Commons News

Creative Commons named Knight Prototype Fund recipient

Ryan Merkley, October 15th, 2014

Today, the Knight Foundation announced the selected recipients of its latest Prototype Fund. We’re very proud to be among them, with a new project that probably sounds a bit outside of our normal work to those familiar with CC. Here’s why we’re doing it:

When I joined as CEO, I was tasked with imagining the next phase of Creative Commons. Now that we have the licenses, what do we want to do with them? How do we build a wide-reaching commons of creativity and knowledge, with easy contribution, use, and re-use? After talking with dozens of partners, funders, our global affiliate network, and our staff, I think it boils down to three areas: building a movement, driving content into the commons, and helping creators get content out.

Today’s announcement from Knight works in the first and second categories: pushing content into the commons, while engaging a new group of contributors. We will create a mobile app to encourage people to take photos and share them from a list of “most wanted” images. Organizations and individuals will put out the call, and users will be prompted to respond – including (eventually for those who want them) with geo-tagged notifications (“Ryan, we see you’re at the Mozilla Festival. Would you grab a photo of coders hacking the Web?”). All images will be uploaded to a public repository and licensed under CC BY, so anyone can use them. Creators will see their work used more widely, and maybe even “compete” to take the best photo. Internally, we’re calling it “The List, powered by Creative Commons.”

CC tech lead Matt Lee is working with the talented folks in Toronto’s Playground Inc. to create the prototype, and we will be testing our assumptions over the coming months. Everything will be done in the open – we’ll be at the Mozilla Festival in London, UK, later this month sharing our initial work and gathering ideas.

This is new ground for us, but we’re excited about the potential – for better stock photography, better photos on Wikipedia, better citizen journalism, and a wider pool of contributors who have helped to build the commons. Lots more to come, but we’re grateful for Knight’s support and guidance.

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Guest Post: Boundless Invites You to Write the Future of Education

Jane Park, October 15th, 2014

The following is a guest post by Ariel Diaz, Founder and CEO of Boundless, a platform for the creation of open textbooks that are community-built and CC BY-SA-licensed.


boundless concept
Boundless / CC BY-SA

By empowering a dedicated community of contributors in open resources, Creative Commons has given education a strong foundation for creating and sharing content. Beyond the broadly touted affordability and accessibility benefits of open resources, the flexibility these resources offer makes them practical for students and educators everywhere. Now, Boundless is leveraging the power of these open resources and the community to write the future of educational content — and we invite you to join us!

Universal access to education is a right

The wealth of Creative Commons licensed content is core to our efforts at Boundless to make access to high-quality educational content a universal right. All of our content is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license — which gives us a great combination of openness and flexibility, and assures that derivative works stay in the Commons so others can benefit.

Boundless offers content in more than 20 introductory-level college subjects for free on our website and mobile app. Using the CC BY-SA license on our content means an educator can use an article about Long-Term Memory, for example, as content in their classroom and adapt it for their syllabus. Students will save money by using open resources, and educators can share their customized version of that content with the greater Boundless community for further re-use.

principles of microeconomics
Boundless / CC BY-SA

Open content succeeds because of a powerful community

We’re seeing a transition in educational publishing from physical to digital. This transition has been slowed by a conservative industry and lack of great products, but we’re now in a time where entrepreneurs, educators, and more are challenging the status quo to create better teaching and learning opportunities. This gives us an opportunity to create communities of learners, educators, and content creators to build a better, more effective learning experience powered by open content.

I believe that open content succeeds because of its powerful community. The educators, researchers, and more who are motivated to share their work with others keep the flow of education materials moving to benefit their teaching and learning communities. The power of this community means we can challenge the status quo in education — and no longer tolerate static, expensive resources.

Over the past three years, the team at Boundless has worked with an internal community of hundreds of subject matter experts to create and curate open resources for our library of 21 subjects. This foundational content has served more than 3 million students and educators.

We’re committed to not only providing universal access to this content, but also building a collaborative, powerful community to create more content. That’s why I’m proud to share that we’ve brought on one of community education’s biggest advocates as a new Boundless advisor: SJ Klein, a veteran Wikipedian. SJ says,

“Tapping the minds of the teaching community brings great power to educational content. I look forward to working with Boundless as its community grows, not just to create more freely-licensed material, but to provide greater access to it, and make it personalizable.”

SJ is helping us grow and hone our cloud-powered community — so Boundless can do to textbooks what Wikipedia did for encyclopedias.

Write the future of education

For the first time, Boundless is opening up our platform to empower a community of educators and open resource supporters to create, improve, and share educational content. And we’re inviting Creative Commons supporters to help us write the future of education.

The new Boundless cloud-powered community allows for collaboration across disciplines, so contributors can create, edit, and customize content. All content created or customized uses a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA) to ensure a greater distribution across platforms — making universal access to education a right, not a privilege.

Be part of the future of education by joining our community!

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Our Digital Future: New report and agenda for copyright reform

Ryan Merkley, October 15th, 2014

Our Digital Future
Our Digital Future / OpenMedia.ca / CC BY-NC-SA

OpenMedia.ca just released Our Digital Future: A Crowdsourced Agenda for Free Expression. OpenMedia developed the publication through consultations and surveys with many organizations that care about free expression on the internet. It’s organized around three principles: Respect Creators, Prioritize Free Expression, and Embrace Democratic Processes.

OpenMedia’s report makes a clear and compelling case for a better copyright framework – one that is authored by all of us, developed in the open, and for the benefit of everyone. Too often, monied interests and secret negotiations work against the commons, and we all lose out as a result. We look forward to working alongside OpenMedia to make its thoughtful recommendations a reality, and we hope that this report inspires many more to join us.

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Open Definition 2.0 released

Timothy Vollmer, October 7th, 2014

Today Open Knowledge and the Open Definition Advisory Council announced the release of version 2.0 of the Open Definition. The Definition “sets out principles that define openness in relation to data and content,” and is the baseline from which various public licenses are measured. Any content released under an Open Definition-conformant license means that anyone can “freely access, use, modify, and share that content, for any purpose, subject, at most, to requirements that preserve provenance and openness.” The CC BY and CC BY-SA 4.0 licenses are conformant with the Open Definition, as are all previous versions of these licenses (1.0 – 3.0, including jurisdiction ports). The CC0 Public Domain Dedication is also aligned with the Open Definition.

The Open Definition is an important standard that communicates the fundamental legal conditions that make content and data open. One of the most notable updates to version 2.0 is that it separates and clarifies the requirements under which an individual work will be considered open from the conditions under which a license will be considered conformant with the Definition.

Public sector bodies, GLAM institutions, and open data initiatives around the world are looking for recommendation and advice on the best licenses for their policies and projects. It’s helpful to be able to point policymakers and data publishers to a neutral, community-supported definition with a list of approved licenses for sharing content and data (and of course, we think that CC BY, CC BY-SA, and CC0 are some of the best, especially for publicly funded materials). And while we still see that some governments and other institutions are attempting to create their own custom licenses, hopefully the Open Definition 2.0 will help guide these groups into understanding of the benefits to using an existing OD-compliant license. The more that content and data providers use one of these licenses, the more they’ll add to a huge pool of legally reusable and interoperable content for anyone to use and repurpose.

To the extent that new licenses continue to be developed, the Open Definition Advisory Council has been honing a process to assist in evaluating whether licenses meet the Open Definition. Version 2.0 continues to urge potential license stewards to think carefully before attempting to develop their own license, and requires that they understand the common conditions and restrictions that should (or should not) be contained in a new license in order to promote interoperability with existing licenses.

Open Definition version 2.0 was collaboratively and transparently developed with input from experts involved in open access, open culture, open data, open education, open government, open source and wiki communities. Congratulations to Open Knowledge and the Open Definition Advisory Council on this important improvement.

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Creative Commons policies grow in New Zealand schools

Matt McGregor, October 6th, 2014

Bethlehem College Preso
Bethlehem College Preso / Locus Research / CC BY-SA

Last month, I had the honour of providing a keynote address and two workshops at a teacher conference at Northcote College1, on the North Shore of Auckland, New Zealand.

Like many schools, Northcote is in the process of developing an overarching digital citizenship policy for staff, students, and the wider community. This policy is likely to include – alongside other issues like safety, privacy, research and integrity – a commitment to Creative Commons licensing.

If Northcote College does adopt a Creative Commons policy, they will join between fifty and one hundred New Zealand schools that have decided to formally give permission for teachers to share resources using a Creative Commons licence, with a preference for CC BY and CC BY-SA.

The policy is designed to address the fact that, under Section 21 of the 1994 Copyright Act, the first owner of copyright works made by New Zealand teachers in the course of their employment is their employer – namely, the schools governance board, known as the ‘Board of Trustees’ (BoT).

This means that teachers who share resources they make are legally infringing the school’s copyright – even when they are sharing with other teachers in the New Zealand state education system.

We’re advocating two solutions to this problem. First, we think every school in New Zealand’s pre-tertiary education system – all 2,500 of them – should pass a Creative Commons policy. This policy allows – and encourages – teachers to share their resources with other teachers under a Creative Commons licence.

Second, we think that teachers should adopt practices of finding, adapting, and sharing open content into their workflow. This will give teachers more confidence and flexibility when re-using third-party resources, and provide more resources for other teachers to build on and reuse.

We’ve been working at this for a couple of years now, spreading the word to the many groups working in the sector, including teachers, principals, Boards of Trustees, unions, disciplinary associations, public agencies, and other NGOs.

It’s been a long campaign, but we’re starting to make real progress. We’re giving an average of forty talks and workshops per year to the education sector, and we’re currently looking for ways to scale this work to meet the needs of every school in the country. This will become increasingly important as new resource sharing platforms – such as the crown-owned Network for Learning’s Pond – begin to take off.

The other challenge is to follow the lead of other CC affiliates, such as Poland, and help open up works produced or contracted by the Ministry of Education. There are signs that more of these resources will be openly licensed.

The adoption of open policy in schools coincides with similar moves in the local heritage and research sectors, and follows the continuing integration of CC licensing in central government. While there is still plenty to be done, it appears as if open licensing is on the verge of becoming mainstream across New Zealand’s public institutions – which is definitely good news for the global commons.

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ccMixter launches crowdfunding campaign

Elliot Harmon, October 6th, 2014

If you’ve been making or enjoying music under Creative Commons licenses for very long, there’s no doubt you’re already familiar with ccMixter, a community that’s been leading the way in CC music for ten years. What makes ccMixter really special is how enthusiastic its users are about borrowing and building off of each other’s tracks. Users are constantly creating new music from each other’s stems and playing with each other’s ideas. It’s a celebration of what makes CC licenses great.

Last week, ccMixter announced its first-ever crowdfunding campaign. ccMixter’s volunteer team needs to hire an admin to help maintain ccMixter’s infrastructure; they also have some big plans for website improvements and upgrades.

From the press release:

“ccMixter is the most prominent experiment in free music culture,” stated renowned professor of law and global activist Lawrence Lessig, when explaining the unique aspects of ccMixter’s free, open-source-music community based upon sharing.

ccMixter connects individuals in countries all around the world, through the universal language of music. It is unlike all other music sites on the web, as it is based wholy upon collaboration, not competition. This makes ccMixter a uniquely positive place for musicians. ccMixter’s fundraiser campaign and supporting videos, posts, social media and tweets, will utilize a hashtag that represents the spirit of ccMixter: #MusicConnectsUs

“ccMixter connects me deeply to musicians all around the world I’ve never met through the universal language of music. That is powerful and positive,” remarked Emily Richards, CEO of ArtisTech Media and ccMixter artist known as Snowflake.

ccMixter has some really cool gifts lined up for funders. Check it out!

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Vaya Con Datos

Puneet Kishor, October 5th, 2014

condatos-header

What were five hundred folks from 30 countries doing in 40+ different sessions running concurrently in three rooms of two gorgeous buildings in Ciudad de México? They were showing, sharing and learning from the best of each other’s work utilizing open data, pushing governments to adopt open policies, and hacking for social, environmental and humanitarian change in Latin America and the Caribbean. Condatos may be the most important regional conference on open data held in Latam, but it is undoubtedly a showcase of the diversity, ingenuity, vibrancy and perseverance of the changemakers in that historic yet energetic region.

sessions

Creative Commons was invited to a panel discussion on user licenses. Some of the innovative sessions that stood out were on Migrahack, health education in favelas in Brasil, a session on the Internet of Things, a hacking workshop, and mapping labs including one on using drones for mapping.

mex-buildings

The two buildings of the conference venue were definitely symbolic of the dynamic nature of the gathering—the historic and gorgeous Biblioteca de México with Octavio Paz looking down on the young crowd and its high stone walls inscribed with words from the giants of Mexican literature were like bookends in time; the soaring, modernistic architecture of Cineteca Nacional were a nod to the exponential change in thinking and practice that was being hacked by the young crowd.

kishor-condatos

We are grateful for the chance to present our vision for a public commons of information that can both drive and be driven by the energy and innovation on display at the conference, and are thrilled at the new partnerships that hold promise for further expansion of the powerful concepts of open and sharing.

CC0 To the extent possible under law, Puneet Kishor has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to all photos and PDF in this blog post.

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Creative Commons goes (even more) virtual

Ryan Merkley, October 3rd, 2014

I’m writing to announce that Creative Commons is closing its office in Mountain View, CA.

For most people reading this, the news will hardly come as a surprise. We’ve always been a virtual organization. Although we have a group of staff in the Bay Area, we have full-time staff in six US States and two Canadian provinces, not to mention the regional coordinators and affiliates all over the world.

The photo above was taken a few weeks ago, at the September CC Salon event in San Francisco. There are a few people missing, but I still love it because it’s the closest thing we’ve had to a complete staff photo since I’ve been with Creative Commons. It’s also a reminder that we’re a diverse, global organization.

Being a distributed team lets us spend more time interacting with the people who use Creative Commons tools and share our mission. We’re embedded in communities of hackers, lawyers, artists, and social change activists, all communities that our mission relies upon.

See our Contact page for updated contact information. If you have any questions about the change, feel free to drop us a line.

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California enacts law to increase public access to publicly funded research

Timothy Vollmer, October 1st, 2014

On Monday California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 609–the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act. The law requires that research articles created with funds from the California Department of Public Health be made publicly available in an online repository no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. AB 609 is described as the first state-level law requiring free access to publicly funded research. It is similar to the federal National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy. The bill has been making its way through the California legislature since being introduced by Assemblyman Brian Nestande in February 2013. Nestande’s office announced the passage yesterday.

The law applies to grantees who receive research funds from the Department of Public Health, and those grantees are responsible for ensuring that any publishing or copyright agreements concerning manuscripts submitted to journals fully comply with AB 609. For an article accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, the grantee must ensure that an electronic version of the peer-reviewed manuscript is available to the department and on an appropriate publicly accessible database approved by the department within 12 months of publication in the journal.

Congratulations to California, the leadership of Assemblyman Nestande, and the coalition of open access supporters who worked hard to make this law a reality.

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Obama highlights open education in U.S. Open Government Partnership National Action Plan

Cable Green, September 25th, 2014

Yesterday at the United Nations, President Barack Obama marked the Open Government Partnership‘s (OGP) third anniversary by announcing that in addition to the commitments outlined in the current U.S. OGP National Action Plan, “The United States will take additional steps to make our government more open, transparent, and accessible for all Americans.”

Among the multiple new commitments: “Promote open educational resources, to help teachers and students everywhere.”

The multi-pronged commitment to promote OER is described as the first item in the updated National Action Plan Commitments document (638 KB PDF):

Promote Open Education to Increase Awareness and Engagement

  • Open education is the open sharing of digital learning materials, tools, and practices that ensures free access to and legal adoption of learning resources. There is a growing body of evidence that the use of open education resources improves the quality of teaching and learning, including by accelerating student comprehension and by fostering more opportunities for affordable cross-border and cross-cultural educational experiences. The United States is committed to open education and will:
    • Raise open education awareness and identify new partnerships. The U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy will jointly host a workshop on challenges and opportunities in open education internationally with stakeholders from academia, industry, and government. The session will foster collaboration among OGP members and other interested governments and will produce best practices to inform good policies in open education.
    • Pilot new models for using open educational resources to support learning. The State Department will conduct three pilots overseas by December 2015 that use open educational resources to support learning in formal and informal learning contexts. The pilots’ results, including best practices, will be made publicly available for interested educators.
    • Launch an online skills academy. The Department of Labor (DOL), with cooperation from the Department of Education, will award $25 million through competitive grants to launch an online skills academy in 2015 that will offer open online courses of study, using technology to create high-quality, free, or low-cost pathways to degrees, certificates, and other employer-recognized credentials. This academy will help students prepare for in-demand careers. Courses will be free for all to access on an open learning platform, although limited costs may be incurred for students seeking college credit that can be counted toward a degree. Leveraging emerging public and private models, the investments will help students earn credentials online through participating accredited institutions, and expand the open access to curriculum designed to speed the time to credit and completion. The online skills academy will also leverage the burgeoning marketplace of free and open-licensed learning resources, including content developed through DOL’s community college grant program, to ensure that workers can get the education and training they need to advance their careers, particularly in key areas of the economy.

 

Creative Commons licenses put the “open” in OER and we stand ready to work with governments everywhere who wish to update their OGP National Action Plans with commitments to support Open Educational Resources, Open Access, Open Data and Open Policies that require publicly funded resources be openly licensed.

Well done, President Obama!
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