technology in 2008 as the Chief Technology Officer for Software & Solutions where she supported the company-wide software strategy for Business Technology Optimization (BTO), HP’s IT management software, and Communications & Media Solutions, with offerings for the CME industry. In this role she helped create a forward-looking vision for cloud services and their impact on Enterprise IT management.
Monday, April 25, 2011, 6-8pm.
HP Labs (1501 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304 | Map).
Park in front of Building 3 Upper and enter lobby to sign in.
Special thanks to HP Labs for generously agreeing to host this event.Comments Off
As of April 1, the CC HQ will be moving into a new office space. We will be located in downtown Mountain View to be closer to all the activity brewing in Silicon Valley. Please be aware that we will be packing on Wednesday, March 30, and moving on Thursday, March 31. It may take us an extra day or two to answer inquiries during the following week or so, as we settle into the new space.
Please update our contact information in your records:
Mountain View, CA 94041
Paul Stacey is the Director of Communications, Stakeholder and Academic Relations at BCcampus. Headquartered in Vancouver, BCcampus provides services in support of educational technology and online learning to British Columbia’s 25 public colleges and universities, their students, faculty and administrators. The BC Ministry of Advanced Education provides funding for curriculum development. In 2003 they shifted funds to support a new thematic direction—online learning. Through this shift in priorities, BCcampus saw the opportunity to connect to the rising open education space, seeing interesting examples of other OER projects like MIT OpenCourseware and Connexions. Paul supports the strategic development of for-credit online curricula, in the form of OER, via partnerships among BC’s public post secondary institutions. He also helps coordinate a range of open online communities that support academic growth and faculty development in BC and beyond.
Foundation-funded vs. publicly-funded OER
Last year, Paul presented a paper called Foundation Funded OER vs. Tax Payer Funded OER–A Tale of Two Mandates at the Open Ed Conference in Barcelona. In that presentation he compared the goals and attributes of foundation-funded and publicly-funded OER projects. Private philanthropic foundations have provided the largest investments in OER over the last 10 years, but there are increasing examples of taxpayer-funded OER policies. Stacey observes that foundation and public sector goals are similar in wanting to expand access to education, but the means by which they do this differs. “The foundation’s primary responsibility is to the founder, while a government ministry’s primary responsibility is to its tax-paying citizens,” says Paul. While foundations often have global and humanitarian mandates and goals, government ministries, on the other hand, tend to be more geographically local to a specific nation, province, or state. They focus on providing a public service that benefits all citizens of that region rather than the entire world. “Public sector support for OER often has economic efficiency goals more than humanitarian ones,” says Paul. With public sector funding so tight, government bodies want to leverage its money in the most effective ways possible, and provide access to education to as many members of its public as possible. The ongoing question for OER is, can it do both?
Paul notes other differences between foundation-funded and publicly-funded OER. Foundation grants have primarily gone to single prestigious institutions and have been used for publishing existing lectures, course notes, and learning activities associated with campus-based classroom activity. Foundation grants have a defined start and end date and are generally not provided for ongoing operations. Government Ministries have primarily invested in OER for formal credit-based academic purposes that fulfill the education access, societal, and labor market needs of their region. Government grants are given, not to single prestigious institutions, but to collaborative partnerships of schools and institutions in their jurisdiction, often for development of new curricula intended for online delivery. Government Ministries oftentimes concern themselves with both start-up and ongoing operations funding.
A spectrum of licenses: To choose or not to choose?
Paul has constructed an interesting chart that plots various OER projects with their associated licensing terms.
Stacey notes that foundation-funded OER projects generally require a single Creative Commons license (usually CC BY or CC BY-NC-SA). But, for publicly-funded OER, there are usually more license options available. One recommendation Paul makes is for OER projects to offer a range of licensing options along the “open” continuum. “Multiple options provide greater buy-in and lower the threshold for OER participation,” suggests Paul. He concedes that there are downsides to permitting individual projects to choose their own license: a variety of licenses make remixing and adapting OER more complex, and can create interoperability issues and siloed content. While he’s noticed that no OER project places content into the public domain, Paul thinks that this approach could be tested.
BC Commons and suggestions for Creative Commons
Stacey says that Creative Commons has played a central role in making OER possible in the first place. The current licensing solution used by BCcampus intuitions, BC Commons, is modeled on Creative Commons. The BC Commons license is different than CC licenses. Where the Creative Commons licenses are applicable worldwide, the BC Commons license is applied to content for use and sharing between institutions, faculty and students affiliated with the BC public post-secondary system. BCcampus adopted the BC Commons license to support educators gradual entry into the waters of openness. “If you say to a faculty member that you want them to share their resources with everyone, they worry that they might lose control of the integrity of the resources they create,” says Paul. “Even with the BC Commons license, these concerns do not go away entirely, but fears are mitigated because the sharing is contained within the province.” Stacey thinks that the more convincing reason for rallying around the BC Commons license is the local collaboration generated by its use. “When you create a license that supports local sharing, it creates a local commons,” says Paul. The local ties among educators are oftentimes much stronger than ties outside of the community. And, BCcampus actively cultivates partnerships to encourage multiple institutions to work together on developing content—“we collectively develop and collectively reuse the resources,” says Paul.
Paul offered several recommendations for Creative Commons:
- Develop a tracking piece of code embedded in each CC license that reports back to the OER creator on reuse. We know from social media that seeing use is a motivator for doing more.
- Encourage CC licensing choice along the open continuum and make it simple for people to start with one license and then transition or migrate a resource to more open licenses along the continuum as they get comfortable with sharing.
- Work with those trying to create regional versions of CC licenses, (like we’ve done in BC with the BC Commons license), to craft the regional license to be as similar to CC as possible. In our experience its been crucial to complement global sharing choices with local regional ones.
- Refine the decisions associated with CC license choices. Attribution, commercial/non-commercial, derivatives, and share alike go a long way but could be complemented with other decision-making points specific to OER.
- Consider adding metadata fields to the CC license to allow the creator to add additional information about the resource including their interest in collaborating with others on improving and modifying it.
- Work with national, state and other public sector institutions and organizations to incorporate Creative Commons license options into education policy that governs IP and copyright so that educators have CC choices built into their agreements.
- Continue work with software companies that develop applications used to create and deliver educational resources to incorporate CC licenses as default options within the application.
Future of OER
Stacey speculates that while government Ministries have yet to be convinced that making all their publicly funded educational resources open to the world is in the best interests of its citizens, he predicts that this will eventually prove to be the case. “Foundations and public sector entities will work together to define the OER value proposition in a way that meets both sets of mandates and goals and is mutually beneficial regionally and globally,” says Paul.
Paul thinks that both foundation and public sector funding will increasingly look to achieve a formal learning outcome where credit is associated with OER,” he says. OER will be help spur other changes in our education system too, and continue to affect the dynamics of the teaching/learning environment. Stacey predicts: “Student-to-student and network-based learning will generate global OER education networks that will eventually prove to provide a better education than is currently available through existing traditional education providers.” Stacey reinforces the need to include students in the OER creation process, as they are the primary beneficiaries of open learning materials. “We’ve tended to see students as consumers of OER,” says Paul, “but I believe students will ultimately produce more OER than educators.” He predicts that someday students will get credit for producing course content OER. But, the demand for well-trained and credentialed educators isn’t going away. The role of a teacher will continue to evolve. Lecturing is out. Facilitating, mentoring, connecting students together in ways most productive for their learning is in. And critically important is the need for professionals to take on the role of assembling OER into sensible curriculum, and delivering it in a way that allows for ongoing assessment to take place.
Stacey believes there’s no one-size-fits-all vision for the future of OER. Open education can be transformative in a variety of ways, and it should be able to fit alongside more traditional environments too. He thinks it’s exciting to imagine the various possibilities, and has described one vision for how this might look as the University of Open. He also points to the work Wayne Mackintosh is leading around an OER University. Paul thinks that a quality education is a shared aspiration for everyone around the world. “We’re seeing OER change education from something defined by scarcity to something based on an idea of plenty,” he says. “OER, together with the ability to form global learning networks, makes education for all an attainable goal.”1 Comment »
Cathy Casserly by Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching / CC BY
The OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCWC), a community of over 250 member institutions worldwide committed to sharing their courses online, has voted to present Creative Commons CEO Cathy Casserly with the President’s Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence, a special recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the open courseware community. Prior to Cathy’s role as the CEO of Creative Commons and Senior Partner and Vice President of Innovation and Open Networks at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Cathy,
“served as director of the Open Educational Resources Initiative at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and guided more than $100 million in support to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of knowledge sharing worldwide. Casserly’s work helped raise global awareness of resources, participants and their projects.”
We are thrilled for Cathy to receive this honor and for her continuing work supporting open educational resources (OER) at Creative Commons. Cathy, along with other distinguished recipients, will be presented the award at the upcoming OCWC meeting in May, celebrating 10 years of open courseware.
The Open CourseWare movement has taken off around the world, powered by CC licenses. Materials from 2,000 MIT courses are available for reuse, translation, and remix under the CC Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license (CC BY-NC-SA) and nearly 800 MIT OCW courses have been translated into other languages. The Open Courseware Consortium contains over 250 global member institutions and affiliates, including the African Virtual University, Japan OCW Consortium, Open University Netherlands, and China Open Resources for Education.2 Comments »
In large part due to Mozilla’s leadership over the years, the Open Web is in good health. Open standards and open formats are becoming the norm. This means anyone, anywhere can develop innovative applications that will work in any modern browser, without asking anyone for permission or paying any fees.* See Mitchell Baker (chair of the Mozilla board) on why Firefox is more than just a great browser.
Note that CC Search is no longer included by default in the Firefox search bar dropdown list. This is eminently reasonable from a user experience and business perspective, about which we’ll post more soon. If you want to add CC Search to your search bar, you can do so from the CC Search beta interface; feedback encouraged.
Congratulations and thank you to everyone at Mozilla and everyone who benefits from Mozilla’s work — that means all 2 billion people who currently have access to the net, and hopefully soon the 5 billion people who do not yet have access — understand why any barrier to participation is a barrier too high.
* Except where content and data are concerned; that’s where Creative Commons comes in. Today let’s celebrate the openness of the web at the standards/protocols/formats layer.3 Comments »
Last week we asked you to help support the Japanese relief effort. We would also like to highlight alternative ways you can help by pointing you to a few relief efforts that are using CC licenses.
OLIVE for quake survivors
OLIVE is a Wikipedia-like site that provides much-needed information for quake survivors in various languages. With thousands of people displaced from their homes in Japan, many are surviving in make-shift homes and shelters, with scant resources. OLIVE provides practical and creative ways on how to best utilize available resources, such as how to make a dish from a plastic bottle or empty can, how to preserve body heat with polystyrene or newspaper, and how to stay warm in cardboard house. You can help by contributing articles to OLIVE or translating existing articles–all of which are under CC BY.
Music compilations where 100% of proceeds are donated to Red Cross and other charities
Two projects are calling for net musicians to submit their music, graphic design, video, and photography for compilations where all proceeds will be donated to charitable organizations helping Japan, like the Red Cross. InternetLabel is calling for music submissions by April 1st and for art submissions by April 11. The InternetLabel compilation will be released under a CC BY-NC-SA license. Impurfekt, which is focusing specifically on art influenced by Japanese culture, is calling for submissions by April 15. The Impurfekt compilation will be released under a CC BY-NC-ND license.
Architecture for Humanity
Architecture for Humanity, a strong supporter of CC license use in its Open Architecture Network and for crisis recovery centers for Haiti and New Orleans, is asking for support for similar reconstruction building efforts in Japan.
OpenStreetMap set up a disaster information sharing site at www.sinsai.info in Japanese, in addition to an English landing page for the disaster where you can contribute to improving map data for Japan. Like all its data, OpenStreetMap’s data set for the Sendai region is available under CC BY-SA.
Google Person Finder
Although it doesn’t use CC, the Google Person Finder is an open source Google app that was developed in response to the Haiti earthquake and that has been adapted for the missing person database for Japan. You can use the Google Person Finder to search for loved ones, and find out more about how it works here.