CC Global Summit 2015: Seoul, October 15-17

Ryan Merkley, April 8th, 2015

After an exhaustive process, we’re proud to announce that the 2015 CC Global Summit will be in Seoul, South Korea. The CC Korea team put forward an exciting bid, and have proven their experience and skill at planning conferences. I have every confidence that they’ll be a great partner in producing the conference. In addition, this year marks their 10th anniversary, so we will be able to celebrate their accomplishments with our international community.

The conference will run from Thursday Oct. 15 to Saturday Oct. 17, 2015.

We will put out a public call for papers and workshops shortly. There will be more information soon, but for now, anyone interested can sign up for more information at https://summit.creativecommons.org.

This year, we hope to not only build a conference that allows the CC family to come together to work on important issues, but also to expand our invitation list to include organizations and individuals who want to work with us on shared projects that advance the cause of the Commons, free culture and open knowledge. I’m confident that a “bigger tent” strategy will help strengthen CC and grow our community globally.

So if you’re active and engaged in the worlds of open content and knowledge — free software and free culture advocates, Wikipedians, Open Knowledge, galleries, libraries, museums, archives, governments and foundations, lawyers, and activists — we hope you’ll consider joining us this year to build a stronger, more vibrant commons together.

I’m really excited for this year’s event, and hope to see you there.

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Great news for the commons: Flickr now supports CC0 and the CC Public Domain Mark

Ryan Merkley, March 30th, 2015

( CC0 and Public Domain Mark)

Today we’re extremely pleased to announce that Flickr now allows its users to share images under CC0, Creative Commons’ international public domain dedication. Flickr also announced they will allow users to share work in the public domain using our Public Domain Mark (PDM). Flickr is the largest repository of CC-licensed photos on the web, and CC0 and the Public Domain Mark will give creators even more ways to share their works and those in the public domain to expand the commons.

Why is this big news for Flickr and Creative Commons? CC0 maximizes the potential creative use of works by dedicating them, without restrictions, to the commons. By doing so, creators enable others to freely and without condition build upon those works in ways that advance science, education, scholarship, and literature, sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways.

Many Creative Commons photographers on Flickr have been asking for CC0. With this announcement Flickr users will be able to choose from among our six standard licenses, our public domain dedication, and they will also be able to mark others’ works that are in the public domain. Adding CC0 and PDM to Flickr is an unprecedented win for the commons and for free creativity and knowledge on the internet.

(CRS-5 Falcon 9 rocket / SpaceX / CC0)

The topic of awesome public domain and CC0 imagery was in the news about a week ago when SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk announced that all of SpaceX’s incredible photographs are dedicated to the worldwide public domain. SpaceX will be moving all of their images on Flickr to CC0. Wikimedians have also helped SpaceX to declare a gallery of images as CC0 on Wikimedia Commons.

For years, galleries, museums, and others to whom the the public has entrusted important cultural heritage works have leveraged CC0 as an internationally-recognized way to share digitized copies of works and the metadata that enables search. Europeana now boasts no fewer than 26,000 images under CC0, as well as more than 3.6 million works marked as public domain worldwide using our Public Domain Mark. The availability of CC0 as a means for digitizers of works in the public domain to eliminate any “thin” copyright on public domain works they digitize, or for individuals who wish to eliminate their own copyright, allows the global public to freely create and publish the next great thing. And the availability of the Public Domain Mark to signal a work is globally free of copyright restrictions further empowers creators to stand on the shoulders of those who created before them.

What’s the difference?
Using CC0, a creator enables the public to freely reuse and remix a work without limitation. This is because the author/creator waives all conditions including attribution (although citation is supported) and encourages others to reuse the work in any way, including commercially. We know that Creative Commons supporters, including many photographers in the Flickr community, have been seeking the ability to use CC0 on Flickr since it was was published almost exactly 6 years ago today. This also offers remixers clear and simple terms when seeking out a work to build upon. Many “no known copyright” images are too uncertain to build upon, while CC0 offers a clear dedication to free use and re-use. Once fully implemented, users will be able to move some or all of their works on Flickr to CC0.

The Public Domain Mark is used to denote works out of copyright or in the worldwide public domain. Developed with reference to “no known copyright” statements adopted by many leading cultural heritage institutions, including contributors to Flickr Commons, the PDM is the only mark of its kind, and the only widely-adopted and globally accepted mark that communicates a work’s public domain status worldwide.

Flickr’s leadership
We are very happy to recognize Flickr’s longstanding commitment to the Creative Commons licenses, their community of CC photographers/videographers, and to the public good that is our shared commons and heritage.

Incorporating CC0 and PDM into Flickr has been a long term wish of ours, and we’re happy to see it happen today. There were many who helped along the way, but special thanks to CC General Counsel Diane Peters and also to Jane Park, who now leads CC’s platform engagement team.

We anticipate that Flickr’s stewardship of CC-licensed content and public domain materials will continue to grow now that users can take advantage of the full breadth of our legal tools.

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A Masterwork in Simplicity: The Story of the CC Logo

Jay Walsh, March 25th, 2015

This story was researched and written in collaboration with Creative Commons staff. You can also read the story on Medium.

On February 14, 2015 New York’s Museum of Modern Art welcomed the public to a new exhibit, “This is For Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good.” Inspired by a short tweet made by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, “This is For Everyone” includes an array of fascinating objects, concepts, designs, and artworks that were conceived to serve the global public in sometimes unexpected or serendipitous ways. Winding through the exhibit, viewers will find curious and ubiquitous objects and technology that speak to the empowerment of individual creativity. Displayed on the white walls next to the internationally embraced symbols for the on/off button, recycling, and the @ symbol, one will find a mark of equally great significance: the “double-C in a circle,” or simply, the “CC,” Creative Commons mark.

Creative Commons logo and installation view of “This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good” by Jim.Henderson
Copyright and related rights waived via CC0

This most visible icon of the free culture movement is on view in the exhibit, but the MoMA took even further steps to recognize the impact and importance of the “CC” logo and its accompanying ShareAlike, NonCommercial, Attribution, and NoDerivatives icons. On March 4, 2015 MoMA Senior Curator Paolo Antonelli announced that the Creative Commons logo had been formally acquired as part of the museum’s permanent collection. It is both a symbolic and very practical kind of acquisition. As part of the collection, the icons and their history will enjoy perpetual protection and recognition by MoMA. But their work is far from complete: like so many of the other instantly-recognizable icons in the MoMA collection, the “CC” logo will continue to be used and appreciated by millions of people in millions of situations, and for many years to come.

The logos have had an incredible influence on the Internet and global society, and far-reaching, future impacts are coalescing every day. The world knows a lot more about Creative Commons in 2015 than it did almost 14 years ago when the organization was founded, but few know how the logos came to be, who created them, and what informed their creation.

The Creative Commons logos are special and powerful symbols that speak to the origin and roots of the organization that created them. Creative Commons was founded in 2001 by law professor Lawrence Lessig, Hal Abelson, and Eric Eldred to address a problem created by antiquated copyright laws in the U.S. and around the world. In an era where it was becoming easier to share works via the Internet, copyright law seemed to be moving in the other direction by increasing term limits and restrictions on reuse. Amidst this tension, how could artists, researchers, and other creators share their works widely and freely online without infringing on each other’s copyright? At the time, there was no way for a creator to grant blanket permissions for reuse, other than to hire their own lawyer to write custom copyright terms. Creative Commons rose to tackle this challenge with its revolutionary, human- and machine-readable copyright licenses, which anyone could freely use. But with these powerful new licenses in hand, how would people be able to visibly indicate their preferences for reuse?

A designer and a roomful of lawyers get to work

Glenn Otis Brown joined as the second Executive Director of Creative Commons in 2002, taking over for Molly Shaffer Van Houweling to oversee the launch of the CC license suite. Along with Van Houweling, the organization’s founders, early staff and Board collaborators Neeru Paharia and Ben Adida, Brown played a key role in developing the first versions of the human- and machine-readable licenses, and would ultimately be presented with the challenge of building the visual identity system for Creative Commons.

It was a random encounter on a plane leaving SXSW in 2002 when Glenn bumped into designer/animator (and former classmate) Ryan Junell, that led to a graphic design and branding project which would ultimately bring about the Creative Commons logos. Ryan and Glenn were originally classmates at the University of Texas at Austin in the mid-90’s, sitting in on lectures that covered the early and optimistic days of the Internet, and gaining an advanced understanding of how the web would shift perspectives on sharing and copyright.

When Glenn and Ryan reconnected in 2001 Glenn had a big vision for Creative Commons and an amazing design problem to solve. Progress on the CC licenses was well underway. A legal team and the early staff, including Molly and Glenn, were working hard at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society (founded by Lawrence Lessig in 2001) to craft these new, freely reusable licenses that were intended to be understood by both legal professionals in the world of IP law, and everyday creators and users with minimal legal experience or knowledge.

That early team already understood the importance of visual systems that could be used to convey simple but important information to the user, particularly to enhance the planned roll-out of a simple, web-based license chooser system. Color coding of yellow and green was used to express the level of openness for each specific license, with a strong urging for creators to go green and make their work as open as possible to maximize their contribution to the commons. But the question kept coming up — how do we visualize these powerful, new licenses? How could the license deeds be complemented with some kind of visualization or mark? What could be conveyed through those symbols? In the words of Larry Lessig, the Creative Commons identity “needed to be distinctive, yet teach through its design.”

CC license spectrum

Molly, Glenn and the team knew they needed a strong mark to further convey what each unique license meant, as well as a grander identity to tie them altogether. An identity not unlike the prevailing symbol of copyright in the world, the unmistakable and seemingly indomitable ©. Ryan Junell, who had been working at a series of design leadership roles with startups and design firms in the San Francisco Bay Area, accepted the unusual and exciting offer to create the public face of Creative Commons.

Two very busy weeks

The original project didn’t come with a traditional and detailed design brief. Ryan was plunged into the process, working directly with legal staff to gain an understanding of the licenses and what they meant. The licenses were a quick study for Ryan, having been exposed to the transformative ideas of a young Internet in the late 90’s, in addition to previous gigs with branding and identity projects in silicon valley. He was already well-versed in the complex issues of sharing and copyright in the early days of the web, and understood the importance of a clear and simple way of conveying the spirit and detail of the licenses. He was also thrilled with the idea of working once again in a challenging, high-tempo academic setting.

Ryan and the CC team committed two weeks to the research and study of the new visual system, an ambitious schedule for any design project, much less one that would grow to have such a powerful and broad influence. Inherently, they knew the visuals needed to be simple and effective. They knew they needed a system of icons, and that this system would have to work as efficiently on the printed page as on a web page, video credit crawl, or signage. It should be possible to evoke the symbol with a keyboard [e.g. (CC)] or be easy to draw and recreate free-hand. Creative Commons was focused on global impact, so the system would also have to work across borders and cultures. It would also need to be bold and direct,not overly intricate or sophisticated.

Creative Commons logo development, 2002. courtesy Ryan Junell

CC logo

“If you create a question, you create
a reason for people to try to listen.”

Ryan worked through dozens of prototypes, studying the prevalent icons and systems at work at the time, and experimenting with riffs on typography, geometry, and unique letterforms. He shared iterations of early concepts, but the team was immediately drawn to the simple and clear form of the double-c letterforms in a circle. That concept came to Ryan early in the process, and it was idea that felt natural appropriate. He knew it echoed the classic copyright symbol, but it also felt simple, direct, and because of its deviation from the copyright symbol, more welcoming. As Larry later stated, “the multiple meanings of (c) doubled was important. If you create a question, you create a reason for people to try to listen.”

The early concept went through two brisk rounds of improvements but there were minimal changes or diversions from that simple original idea.

With the final “CC” concept clear, it was only a few more steps to build out the rest of the system. Other relevant symbols – the stroked dollar sign, circle-arrow, and originally the letterforms “BY” were suspended in the same bold circle and used to indicate the variants of the licenses: NonCommercial, ShareAlike, and Attribution. As a layered system, these icons were meant to reflect a spectrum of permissions, and would grow to present themselves in their most recognizable, rectangular button forms, set against grey, white, and black.

Public Domain

Akzidenz-Grotesk, a modern marvel

It was a masterstroke of design simplicity, and a brilliant way to portray the sharing intent of the licenses. A playful but confident relationship with the traditional copyright logo gave the “CC” logo an instant recognizability, but also a truly unique identity.

Junell set the original “CC” and the subsequent, lowercase Creative Commons wordmark in Akzidenz-Grotesk, an elegant and bold typeface created in the 19th century by Günter Gerhard Lange. It is considered the first true sans-serif typeface, and became a precursor to hundreds, possibly thousands, of subsequent sans-serif typeface through the 20th century. Popular amongst design-thinking tech companies of the time, it also evokes a spirit of simple, clear, public-minded and modern typography. The typeface is instantly recognizable as a mainstay of environmental and way-finding graphics. It is the progenitor of its more recognizable sibling, Helvetica (created in the late 1950’s), and to this day it is still the official typeface of the International Red Cross and its global chapters.

Animating the logo

The Creative Commons team had the identity in place, but they also knew they wanted a more animated, multi-media approach to make a bigger splash. It was early days of internet video (and low bandwidths for average users) but Junell had experience as an animator and was able to develop an idea for a Flash-based video, the first of several videos Creative Commons would release to tell the story of Creative Commons, and to convince new users to take advantage of the new licenses and icons.

Get Creative” was the first video in this effort, and featured a case study inspired by a real-world creative reuse situation about the White Stripes. Written by Glenn Otis Brown and directed and animated by Junell, the video set the stage for a new and vibrant outreach effort with artists, writers, academics and researchers that continues today. Junell and others often credit this video with being as critical a part of defining the visual story as the logos themselves. In the spirit of the video, digital comic stories also appeared, illustrated by Junell, and written and designed by Neeru Paharia.

From “Spectrum of Rights” by Neeru Paharia, Matt Haughey, and Ryan Junell / CC BY

The initial reception to the release of the licenses and the new logos was incredibly positive. The story brought a breath of fresh air to the technology media, much of which was still reeling from the gloomy, post-bubble narrative. Early adopters of the CC licenses, including MIT, the Internet Archive, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sung the project’s praises and embraced the logos for their own CC licensed content. On t-shirts, stickers, pins and signs the logo grew and spread, quickly becoming one (if not ‘the’) prominent brand of the free culture movement. Evangelists, artists, coders and writers in the know proudly showed their support for CC by stickering their laptops, notebooks, and mobile phones. More zealous fans chiseled or dyed the logo into their hair during tech conferences, and more than a few CC tattoos found their way onto the most diehard supporters. The logo was well on its way to becoming the internationally recognizable symbol it is today.

cc tattoo
The back of this man’s head has a Creative Commons license by George Kelly / CC BY-NC-ND

The logos grow and adapt

The Creative Commons logos found themselves in an increasingly vast and complex Internet by 2005. The system was still simple enough to work in a wide variety of settings, and new platforms like Flickr and eventually Wikipedia and others would be able to incorporate the licenses and the logos in effective and visible ways. But as the logos became more popular and more global, it was evident that the original concepts would need to be updated. The use of the dollar symbol and the reliance on the ‘BY’ text were the two most prominent challenges. Both were conventional for western, English-speaking audiences but were impractical for use internationally.

Alex Roberts, who began working with Creative Commons in 2005 as its Senior Designer, was tasked with the sensitive job of updating and expanding the logos and looking at a variety of new use cases and scenarios. He introduced the simple stick figure as a replacement for ‘BY’ in the Attribution icon, created the new CC Zero icon, and created two new currency icons with the euro and yen symbols to show variation and internationalization of the NonCommercial logos.

Additions to the logo family, by Alex Roberts

Roberts also produced the now-standard slim, rectangular license buttons that are in use on millions of websites today, and worked to improve the readability, layout, and clarity of individual license deeds. Roberts is recognized by the MoMA alongside Ryan Junell as a collaborator in the creation and enhancement of the overall design system.

The new logos appeared in an updated Creative Commons explainer video in 2006. “Wanna Work Together?” was again animated by Ryan Junell, and by then Creative Director Eric Steuer.

Today, Ryan Junell is a creative producer working in the greater NYC area. CC’s first Executive Director, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, is a current CC Board member and Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Glenn Otis Brown was Executive Director of Creative Commons from 2002 to 2005 and is now an executive with Twitter based in New York City. Alex Roberts was Senior Designer at Creative Commons from 2005 to 2011 and is now a Software Engineer at Eventbrite.

The CC logos today and beyond

Since 2006 the Creative Commons logos have gone through no significant changes, and the CC 4.0 licenses and their representative logos are poised to continue their march towards ever greater visibility and prominence on the web. Their state as acquired by MoMA earlier this month is likely how they will remain for decades or centuries to come, an indicator of the simple elegance and effectiveness of the visuals and the lasting importance of the power of sharing.

In 2014 Creative Commons’ State of the Commons report counted the number of CC works at well over 882 million (with some estimates suggesting that number is well over 1 billion), coming from more than 10 million sites on the web. The majority of those works are available under one of the three most free licenses, ensuring their maximum benefit to the commons. Wikipedia and its sister projects provide virtually all of their media and knowledge under one form or another of the CC licenses, in addition to public domain. Flickr hosts hundreds of millions of CC images and videos alone, and Creative Commons videos and media thrive on Vimeo, YouTube, the Internet Archive and other major media platforms. Millions of students around the world are learning through freely reusable, Creative Commons licensed textbooks, curricula, and other teaching tools.

Creative Commons looks forward to shepherding the logos through the coming decades and centuries as they continue to grow in impact and use. The Internet and the world around it changes more every single day, and we look forward to envisioning how these symbols and the knowledge and media they accompany will continue to flourish and impact the world in yet unknown ways.

Celebrating the CC logo with a specially designed t-shirt

Today we are also excited to announce the availability of an awesome new Creative Commons t-shirt. Thanks to our talented friends at the Noun Project and Teespring, we are inviting fans and supporters to purchase this limited edition t-shirt that proudly celebrates the CC logo. You can read more about the campaign at this blog post, or head over to Teespring to claim your shirt right now – this one-time campaign runs from March 24 to April 7, 2015.

teespring shirts



Press release: Creative Commons Launches Special Edition Commemorative Tee

Jay Walsh, March 25th, 2015


Partners with Noun Project and Teespring to design and sell exclusive t-shirt celebrating “CC” logo acquisition by MoMA; Proceeds to support Creative Commons

SAN FRANCISCO – MARCH 25, 2015 – Creative Commons has partnered with crowdsourced visual dictionary Noun Project and commerce platform Teespring to release a custom t-shirt celebrating the “CC” logo’s acquisition into the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. The special edition t-shirt will be available for a limited time only. Proceeds will benefit Creative Commons to further their work in growing and protecting the commons.

Designed by the Noun Project, the commemorative t-shirt celebrates the lasting impact and international recognition of the Creative Commons “double-c in a circle” or “CC” logo. The logo, originally designed for Creative Commons in 2002 by designer Ryan Junell, is recognized as the global standard for creative sharing, remixing, and reuse. Creators, educators, and remixers use the logo to indicate their adoption of one or more variants of the Creative Commons license.

In March 2015 MoMA recognized the ubiquity and significance of the Creative Commons logo by including it in their permanent design collection. The logo can be viewed alongside other imminently recognizably marks such as the @ and recycling symbols as part of the MoMA exhibit “This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good,” organized by senior curator, Paola Antonelli.

“On behalf of the global Creative Commons community I want to thank Teespring and Noun Project for launching this collaboration to celebrate our beloved CC logo,” said Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley. “This commemorative design is a beautiful remix that represents what Creative Commons is all about: Noun Project’s freely reusable iconography depicting a range of sharing and remixing activities within the Commons. We know fans of Creative Commons will wear it with pride.”

Noun Project, a long-time supporter and proponent of Creative Commons, designed the limited edition t-shirt to celebrate this milestone using pictograms uploaded by their community. Each pictogram in the design represents an industry or type of media influenced by Creative Commons, which encompasses fields as broad as the arts, science, medicine, and law.

“When opening our platform to submissions from creatives around the world, we knew we wanted to offer a clear and easy license that would enable anyone to share their work. Creative Commons was the perfect solution for helping us build and share the world’s visual language,” said Sofya Polyakov, CEO and Co-Founder of the Noun Project.

To bring this special edition t-shirt to life, Creative Commons and Noun Project have partnered with Teespring, the leading commerce platform for custom apparel. Launched in 2012, Teespring empowers entrepreneurs, creatives, influencers, and nonprofits to create and sell high­-quality products people love, with no cost or risk.

“At Teespring we strive to remove the barriers to bringing great ideas to market, which is why we have a unique respect and admiration for Creative Commons and the impact they’ve made for creators all over the world,” said Teespring Co-Founder and CEO, Walker Williams. “It’s an honor for us to partner with Creative Commons and Noun Project and help the community show their support for this meaningful cause and movement.”

This special edition Creative Commons tee will be available until April 8, 2015 at www.teespring.com/creativecommons.

You can read more about the history and origin of the Creative Commons logo at http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/45228.

Image assets can also be downloaded via zip file.

Press contacts

Creative Commons

Noun Project


About Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a globally-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier for people to share their creative works, and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Creative Commons provides free licenses and other legal tools to give individuals and organizations a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions for creative work, ensure proper attribution, and allow others to copy, distribute, and make use of those works. There are nearly 1 billion licensed works, hosted on some of the most popular content platforms in the world, and over 9 million individual websites.

About Noun Project
Noun Project is a crowdsourced visual dictionary of over 100,000 pictograms anyone can download and use. Their goal is to help people communicate ideas visually by building the world’s best resource for visual language.

About Teespring
Teespring is a commerce platform that enables anyone to create and sell products that people love, with no cost or risk. Teespring powers all aspects of bringing merchandise to life from production and manufacturing to supply chain, logistics, and customer service. By unlocking commerce for everyone, Teespring is creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs, influencers, community organizers, and anyone who rallies communities around specific causes or passions.

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Celebrate Creative Commons with a limited edition tee

Jay Walsh, March 25th, 2015


Today Creative Commons, the Noun Project, and Teespring.com are excited to announce an awesome, limited edition commemorative t-shirt celebrating our wonderful logo.

The shirt is available at Teespring.com/CreativeCommons, with all 100% of the proceeds going to support Creative Commons. It will be available until April 8, 2015 and sales start right now. Help us spread the word in all of your channels #celebrateCC

The shirt is comprised of dozens of unique, freely reusable and Creative Commons (or PD) licensed icons from the Noun Project (see a list of designers/artists below) as well as each of our primary sharing logos. Noun Project staff designers created this special edition of the logo, which was originally conceived by designer/animator Ryan Junell or Creative Commons in 2002.

You can read more about the history of the Creative Commons logos, and their recent acquisition by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, over here.


Our huge thanks to Noun Project and Teespring for helping us with this great initiative. We know Creative Commons supporters love apparel, and we think this is one of the best we’ve ever seen.

We also want to proudly recognize the work of the following Noun Project artists, illustrators, and designers whose icons and symbols make up the special edition, commemorative CC logo:

  • Edward Boatman
  • Stanislav Levin
  • Scott Lewis
  • Ryan Oksenhorn
  • Ethan Clark
  • Nathan Driskell
  • John Caserta
  • Thibault Geffroy
  • Jakub Ukrop
  • Travis Yunis
  • Hafizh
  • P.J. Onori
  • Alex Koplin
  • OCHA Visual Information Unit
  • Dmitry Baranovskiy
  • aartiraghu
  • Mateo Zlatar
  • Larissa Mancia
  • Megan Mitchell
  • Jardson Almeida
  • Lemon Liu
  • José Manuel de Laá
  • Iconathon
  • iconoci
  • Rémy Médard
  • Ricardo Moreira
  • Jeremy J Bristol
  • Sebastian Langer
  • Cole Townsend
  • Ken Messenger
  • Diego Naive
  • Clayton Meador
  • Weston Terrill
  • Martha Ormiston
  • Elves Sousa
  • Molly Bramlet
  • Joe Mortell
  • Hum
  • Stefan Parnarov
  • Brennan Novak
  • Dmitry Gennadyevich
  • Andrew Rockefeller
  • Natasha Fedorova
  • Icon Jungle
  • Roman J. Sokolov
  • Aimeê Ferreira
  • Duke Innovation Co-Lab
  • Eric Bird
  • Stephen Borengasser
  • Simple Icons
  • Ana Paula Tello
  • Alex Auda Samora
  • Cristiano Zoucas
  • Mister Pixel
  • Pham Thi Dieu Linh
  • SuperAtic LABS
  • useiconic.com
  • Björn Andersson
  • Guillermo Vera
  • Parker Foote
  • Andrew Nolte
  • Luis Prado
  • Cédric Villain
  • Digicoins Santiago
  • iconsmind.com
  • Mike Rowe
  • Haitham Almayman
  • Rohith M S
  • Alexander Romanov
  • Christopher T. Howlett
  • Nadir Balcikli
  • Eugen Belyakoff
  • Nico Tzogalis
  • Geovani Almeida
  • Mourad Mokrane
  • Greg Beck
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Wikimedia adopts open licensing policy for foundation-funded research

Timothy Vollmer, March 23rd, 2015

Last week the Wikimedia Foundation announced it is adopting an open access policy for research works created using foundation funds. According to their blog post, the new open access policy “will ensure that all research the Wikimedia Foundation supports through grants, equipment, or research collaboration is made widely accessible and reusable. Research, data, and code developed through these collaborations will be made available in Open Access venues and under a free license, in keeping with the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission to support free knowledge.”

The details of the open access policy can be found on the Wikimedia Foundation website. There will be an expectation that researchers receiving funds from the foundation will provide “unrestricted access to and reuse of all their research output…”. Published materials, proposals, and supporting materials will be covered under the open access policy. The policy states that media files must be made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license (the version currently used by Wikipedia), or any other free license. In addition, the policy requires that data be made available under an Open Definition-conformant license (with the CC0 Public Domain Dedication preferred), and that any source code be licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2.0 or any other Open Source Initiative-approved license.

The open access policy from the Wikimedia Foundation joins other institutions–including governments, philanthropic foundations, universities, and intergovernmental organizations who have adopted policies to increase access to important and useful information and data for the public good. Thanks to Wikimedia for their continued leadership in support of free knowledge for all.

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Creative Commons seeks a new director of development

Ryan Merkley, March 20th, 2015

Last year, Creative Commons posted a position for a Director of Development — someone to develop and lead our revenue strategy for 2015 and beyond. We knew it was urgent, but we weren’t ready. We had work to do on organizational strategy and budget before we could hire, so we pulled back. That work is now complete, and today, we’re re-posting this position with an updated job description.

The right person has a strong track record of fundraising strategy and implementation to lead our development programs, and build a more sustainable Creative Commons.Working directly with the CEO, the successful candidate will have experience in US fundraising, particularly major gifts, corporate donations and individual donors, with the numbers to back it up. We’re about a $3M global non-profit, with plans to grow in the coming years. In 2014, we had a strong year-end campaign that increased revenue by over 55 percent, and increased our retention rates by 10 percent. This is the right time for someone to join our team in a leadership role to author and grow our new revenue strategy.

A strong fundraiser can make all the difference in an organization like ours — making sure we have the funds we need to do our work: maintaining the licenses, advocating for open policies, advancing the cause of open education and more. If you’re the right candidate, or know someone who’s looking for an opportunity to shape the future of open content and knowledge around the world, please apply, or help spread the word.

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Are commercial publishers wrongly selling access to openly licensed scholarly articles?

Timothy Vollmer, March 13th, 2015

Ross Mounce, a postdoc at the University of Bath, recently wrote about how Elsevier charged him $31.50 for an “open access” research article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (BY-NC-ND) license. Mounce was understandably upset, because the article was originally published by another publisher – John Wiley  – and was made available freely on their website. Elsevier’s act of charging for access initially appeared improper because of Wiley’s use of a noncommercial license.

 This situation has sparked a debate among supporters of Open Access about whether or not Elsevier violated the terms of the BY-NC-ND license, and whether articles that are intended to be distributed freely can end up locked behind paywalls. This isn’t the first time this has happened; Peter Murray-Rust documented another instance of it last year. This kind of situation can leave researchers questioning why they should invest in ensuring that their research is distributed for free if another publisher can simply turn around and sell it – especially if the article carries a Creative Commons license that is supposed to restrict commercial use. Mounce complained to Elsevier about the arrangement, and as of March 9, they’ve removed the pay from the article and promised Mounce a refund. A representative from Elsevier claimed “there was some missing metadata for some of the OA articles,” thus apparently allowing for users to be charged for access to those openly licensed articles. Elsevier said it will investigate and reimburse others who purchased access to those articles on the Elsevier site during the time that the paywall was up. At the same time, Elsevier has hinted that it has the right to sell access to BY-NC-ND articles it holds because of a separate license they get from the author.

So, what is really going on here?

A fundamental feature of copyright law is that authors hold the copyright in any work they create. Authors have control over the permissions they grant beyond “all rights reserved” copyright. For example, an author could grant certain permissions by offering the work under a Creative Commons license (some rights reserved), or even place the work in the public domain (no rights reserved) using the CC0 Public Domain Dedication. And since the CC licenses are non-exclusive, an author can both share a work with a CC license, and also enter into a separate agreement that would allow a publisher to sell it.

It is common for an author to sign a publication agreement with a publisher that may grant additional rights to the publisher independent of a CC license. And if an author agrees to a particular set of separate permissions for the publisher, then the publisher could offer the author’s article on those terms–for example, the ability to sell access to a work–even if the work was originally made available under a noncommercial open license. The authors of the article in question may have signed an agreement like this when the article was originally accepted for publication with Wiley. If this is the case, then Wiley would likely have been able to transfer or sell those rights to Elsevier when Elsevier acquired the article. However, there is no way to know for sure that this is what happened without seeing the publication agreement the authors signed with the publisher.

The question really boils down to: Who owns the copyright to the article? And did the copyright holder grant permission to Elsevier for commercial use?

According to the copyright notice in the article, the copyright belongs to the authors. Mounce contacted the lead author earlier this week. The author said he was not aware that Elsevier was selling the article, and had not granted Elsevier permission to do so. If Elsevier was relying solely on the BY-NC-ND license for its use of the article, it seems likely that their action would have violated the noncommercial restriction by charging for access to the work on the Elsevier site.

Elsevier’s own policies raise one additional question. For the majority of articles they publish, Elsevier retains “the exclusive right to publish and distribute an article, and to grant rights to others, including for commercial purposes.” But their copyright terms state that for open access articles, “Elsevier will apply the relevant third party user license where Elsevier publishes the article on its online platforms.” Since the Wiley article came to Elsevier already as “open access” (let’s set aside for a moment the fact that many do not consider BY-NC-ND to qualify as “open access”), you would think that Elsevier would retain the existing CC license from Wiley. Therefore, Elsevier would not be in a position to charge for access to the article because of the noncommercial condition in the CC license. But it’s not clear whether Elsevier applies this reasoning to articles they acquire versus articles originally published on their platform.

So where does all this leave us in understanding what is going on with how these sorts of publishing agreements intersect with open licenses? There still seems to be some outstanding questions that perhaps Elsevier could help answer. Elsevier should share publicly its author’s publishing agreement so that prospective authors and the public can better understand the terms of Elsevier’s license (and as Mounce suggests, publishers should “print the terms and conditions of the author-publisher contract within each publication itself…”). In addition, Elsevier should clarify its copyright policy with regard to when they hold an exclusive right to publish and distribute and when they will adhere to the open license provided with an article.


Reboot: Creative Commons in Australia and New Zealand

Jessica Coates, March 12th, 2015

3d Globe at Seattle Central Library
3d Globe at Seattle Central Library / J Brew / CC BY-SA

CC is very pleased to announce the reboot of two of our longest running and most prolific teams – Creative Commons Australia and Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.

The new CC Australia team was launched at the recent Australian Digital Alliance‘s Copyright Forum 2015. Those who have followed CC for a while are no doubt familiar with CC Australia. Since 2006, the team has been operating out of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) initially under the direction of Brian Fitzgerald and Tom Cochrane, and more recently under Professor Cochrane, Nic Suzor and Nerida Quatermass. Over its tenure at QUT CC Australia has achieved some amazing things, from launching the CC Case Studies project to having CC BY adopted as the default licensing policy for the Australian Federal government.

The new CC Australia team keeps QUT as its Creative Sector, GLAM, Private Sector and Legal Lead but adds two new groups to expand its expertise:

  • the National Copyright Unit (NCU) lead by Delia Browne, who will be the new Education Lead
  • AusGOAL lead by Baden Appleyard, who will be the Publicly Funded Information Lead.

Both these organisations are already extremely prominent in the open community locally and internationally, and have been two of the strongest advocates for CC in Australia for many years. They have both already undertaken collaborative projects with Creative Commons, from the NCU’s Smartcopying website (updated to celebrate the launch) to an exciting IT project soon to be released by AusGOAL. It’s long overdue that they are recognised by welcoming them into the CC family officially. Together the new team of QUT, NCU and AusGOAL combines years of experience and expertise.

In a similar vein, a few months ago CC New Zealand changed its official host organisation from the Royal Society of New Zealand to the Open Education Resources Foundation. While hosted by the Royal Society of New Zealand, CC Aotearoa New Zealand has consistently been one of CC’s strongest and most impactful affiliates, a great example to our whole community. It has particularly excelled in the education and cultural sectors, and New Zealand remains a world leader in the take up of CC by educational and GLAM institutions. At the same time we welcome the Open Education Resources Foundation to CC, and can’t wait to see where they lead us. We expect great things.

Welcome to CC!

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This is not a protest! Edit for #FreeBassel

Naeema Zarif, March 11th, 2015


In support of the #FreeBassel Day Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at the EFF, the Creative Commons Arab World will organize a virtual Arabic Wikipedia Edit-a-thon to translate and expand pages that cover topics of interest to him.

The virtual Edit-a-thon will take place on Sunday the 15th of March from 5pm to 8pm GMT. The list of topics can be viewed in Arabic on this Google Doc

The activity will be coordinated through the @ccArabWorld twitter

باسل الصفدي مهندس حاسوب، وناشط في مجال برمجيات المصادر المفتوحة والثقافة المفتوحة، ورئيس مبادرة المشاع الإبداعي في سوريا. أختير من قبل مجلة فورين بوليسي الأمريكية ضمن قائمة أهم المفكرين في العالم لعام ٢٠١٢م، وهو الآن معتقل في سوريا منذ ١٥ مارس ٢٠١٢م.
بمناسبة الذكرى الثالثة لاعتقاله، وكمشاركة ضمن فعاليات اليوم العالمي للمطالبة بتحرير باسل، سوف تتظم مبادرة المشاع الإبداعي في العالم العربي فعالية على الإنترنت بهذه المناسبة وذلك من خلال تحرير صفحات جديدة على ويكيبيديا تتعلق بالمواضيع التي يهتم بها باسل والمرتبطة بالثقافة المفتوحة والتقنية، وذلك يوم الأحد ١٥ مارس من الساعة ٥ مساء إلى ٨ مساء بتوقيت جرينيتش.
يمكنكم الاطلاع على المواضيع المقترح كتابة مقالات ويكيبيديا بشأنها عبر جوجل دوكس
سوف يتم تنسيق الفعالية من خلال حساب المشاع الإبداعي في العالم العربي على تويتر
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