COMMUNIA’s response to the proposed amendments to PSI Directive

Timothy Vollmer, February 2nd, 2012

This post is an adaptation from the COMMUNIA International Association blog and is cross-posted at the Open Knowledge Foundation website. Creative Commons and the Open Knowledge Foundation are institutional members of COMMUNIA. The mission of COMMUNIA is to educate about, advocate for, offer expertise and research about the public domain in the digital age within society and with policymakers.

The European Commission Public Sector Information Directive, which describes the conditions under which European public sector information (PSI) should be made available for reuse by the public, has been in place since 2003. PSI ranges from digital maps to weather data to traffic statistics, and there’s a lot of potential value in making PSI available for reuse for commercial and non-commercial purposes – up to €140bn. The EC says that increasing the reuse of PSI can generate new businesses and jobs – and to this end is planning to update its nine-year-old Directive. The COMMUNIA International Association last week released a short policy document (PDF) in reaction to the to the European Commission’s (EC) proposals, which the OKF’s Daniel Dietrich presented at the LAPSI conference in Brussels to a positive and interested audience.

To give a bit of background: in December 2011 the EC published a proposal (PDF) to update the PSI Directive. The Open Knowledge Foundation already covered the basics of the Commission announcement. The COMMUNIA document draws attention to two areas where these proposals still need improvement: firstly regarding the conditions for re-use of public sector information that falls within the scope of the Directive; and secondly regarding public domain content that is held by libraries, museums and archives.

Conditions for re-use of public sector information

From the perspective of COMMUNIA the way the amended Directive addresses licensing of public sector content remains underdeveloped and as such has the potential to create diverging and potentially incompatible implementations among the Member states. The article of the amended Directive dealing with licensing mentions “standard licenses,” but does not sufficiently clarify what should be considered to be a standard license, and encourages the development of open government licenses. Instead of recommending the use and creation of more licenses, COMMUNIA suggests that the Commission should consider advocating the use of a single open license that can be applied across the entire European Union. Such licenses (stewarded by the Open Knowledge Foundation and Creative Commons) already exist and are widely used by a broad spectrum of data and content providers.

Public Domain Content held by libraries, museums and archives

COMMUNIA is supportive of the Commission’s suggested change to include cultural heritage institutions into the scope of the amended Directive. Access to and re-use of PSI has been one of the issues that has featured prominently in the work of COMMUNIA. For instance, the EC’s amendments to the Directive are aligned with COMMUNIA’s January 2011 policy recommendation #13, which states, “The PSI Directive needs to be broadened, by increasing its scope to include publicly funded memory organisations – such as museums or galleries – and strengthened by mandating that Public Sector Information will be made freely available for all to use and re-use without restriction.”

The South Prospect of the Cathedral of St. Pauls / gallica.bnf.fr/Bibliotheque nationale de France / Public Domain

Including such content under the purview of the Directive will improve citizens’ access to our shared knowledge and culture and should increase the amount of digitized cultural heritage that is available online. But, while the amended Directive makes it clear that documents held by cultural heritage institutions in which there are no third party intellectual property rights will be re-usable for commercial or noncommercial purposes, it does not address the largest category of works held by cultural heritage institutions — those that are not covered by intellectual property rights at all because those works are in the public domain. COMMUNIA thinks that explicitly including public domain content held by libraries, museums and archives in the re-use obligation of the amended PSI Directive will strengthen the Commission’s position with regard to access and re-use of public domain content.

The full COMMUNIA association reaction to the EC’s proposal to amend Directive 2003/98/EC on re-use of public sector information can be downloaded here (PDF).

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12th Annual Media That Matters Festival – Call for Entries!

Jane Park, February 1st, 2012

Arts Engine‘s annual Media That Matters Festival — now in its 12th year — is accepting new entries for short films! In addition to being a “premier showcase for short films with big messages” Media That Matters will give filmmakers the opportunity to connect with educators, activists, and nonprofits around the globe, helping to move communities towards social change. If selected, your film will be screened at the Fall festival and featured via a “multi-platform campaign combining online streaming with personalized screenings,” and made available under CC BY-NC-ND.

Submission criteria from the announcement:

Short Film: Films must be twelve minutes MAXIMUM; the ideal length is around eight minutes.

All Styles: We accept documentaries, narratives, animations, music videos, public
 service announcements, dramas, comedies, hybrids, or a style of your own creation!
 Creativity is always encouraged. The only guideline is that your project must focus on a 
social issue.

All Issues: Any and all issues will be considered.

All Ages: All ages will be considered!

The early deadline to submit is February 23, regular deadline is April 20, and the late deadline is May 1. Submit your film at http://www.mediathatmattersfest.org/submit. Send questions to festival@artsengine.net.


Guide to Finding Interesting Public Domain Works Online by the Open Knowledge Foundation

Jane Park, January 25th, 2012

The Open Knowledge Foundation has published a nifty guide on the basics of Finding Interesting Public Domain Works Online. You can skim the guide in well under ten minutes, and it includes useful links and accompanying descriptions to online collections where PD works can be found, including Europeana, the Internet Archive, and Project Gutenberg. It also contains quite a few references to Creative Commons and succinct explanations of the relevant CC tools, such as the Public Domain Mark and the CC0 Public Domain Dedication. The guide, like all articles at The Public Domain Review, is available for reuse under CC BY.

Bibliotheca Buloviana (Ausschnitt) / Georg Daniel Heumann / Public Domain

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Final Public Comment Period on LRMI Draft Specification

Greg Grossmeier, January 24th, 2012


As you may recall, the LRMI project is creating a educational metadata vocabulary that will hopefully plug into the Schema.org metadata framework to be used by the major search engines.

Last week, the LRMI Technical Working Group released version 0.7 of the LRMI specification and with it, began the last public comment period ending January 31st. Barring any issues that need to be addressed, this will be the version that is submitted to the Schema.org community for review and inclusion.

Please provide any input on the LRMI mailing list or on the web forum at LRMI.net.

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Job Opportunity: Senior Accountant at Creative Commons

Jane Park, January 23rd, 2012

In addition to our search for a CTO, we have posted a position for a Senior Accountant. The Senior Accountant will report to the Controller and be responsible for essential duties such as Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, monthly, quarterly, and annual financial reports—and more!

day in the life: lunch money / emdot / CC BY

The position is located in the lovely California Bay Area at our Mountain View office, open until filled.

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Contribute to Open Education Week

Cable Green, January 21st, 2012

Open Education Week 5-10 March 2012: Call for participation.

Please fill out the Open Education Week contributor’s form by January 31, 2012.

Join your colleagues around the world to increase understanding about open education! Open Education Week will take place from 5-10 March 2012 online and in locally hosted events around the world. The objective is to raise awareness of the open education movement and open educational resources. There are several ways you and your organization can be involved:

1. Provide a pre-recorded informational virtual tour of your project, work, or organization. This should be focused on the work you’re doing in open education, designed for a general audience. These can be done in any language.

2. Offer a webinar. Webinars are well suited for topics of general interest, such as what’s happening in open education in a particular area or country, or topics that offer discussion possibilities. Webinars can be scheduled in any language, 24 hours a day. Organizers would also like to feature question and answer sessions in a variety of languages and time zones.

3. Pre-record a presentation on open education concepts. Do you have an inspiring presentation about open education? Can you discuss the issues that open education seeks to address in your country, region or globally? Organizers plan to feature short, introductory overviews of open education and OER for different audiences, such as those new to the idea, policy makers, faculty, etc. Presentations in any language are welcome.

4. Create or share text-based, downloadable information. This should be information on the open education movement, in any language, appropriate to introduce the movement and its important concepts to a variety of audiences. Specific information on your project can be linked to from the open education week website.

5. Sponsor or host a local event during the week of 5-10 March. This could be a community discussions, a forum on open education, a challenge and/or a celebration. Organizers invite you to get creative with planning events. Suggestions and support will be available on the open education week web site, and the planning group is happy to work with you to create bigger impact.

Let Open Education Week organizers know how you would like to participate by filling out the attached form, also available on the www.openeducationweek.org website, or contacting them at openeducationwk@gmail.com. The OCW Consortium is coordinating this community run event. There is no cost to participate. Follow us on twitter at #openeducationwk and facebook at facebook.com/openeducationwk.

Please fill out the Open Education Week contributor’s form by January 31, 2012.

Attribution to OCWC Blog post by Mark Lou Forward.


Job opportunity: Chief Technology Officer at Creative Commons

Jane Park, January 18th, 2012

mlinksva / CC BY

It’s a new year, which means it’s also the perfect time to re-start our search for Chief Technology Officer at Creative Commons! Mike Linksvayer, Vice President and former CTO, says,

“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… 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.”

See the full job description/how to apply at our Opportunities page, and please forward to all interested!

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Comments to the White House Inquiry on Public Access to Publicly Funded Research Publications, Data

Timothy Vollmer, January 13th, 2012

In November we wrote that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was soliciting comments on two related Requests for Information (RFI). One asked for feedback on how the federal government should manage public access to scholarly publications resulting from federal investments, and the other wanted input on public access to the digital data funded by federal tax dollars.

Creative Commons submitted a response to both RFIs. Below is a brief summary of the main points. Several other groups and individuals have submitted responses to OSTP, and all the comments will eventually be made available on the OSTP website.

Response to Publications RFI

  • The public funds tens of billions of dollars in research each year. The federal government can support scientific innovation, productivity, and economic efficiency of the taxpayer dollars they expend by instituting an open licensing policy.
  • Scholarly articles created as a result of federally funded research should be released under full open access. Full open access policies will provide to the public immediate, free-of-cost online availability to federally funded research without restriction except that attribution be given to the source.
  • The standard means for granting permission to the public aligned with full open access is through a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.

Response to Data RFI

  • If the federal government wants to maximize the impact of digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research, it should provide explicit, easy-to-understand information about the rights available to the public.
  • The federal government should establish policies that insure the public has cost-free, unimpeded access to the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. Access to this data should be made available as soon as possible, with due consideration to confidentiality and privacy issues, as well as the researchers’ need to receive credit and benefit from the work.
  • The federal government can grant these permissions to the public by supporting policies whereby 1) data is made available by dedicating it to the public domain or 2) data is made available through a liberal license where at most downstream data users must give credit to the source of the data. CC offers tools such as the CC0 waiver and CC BY license in support of these goals.
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We are still against SOPA/PIPA (plus best practices on marking CC-licensed works)

Jane Park, January 12th, 2012

In the next two weeks, the U.S. Congress will take up deliberations on SOPA/PIPA, the Internet censorship bills. We’ve written about it here and here, and we’re writing again to help stop U.S. American Censorship of the Internet.

On a related note, Vice.com notes that the website of the author of SOPA, U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, did not properly attribute its use of a CC BY-NC-SA licensed photo (Mist Lifting off Cedars) by Flickr user dj @ oxherder arts, aka DJ Schulte.

Here’s the photo, with attribution (aka how we normally attribute photos on this blog):

Mist Lifting off Cedars / dj @ oxherder arts / CC BY-NC-SA

As anyone who has read the CC license deeds know, all CC licenses require attribution, which is clearly summarized at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0 (and all CC license summaries):

Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work.

Additionally, the complete license (aka legal code) is linked at the top of all deed summaries. We’re continually trying to help users understand how to properly mark CC-licensed works; to avoid mis- or non-attribution situations like the above, or for more info, see our FAQ and Marking best practices for users of CC-licensed content.

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CC Releases New Data FAQs

Sarah Hinchliff Pearson, January 11th, 2012

We have done a lot of thinking about data in the past year. As a result, we have recently published a set of detailed FAQs designed to help explain how CC licenses work with data and databases.

These FAQs are intended to:

    (1) alert CC licensors that some uses of their data and databases may not trigger the license conditions,

    (2) reiterate to licensees that CC licenses do not restrict them from doing anything they are otherwise permitted to do under the law, and

    (3) clear up confusion about how the version 3.0 CC licenses treat sui generis database rights.

To develop FAQs to meet these goals, we focused on the following considerations:

  • We cannot answer the question of whether and to what extent data and databases are subject to copyright as a general matter. Instead, we can arm licensors and licensees with the questions to ask to make their own determination.
  • Complex legal questions about copyright law are not unique to data and databases. (Copyright exceptions and limitations raise similar quandaries, as does the question of what constitutes an adaptation, etc.) We should keep this in mind before we over-complicate and over-explain the nuances of CC licenses as they relate to data. On the other hand, it is important to acknowledge there are significant limitations of copyright law as it applies to purely factual data and databases, so CC licensors are not misled about what they get by applying a CC license to their works.
  • We need to make clear that, unless the licensor chooses to delineate, CC licenses don’t distinguish between data and databases. All copyrightable content within the scope of the license is treated the same; the only difference is how the law operates with respect to different types of content. Nonetheless, if we over-emphasize this point we risk misleading the public about the practical application of CC licenses to data and databases.
  • CC’s interpretation of how its licenses apply to data and databases raises intricate policy decisions for CC. Specifically, CC has to navigate the inherent tension between, on the one hand, arguing against the current international regime of overly restrictive copyright control and, on the other, advocating an interpretation of copyright law that maximizes proprietary control over factual data. CC has made policy decisions about data in the past after extensive deliberation with our community. Now, as we prepare for version 4.0, we ask our community to help us re-examine prior decisions in light of policy developments over the past five years. Please contribute to the discussions about licensing database rights in 4.0, as well as other related issues.

For those of you who have watched or participated in CC’s work in the data arena over the years, these FAQs update and now fully replace the original data FAQs published by Science Commons. While the law has not changed materially since those original FAQs were first published, Creative Commons (which now fully integrates Science Commons) has worked to clarify how its 3.0 licenses work with databases in practice, rather than focusing on the normative question of whether and how users should apply (or not apply) our licenses in that regard, which was clearly the focus of the earlier FAQs.

We hope this new resource will be useful to those of you grappling with data licensing and helps to clarify how our licenses operate in practice. We welcome your feedback.


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