Commons News

3taps Supports Creative Commons with a Matching Challenge

Lisa Katayama, December 2nd, 2010

Greg Kidd and Karen Gifford by Elizabeth Sabo / CC BY

Today, we’d like to turn your attention to 3taps, a new startup that makes sifting through classified ads a whole lot easier. 3taps is supporting our fall fundraising campaign with a $3000 matching challenge! That means if you donate now, 3taps will match your donation dollar for dollar – but only for a limited time. Read on to learn how two friends who once worked at the Federal Reserve see the powerful potential of the CC Public Domain Mark and donate today to have your gift automatically doubled!

Say you’re looking for a 2002 Saab Viggen—a rare car that could take hours to find if you were to have to comb through every Craigslist, eBay, and Hemmings listing site. A new web service called 3taps, founded by Karen Gifford and Greg Kidd in San Francisco, is making searching for products and services a whole lot easier: it indexes factual data from different sites and neatly spits out relevant search results on their web, iPhone, and iPad interfaces. You can just type “2002 Saab Viggen” into the search box and, within seconds, have a full list of search results from the over 6.7 million posts made each day that the software sorts through.

Gifford and Kidd both worked at the Federal Reserve and later met working at a financial consulting company. When their large, global clients would run up against systems and data incompatibility issues, they recognized that there was a massive amount of financial data out there but no central database. Thinking about the issue of data management sparked many ideas for Gifford and Kidd and eventually led to the idea of 3taps. While searching for a car seems like a completely different function than searching for aggregated financial data, Gifford and Kidd explain that the concept of having snippets of public information easily available is the same. “The idea is to be ubiquitous,” Kidd says. “Everyone should have equal access, open access, and clarity about what’s out there that is not protected by copyright.”

3taps aims to make the data currently kept in silos more accessible by clearly marking it with the public domain mark once it is located. “We’re using the CC public domain mark to bring clarity to the idea that facts are in the public domain and not protected by copyright. Equal access to pricing information is a public good. We see the public domain mark as really important in clarifying what information belongs to the public.”

That is one of the many reasons 3taps supports CC. They are showing their support with this matching challenge and we are inviting everyone to make the most of 3taps’s generosity donating to CC now to have your gift doubled.

Why 3taps supports CC:

“3taps indexes factual data about items offered for exchange, like price, quantity and item description. Facts like these are important public information that let people find the best deal on the item they want. There has been a lot of confusion about the status of factual data on the Internet, and confusion in this area inhibits innovation. Creative Commons’ newly-released Public Domain Mark is an important tool for bringing clarity to this area. It couldn’t have come at a better time for those interested in collaboration in the sphere of data.” – Karen Gifford

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science@creativecommons T-shirts now available in the CC store!

Allison Domicone, November 29th, 2010

Science@creativecommons by Creative Commons / CC BY

November has been an exciting month for science at Creative Commons. Earlier this month we hosted a Creative Commons Salon in San Francisco on the promises and pitfalls of personalized medicine, which you can now watch online. We met a matching giving challenge by Hindawi, the open access scholarly journal publisher (disciplines from neuroscience to pharmacology), who doubled $3000 in donations to our annual fundraising campaign. We also saw BioMed Central, the world’s largest OA publisher, provide in-kind support for our fundraising campaign.

The icing on the cake is the most recent addition to our CC Store: this super-cool science-themed CC shirt, for which the world-famous XKCD was gracious enough to let us re-use a variation on a classic cartoon. Many of you may already read and enjoy the delightful webcomic of “romance, sarcasm, math, and language” which is under a CC BY-NC license. Now you can show your love for Creative Commons and science at the same time by buying one of these t-shirts, available for $20 over at the CC store.

Huge thanks to XKCD for being such a wonderful and creative member of the CC community, and for freely sharing that creativity with the world.

At Creative Commons, we see a lot of potential for bringing open access to the world of science, whether it pertains to genomics research, scholarly journal publishing, or unraveling the mysteries of the universe.

If you love science as much as we do, then hurry over to the CC Store and get your limited edition shirt today!

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Microsoft Continues Supporting CC!

Melissa Reeder, November 26th, 2010

We are thrilled to announce that Microsoft has once again stepped up to support CC during our annual campaign. Microsoft has been generously donating to CC for over 5 years and we are thrilled to have their continued support. Tom Rubin, Chief Counsel for Intellectual Property Strategy, says “CC provides necessary infrastructure for openness, collaboration, and innovation — all for free, to anyone in the world. Microsoft is very proud to continue its support of this important organization and the crucial public resource it makes available. We encourage other technology companies to do the same.”

If you too believe that CC is an important public resource, then please join Microsoft in donating to CC today!

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We met The Miraverse’s matching giving challenge! Thank you!

Allison Domicone, November 24th, 2010

Thanks to all who donated in the past week and had your gift doubled by the Miraverse. The Miraverse has matched $5000 in your donations, bringing in a total of $10,000 this week for our fundraising campaign. We still need help reaching our $550,000 goal by December 31, so if you haven’t yet donated please give today and join with the Miraverse in supporting CC.

Here’s why the Miraverse supports CC:

The Miraverse is an environment for developing new media productions and reaching new audiences through increased participation at every level and at every step of the creative process. Without the past work–and success–of Creative Commons, there would be no legal basis from which we could presume to proceed. But because of their great work we can begin our venture with the confidence that millions upon millions now understand that copyright need not be the end of creativity, but a potential beginning of an infinite number of wonderful futures. We are delighted to support an organization that has laid the foundation for us, and we accept that the best way to ensure a better future for everything we do is to support those who are doing the best work today.

Can you give $25, $75, or $100 to support the future of creativity and the work of Creative Commons?

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Amazon #1 Bestseller, “Machine of Death,” goes Creative Commons

Jane Park, November 24th, 2010

It’s happened before with music albums, where releasing work openly online did not hurt actual sales of the product. The authors of Machine of Death clearly get this. They explain why the science fiction anthology of stories about people who know the manner by which they die (but have no idea when), has been made available online under CC BY-NC-ND:

Why are we doing this? Aren’t we worried about hurting our book sales?

In a word: no. You have proven time and again that you are willing to pay for content that you find valuable. You have shown that you are driven to share material that you fall in love with. And we are committed to ensuring that you can experience our work whether you can afford to buy a book or not; whether you live in a country that Amazon ships to or not; whether you have space in your life for a stack of paper or not.

Please, download, read, share and enjoy!

In addition, some of the individual stories are released under the CC BY-NC-SA license, which allows you to translate and adapt the work as long as you abide by the noncommercial condition and release the derivative under the same license. Podcasts are also being created for all the stories, with three stories up so far.

As of right now, Machine of Death is the #1 bestselling science fiction anthology on Amazon, and has also made their Best Books of 2010 list. For more information, see Boing Boing and the Machine of Death website.


Apply for the 2011 Google Policy Fellowship with Creative Commons

Timothy Vollmer, November 23rd, 2010

We’re happy to announce that for the third year Creative Commons will take part in the Google Policy Fellowship program.

The Google Policy Fellowship program offers undergraduate, graduate, and law students interested in Internet and technology policy the opportunity to spend the summer contributing to the public dialogue on these issues, and exploring future academic and professional interests. Fellows will have the opportunity to work at public interest organizations at the forefront of debates on broadband and access policy, content regulation, copyright and trademark reform, consumer privacy, open government, and more.

Aurelia Schultz was Creative Commons’ 2009 Fellow, and worked on a project to analyze the WIPO development agenda in relation to its affect on access to public domain materials. She also developed draft strategic plans for CC’s engagement with WIPO as well as outreach in Africa. Aurelia is now Counsel at Creative Commons. Tal Niv was CC’s Fellow last summer, and she’s been continuing work as a Research Analyst on a key investigation into CC’s welfare impact. The 2011 Google Policy Fellow will receive a substantial grant to work at Creative Commons’ San Francisco office. Potential topics may include, but certainly not limited to:

  • Analyzing trends in license adoption, including identification and development of relevant metrics.
  • Coordinating with counsel to critically analyze the current state of public domain policy in U.S. and abroad. Develop a framework to help Creative Commons’ deploy messaging regarding public domain policy in U.S. and abroad.
  • Researching how the contemporary discourse of copyright, sharing, reuse, and remix has been shaped over the last eight years as a result of the Creative Commons project.
  • Investigating new opportunities for Creative Commons implementation in ‘uncontacted’ communities, institutions, artists, and mediums.
  • Working with Creative Commons’ international community and jurisdiction project leads on projects, research, and outreach.

Check out more details and the application, which is due by January 17, 2011.

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Meet our board members: Molly Van Houweling

Lisa Katayama, November 23rd, 2010

Molly Van Houweling
Molly Van Houweling by Joi / CC BY

When Molly Van Houweling ran Creative Commons back in 2001, she was the only staff member, working out of a small office on the third floor of the Stanford law school building. Her work there was mundane but critical: taking off from the pivotal meeting among the founders at the Harvard Berkman Center earlier that year, the once-advisee of Larry Lessig was doing paperwork and drafting the legal language that would become the foundation of Creative Commons.

Van Houweling worked with the founding team to settle on the idea of making machine-readable licenses for creative works and to begin designing the infrastructure and drafting the legal language for these licenses. “We received some skeptical responses from people and didn’t do a lot of market testing to guarantee adoption, but moved forward based on the creativity that we were sensing and observing on the Internet.” The free software movement of the 80s and 90s also suggested that there was a market of creativity not motivated by the traditional copyright model of selling things under exclusive rights. From the beginning there was a wide range of CC adopters, including Boing Boing, PLoS, Magnatune, and the MIT OpenCourseWare project.

In the summer of 2002, she handed off the executive director role to Glenn Otis Brown and moved to Michigan to teach law. She has since continued to champion CC by promoting our “some rights reserved” approach at conferences and teaching the principles of CC to her classes.

Today, Van Houweling is a law professor at UC Berkeley, where she teaches classes about copyright and intellectual property. She always starts her classes by explaining the traditional justifications for this body of law–the fear that some creativity might not happen if the creators were not protected from having their work copied and distributed in a way that prevents them from reaping their investment. But she also encourages them to think about how sound this argument is when looking at the bigger picture. “As students have become more familiar with models like CC and the explosion of creativity on the Internet, it’s become easier for them to see the limits to this explanation of copyright protection.”

Creative Commons has influenced her life in other ways, too. Van Houweling is a competitive bicycle racer–she’s the reigning champion in Northern California and Nevada in the women’s individual time trial event and the 2010 winner of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic stage race. “It’s a big thrill for me when the pictures taken of me are CC licensed,” she says. “Some of the best pictures of me from Mt. Hood were taken by [MetaFilter founder] Matt Haughey and have been used by local papers and on the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic web site.” She’s also an avid traveler who likes to take pictures of food and drink that she encounters on her journeys, and was delighted to find that one of her CC-licensed Flickr photos was used in several Wikipedia entries to illustrate a Spanish herbal brandy. “My creativity was never motivated in a way that had to do with copyright, and it’s much more rewarding now that people don’t have to ask for my permission.”

Join Molly Van Houweling and invest in the future of creativity. Donate to Creative Commons today.

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Stories of people & projects using Creative Commons in education, government, and data

Jane Park, November 23rd, 2010

The significance of Creative Commons and its licenses is often overlooked, embedded as it is into the fabric of sharing culture on the web. The current superhero campaign attempts to bring CC’s role to the forefront, by highlighting people and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to this culture. But there are many more excellent stories of people and projects employing our CC licenses for educational, humanitarian, scientific, artistic, and just plain interesting uses. Some of these are currently reflected in our Case Studies on the wiki, but there’s a lot of work left to be done in making these more accessible and useful to the rest of the world.

Part of that is improving the entry points for people new to CC, so we are highlighting case studies for different areas. We just added one for open educational resources (OER) case studies, focusing on the most compelling CC education project or implementation in policy from each country. Examples make the jobs of those advocating for OER at the policy level much easier, and we often notice a surprising lack of knowledge that many of the most compelling examples are to be found around the world. So we started this page to help everyone who is supporting OER advocacy efforts, and we encourage you to go ahead and add your own case study and write up its story; the more developed a case study is, the more likely it is to be featured and shared.

Other areas we have highlighted include Government use of Creative Commons and CC0 use for data. These case studies are also far from complete, so we encourage you to add to and improve them.

We’ve added a few more fields to the Case Studies template as well. For instance, have you ever tried to implement CC licensing into a publishing platform? Then you know that it would have been helpful to know how other platforms have done it. Alex mentions that we’ve gone ahead and added a field for technical implementations to Case Studies. See the case study as an example. In addition, we’ve added a field for “Impact”—what is the effect of this project or resource being under a CC license? What has it enabled that otherwise would not exist? Etc.

Like the rest of our content, the Case Studies are under CC BY, so do add, improve, remix, translate, print out and pass around, show them to your mom, or otherwise reuse them!

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The British Library releases 3 million bibliographic records into the public domain using CC0

Jane Park, November 22nd, 2010

The British Library
The British Library by stevecadman / CC BY-SA

The British Library has released three million records from the British National Bibliography into the public domain using the CC0 public domain waiver. The British National Bibliography contains data on publishing activity from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland since 1950. JISC OpenBibliography has made this set downloadable at CKAN; in addition, the Internet Archive also offers the data for download.

This is a tremendous move on behalf of the British Library and the JISC OpenBibliography project, and we would like to congratulate them on their contributions to open data. From the JISC OpenBibliography project blog,

“Agreements such as these are crucial to our community, as developments in areas such as Linked Data are only beneficial when there is content on which to operate. We look forward to announcing further releases and developments, and to being part of a community dedicated to the future of open scholarship.”

For more information, see the case study on the British Library–and help us add to and improve it!

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Law and the GeoWeb, a workshop on IP and geographic data in the internet era sponsored by Creative Commons and the United States Geological Survey

Jane Park, November 19th, 2010

Just Landed
Just Landed by Jer Thorp / CC BY

Law and the GeoWeb
A workshop on “Intellectual Property and Geographic Data in the Internet Era” sponsored by Creative Commons and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in conjunction with the annual meeting of AAG, April 11, 2011, Seattle, Washington. The workshop will be held at the campus of Microsoft Research, and will be streamed live on the Internet.

This workshop will focus on intellectual property issues with geographic data, exploring situations when users and creators ranging from individuals to local, state and federal agencies as well as private companies and non-profits create, share and reuse geographic information from different sources over the Internet in their projects.

For more information, please see or search on Twitter for #lawandgeoweb

U.S Copyright Law protects tangible original works with creative content but the law also ensures that facts, that is, data that are discovered rather than invented, remain free for everyone’s benefit. This ideas/expression dichotomy creates a lot of issues in the Internet age when information is very easily created, shared, used and reused.

With inexpensive computing and networking power available to everyone, geographic datasets are increasingly being created, shared and used by individuals, grassroots organizations, and private corporations. These data come with different expectations with regards to how they may be used resulting in a hodgepodge of licensing and contractual obligations that hinders data interoperability. Mixing data of different provenance creates new data with typically more restrictive licensing conditions. Public agencies may be unable to mix licensed data with government data due to restrictive licensing terms of the resultant dataset, and thus, may be unable to capitalize on and benefit from user-generated content.

Workshop Structure
The current line-up of speakers from federal, state and local agencies, Creative Commons, grassroots agencies, intellectual property lawyers, the geospatial industry, and research and academia includes:

  • Ed Arabas, National States Geographic Information Council
  • Greg Babinski, King County, State of Washington
  • Michael Brick, Microsoft Legal, Bing Maps
  • Steve Coast, Founder, OpenStreetMap
  • Kari Craun, Director, National Geospatial Technical Operations, USGS
  • Ed Parsons, Chief Technologist, Google Maps, Google
  • Diane Peters, General Counsel, Creative Commons
  • Tim Trainor, Bureau Chief, Geography Division, US Census Bureau
  • Paul Uhlir, Director, Board for Research Data and Information, NRC

The format of the workshop will encourage discussion and participation.

To ensure those directly involved in the topic get a chance to attend the workshop, attendance is based on a short application form accessible at Deadline for applying for the workshop is December 18, 2010. Selected applicants will be informed by January 15, 2011.

Attendees will also be able to submit longer papers for publication in a special issue of the peer-reviewed, completely free and open access online journal “International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructure Research” published by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.

The workshop is organized in conjunction with the AAG annual meeting. The workshop will be held on the campus of Microsoft Research, and run from 1 PM to 5 PM on Monday, April 11, 2011.

There is no fee for this workshop but registration for the AAG annual meeting is required (note: this is an AAG requirement). The workshop is limited to 50 participants to facilitate discussion.

Proceedings of the workshop and 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.

Please contact either Puneet Kishor, Creative Commons [] or Barbare Poore, USGS [] if you have any questions.

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