Commons News

CC Website Changes

John Wilbanks, January 7th, 2011

If you watch our website carefully, you’ll notice a few changes today. Some of those changes are small, and some are fairly significant, and we’ll be making more changes later in 2011.

We’re making these changes because we’ve received feedback — from our community of users, friends, supporters, and more — that the current set of web properties we have here at Creative Commons isn’t working as well as it could. Our websites have always emphasized using Creative Commons tools, or finding Creative Commons-licensed works. But we haven’t always made it easy to understand exactly how we are making possible the full potential of the internet via open licensing.

Today’s changes mark the first step towards fixing that problem.

The first change you’ll notice is that we’re putting learning about CC into a featured spot on the home page, right next to where you can choose a license for your works.

Another change is that we are making it easy to see that we work across culture, education, and science, instead of putting those as links in a sidebar or even onto different domains, as we have done in the past with education and science. On each of those pages, we put in a “carousel” of users and implementations that draw on our growing repository of CC case studies. All of our work is global across all three domains, so we’ve also updated and prominently feature our international affiliates network page.

Regarding science, we’re redirecting the old Science Commons front page to http://creativecommons.org/science. This is part of our comprehensive integration of science into the core of Creative Commons — on a par with culture and education. We’re still figuring out exactly how to migrate all of the content inside the sciencecommons.org domain, so for now we’re leaving that content up and linking to it from the new page.

We made it easier to find and learn about the licenses themselves, and we made our vision and mission explicit on the About Creative Commons page.

Last, we put a “fat footer” into place at the bottom, so that visitors and experienced CC users could rapidly access key parts of the site without having to dig around and click around in a site map.

This is just the beginning of the process. We’re working on a much more complete site redesign as part of our strategic plan for 2011, but we wanted to get these fixes implemented immediately. For those of you following CC’s progress over the long term, note that our previous significant website refresh came nearly two years ago. We will be tracking the impact of the changes through our website analytics, and we welcome feedback on how you use the site, what you’d like to see, and how you think we can make our website more effective throughout the course of the year.

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CC REL by Example

Nathan Yergler, January 7th, 2011

The following is cross-posted from the CC Labs blog. Creative Commons technical team blogs at CC Labs about metadata, emerging standards, demos, prototypes, and Creative Commons’ technical infrastructure.

You may have noticed that the copy-and-paste HTML you get from the CC license chooser includes some strange attributes you’re probably not familiar with. That is RDFa metadata, and it allows for the CC license deeds, search engines, Open Attribute, and other tools to discover metadata about your work and generate attribution HTML. Many platforms have implemented CC REL metadata in their CC license marks, such as Connexions and Flickr, and it’s our recommended way to mark works with a CC license.

In an effort to make CC license metadata (or CC REL metadata) much easier to implement, we’ve created CC REL by Example. It includes many example HTML pages, as well as explanations and links to more information.

We’re hoping this guide will serve as a useful set of examples for developers and publishers who want to publish metadata for CC licensed works. Even if you just use CC licenses for your own content, now is a great time to take a first step into structured data and include information about how you’d like to be attributed.

You can find the source to the guide in git. Feedback and suggestions can be sent to webmaster@creativecommons.org.

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Nature Publishing Group Announces New Open Access Journal and Support for CC!

Lisa Green, January 6th, 2011

Nature Publishing Group has long been a leader in scientific and medical publishing. The company’s flagship publication, Nature, has been publishing across a broad range of scientific disciplines since 1869 and is the world’s most cited interdisciplinary journal. In the past several years, Timo Hannay as head of web publishing and Annette Thomas as CEO of MacMillian (NPG’s parent company) successfully brought NPG into the digital age with a wide variety of new scientific journals and projects that leverage the power of the Internet.

As part of this program, NPG has made very clear its support of open access publishing. Last month, the company announced that an additional 15 of its journals now offer open access options. And this week, the company announced a brand new online open access journal called Scientific Reports. With this launch, a full 80% of NPG academic and society journals and 50% of all journals the company publishes offer open access options to authors.

Another way in which NPG shows its support of open systems is by supporting the work we do at Creative Commons – both philosophically and financially. We find ourselves on the same side of the table as NPG during many discussions on how to increase openness and innovation in scientific communication and digital access. Key members of NPG have repeatedly expressed their deep appreciation for the fact that CC licenses are the foundation on which the Open Access movement rests. In a recent meeting between CC and NPG, Jason Wilde, Publishing Director of NPG, told us that they would like to show that appreciation in a concrete manner – a donation to Creative Commons for every each publication in Scientific Reports. We are thrilled to have this financial support that will help us continue to provide the legal and technical infrastructure of open systems.

Nature Publishing Group is a visionary group of people with a clear view into the potential of the digital era to enhance scientific communication. They believe in open access and, as the world’s premiere publishing group, they have the authority to lead the rest of the world towards increased OA. We are excited about the launch of Scientific Reports and the way in which it strengthens the long-standing bond between our two organizations.

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CC kicks off its 9th year with incoming CEO Cathy Casserly and a successful year-end campaign

Jane Park, January 6th, 2011

http://creativecommons.net/donate?utm_campaign=newsletter_1101&utm_medium=blog&utm_source=newsletter

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

A warm thank you to all of our supporters! Our 2010 campaign raised $522,151.25 from 1,139 individual supporters and 22 companies. A huge thanks to our Board of Directors and all of our corporate sponsors, including 3taps, Tucows, Digital Garage, Ebay, Microsoft, LuLu, wikiHow, Hindawi, Squidoo, The Miraverse, and Aramex. More campaign numbers will be available soon on our blog.

Creative Commons enters 2011 with renewed energy, thanks to the holiday season and a new incoming CEO! As many of you know, we welcomed Cathy Casserly as incoming CEO of Creative Commons. As the Senior Partner at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and former Director of OER at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Cathy brings with her extensive experience with foundations and open educational resources (OER). But Cathy has also been involved with CC from the beginning. Lawrence Lessig writes,

Cathy Casserly
Cathy Casserly by Joi Ito / CC BY

One of the most important moments in the history of Creative Commons happened on the day the Supreme Court upheld (incorrectly, in my view, but let’s leave that alone) the Copyright Term Extension Act in Eldred v. Ashcroft. After reading the decision, I had my head in my hands, buried in sadness, when my assistant reminded me that I had a 10am meeting with two people from the Hewlett Foundation. This was exactly one month after we had launched Creative Commons.

Cathy and Mike had heard about the Supreme Court’s decision. They recognized I wouldn’t be in much of a mood to chat. So they launched right into the reason for the meeting: The Hewlett Foundation had decided to help launch Creative Commons with a grant of $1 million dollars.

I won’t say that after I heard that news, I forgot about the Supreme Court. But from that moment on, it was much more important to me to prove Hewlett’s faith right than to worry about what the Supreme Court had gotten wrong. And I was especially keen to get to know these two people who understood our mission long before most had even recognized the problem that CC was meant to solve.

We welcome Cathy and thank Joi for his fruitful two years as CEO. We are equally excited that Joi will remain Chair of the CC Board, and look to both Cathy’s and Joi’s strong leadership to move CC forward in 2011.

In other news:

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Thank You!

Melissa Reeder, January 3rd, 2011

Thanks to all our supporters who helped us raise over $500,000 for our annual fundraising campaign! Stay tuned for a precise total and analysis — we’re still counting mailed checks! If you didn’t get a chance to donate to the 2010 campaign, start 2011 off right by showing the world how much you appreciate CC.

Because of our supporters, we will be able to continue developing the necessary tools to support and facilitate participatory culture and innovation around the world. 2011 is going to be a big year for CC – stay in touch and keep sharing!

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$48,000 left to go – help us reach our goal!

Melissa Reeder, December 31st, 2010

Help us ring in the new year by making sure we reach our $550,000 fundraising goal by midnight tonight. If you love CC then show us you care by donating today!

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Letter from CC Superhero Josh Sommer of the Chordoma Foundation

Allison Domicone, December 22nd, 2010

Josh Sommer

Josh Sommer

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“I’m in a race; a race to outrun a rare and deadly form of bone cancer called chordoma, with an average survival of 7 years. To find a cure, there is a lot that needs to happen sequentially, so to win the race, I need science to move quickly. Fortunately, uncanny new technologies in genomics, computing, synthetic biology, etc. have put cures for virtually any disease within the realm of possibility. Unfortunately, the way we practice science is not designed to move on the timescale of an individual’s disease.

Despite all of the technological advances that have been made in recent years, it still takes on average 1-3 years for results to be transmitted from one lab to the next; it still takes months or years for materials and data to be transferred between institutions; and untold masses of observations and creations never get shared at all. It’s no wonder, then, why it takes decades for discoveries to be translated into new treatments, and why the hurdles are often just too large to overcome for small-market diseases like chordoma.

For anyone affected, or whose loved one is affected, by a life threatening disease, this is simply intolerable. Think about it: in the very recent past, humankind has developed the tools and know-how to cure disease, yet we are stifled from maximizing the potential benefit of these new tools by social and legal systems that evolved in a bygone era. This has to change.

But let’s be realistic. Despite the fact that our scientific enterprise is not optimized for speed, it does have many virtues. And traditions such as academic tenure, peer review, intellectual property, and shareholder return are not going away any time soon – nor should they, necessarily. If we can sequence a genome in the course of a week, surely we can find sensible solutions to enable the data to be shared.

Creative Commons is leading the charge to find these solutions. By helping researchers make data open and available, by streamlining the material transfer process, and by uncovering and integrating data from various stakeholders, Creative Commons is grease to the wheels of science. It is a source of hope to me in the race to outrun my disease. It is a means to maximize our collective investment in research. That’s why I support Creative Commons, and why if there’s a disease you’d like to see cured, I urge you to give whole-heartedly to Creative Commons as well.”


Josh Sommer is the executive director of the Chordoma Foundation, which he co-founded with his mother, Dr. Simone Sommer, after he was diagnosed with a clival chordoma in 2006. He believes that patients should play an active role in bringing about treatments for their own conditions, and that patients represent a largely untapped source of funding, energy, and know-how in the treatment development process. Follow Josh on Twitter.

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Language Harmonization at Creative Commons

Michelle Thorne, December 21st, 2010

One of the most important values at Creative Commons is the usability of our tools. We strive to make all of our tools human-readable, often bridging dissonant vocabularies and frameworks to ensure our tools are compatible and understandable the world over. The challenge of localization is balancing legally sound terminology with culturally palatable translations. Sometimes the terms in which lawyers and courts communicate are unfamiliar or alienating to users outside of the legal profession. Moreover, even within the legal field, there can be a range of opinions about which terms are most appropriate.

Creative Commons oversees translation on two levels: our legal code and our license deeds. The former, the legal code or “lawyer-readable” layer, is adapted to the laws and official languages of jurisdictions around the world. The latter, the deeds or “human-readable” layer, are designed for everyone to understand. Unlike the legal code, the deeds are not legally-binding but rather a helpful, plain-language summary.

Historically, if two or more jurisdictions shared the same language, such as Spanish, each jurisdiction team would conduct a translation of the legal code and of the deeds. Sometimes the result is messy: for Spanish alone, we had over 10 translations of the license deeds, some differing only slightly and others more so.

Creative Commons invited its affiliates in Spanish-speaking jurisdictions to review the Spanish translations of the license names (Attribution, ShareAlike, NonCommercial, and NoDerivatives). In a conversation led by CC Chile’s Claudio Ruiz, the Latin American affiliates discussed the best linguistic solution, one that balanced usability with legal accuracy. After several months of discussion, a majority of the Latin American teams reached an agreement to harmonize their existing deeds into one under the following scheme. This is particularly notable since unlike the Arab harmonization effort discussed below, these jurisdictions had already published deeds for their particular jurisdictions.

  • Attribution: Atribución
  • ShareAlike: CompartirIgual
  • Non-Commercial: NoComercial
  • NoDerivatives: SinDerivadas

You’ll see the harmonized translations available now on our license deeds. Please note again that the deeds are not legally operative; instead, they play a critical role in helping ensure our licenses are understandable and accessible to users.

arabic translation of CC
Finally the Arabic Translation for CC Licenses
by Mohammad Basheer (mbaa) / CC BY

Similarly, Creative Commons encouraged its Arab world communities and affiliates to coordinate their translation efforts. They appreciated the importance of harmonizing the key license terms early on so that all Arabic-speaking users would have a consistent experience with CC.

During the recent CC Arab World meeting this October in Doha, Qatar, a lively discussion among attendees underscored the importance of harmonizing translation within the region. The challenge again was to balance legal compliance with user-friendly terminology. At the end of the meeting, CC affiliates and community representatives from six jurisdictions in the region reached a consensus on terms that CC will use for all future license-related work in Arabic. All the participants provided input in a session moderated by Bassel Khartabil and Mahmoud Abu Wardeh at CC’s request, with the following results:

  • Attribution: نسب المصنف
  • ShareAlike: الترخيص بالمثل
  • NonCommercial: غير تجاري
  • NoDerivatives: منع الإشتقاق
  • Creative Commons: المشاع الإبداعي followed by mention of the original English name in parenthesis (Creative Commons)

These terms will be deployed in the upcoming Egyptian licenses, as well as across all Arabic deeds and informational materials. These efforts underscore the cooperative nature of the affiliates and community members who strive to make CC simple and approachable for users across the globe. We also hope to roll out similar harmonized terms in other languages over the coming months.

If you’d like to contribute to Creative Commons’ translation efforts, you can join our translation teams at Transifex.

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Dan Gillmor talks about the challenges and rewards of publishing “Mediactive” under Creative Commons

Jane Park, December 21st, 2010

Dan Gillmor is a journalist and established author, having previously published We the Media back in 2004 under a CC BY-NC-SA license. His subject is the changing landscape of media, and the focus of his first book was on distributed, grassroots journalism and its effect on the Big Media monopoly of news. Six years later, We the Media is still in print, and Dan talks about how this encouraged him to stick to his principles when publishing his second book, Mediactive, under Creative Commons as well. Dan turned down a publishing deal with a major New York publisher because they would not allow the CC license. In a reflection well worth reading, he writes,

“Almost a decade after Creative Commons was founded, and despite ample evidence that licensing copyrighted works this way doesn’t harm sales, book publishers remain mostly clueless about this option, or hostile to it. As David explained to editors, the main reason I’m still getting royalty checks for We the Media is that the book has been available as a free download since the day it went into bookstores. This is how word about it spread. Had we not published it that way, given the indifference (at best) shown by American newspapers and magazines, the book would have sunk without a trace.”

Also Mediactive “isn’t just a book; at least, not in the way most publishers understand books, even as they dabble online. And if a principle means anything to you, you stick by it when doing so is inconvenient, not just when it’s easy.”

Sticking by his principles seems to have paid off, as just three days after publishing Mediactive under CC BY-NC-SA online, 1,500 visitors to his site downloaded the book, and more viewed pieces of it online. At this point, Dan notes that “Far few have purchased the book, of course, but it’s selling — and I’ve barely begun the real marketing process, which will take place in the new year.”

Without Creative Commons and the internet, Mediactive would still be on the publishing floor somewhere:

“Incidentally, had I signed with a traditional publisher, the book would not have reached the marketplace for a year or more from the date when I signed. With a company like Lulu, you wrap up the project and you’re off to the races. In a fast-moving area like media, that’s a huge benefit to foregoing the standard route.”

You can download, donate to, or purchase Mediactive and read more about Dan’s experience with publishing here. You can also help us improve our case study on Dan Gillmor.

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Welcoming Cathy Casserly as the new CEO of Creative Commons

Lawrence Lessig, December 20th, 2010

As we come to the end of this year’s fundraising campaign, I asked the organizers to let me write you to tell you about an extraordinary birthday present that Creative Commons received on its 8th birthday last Thursday.

You probably know that for the past two years, Creative Commons has been incredibly fortunate to have the pro bono leadership of our CEO, Joi Ito. Joi is a successful internet investor. He has been at the birth of companies such as Moveable Type, Technorati and Twitter. For the past 7 years, he’s also been a key leader on our board. But by far his most important contribution began two years ago when my own commitments made it necessary for me to step down as CEO. With the organization in a pinch, he volunteered to take the lead, again, as a volunteer.

Everyone recognized at the time that this sort of sacrifice could only be temporary. Yet from the time he stepped up, my biggest fear was that when he could no longer make this sacrifice, we would have no one comparable to tap. Last Thursday, I was proven wrong.

One of the most important moments in the history of Creative Commons happened on the day the Supreme Court upheld (incorrectly, in my view, but let’s leave that alone) the Copyright Term Extension Act in Eldred v. Ashcroft. After reading the decision, I had my head in my hands, buried in sadness, when my assistant reminded me that I had a 10am meeting with two people from the Hewlett Foundation. This was exactly one month after we had launched Creative Commons. I was surprised a foundation as prominent as Hewlett even knew about us, let alone had an interest in talking to us. So I put aside my sadness, and walked down to the conference room at Stanford Law School, to meet with Cathy Casserly and Mike Smith.

Cathy and Mike had heard about the Supreme Court’s decision. They recognized I wouldn’t be in much of a mood to chat. So they launched right into the reason for the meeting: The Hewlett Foundation had decided to help launch Creative Commons with a grant of $1 million dollars.

I won’t say that after I heard that news, I forgot about the Supreme Court. But from that moment on, it was much more important to me to prove Hewlett’s faith right than to worry about what the Supreme Court had gotten wrong. And I was especially keen to get to know these two people who understood our mission long before most had even recognized the problem that CC was meant to solve.

Now eight years later, after completing her term at Hewlett and a stint at the Carnegie Foundation as well, I am enormously happy to announce that Cathy Casserly has accepted our offer to become the CEO of Creative Commons.

Cathy has an extraordinary reputation among foundations and the Open Educational Resources community. She has had extensive experience coaxing creators and educators into a more sensible and flexible manner for creating and sharing their work. That was her job at Carnegie and Hewlett. Before Hewlett, she was a program officer at the Walter S. Johnson Foundation. Before that, a teacher of mathematics in Jamaica. She has a PhD in the economics of education from Stanford, and a BA in mathematics from Boston College.

Joi will stay in the hot seat as Chair of the Board. But early in the new year, he will pass his CEO responsibilities to Cathy. Between him and Cathy, we will then have the very best leadership Creative Commons has known.

So then here’s my ask: Creative Commons has been enormously fortunate to have had Joi as an interim CEO, and extremely fortunate now to have found Cathy to fill that role permanently.

Let’s show them how happy we are about both.

We are in the last laps of a very difficult fundraising year, with just two weeks to go and still about $200,000 to raise. Please reach deep in your pocket, and click here to pledge whatever you can find. We have never needed the support of our community more than we do this year. And though I am happy beyond measure about our future, I am extremely concerned about the cuts we will have to make if we don’t meet our goals.

You have supported us throughout these 8 years. We need your support this year especially. Please thank Joi and welcome Cathy in every way, including a pledge to support Creative Commons again.

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