Commons News

U.S. Department of Education includes OER in notice of proposed priorities for grant programs

Timothy Vollmer, August 5th, 2010

Today the U.S. Department of Education took another big step in supporting open educational resources (OER). In the Federal Register, the Department released a notice of proposed priorities (NPP):

The Secretary of Education proposes priorities that the Department of Education (Department) may use for any appropriate discretionary grant program in fiscal year (FY) 2011 and future years … This action will permit all offices in the Department to use, as appropriate for particular discretionary grant programs, one or more of these priorities in any discretionary grant competition.

The set of proposed priorities specifically mentions OER. Essentially, if the priorities are adopted, it could mean that grant seekers who include open educational resources as a component of an application for funding from the Department of Education could receive priority. OER is included in Proposed Priority 13–Improving Productivity:

Projects that are designed to significantly increase efficiency in the use of time, staff, money, or other resources. Such projects may include innovative and sustainable uses of technology, modification of school schedules, use of open educational resources (as defined in this notice), or other strategies that improve results and increase productivity.

As mentioned, the NPP includes a definition of open educational resources:

Open educational resources (OER) means teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or repurposing by others.

Interested parties may submit comments to the notice of proposed priorities until September 7, 2010. Information about how to submit a comment is described in the notice.

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Costa Rican license draft enters public discussion, pilots new comment tools

Michelle Thorne, August 3rd, 2010

We are happy to announce an experiment in the public discussion process of our licenses, piloted by CC Costa Rica. Customarily, we post a static text document of the licenses, including a re-translation and summary of changes in English, to our website. The community can download these files and submit comments on the jurisdiction’s mailing list. In an effort to improve usability and the level of interaction, we’ve wikified the Costa Rican BY-NC-SA 3.0 license draft , so you can read and discuss the text directly.

To contribute a review or question regarding the license draft adapted to Costa Rican law, please visit the BY-NC-SA 3.0 license draft page and click on the wiki’s discussion page to share your thoughts. You are also welcome to join and write to the CC Costa Rican mailing list, which will run in parallel to the wiki.

The public discussion is an open forum where everyone – from lawyers to active license users, from linguists to translators — is invited to contribute and improve the license texts. Comments should be submitted as soon as possible to allow enough time for review, so we encourage you to post to the list before the end of August 2010, when the discussion is scheduled to close.

Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Project Leads Rolando Coto, Carlos E. Saborío Romero, and Denis Campos with the support of the University of Costa Rica, and to Andrés Guadamuz for producing the draft and soliciting feedback from the Costa Rican public. We look forward to the discussion and to testing this new process!

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Joi Ito on License Proliferation

Cameron Parkins, July 27th, 2010

Creative Commons CEO Joi Ito has a great post on his blog today about license proliferation. Drawing from his experience as a board member at both ICANN and the Open Source Initiative, Ito outlines the problems created by license proliferation:

As sharing and the adoption of new, free licenses begins to accelerate, I believe we are in danger of creating sloppy licenses or incompatible licenses backed by torrents of content funded by well-meaning governments, non-profits, users and even commercial entities. Poorly drafted licenses, licenses that are not adequately stewarded or supported by a dedicated team of legal experts, content encumbered by onerous neighboring rights and isolated and restrictive licenses can create mountains of unusable content which we might call “free” but which for all practical purposes become puddles of unusable content and what we would call “failed sharing”.

As Ito points out, Creative Commons has the benefit of learning from previous license movements in making sure our licenses not only fill a specific need but also have low transaction costs and high interoperability. As request for additional features arise, we remain focused on feedback from our community to make sure we provide as many functional options as possible while keeping things simple. Read the full post for more.

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Don’t let ASCAP’s president be silenced!

Mike Linksvayer, July 27th, 2010

Last month the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) sent an ill-advised fundraising letter to its members, signed by the organization’s president. The letter made obviously false and easily rebutted claims about Creative Commons and was lambasted across the net. See our response for links.

Now the ASCAP president has posted an equally misinformed letter on the ASCAP website. Summary: The anti-copyright “copyleft” movement is attempting to silence me!

Every bit of this is incorrect. To the extent there is a single movement the ASCAP president is attempting to criticize, it would be called the free culture movement. Presumably the ASCAP president thinks “copyleft” sounds more threatening than “free culture”. But copyleft, or a licensing requirement to share adaptations with the same freedoms as a source work, is one mechanism used to protect free culture (in the Creative Commons license suite we call this mechanism ShareAlike), and as a copyright licensing mechanism, it builds on copyright.

Furthermore, nobody in the free culture movement is attempting to silence the ASCAP president. The remedy for misinformation is more information–last month’s ASCAP fundraising letter was linked by many free culture blogs, Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig offered to debate the ASCAP president (incidentally, the ASCAP president’s latest letter claims that Lessig is a founder of the “copyleft movement”–also not true; Lessig is arguably a founder of the free culture movement, but to the extent there is a copyleft movement, its founder would clearly be Richard Stallman), and right here, we’re linking to the ASCAP president’s letter–go read it, blog about it, post the link–make sure the ASCAP president is not silenced!

For a blow-by-blow of this affair so far, see Mathias Klang, lead of Creative Commons Sweden, on ASCAPs charge of the light brigade.

Thanks to everyone who donated to Creative Commons in response to ASCAP’s deceptive fundraising letter. You can still do this!

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The British Library asks researchers and educators – Is copyright a help or a hindrance?

Mike Linksvayer, July 23rd, 2010

The British Library has published a new report, Driving UK Research – Is copyright a help or a hindrance? (pdf). Sourced directly from 13 active researchers and educators, the report reflects the hindrances that copyright as currently structured pose to their daily work, and a consensus on the need for reform.

The report also features a letter from Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, closing with the following:

There is a supreme irony that just as technology is allowing greater access to books and other creative works than ever before for education and research, new restrictions threaten to lock away digital content in a way we would never countenance for printed material.

Let’s not wake up in five years’ time and realise we have unwittingly lost a fundamental building block for innovation, education and research in the UK. Who is protecting the public interest in the digital world? We need to redefine copyright in the digital age and find a balance to benefit creators, educators, researchers, the creative industries – and the knowledge economy.

It would be difficult to state the fundamentals of what is at stake more clearly than this–globally. While some of the essays touch on specific issues in UK copyright, researchers, educators, and citizens everywhere will gain relevant insight from the report.

Creative Commons of course makes it easy for you to offer your work under terms in more in balance with the digital age–as The British Library and contributors have done with Driving UK Research–the report is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

One of the report’s contributors, Cameron Neylon, has used the choice offered by the range of Creative Commons tools to release his contribution of all copyright hindrances via the CC0 public domain waiver. Read Neylon’s essay and the entire report–and share!

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CERN supports Creative Commons

Mike Linksvayer, July 15th, 2010

Creative Commons is deeply honored to announce CERN corporate support at the “creator level”. CERN is one of the world’s premier scientific institutions–home of the Large Hadron Collider and birthplace of the web. This donation comes on the occasion of the publication under Creative Commons licenses of the first results of LHC experiments.

Dr. Salvatore Mele, CERN Head of Open Access, provided the following statement:

The High-Energy Physics community in general, and the frontier experiments it runs at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN aim to unravel the mysteries of the universe. This major ambition can only be reached on foundations of technology and innovation, collaboration and partnership, and perhaps above all, on shared information, which is why this community has strived at Open Access to its scientific results since decades already.

The evolution of scholarly communication in the field, recently embodied by the SCOAP3 initiative, has reached an important milestone with the publication of the first results of the LHC experiments under a Creative Common license. These have appeared in the European Physical Journal (Springer) doi:10.1140/epjc/s10052-009-1227-4 (CC BY-NC); Journal of High Energy Physics (SISSA), doi:10.1007/JHEP02(2010)041 (CC BY-NC); Physics Letters (Elsevier), doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2010.03.064 (CC BY); and Physical Review Letters (APS), doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.022002 (CC BY).

CERN has become a supporter of Creative Commons to acknowledge the contribution that its licenses make to accelerating scientific communication and simplifying the way researchers share their work. The Creative Commons Attribution license is an important tool for the publication of CERN’s experimental results.

Please join CERN in using and supporting Creative Commons!

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Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges Adopts CC BY for All Competitive Grants

Timothy Vollmer, July 12th, 2010

The Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges (SBCTC) recently adopted an open licensing policy for the competitive grants they administer:

All digital software, educational resources and knowledge produced through competitive grants, offered through and/or managed by the SBCTC, will carry a Creative Commons Attribution License … [and] applies to all funding sources (state, federal, foundation and/or other fund sources) …

The brief (PDF), prepared by Cable Green (who we interviewed in March about the Open Course Library Project), explains how the policy is aligned with SBCTC’s strategic technology plan. The policy draws inspiration from related initiatives working to support the sharing of research and OER, such as the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), the Southern Regional Education Board’s openness recommendations via “An Expectation of Sharing: Guidelines for Effective Policies to Respect, Protect and Increase the Use of Digital Educational Resources”, and the open licensing requirements for foundation grantees explored in the Berkman Center’s “An Evaluation of Private Foundation Copyright Licensing Policies, Practices and Opportunities.”

Congratulations to SBCTC for this great step forward!

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Catalyst Grant campaign success! Over 130 project submissions, almost $50k raised

Michelle Thorne, July 6th, 2010

Last week our month-long Catalyst Grant campaign drew to a close with over 130 project applications and nearly $50,000 raised to make those ideas a reality.

The Catalyst Grant program wouldn’t be possible without the support of the 254 individual donors who helped us raise that amount, 100% of which goes to our grant program. If you’d like to contribute, you can still do so via our Donate page and designate “Catalyst Grant program” in the comment box for your contribution to go to this initiative.

The range of topics covered by the projects is quite impressive, and as we spend the next month reviewing the applications, we welcome you, the community, to join us in having a look as well. On each grant application page, there is a large “Discuss” button which allows you to share your input and read other comments. If you have suggestions for how to improve and develop these proposals, please feel welcome to add your thoughts.

In addition to the community’s input, Creative Commons will lead a review process together with a regional committee comprised of CC representatives from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Latin and North America. The Catalyst Grant campaign was inspired by the fantastic grant programs run by the Wikimedia Foundation and Rising Voices.

Thanks to all the grant applicants and donors for a successful campaign! We look forward to the results of the review, which will be announced in August.

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Response to ASCAP’s deceptive claims

Eric Steuer, June 30th, 2010

Last week, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) sent a fundraising letter to its members calling on them to fight “opponents” such as Creative Commons, falsely claiming that we work to undermine copyright.*

Creative Commons licenses are copyright licenses – plain and simple. Period. CC licenses are legal tools that creators can use to offer certain usage rights to the public, while reserving other rights. Without copyright, these tools don’t work. Artists and record labels that want to make their music available to the public for certain uses, like noncommercial sharing or remixing, should consider using CC licenses. Artists and labels that want to reserve all of their copyright rights should absolutely not use CC licenses.

Many musicians, including acts like Nine Inch Nails, Beastie Boys, Youssou N’Dour, Tone, Curt Smith, David Byrne, Radiohead, Yunyu, Kristin Hersh, and Snoop Dogg, have used Creative Commons licenses to share with the public. These musicians aren’t looking to stop making money from their music. In fact, many of the artists who use CC licenses are also members of collecting societies, including ASCAP. That’s how we first heard about this smear campaign – many musicians that support Creative Commons received the email and forwarded it to us. Some of them even included a donation to Creative Commons.

If you are similarly angered by ASCAP’s deceptive tactics, I’m hoping that you can help us by donating to Creative Commons – and sending a message – at this critical time. We don’t have lobbyists on the payroll, but with your support we can continue working hard on behalf of creators and consumers alike.

Sincerely,
Eric Steuer
Creative Director, Creative Commons

* For background on ASCAP’s anti-Creative Commons fundraising campaign, see Boing Boing, Techdirt, ZeroPaid, and Wired.

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Last day for Catalyst grant proposals and donations

Mike Linksvayer, June 30th, 2010

In the closing days our Catalyst Campaign we’ve received many outstanding proposals and expect to receive more in the closing hours.

Today is the last day all donations received will go toward funding proposed projects. Grants proposed for funding under this program are being posted and tracked in a completely transparent process – you’ll be able to see the direct impact your support makes almost immediately. We’ve posted the scorecard our global reviewers will use to rank the most impactful proposals.

Please donate now!

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