Commons News

Fotopedia closes, but CC-licensed photos live on

Elliot Harmon, August 9th, 2014

Ho Chi Minh City
Trung Dangy / CC BY-NC-SA

If you’re a fan of photo-and-knowledge-sharing community Fotopedia, you’ve likely heard that the site is closing this Sunday, August 10. When Creative Commons heard the news, we contacted Fotopedia to ask if there were some way that we could help save all of the Creative Commons–licensed photos on the site. Now, we’re working together with the staff at Fotopedia to create a new archive of all of that content. At the same time, our friends at Archive Team are creating a copy of the entire Fotopedia website.

Here at CC, we’ve been big fans of Fotopedia for a long time. The site elegantly mixes together content from Flickr, Wikipedia, and other sources in a way that’s only possible thanks to CC licenses. And over the years, Fotopedia developed an amazing community of people curating all of that content into highly entertaining, visually rich albums.

It’s fitting that all of that work will live on in the new archive. Fotopedia has always been a great example of the power of the decentralized web. Just like Fotopedia brought new life to great photos from Flickr, the archive will bring new life to great photos from Fotopedia.

If you’d like to know when the archive is open, subscribe to our mailing list.. If you have any questions, email us at info@creativecommons.org.

Creative Commons salutes Fotopedia for its work as a leader in online content-sharing. We wish Jean-Marie Hullot and his team all the best on their future projects.

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Dozens of organizations tell STM publishers: No new licenses

Timothy Vollmer, August 7th, 2014

The keys to an elegant set of open licenses are simplicity and interoperability. CC licenses are widely recognized as the standard in the open access publishing community, but a major trade association recently published a new set of licenses and is urging its members to adopt it. We believe that the new licenses could introduce unnecessary complexity and friction, ultimately hurting the open access community far more than they’d help.

Today, Creative Commons and 57 organizations from around the world released a joint letter asking the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers to withdraw its model “open access” licenses. The association ostensibly created the licenses to promote the sharing of research in the scientific, technical, and medical communities. But these licenses are confusing, redundant, and incompatible with open access content published under other public licenses. Instead of developing another set of licenses, the signatories urge the STM Association to recommend to its authors existing solutions that will truly promote STM’s stated mission to “ensure that the benefits of scholarly research are reliably and broadly available.” From the letter:

We share a positive vision of enabling the flow of knowledge for the good of all. A vision that encompasses a world in which downstream communicators and curators can use research content in new ways, including creating translations, visualizations, and adaptations for diverse audiences. There is much work to do but the Creative Commons licenses already provide legal tools that are easy to understand, fit for the digital age, machine readable and consistently applied across content platforms.

So, what’s really wrong with the STM licenses? First, and most fundamentally, it is difficult to determine what each license and supplementary license is intended to do and how STM expects them each to be used. The Twelve Points to Make Open Access Licensing Work document attempts to explain its goals, but it is not at all clear how the various legal tools work to meet those objectives.

Second, none of the STM licenses comply with the Open Definition, as they all restrict commercial uses and derivatives to a significant extent. And they ignore the long-running benchmark for Open Access publishing: CC BY. CC BY is used by a majority of Open Access publishers, and is recommended as the optimal license for the publication, distribution, and reuse of scholarly work by the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

Third, the license terms and conditions introduce confusion and uncertainty into the world of open access publishing, a community in which the terminology and concepts utilized in CC’s standardized licenses are fairly well accepted and understood.

Fourth, the STM licenses claim to grant permission to do many things that re-users do not need permission to do, such as describing or linking to the licensed work. In addition, it’s questionable for STM to assume that text and data mining can be regulated by their licenses. Under the Creative Commons 4.0 licenses, a licensor grants the public permission to exercise rights under copyright, neighboring rights, and similar rights closely related to copyright (such as sui generis database rights). And the CC license only applies when at least one of these rights held by the licensor applies to the use made by the licensee. This is important because in some countries, text and data mining are activities covered by an exception or limitation to copyright (such as fair use in the United States), so no permission is needed. Most recently the United Kingdom enacted legislation specifically excepting noncommercial text and data mining from the reach of copyright.

Finally, STM’s “supplementary” licenses, which are intended for use with existing licenses, would only work with CC’s most restrictive license, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (BY-NC-ND). Even then they would have very limited legal effect, since much of what they claim to cover is already permitted by all CC licenses. As a practical matter, these license terms are likely to be very confusing to re-users when used in conjunction with a CC license.

The Creative Commons licenses are the demonstrated global standard for open access publishing. They’re used reliably by open access publishers around the world for sharing hundreds of thousands of research articles. Scholarly publishing presents a massive potential to increase our understanding of science. And creativity always builds on the past, whether it be a musician incorporating samples into a new composition or a cancer researcher re-using data from past experiments in their current work.

But to fully realize innovations in science, technology, and medicine, we need clear, universal legal terms so that a researcher can incorporate information from a variety of sources easily and effectively. The research community can enable these flows of information and promote discoveries by sharing writings, data, and analyses in the public commons. We’ve already built the legal tools to support content sharing. Let’s use them and not reinvent the wheel.

Questions should be directed to press@creativecommons.org.

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Creative Commons announces launch of CC Belarus

Gwen Franck, August 6th, 2014

Creative Commons leaflet
Creative Commons leaflet / Sviatlana Yermakovich / CC BY-SA

Creative Commons is happy to announce the launch of CC Belarus. Youth organization Falanster is now the belarusian Creative Commons affiliate team!

On August 29, the official launch of CC Belarus will take place in Minsk. For now, CC Belarus will focus on the following topics:

  • researching the applicability of Creative Commons licenses in Belarusian legislation
  • connect with foreign teams to exchange experiences
  • organizing open discussions on adding Creative Commons licenses to Belarusian law
  • create a platform to discuss the reform of Belarusian Copyright Law
  • inform the Belarusian public about Creative Commons

Falanster began using Creative Commons licenses on its own sites (falanster.by, pirates.by, drupal-sliot.by), has been hosting meetings to endorse the open source principles, organised the Minsk Open Data Day in 2014, and has hosted several summer courses with lectures and panel discussions about copyright law and necessary reforms. Since 2013, Falanster has been holding Wiki-Days periodically, encouraging participants to add articles and photos to Wikipedia (Belarusian, Russian, English). The team has also been spreading information about Creative Commons through leaflets.

More about the CC Belarus team and contact information

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School of Open Africa to launch in September

Kayode Yussuf, August 5th, 2014

SOO AfricaV2
(SOO logo here. Earth icon licensed CC BY by Erin Standley from the Noun Project.)

After months of discussions, deliberations, and planning between CC staff, African Regional Coordinators, African Affiliate teams, and others in the open space, Creative Commons Africa is set to storm Africa by having a continent-wide launch for School of Open in September.

School of Open is a global community of volunteers providing free online courses, face-to-face workshops, and innovative training programs on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age. Through School of Open, you can learn how to add a Creative Commons license to your work, find free resources for classroom use, open up your research, remix a music video, and more!

School of Open programs will be launched in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, and South Africa in September on a series of topics ranging from Creative Commons licensing, intellectual property protection, open society concepts, and the Linux operating system .

Strategic collaborations are underway with the Mozilla Foundation, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, WikiAfrica, University of Lagos, University of Tanzania, and the Institute of Educational Management Technology of the Open University of Tanzania to make the launch a success.

School of Open Kenya  

School of Open Kenya already started out as a trail blazer by organizing a two-week after school program that introduces high school students to open culture through the use of online School of Open courses and related open educational resources (OER). The training was designed to satisfy the academic needs of the students and to enable the students to use open tools such as Creative Commons licenses to create and share knowledge, as well as learning required subjects in new and creative ways. The students integrated the School of Open training into their school work and were able to produce projects such as this Titration Demo video by the Lenana School under CC BY. Despite its long strides, Jamlab and CC Kenya are not resting their oars; they will be launching a Train the Trainers program this September where they will train 10+ community members to organize and run SOO workshops in more high schools and in neighboring countries. SOO Kenya will also host a SOO Africa launch event and Maker Party entitled PopJam. Jamlab + CC Kenya, in collaboration with Mozilla Kenya and Wikipedia Kenya, will host the event for 5 high schools in the region. Stay tuned for details!

School of Open South Africa  

CC South Africa hosts three projects under the School of Open initiative. The first is the #OpenAfrica project where in conjunction with WikiAfrica, open advocates from Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda and Ghana were put through an “open” bootcamp. The month-long camp covered Creative Commons, Wikipedia, Open Street Maps, Open Educational Resources (OER), Open Data, Open Government, and related fundraising and community building skills. Advocates returned equipped with “open” knowledge and skills to their home countries to influence and spur their communities into action. This has resulted in the creation of new CC affiliate teams in Ethiopia and Cote d’Ivoire and the launch of open mandated tech hubs in these communities.

Launching off #OpenAfrica, participants were invited to compete for the first Kumusha Bus stop. The Kumusha Bus is an African adaption of the South American Libre Bus. Ethiopia ‘won’ the first Kumusha Bus stop. The team spent four days inspiring, teaching and sharing at GIZ Headquarters in Addis Ababa. Participants from Sheger Media, AIESEC and Addis Ababa University were in attendance. The four days resulted in the launch of Project Luwi. Luwi is an open source project, aiming to increase the application of open source information and communication technologies (ICT). Luwi intends to create a local community of interested volunteers that is able to foster motivation and creativity around Open Educational Resources (OERs) and supports a culture of sharing information freely in Ethiopia.

The third project is the Creative Commons for Kids program (CC4Kids). CC4Kids was built with Obami, a South Africa-based social learning platform. The course is self-taught and takes about 45 minutes to complete. CC South Africa was invited to teach its first course as part of a Maker Party at the Code for Cape Town project (Code4CT) with 24 grade 10 and 11 girls from the Centre for Science and Technology (COSAT) in Cape Town, South Africa. For three weeks the girls were trained on how the web works and actively participated in building web content. Instead of policing students’ actions, CC4Kids teaches youth how to open and share their creative and educational works legally through the use of CC licenses. All the girls now have simple web pages they created. CC4Kids’ next Maker Party will be held at RLabs in August. Stay tuned!

School of Open Tanzania  

CC Tanzania is planning to host three sets of trainings. The first will be an ICT empowerment training for unemployed youth, the second will focus on teaching persons with disabilities how to use computers, and the third will focus on training educators on using ICT to improve how they teach their students. Participants will become new School of Open volunteers, improving and running future training programs as a way to give back to and grow their community. Development will be led by CC Tanzania volunteers with expertise in law, journalism, and information technology. CC Tanzania will host a joint SOO Africa launch event + Mozilla Maker Party, date and location TBD.

School of Open Nigeria  

CC Nigeria will, in five weekends, train participants on Nigerian copyright law, intellectual property protection, and the Linux operating system. The training will have two tracks: the first track being copyright law and the second being the Linux operating System. Participants will have the opportunity to choose either or both tracks. CC Nigeria also plans to host a joint SOO Africa launch event + Mozilla Maker Party during the training. During the event, experienced web users will train participants on easy ways to creating content using Mozilla tools.

SOO Nigeria links:

After the continent-wide launch, participants who attended the courses will have together obtained and built knowledge of open culture, IP protection and ICT skills.

Stay tuned to this blog or sign up for School of Open Announcements to be notified when each program launches in September! Learn more about how you can get involved with the School of Open at http://schoolofopen.org.


About Maker Party

School of Open and Creative Commons is excited to be partnering with Mozilla to celebrate teaching and learning the web with Maker Party. Through thousands of community-run events around the world, Maker Party unites educators, organizations and enthusiastic Internet users of all ages and skill levels.

We share Mozilla’s belief that the web is a global public resource that’s integral to modern life: it shapes how we learn, how we connect and how we communicate. But many of us don’t understand its basic mechanics or what it means to be a citizen of the web. That’s why we’re supporting this global effort to teach web literacy through hands-on learning and making with Maker Party.

About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community for developing and running free online courses.

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Rijksmuseum case study: Sharing free, high quality images without restrictions makes good things happen

Timothy Vollmer, July 30th, 2014

SK-A-3584small

Girl in white kimono, George Hendrik Breitner, 1894; CC0

Yesterday Europeana published a great case study documenting the experiences of the Dutch Rijksmuseum in opening up access to their collection of digital public domain images. The case study was written by Joris Pekel, community coordinator for cultural heritage at the Europeana Foundation. Over the last few years, Europeana has worked with the Rijksmuseum in order to make available at the highest quality possible images of public domain artworks held by the museum.

The report discusses the Rijksmuseum’s initial apprehension to sharing these high quality images of public domain works. The museum originally planned to share the digital reproductions of public domain works under an open license, such as the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY). But after some convincing by organizations that advocate for unrestricted access to the public domain, the Rijksmuseum began to open its collections more by choosing to use the CC0 Public Domain Dedication for the digital reproductions.

The Rijksmuseum began to experiment with how it would offer high quality reproductions of the public domain artworks. The museum adopted a mission-driven approach, and staff understood the opportunity to showcase the best of the museum’s collection as a promotional tool. The marketing department argued that “…The core goal of the museum is to get the collection out and known to the public as much as possible…[and] the digital reproduction of an item would pique public interest in it, leading them to buy tickets to the museum to see the real deal.” The Rijksmuseum also realized that by releasing high quality digital reproductions of works out of copyright, it could help educate the public by providing true-color images and accurate metadata about the works.

Instead of worrying that making available high quality digital reproductions of public domain artwork for free would destroy a piece of the museum’s revenue stream, the Rijksmuseum initially adopted a hybrid approach. They made images available in two sizes: .jpg images at approximately 4500×4500 pixels were free, while the huge 200MB master .tiff files were made available for €40. The museum saw a steady increase in revenue from image sales, but eventually decided to discontinue the tiered offerings. Since October 2013 the Rijksmuseum has been releasing their highest quality images for free.

The Rijksmuseum has found a way to support broad access to its rich collection of cultural heritage resources. And it’s done so in such as way that promotes interest by new audiences, recuperates costs, and upholds the principles of supporting unrestricted access to the digital public domain.

Take a look at the full case study.

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“Why Open?” course now open for sign-up

Jane Park, July 22nd, 2014

Project 365 #303: 301009 Blink And You'll Miss It!
Project 365 #303: 301009 Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY

Another run of School of Open courses is starting up in August, September and October! The first course to kick things off is a second iteration of “Why Open?” “Why Open?” was collaboratively developed and facilitated one year ago in August 2013; now the facilitators are back to run it a second time from 10 August to 5 September 2014. What is “Why Open?” From its About page,

Why Open? What does open mean? Does it mean free? Does it mean without restriction? What is the role of the producer? What is the role of the consumer? Why is open important? How does open relate to you and your area of expertise?

In this course, we will discuss and answer these questions. With your help, we will explore the different meanings of open in various contexts as well as its benefits and issues. Participants will use open practices to complete a series of open activities that builds into a final project.

Facilitators include Christina Hendricks (Philosophy lecturer at the University of British Columbia), Simeon Oriko (School of Open Kenya Initiative), Jeanette Lee (English lit and writing teacher), and myself.

Read more about the course over at the School of Open blog.

Sign-up is open now through 10 August; to join, simply click the ‘Start Course’ button on the lower left of the course page.

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Wattpad upgrades to Version 4.0 of CC licenses

Elliot Harmon, July 21st, 2014

Fiction-writing community Wattpad has upgraded to the Creative Commons Version 4.0 licenses and unveiled several improvements to its CC implementation. As of today, there are 300,000 CC-licensed stories on Wattpad, making this one of the largest adoptions of Version 4.0 to date.

From the press release: (72 KB PDF)

“The biggest question facing new writers today isn’t how to protect their work; it’s how to find a readership for it, said Cory Doctorow, science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger. “It makes complete sense that so many Wattpad writers are gravitating toward Creative Commons licenses: by giving others permission to share your writing, you can open doors to new audiences and new creative opportunities.” Cory Doctorow has shared five stories on Wattpad under CC licenses, including New York Times best-selling novels Homeland and Little Brother. Today, to coincide with the roll out of CC 4.0, he will share his first novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom on Wattpad.

“All knowledge and culture owes something to what came before it – it’s this public commons of ideas that forms the foundation of our society,” said Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley. “I’m excited that the Wattpad community will have Creative Commons’ simple, free tools to share their work, to re-use the works of others, and to contribute to the global creative community.”

Read the full press release and find more information in Wattpad’s announcement. Congratulations to Wattpad and its community of 30 million writers and readers!

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School of Open’s CC4Kids at the Code4CT Maker Party

Kelsey Wiens, July 18th, 2014

Code4CT girls with cc4kids certificates
Code4CT girls with cc4kids certificates / Kelsey Wiens / CC BY

#Code4CT is a three-week training program from Innovate South Africa with twenty-four grade 10 and 11 girls from Centre for Science and Technology (COSAT) in Khayelitsha (Cape Town, South Africa). The three-week course consists of sessions on how the web works and actively participating in building web content. Running over the girls winter school break, they learn about the design process, HTML and CSS programming languages – skills they use to build WordPress sites for their clients. The girls then take their new skills and create mobile sites for local community organizations to benefit their communities.

We were lucky enough to be invited with Obami (learning platform) to test out the School of Open CC4Kids program. The program was funded through a Creative Commons Affiliate Project Grant. We have run the course through a self-study platform but this was the first time running it in real life. We were inspired by how quickly the girls took to the course content. The course’s modules focus on basics of Copyright and CC licenses – by the end of the hour, the girls were creating their own CC licensed material!

It was an inspiring day. A highlight of the day was the girls remixing the Pharrell Williams dance steps from “Happy” as a remix exercise Hack the Happy Dance. We are also attending their “pitch” sessions today to see what mobile apps they designed.

Thanks to Code4CT and Mozilla for the opportunity to be part of Maker Party! And stay tuned for more Maker Parties to be hosted by us and other CC/School of Open volunteers as part of the School of Open Africa Launch in August and September.


About Maker Party

School of Open and Creative Commons is excited to be partnering with Mozilla to celebrate teaching and learning the web with Maker Party. Through thousands of community-run events around the world, Maker Party unites educators, organizations and enthusiastic Internet users of all ages and skill levels.

We share Mozilla’s belief that the web is a global public resource that’s integral to modern life: it shapes how we learn, how we connect and how we communicate. But many of us don’t understand its basic mechanics or what it means to be a citizen of the web. That’s why we’re supporting this global effort to teach web literacy through hands-on learning and making with Maker Party.

About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community for developing and running free online courses.

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European Commission endorses CC licenses as best practice for public sector content and data

Timothy Vollmer, July 17th, 2014

Today the European Commission released licensing recommendations to support the reuse of public sector information in Europe. In addition to providing guidance on baseline license principles for public sector content and data, the guidelines suggest that Member States should adopt standardized open licenses – such as Creative Commons licenses:

Several licences that comply with the principles of ‘openness’ described by the Open Knowledge Foundation to promote unrestricted re-use of online content, are available on the web. They have been translated into many languages, centrally updated and already used extensively worldwide. Open standard licences, for example the most recent Creative Commons (CC) licences (version 4.0), could allow the re-use of PSI without the need to develop and update custom-made licences at national or sub-national level. Of these, the CC0 public domain dedication is of particular interest. As a legal tool that allows waiving copyright and database rights on PSI, it ensures full flexibility for re-users and reduces the complications associated with handling numerous licences, with possibly conflicting provisions.

The Commission’s recommendations warn against the the development of customized licenses, which could break interoperability of public sector information across the EU. The guidelines clearly state that license conditions should be standardized and contain minimal requirements (such as attribution-only).

In order to proactively promote the re-use of the licenced material, it is advisable that the licensor grants worldwide (to the extent allowed under national law), perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable (to the extent allowed under national law) and non-exclusive rights to use the information covered by the licence… it is advisable that [licenses] cover attribution requirements only, as any other obligations may limit licensees’ creativity or economic activity, thereby affecting the re-use potential of the documents in question.

This is a welcome outcome that will hopefully provide a clear path for data providers and re-users. It’s great to see this endorsement after our efforts alongside our affiliate network to advocate for clear best practices in sharing of content and data. The recommendation benefits from CC’s free international 4.0 licenses, saving governments time and money, and maximizing compatibility and reuse.

Kudos to the Commission and the assistance provided by LAPSI, Open Knowledge, and others.

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Michael Carroll to Congress: “Copyrights have to expire.”

Elliot Harmon, July 17th, 2014

This week, Creative Commons US lead and CC board member Michael Carroll addressed the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. In his address, he emphasized that the success of Creative Commons tools doesn’t eliminate the need for copyright reform; it underscores it. He also laid out the case for why Congress should not extend copyright terms again.

Congress, copyrights have to expire. The constitution says so.

Congress’ power to grant the exclusive right to authors in their writings is for a limited time. That limited time currently lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. From an economic perspective, to promote the progress of science means to provide a sufficient incentive for both the creator and the investors in the creative process to make a fair return on that investment. Life plus 70 is far longer than necessary to achieve that goal.

Professor Carroll’s testimony begins at 1:30:

Professor Carroll asked Congress to consider a move to the way copyright law in the US functioned prior to the Copyright Act of 1976, which went into effect in 1978. The pre-1978 system offered creators an initial term of 28 years and an option to opt in to a second 28-year term. You can read Professor Carroll’s written testimony on the Creative Commons US blog.

Correction: This post previously referred to the Copyright Act of 1976 as the Copyright Act of 1978. The Act passed in 1976 and went into effect on January 1, 1978.

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