Commons News

Response to “Publishers Criticize Federal Investment in Open Educational Resources”

Cable Green, May 27th, 2011

On Tuesday, the Chronicle of Higher Education posted the article, “Publishers Criticize Federal Investment in Open Educational Resources.”

We strongly support the U.S. Department of Labor including a CC BY requirement in their recent TAACCCT grant which makes available $2 billion to create open educational resources (OER) for career training programs in community colleges. As we announced earlier, Creative Commons will actively assist the winning grantees by providing expertise in open licensing, adoption and use, and more, to help ensure that the OER created with these federal funds are of the highest quality.

Having just joined Creative Commons this week as its new Director of Global Learning, I look forward to leading these efforts and also to help clarify Creative Commons’ role in the education space. Below is my response, originally posted in the comments section of the Chronicle article:

(1) The US Federal Government has, for decades, provided grants to higher education to produce new research and educational content. To say it is “dangerous for [the Federal Government] to be in the product business” is irrelevant. The Department of Labor (DOL) is exercising rational, responsible public policy that more efficiently uses public tax dollars to improve education opportunities.

The DOL has put forth a simple, effective public policy: Taxpayer-funded educational resources should be open educational resources.

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or repurposing by others.

Information that is designed, developed and distributed through the generosity of public tax dollars should be accessible to the public that paid for it — without undue restrictions or limits.

If you think about this open policy, it makes sense. We, the American taxpayers, should get what we paid for.

(2) Karen Cator is correct: the commercial publishers (textbook, journals, etc.) should be embracing and supporting this new public policy. When publicly funded digital content (courses, textbooks, data, research, etc.) is openly licensed with a CC BY license, everyone can use and modify the open content to meet their needs — including the commercial publishers.

Moreover, the CC BY license does not restrict commercialization of the open content. To be clear, the commercial publishers can take all $2B of content created in this DOL grant, change it, make it better, add value, and sell it. The consumer (states, colleges, students) will then have a choice: (a) use the free openly licensed version(s) or (b) purchase the commercial for-a-fee version. If the commercial content / services are worth paying for, people will pay. If not, they won’t.

Next step? We should applaud the Departments of Labor and Education for their work and encourage all US Federal agencies to follow suit: require CC BY licenses on all content produced with federal funding.

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Libre Graphics Meeting 2011: Year of the Innovative Libre Graphics Desktop

Chris Webber, May 26th, 2011

Faces of Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 image
Faces of Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 by Tom Lechner / CC BY-NC-SA

In 2007, Jon Phillips wrote this about Libre Graphics Meeting:

I wanted to underline how key it is for all those in Open ____ (Open Content, Open Source, Open etc) get together at some point to see each other physically, as often it’s only virtually.

It’s now 2011 and Jon Phillips is a CC alumnus but still active in Libre Graphics Meeting every year. This year Jon Phillips invited me to attend and speak as CC representative and community member about Blender and about free network services. I spoke three times:

  • At the Montreal Python usergroup giving a talk on Blender and Python very similar to the talk I gave at PyCon this year and similarly well received (slides here). I also gave a lightning talk on my new project, GNU MediaGoblin.
  • Another talk on Blender, this one focused more on artists and advocacy animations.
  • An autonomo.us panel on free network services. I strongly believe that licensing that permits copying and modification is essential to the success of free network services and we addressed this a bit but not as strongly as I’d hoped. Aside from this, the conversation was very good, especially in the second half of the talk which was mostly driven by audience participation. It seems clear to me that the Libre Graphics Meeting community understands why distributed free software network services matter, even to artists. GNU MediaGoblin was introduced formally to Libre Graphics Meeting during this talk also.

If I were to describe Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 in one phrase it might be “2011 is the year of the innovative libre graphics desktop.” Of course, in saying this I am making a joke, but there is some truth to it. It’s unfortunately true that libre graphics are unlikely to become the dominant software tools for graphics authoring in the near future, but even still, Libre Graphics Meeting demonstrates that people are clearly doing great and innovative things in the libre graphics world.

And just as Free Software Needs Free Tools, free culture also needs free tools. If culture is going to be reworked, remixed, and even simply survive the dangers of obsolescence, we need unencumbered formats and tools to empower current and future authors and artists. And so the libre graphics community plays a critical role here.

Free culture and free software don’t mix often enough, but when they do the result is powerful. In few places does this mixing happen as clearly as it does in the libre graphics community, and so it’s good that we have Libre Graphics Meeting as a gathering point for powerful intersections such as these.

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1,200 screenings of CC-licensed documentary “An Island”

Jane Park, May 26th, 2011

AnIsland2_by_Antje_Taiga_Jandrig
by Antje Taiga Jandrig / CC BY-NC-SA

When Vincent Moon and Efterklang completed “An Island” earlier this year, they launched public-private screenings of the film, encouraging the public to host free screenings under the CC BY-NC-SA license. Over the next two months, 1,200 screenings took place at various locations around the world; this Google map and Flickr stream demonstrate the reach and scope of the film.

To follow the success of their initial distribution, Vincent Moon and Efterklang have announced a limited edition DVD package of “An Island” and a digital download that follows the Pay What You Can model used successfully in the past by bands such as Radiohead. You can pay what you can for the documentary and download it under CC BY-NC-SA at the website, where you can also order one of the limited edition DVD packages with a run of 5,000.

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U.S. Department of Labor seeks reviewers for TAACCCT applications

Timothy Vollmer, May 23rd, 2011

The U.S. Department of Labor continues to seek qualified peer reviewers to evaluate the first round applications for the agency’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program.

The Department is seeking a pool of education and training professionals that includes individuals with experience in providing or administering fully online or technology-enabled programs, individuals who have knowledge of or experience with evidence-based learning, and individuals with reasonable knowledge in both areas to help evaluate these applications in mid to late summer, 2011.

Detailed information and instructions for consideration is contained in this information page (PDF). Interested volunteers should contact the Department by May 27, 2011.

Creative Commons will not participate in the review process. For more information about how CC is involved in supporting grant winners, see our TAACCCT page.

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Kwame Nkrumah University adopts CC Attribution for OER policy

Jane Park, May 11th, 2011

KNUST OER production workshop team<br />
KNUST OER production workshop team by bagaball / CC BY

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has adopted a university-wide open educational resources (OER) policy with CC Attribution as the default license for university material. KNUST’s “Policy for Development and Use of Open Educational Resources (OER)” (pdf) outlines the purpose, role, and process of OER production at the university, and specifically states that,

“Materials produced which do not indicate any specific conditions for sharing will automatically be considered to have been shared under a Creative Commons Attribution license.”

The policy is available at the KNUST website and, in line with their policy, is available for use under CC BY.

KNUST is a partner institution in the African Health OER Network and works closely with the University of Michigan Medical School and Dental School to develop and distribute health OER. KNUST OER is hosted at http://web.knust.edu.gh/oer but is also duplicated for use at the Open.Michigan and OER Africa sites.

You can help us improve the case study on KNUST here.

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CC News: Creative Commons Global Meeting 2011

Jane Park, May 6th, 2011

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

Creative Commons Global Meeting 2011

Since the last global meeting of the Creative Commons community in Sapporo, we’ve seen the launch of CC0 and the Public Domain Mark, and a half-dozen more CC affiliate jurisdictions with many more in the works. To celebrate this and many other CC milestones, we are holding our next global meeting on the 16-18th of September this year in Warsaw, Poland. Co-hosted by our CC Poland team led by Alek Tarkowski, the event will bring together affiliates from more than 70 jurisdictions, CC staff, and a number of CC Board members. In addition to gathering requirements for version 4.0 of the CC license suite, the meeting will consist of workshops and forums on CC community building and adoption efforts in key sectors such as education, public sector information, and data. Learn more.

CC Attribution required in government policy

We are excited to announce that Creative Commons has been awarded a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide support to successful applicants of the U.S. government’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program. All grantee outputs will be released under the CC Attribution (CC BY) license. To assist grantees, Creative Commons, along with several partnering organizations, will provide expertise in open licensing, adoption and use, and more. Our technical 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. Learn more.

More exciting developments in government and foundation policy

In addition to requiring CC BY for TAACCCT grantee outputs, the U.S. Department of Labor has also required CC BY for outputs of the Career Pathways Innovation Fund. The fund makes available up to $122 million to "continue DOL’s support for community colleges, with a particular focus on career pathway programs implemented by community colleges in partnership with other organizations in the community."

CC BY is also the chosen license for non-software outputs of the Next Generation Learning Challenges grantees, a multi-year program dedicated to improving college readiness and completion in the United States. You can see the full list of the Wave I winners here.

In other news:

  • The MIT Media Lab has named Creative Commons Chairman and former CEO Joi Ito as its new executive director.
  • The Free Software Foundation recommends CC0 if you want to release software into the public domain.
  • We now offer plaintext versions of CC licenses and the CC0 public domain dedication.
  • SimpleGeo and ChEMBL have jumped on the open data bandwagon.
  • The latest in CC music includes the bittersweet end of Learning Music Monthly (36 albums) and Nighty Night by 8in8, an all-star collaboration between Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, and Damien Kulash from OK Go.
  • CC Salon Palo Alto on Open Services Innovation featuring Henry Chesbrough is now up for viewing. Keep an eye out for the next CC salon in June!
  • Lastly, you can still vote for Stormy Mondays' "Sunrise Number 1" (licensed CC BY-NC-ND) to be the first CC song played in outerspace on NASA's Endeavour mission!

Banner photo by x-ophCC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Workshop on “Open Government: Open Data, Open Source and Open Standards”

Jane Park, May 5th, 2011

Open Government Data Venn Diagram
Open Government Data Venn Diagram by justgrimes / CC BY-SA

You are invited to attend a workshop titled Open Government: Open Data, Open Source and Open Standards, organized jointly by Dr. Hanif Rahemtulla, Horizon Digital Economy Research and Puneet Kishor, Creative Commons. The workshop will be held in conjunction with the annual Open Source GIS (OSGIS) Conference on June 21, 2011 in Nottingham, United Kingdom, and will take place at the School of Geography/Centre for Geospatial Science at the University of Nottingham.

This workshop builds on the Law and the GeoWeb workshop held recently at Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA, and will bring together speakers from across industry, research and academia to contribute toward some of the fundamental theoretical and technical questions emerging in the Open Data space (i.e., how to mark up and release open data; licensing models for governments and how to interface them to other open source and commercial licensing regimes; conflicts between data protection and transparency and structuring access to data by different groups).

The following speakers and topics have been confirmed:

  • Dr. Peter Mooney, Geotechnologies Research Group, Department of Computer Science, NUI Maynooth (NUIM), Co. Kildare. Ireland. Producing and consuming open data
  • Professor David Martin, School of Geography, University of Southampton, Southampton. Mapping the UK population over time: a universe of new possibilities
  • Zach Beauvais, Talis. Linked data
  • Dr. Chris Parker (GeoVation and Community Propositions) and Ian Holt (Web Services), Ordnance Survey, Southampton. Tackling global challenges through open innovation and geographic information
  • Dr. Catherine Souch, Royal Geographical Society. The Open Data revolution and data literacy in higher education
  • Dr. Katleen Janssen, Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT (ICRI), Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium. Privacy and legal implications of open data
  • Professor Derek McAuley, Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, University of Nottingham. Exercising our rights over information about us

Proceedings
Proceedings of the Redmond and Nottingham workshops along with selected longer papers will be published in a special issue of the open access International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructure Research published by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

Contact
Please register for the workshop at the main OSGIS web site.
For further information please contact either Dr. Hanif Rahemtulla or Puneet Kishor.

For more on Creative Commons and open data, see our wiki.

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DRM (a day against)

Mike Linksvayer, May 4th, 2011

Yellow banner -- May 4th, 2011: Day Against DRMToday is a good day to learn about Digital Rights Management, or more accurately Digital Restrictions Management:

Although DRM seems to no longer be the red hot issue it was a decade ago, it is still very much present, causing problems regarding fair use, lack of competition, privacy and security breaches, forced obsolescence, and more. DRM is often now involved in distribution of movies and books, to the great consternation of some librarians. Not listening to librarians puts our freedom and safety at risk.

A few things about DRM specific to Creative Commons:

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Wellcome Trust urges universities to take leadership in open scientific publishing

Diane Cabell, May 4th, 2011

Creative Commons plays an instrumental role in the Open Access movement, which is making scholarly research and journals more widely available on the Web. Last month, Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, spoke at Oxford University on the role of open access in maximising the impact of biomedical research. Wellcome is one of the world’s leading funders of scientific research. Walport’s lecture was the fourth in a series on scholarship, publishing and the dissemination of research presented by the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA). The series is designed to stimulate debate on the issues surrounding changes in scholarly communications.

In a reflection of the venue — Bodleian Library’s Convocation House where the, audience perched on the same 17th century seats as Charles II’s parliament — Walport traced the history of Western scientific publication noting that scientists have delayed dissemination of their findings for centuries. When Gallileo discovered the rings around Saturn Galilei, for example, he sent a coded summary of his findings to his competitors so that once his work became public he would be able to unmask the perpetrator should any of them try to steal his credit. Walport also reported that scientific publication was banned during certain periods as too dangerous for public consumption.

Scientists today are still highly dependent on attribution for their status. Publication in prestigious journals remains the prime determinant of a researcher’s employment and funding opportunities. Open access journals historically suffered a lack of prestige as their peer review procedures were perceived as less rigorous.* Open data faces similar barriers; while Wellcome and other major funders in the genome field have mandated deposit of data in open repositories, most of the larger scientific community continues to hoard findings until a desired personal value can be extracted.

Traditional commercial publication is not the only way to protect scientific reputations, however, and Walport urged academic institutions to take back their traditional responsibility for the dissemination of knowledge by promoting open access mechanisms that still address the researcher’s needs for attribution. The PLoS business model presents alternative funding approaches capable of supporting academic publication. Most importantly, academicians are recognizing that they themselves have been providers of the major value of publication – the actual peer review – a free service that could be as easily provided to open access publishers as to proprietary ones. Alternatives such as PLoS One’s post-publication peer review mechanisms by the scholarly community at large may also prove effective.

Walport believes that science is on the cusp of an historic change in regard to publication practices and advised the university to take an aggressive role in the open access movement.

A video of Walport’s presentation will be posted shortly on the oxford scholarly communications debate website.

*Corrected from “Open access journals do not yet share that prestige as they rarely include peer review mechanisms.

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36 monthly albums & more new music under Creative Commons

Jane Park, May 2nd, 2011

In the world of music, Creative Commons licenses continue to be used by upcoming and established musicians for everything from remix contests to album-a-month projects. And since CC-licensed music may be blaring from outerspace for the first time in history on NASA’s Endeavour mission, we thought it would be a good time to do a round-up of the recent developments in Creative Commons music land.

Learning Music Monthly

Two years ago, L.A.-based musician John Wood and CC-friendly record label vosotros launched Learning Music Monthly, an album-a-month musical series. Every month, John Wood wrote, recorded, mixed, and mastered an album—and made each album available as part of a tiered subscription service that ranged from a donation-based digital option (available for download under a CC BY-NC-SA license) to a $60 package that included handmade albums delivered to your mailbox, limited edition stickers, bonus albums from friends of LMM, and even personalized birthday songs! These extras inevitably evolved as the project scaled, but the albums kept coming, an impressive feat for John Wood and his friends.

After three seasons and 36 albums, LMM has finally come to an end. In celebration, vosotros has created an excellent 37 song Learning Music compilation entitled, “An End Like This,” blogged over at the Free Music Archive. Additionally, all of the albums are archived for continuous discovery and remix at the LMM site.

R.E.M.

A great example of new, open distribution models, LMM is only one of many musicians and projects encouraging participation and remix under CC licenses. Earlier this year, R.E.M. launched a CC remix contest for “It Happened Today” on SoundCloud, one of the web’s easiest platforms for sharing your CC-licensed originals and remixes. Stems from the song were released under CC BY-NC-SA, and remixes were uploaded to SoundCloud under the same license. You can check out all remixed versions of the song here and read more about what went down at CC Australia’s coverage of the contest.

Paul Simon

Indaba, a hub for musical collaboration online, also continues to work with an expanding and interesting array of musicians for its artists remix contests. A recent contest featured Paul Simon’s latest single “Love Is Eternal Sacred Light,” soliciting fan remixes under CC BY-NC-ND.

Nighty Night by 8in8

And the latest treat is Nighty Night by 8in8, an all-star collaboration between Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, and Damien Kulash from OK Go. The group set out to make eight songs in eight hours, and released the resulting album under CC BY-NC. You can read Neil’s account of the song-making process at his blog and buy the album at Amanda Palmer’s bandcamp page. Initial proceeds will go to berkleecitymusicnetwork.org, a charity dedicated to fulfilling kids’ musical potential.

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