Commons News

Affiliate Project Grant Update: Latin America

Meryl Mohan, March 18th, 2014

This is the final installment in our five week blog post series on the Affiliate Team project grants. You’ve heard about projects in Africa, Arab World, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. Today, you’ll hear about projects from our Latin America region, including: a report on the evolution of the academic journals’ presence and dissemination in Chile, a School of Open course for librarians on copyright led by Colombia, El Salvador, and Uruguay, and a free music festival and open source website from Guatemala and Uruguay.



Chile: Promotion of Open Knowledge in the Chilean Academia: Ways to Facilitate Adoption of Creative Commons in the Academic World
by project lead Francisco Vera

In Derechos Digitales, we have been working almost 10 years on copyright and access to knowledge issues, by doing public advocacy on copyright reform and working with Creative Commons licenses to enable all kind of creators to share their works in the digital environment, through the use of these tools.
One of our stronger research lines has to do with scientific and scholarly work, how this knowledge is being disseminated, and how we can improve that process to make this information accessible to everybody interested.
Following that path, since 2008 we have been researching academic journals production and their publishing terms, along with creating legal guides to academics to get a sense of how to use CC licenses and make them able to share their work. That allowed us to publish a couple books with our findings and internal policy recommendations.
Thanks to the CC grant we were awarded, we have been able to resume that work, updating our figures from the 2008 research and taking one step further, conducting field research on the academic community about the way they publish and manage that content, and if they are aware of the CC and Open Access movements.
At this point, we have interviewed scholars from the major Chilean universities in different fields on exact and social sciences to be aware of their perceptions and needs regarding open access. In parallel, we are researching academic publications to determine how the situation has evolved from 2008 to this day, in terms of journal continuity but also in terms of how these deal with publishing formats and licensing terms.
We hope, by April this year, to have a step forward on our diagnosis of the academic dissemination environment, and with more insights of the academic world, a report that speaks on the evolution of the journals’ presence and dissemination. We also hope to have performed a couple workshops with government officers and academic community, in order to boost open access and open licensing initiatives.


Colombia, El Salvador, Uruguay: ABC of Copyright for Librarians
#schoolofopen

by project lead Maritza Sanchez

A CC grant made possible that since August 2013, three Creative Commons chapters -Colombia, El Salvador and Uruguay- are working to adapt an online course for librarians about copyright and with an eye on the Open world.
The project aims to develop the necessary open educational resources (OER) for an online course, self-taught and in Spanish, that will be available through the School of Open, and eventually in the OER projects of the chapters developing the course (i.e. Internet Activa and Artica).
Why Basic Copyright Concepts for Librarians? It is not a secret that many librarians and libraries in Latin America work with little or no knowledge about the copyright frame. We want to offer this target group and other related professionals (e.g. academic researchers, teachers, OER developers, librarian students, archivists, museum workers, all those interested on heritage conservation, etc.) the basic knowledge for their work.
We believe that this knowledge is much needed right now and will also be useful to promote CC licenses among librarians in the region.
The material in this course will be open as a self-guided course that can be tapped on demand — individually, at a user-preferred time and date. Moreover, the course can be harnessed as a group, from a collective or specific institution, to be facilitated according to the possibilities and conditions of a given community.
We are currently finalizing the legal and pedagogical review process of the last module of the course that we have titled, “ABC Copyright.” The legal review ensures the strengthening of self-learning potential of all students, while the pedagogical review is valuable to contextualize accurately and clearly each module to Latin American culture. We are also working on building a communication strategy which will be essential once the course is published at the School of Open for the dissemination to the audience of this open educational material. We have already developed the graphic concept, which we share as a preview in this post! We are at the stage of creating new graphic elements that will complement some of the most complex issues and will make their assimilation much easier.
We are working with love and energy so that very soon all those curious and interested can learn, share and supplement the online course, ABC Copyright for Librarians in Latin America!


Guatemala, Uruguay: Promoting Free Music in Central and South America
by Meryl Mohan (project lead: Renata Avila)

This project, a collaboration between CC Guatemala and Uruguay, was drafted following the suggestions of six bands who are starting to use open licenses in Guatemala. It represents a unique opportunity to reconnect and expand the open license network in the Latin American music community, consisting of an open call for free music followed by a week dedicated to festivals and concerts in multiple jurisdictions. Each country will have at least ten bands participating, and is combined with training for musicians, producers, artists, and copyright experts to explain artists’ rights, how copyright law affects music, and the power of sharing. The activities will be posted on an open source website filled with the LP of Latin American free music, photos and videos of the workshop, a free music declaration, and showcase of successful cases in Latin America and all the activities of the free music week. Since it’s open source, anyone can use it to recreate the same project in their region or country.

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Professor spends sabbatical building “50 Wise Speakers” open videos

Cable Green, March 17th, 2014

I recently interviewed Dr. Phil Venditti, professor of communication studies at Clover Park Technical College in Washington State (USA). Phil teaches public speaking and other oral and written communication courses. In 2010 Phil learned about the Open Course Library project and became an enthusiastic adherent. Phil developed two courses in the Open Course Library, wrote a textbook which he licensed CC BY, and has since saved his students roughly $60,000 by using open educational resources (OER).

The Open Course Library was Phil’s first exposure to OER, but it wasn’t his last. He testified to the State Legislature in favor of a bill which would have mandated that all educational materials created by state postsecondary education employees be openly licensed. As President of FACTC — the Washington Faculty Association of Community and Technical Colleges, Phil has promoted adoption of OER by college faculty members throughout his state. FACTC passed a resolution in 2012 endorsing the ideal of OER on economic, educational, and moral grounds.

Phil recently went on sabbatical and decided to interview 50 prominent speakers to gather tips on effective public speaking for his students — and for the world because all of Phil’s work and videos are openly licensed under CC BY 4.0 license. Nearly 30 hours of his videos can be browsed at Phil’s YouTube channel. Speakers included in the project are 29-time Emmy winner and “Almost Live” alum Bill Stainton, Tacoma News Tribune Executive Editor Karen Peterson, former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, and wildlife artist and conservationist Becci Crowe. To complete the project, 40 of Phil’s public speaking students and a team of editors from Clover Park’s Media Design and Production program spent more than 700 hours reviewing and editing the interviews. When it is launched online in May of this year, the project will offer a database of free, CC BY-licensed materials at cptc.edu/fifty-wise on subjects ranging from how to conquer stage fright to how to organize a presentation.

On March 20, the “50 Wise Speakers” project will be presented in a red-carpet gala at Clover Park Technical College.

Phil says OER has changed the way he thinks about teaching and learning.

“I believe that the essence of education should be sharing. Every day I ask myself, ‘How can I help connect more people to more information that might change their lives?’”

Following Phil’s lead, what will you share today?

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Free Bassel Day

Elliot Harmon, March 15th, 2014

#FREEBASSEL
#FREEBASSEL / Kennisland / CC BY-SA

As of today, CC Syria community leader Bassel Khartabil has been in prison for two years. Today, we join the worldwide open community in honoring Bassel and insisting that he be freed.

Amnesty International and Front Line Defenders have produced this excellent video about why Bassel’s story is important to our community, featuring interviews with CC co-founder Lawrence Lessig and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Jillian York.

“Bassel could have gotten out, but he chose to stay. And that decision was very costly for him, and it was an important decision for us. It symbolized his commitment to making this democracy possible, and to continuing the work to spread that message. And we owe him for that, and we have an obligation to do as much as we can to keep the world aware of this incredible person.” – Lawrence Lessig

In honor of Free Bassel Day, our friend Niki Korth has compiled a cookbook in honor of Bassel, featuring recipes submitted by people who know Bassel or are involved with the #freebassel campaign. You can read the cookbook online or download a PDF (469 KB).

Niki is planning to release a Version 2 of the cookbook, so it’s not too late to submit a recipe.

We honor Bassel today and look forward to the day he is freed.

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The global CC community: building a more open world

Elliot Harmon, March 14th, 2014

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Alaska’s Pavlof Volcano: NASA’s View from Space (cropped)
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY

The global CC community: building a more open world

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been featuring some of the amazing activities of our global affiliate network. Learn about a Finnish team building a CC plugin for WordPress, an open data symposium in Japan, a series of School of Open workshops in Kenya, a booksprint in Morocco, and much more. Take a tour of the CC communities in the Arab world, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.

School of Open
 
 

Open educational resources aren’t just a good idea; they’re the center of a global movement that’s transforming how education works worldwide. Browse the resources from Open Education Week to learn more.

Bassel
Bassel
Joi Ito / CC BY

Longtime CC community leader Bassel Khartabil has been in prison in Syria since 2012. Join the worldwide open community to honor Bassel this Saturday, March 15. If you’re in the Bay Area, join us at the Wikimedia offices in San Francisco.

Don't Look At The Sign!
Don’t Look At The Sign!
smlp.co.uk / CC BY

Learn how a proposed US law would weaken public access to federally funded research.

Photo by Kristina Alexanderson
Kristina Alexanderson
CC BY-NC-SA

Is Getty Images’ new photo embed service a step in the right direction?

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CC Salon in San Francisco: Free culture and social justice

Elliot Harmon, March 13th, 2014

CC10 Party in San Francisco
CC10 Party in San Francisco / David Kindler / CC BY

Creative Commons is thrilled to announce that we will be reviving CC salons on a quarterly basis starting March 27!

Years ago, CC ran a series of CC Salon events in the Bay Area, informal events that brought together creators of all kinds to talk about how and why they choose open in their fields. CC salons continue to occur all over the world, but on March 27, CC will host a salon on social justice and open innovation right here in San Francisco.

This informal event will feature short talks from guests in local nonprofits and the free culture community, as well as lots of interesting people to network and socialize with. It’s free and open to everyone.

Thursday, March 27, 2014
6:00 – 7:30 PM Pacific time
Cafe Royale, 800 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Bart: Civic Center, Powell St.
Facebook invite

Speakers

Joshua Knox, Brute Labs

Joshua Knox is co-Founder and CFO for BRUTE LABS, a non-profit out to prove that anyone can do good. BRUTEs use design and technology to create sustainable social entrepreneurship. Our small, all-volunteer team has launched 11 projects around the world and across a broad spectrum of causes; from cyclone relief in Myanmar, to clean water wells in Ghana, to a bio-diesel project with Stanford. Our open source altruism has also garnered multiple design awards from AIGA and Adobe as well as partnerships with local businesses, the city of San Jose, Google, Nike, Facebook and many more.


Niki Korth, Writer and Free Culture Activist

Niki Korth is an artist, writer, and free culture enthusiast/activist who resides in the triad of the creative arts, technological literacy, and human rights. Together with Clémence de Montgolfier, she co-founded The Big Conversation Space (TBCS), an art, research, and consulting organization based in Paris and San Francisco that acts as a participatory production platform for books, media, and games involving free speech, art, technology, politics, philosophy, and the occult. TBCS has exhibited and lectured internationally at venues including Palais Tokyo (Paris), TCB Gallery (Mellbourne, Australia), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), and Human Resources (Los Angeles).

Their most recent projects include Letters for Bassel and The #FreeBassel cookbook, both dedicated to creative and participatory methods of advocacy for the release of CC community member Bassel Khartabil, who has been detained in Syria for the last two years. They also have a book coming out in summer 2014 titled I Can Do Anything Badly II, which uses conversational interviews to explore the intersections of DIY and Free Culture in the arts, the internet, sociology, and design.

Korth is also an advocate for trees and sustainable urban planning, and works in marketing and operations at DeepRoot Green Infrastructure, a San Francisco–based company that provides arboriculturally-oriented products and services for the built environment.

In the spirit of McLuhan but in the age of the Internet – she believes that we all own the message, humans as much as plant life. But the medium may have a mind of its own.


Supriya Misra, TeachAIDS

Supriya Misra is a Senior Project Manager at TeachAIDS, where she helps lead the development, maintenance, and expansion of TeachAIDS products. Founded at Stanford, and recognized as an innovation that will “change the world” by MIT Technology Review, TeachAIDS is a nonprofit social venture that creates breakthrough software to solve persistent problems in HIV prevention. Used in more than 70 countries, TeachAIDS provides the most effective HIV prevention software to educators, governments, and NGOs around the world – for free.

With a background in behavioral health research and expertise in innovative applications of new technologies in preventative care, she has previously worked at HopeLab and the Institute for Brain Potential, and co-authored a handbook on the neurobiological basis for forming positive health habits. She holds an M.A. and a B.A. with Honors in Psychology, with a concentration in Neuroscience, from Stanford University.



Rachel Weidinger
, Upwell

Rachel Weidinger is the Founder and Executive Director of Upwell, a nonprofit PR firm with one client, the ocean. At Upwell, Rachel leads the development of cutting edge big listening practices. She couples this big data approach with the resiliency-increasing tactic of campaigning across a distributed network to increase online attention to ocean issues. Because of Rachel’s vision, the ocean community knows the baseline of online conversation for its issues for the first time.

Previously, Rachel was the Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications at TechSoup Global where she provided marketing vision and leadership for TechSoup Global, and the TechSoup Global Network of partners in 36 countries. She has also worked with social enterprises including NTEN, Common Knowledge, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, SF Environment, Copia, and the Xtracycle Foundation.

Rachel has a B.Phil. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Miami University’s Western College Program, and completed the coursework for a masters in Arts Policy and Administration at Ohio State University. When she’s not working to save the ocean, she makes preserves, swims in the Bay, and gardens at her tiny home in San Francisco. She is obsessed with whale sharks.

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Proposed U.S. law would weaken and postpone public access to publicly funded research

Timothy Vollmer, March 12th, 2014

This week the U.S. House Representatives introduced H.R. 4186, the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act of 2014 (FIRST Act). The stated goal of the proposed law — “to provide for investment in innovation through scientific research and development, [and] to improve the competitiveness of the United States — is worthy and well received. But part of the bill (Section 303) is detrimental to both existing and proposed public access policies in the United States.

According to SPARC:

Section 303 of the bill would undercut the ability of federal agencies to effectively implement the widely supported White House Directive on Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research and undermine the successful public access program pioneered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – recently expanded through the FY14 Omnibus Appropriations Act to include the Departments Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. Adoption of Section 303 would be a step backward from existing federal policy in the directive, and put the U.S. at a severe disadvantage among our global competitors.

The White House Directive, NIH Public Access Policy, Omnibus Appropriations Act, and the proposed Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) all contain similar provisions to ensure public access to publicly funded research after a relatively short embargo (6-12 months). These policies make sure that articles created and published as a result of federal funding are deposited in a repository for access and preservation purposes. In addition, the policies provide for a reasonable process and timeline for agencies to development a plan to comply with the public access requirements.

The FIRST Act would conflict with each of these practices. Instead, if enacted it would permit agencies that must comply with the law to:

  • Extend embargoes to federally funded research articles to up to 3 years after initial publication, thus drastically increasing the time before the public has free public access to this research. We’ve said before that the public should be granted immediate access to the content of peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from federally funded research. Immediate access is the ideal method to optimize the scientific and commercial utility of the information contained in the articles.
  • Fulfill access requirements by providing a link to a publisher’s site. However, this jeopardizes long-term access and preservation of publicly-funded research in the absence of a requirement that those links be permanently preserved. A better outcome would be to ensure that a copy is deposited in a federally-controlled repository.
  • Spend up to 18 additional months to develop plans to comply with the conditions of the law, thus further delaying the plans that are already being organized by federal agencies under the White House Directive and Omnibus Appropriations Act.

This bill is scheduled to be marked up in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology tomorrow, March 13.

But there are better alternatives, both in existing policy (e.g. White House Directive), and in potential legislation (e.g. FASTR). Here’s what you can do right now:

  • Send a letter to members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee opposing Section 303 of the FIRST Act.
  • Use the SPARC action center to customize and send letters directly to your legislators. Tweet your opposition to Section 303 of the FIRST Act, or post about the bill on Facebook.
  • Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed for your local or campus newspaper. You can write directly to them or by using the SPARC legislative action center.
  • Share this post with your colleagues, labs, friends and family.
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Affiliate Project Grant Update: Europe

Meryl Mohan, March 11th, 2014

This is part four of a five week series on the Affiliate Team project grants. So far, you’ve heard from our affiliates in Africa, Arab World, and Asia-Pacific. Today, we’re featuring our Europe projects, including a revived CC WordPress plugin from Finland, an awareness raising event in Dublin, Ireland, and a course for librarians and academics led by CC Romania.



Finland: WpLicense Revived
by project lead Tarmo Toikkanen

CC Finland is working on a revived Creative Commons WordPress plugin, building upon the existing official plugin built by Nathan Yergler, former CC CTO.
The renewed plugin will work in multi-author blogs with varying license needs, which displays correct author information on all pages in the license RDF, and which is localized to several languages. As an additional feature, integration with online CC-licensed image banks for searching and using figures in blog posts would be extremely useful in helping bloggers use pictures legally.
As WordPress is the most used CMS in the world, it should have robust Creative Commons functionality, officially produced by CC. The plugin would both make it easy for bloggers to share their content openly, and would educate many about CC licenses.
On February 19th, we announced an alpha version of the renewed WpLicense plugin. Download it here: https://github.com/tarmot/wp-cc-plugin/releases/tag/release-2.0-alpha
We welcome any bug reports, issues or general feedback on WPLicense on the cc-devel mailing list or as issues in Github.


Ireland: Awareness-raising Event in Dublin, November 2013
by project lead Darius Whelan

Creative Commons Ireland held an awareness-raising event in Dublin on “Maximising Digital Creativity, Sharing and Innovation” in January 2014. The event took place in the National Gallery of Ireland and was attended by 100 people working in technology, libraries, academia, galleries/libraries/museums, media and education. The speakers represented a cross-section of perspectives, and the event was an opportunity for CC Ireland to develop relationships with organisations such as the Open Knowledge Foundation, Digital Rights Ireland, and Ireland’s Copyright Review Committee. Eoin O’Dell of the Law School, Trinity College Dublin talked about copyright law reform and its impact on Creative Commons licences. The Copyright Review Committee, which was chaired by Dr O’Dell, published its proposals for change in Ireland in October 2013 (see http://www.djei.ie/press/2013/20131029.htm). O’Dell said his committee’s report had provided the first legal definition of metadata, which particularly aimed to protect the rights of digital photographers. The report also proposed that parody and linking should be allowed without any infringement of copyright, as well as a nine-point ‘fair use’ doctrine. Kristina Alexanderson of CC Sweden spoke about how she uses CC licences in her work and her work has been accessed by very large audiences as a result.


Conor McCabe / CC BY

Alek Tarkowski, European Policy Advisor, CC, discussed open policies for user rights and freedoms, and highlighted a Polish project for providing open education textbooks. Gwen Franck, CC Regional Co-ordinator, highlighted the work of CC Affiliates throughout Europe. Professor David Post, of Temple Law School, Philadelphia, USA said there were between 400 million and 800 million Creative Commons licences in use today, and Creative Commons represented people “taking the law into their own hands.” He said copyright law had “run amok,” with copyright protection running for too long and being too wide. The event was chaired by Darius Whelan and Louise Crowley of CC Ireland and the Faculty of Law, University College Cork. Photos, videos and slides are available at www.creativecommonsireland.org.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/114281612@N04/
Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/creativecommonsirl
Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/cc-ireland


Romania: OER Awareness Activities for Librarians and Academics in Romania
#schoolofopen

by Jane Park (project lead: Bogdan Manolea)

Many librarians and academics in Romania are not aware of or knowledgeable about open educational resources (OER) and how they can best leverage them for their needs. CC Romania, along with the Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI), the National Association of Public Libraries and Librarians in Romania, and Kosson and Soros Foundation Romania teamed up to put on a series of workshops to raise awareness among librarians and academics on the topics of open educational resources (OER), copyright, and CC licenses.
The project was launched during the National Association of Librarians and Public Libraries (ANBPR) annual conference which took place between 10-12 October 2013 in Sibiu, Romania. The presentation prepared by the team project and delivered by Andra Bucur from the Soros Foundation explained in short about copyright issues and their limits, how to apply an open license to a creation, what are open educational resources (OER) and where to find them.
From this conference, participants signed up for a series of workshops which focused on the correct attribution of the CC licenses, aspects of OER, online courses and MOOCs delivered by Bogdan Manolea from ApTI and Nicolaie Constantinescu (ANBPR & Kosson.ro).
The series kicked off in 15 November in Brașov, Romania, as part of the International Colloquium on Social Science and Communication, a social science academic event.
Subsequent workshops were held in December 2013 and January 2014 at V.A. Urechia Regional Library in Galați; at Octavian Goga Regional Library in Cluj; at Polytechnical University in Timișoara; and University Vasile Goldiș in Arad. Future workshops wil take plece in Iași and Bucharest in February 2014.
The partners of the project are also organizing a conference in Bucharest during the open education week to share the best practices on education taught, but also learned in the project.
CC Romania also attended BVCCC – the first CC Film Festival to be ever organized in Romania that took place in Brașov in November 2013. This was a great opportunity for the team to reach out to a different type of public — mostly local artists and digital content creators.

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Open Education Week: A focus on Latin America

Carolina Botero, March 10th, 2014

On Thursday, March 14 Fundación Karisma, in collaboration with UNESCO and Creative Commons will launch the report “Public Expenditure On Education in Latin America: Can It Serve the Paris Open Educational Resources Declaration’s Purposes?”

“Human rights are not left at the door when we enter the online world.” This is the premise on which we embark on a new research project related to one of the fundamental rights under threat in a networked society: access to knowledge.

In Latin America, paper textbooks coexist with digital technologies, but for the most part these digital resources are not yet an essential part of education systems. Despite efforts to foster the pedagogical use of information technology, in Latin America there is currently more emphasis on connectivity issues. Without adequately addressing the challenges to connectivity, the educational ecosystem is wasting real opportunities to boost the adoption and implementation of appropriate technologies.

Open education promotes knowledge as a public good based on the following elements: redistribution (sharing with others), remixing (combining resources to create new content), free reuse of whole or partial educational materials with proper attribution, the ability to revise resources in order to make modifications, enhancements, and adaptations according to context, and peer reviewing to ensure resource quality.

As described in the report, the increasing availability of Open Educational Resources open up a range of possibilities for the countries of the region that are still depending on a high level of negotiations between state educational systems and the publishing industry. But while many governments do not have the technological capabilities to facilitate the realization of human rights, the recommendations of important instruments such as the Paris Open Educational Resources (OER) Declaration can be a useful tool to prompt political and social change within the educational systems in Latin America. According to the Paris OER Declaration, Open Educational Resources include any teaching, learning and research materials which are in the public domain or released under an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation and distribution.

The report was commissioned by the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean. It will be released on Thursday and published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license. The report seeks to identify and analyze public policy and the investment and expenditure that the governments of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay have committed for the development and procurement of textbooks, books and digital content for primary and secondary education (K-12).

Because the purpose of Open Education Week is to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide, we invite you to be part of the webinar. The event will be a dialogue on open education issues in the region with the participation of Carolina Rossini, OER expert from Brazil, Juan Carlos Bernal from the Ministry of National Education of Colombia, and Patricia Diaz and Virgina Rodes, who are members of the Uruguayan OER community. In addition to these speakers, a Creative Commons and UNESCO representatives will join the talk, as well as the group of researchers from Fundación Karisma who developed the report.

Webinar details:

This post originally appeared via Fundación Karisma, a civil society organization based in Bogotá, Colombia. The organization supports and promotes access to information and communication technologies in Colombian and Latin American society.

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How open licensing is transforming design

Elliot Harmon, March 8th, 2014

I’m very excited to be speaking at South by Southwest tomorrow along with Scott Belsky of Behance, Sofya Polyakov of The Noun Project, and Eric Stover of Autodesk. Each speaker represents a community of designers that use open content or licenses in some way. I’m sure it will be a fascinating discussion.

For people coming to this blog post from the talk, here are some links you might like:

After the panel, I’ll add a link to the slides.

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Getty Images allows free embed of 35 million photographs

Timothy Vollmer, March 7th, 2014


Kristina Alexanderson / CC BY-NC-SA

Getty Images recently announced that it will allow free noncommercial embedding of 35 million of the images in its stock photography database. This is a good step toward better supporting a variety of users. Getty is clearly seeing its images appear across the web anyway, so it’s decided to go down the embed road, similar to how other content providers like YouTube handle the media they host. By requiring embedding, Getty will be able to track where its photos are being used online, and reserves the right to display advertisements. The announcement demonstrates a general understanding that Getty needs to meet users halfway in providing content in ways that is affordable, useable, and aligned with how people wish to share online today. At the same time, users may run into roadblocks in using Getty content, and openly-licensed resources could provide a straightforward alternative.

The Getty Images terms of use say that users can “only use embedded Getty Images Content for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest)”. Creative Commons-licensed images can be used for any purpose, by anyone, anywhere around the world, as long as the user follows the terms of the license. But no CC license dictates that a piece of licensed content may only be used for a specific purpose–editorial or otherwise.

The Getty terms also state that images “may not be used … for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship…”. The British Journal of Photography, in an interview with Getty Images representative Craig Peters, clarifies Getty’s interpretation of the boundaries of noncommercial use.

Blogs that draw revenues from Google Ads will still be able to use the Getty Images embed player at no cost. “We would not consider this commercial use,” says Peters.

Creative Commons has maintained a static definition of noncommercial use in its licenses over the years (which has earned its share of criticism). In license version 4.0 “NonCommercial means not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”

Another difference between the Getty Images embed service and Creative Commons-licensed images is that Getty would reserve the right to revoke its embedded photographs at any time. Its terms of use state that the “availability may change without notice. Getty Images reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove Getty Images Content from the Embedded Viewer. Upon request, you agree to take prompt action to stop using the Embedded Viewer and/or Getty Images Content.” So unlike even the most restrictive Creative Commons license (which permits verbatim noncommercial copying with attribution), Getty Images requires an HTML embed which it solely controls. When images are licensed under Creative Commons licenses, downstream users are granted more permissive rights. As stated in our Frequently Asked Questions:

The CC licenses are irrevocable. This means that once you receive material under a CC license, you will always have the right to use it under those license terms, even if the licensor changes his or her mind and stops distributing under the CC license terms.

Finally, the Getty terms prohibit uses “outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer”, which means that you can’t use the Getty images in remixes, videos, or really anywhere that doesn’t use embeds. On the other hand, CC-licensed images permit reuse in any medium. The licenses grant users authorization to exercise their rights under the license “in all media and formats … and to make technical modifications necessary to do so.”

It’s good that Getty Images is providing free online access to millions of images. But the advantages of CC-licensed photos is clear: users can’t have the content pulled out from underneath them, the images can be used for any reason in any format, and in many cases images are licensed for broad reuse and modification. And remember, there’s a huge trove of Creative Commons-licensed images out there too (not to mention millions of photographs in the public domain for use without any restrictions whatsoever!). Flickr now contains over 300 million CC-licensed photos. Wikimedia Commons hosts over 20 million multimedia files (a large proportion which are openly-licensed photographs being used on Wikipedia). Or even check out Google Images or Bing to easily discover CC-licensed images.

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