Commons News

How open licensing is transforming design

Elliot Harmon, March 8th, 2014

I’m very excited to be speaking at South by Southwest tomorrow along with Scott Belsky of Behance, Sofya Polyakov of The Noun Project, and Eric Stover of Autodesk. Each speaker represents a community of designers that use open content or licenses in some way. I’m sure it will be a fascinating discussion.

For people coming to this blog post from the talk, here are some links you might like:

After the panel, I’ll add a link to the slides.

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Getty Images allows free embed of 35 million photographs

Timothy Vollmer, March 7th, 2014


Kristina Alexanderson / CC BY-NC-SA

Getty Images recently announced that it will allow free noncommercial embedding of 35 million of the images in its stock photography database. This is a good step toward better supporting a variety of users. Getty is clearly seeing its images appear across the web anyway, so it’s decided to go down the embed road, similar to how other content providers like YouTube handle the media they host. By requiring embedding, Getty will be able to track where its photos are being used online, and reserves the right to display advertisements. The announcement demonstrates a general understanding that Getty needs to meet users halfway in providing content in ways that is affordable, useable, and aligned with how people wish to share online today. At the same time, users may run into roadblocks in using Getty content, and openly-licensed resources could provide a straightforward alternative.

The Getty Images terms of use say that users can “only use embedded Getty Images Content for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest)”. Creative Commons-licensed images can be used for any purpose, by anyone, anywhere around the world, as long as the user follows the terms of the license. But no CC license dictates that a piece of licensed content may only be used for a specific purpose–editorial or otherwise.

The Getty terms also state that images “may not be used … for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship…”. The British Journal of Photography, in an interview with Getty Images representative Craig Peters, clarifies Getty’s interpretation of the boundaries of noncommercial use.

Blogs that draw revenues from Google Ads will still be able to use the Getty Images embed player at no cost. “We would not consider this commercial use,” says Peters.

Creative Commons has maintained a static definition of noncommercial use in its licenses over the years (which has earned its share of criticism). In license version 4.0 “NonCommercial means not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”

Another difference between the Getty Images embed service and Creative Commons-licensed images is that Getty would reserve the right to revoke its embedded photographs at any time. Its terms of use state that the “availability may change without notice. Getty Images reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove Getty Images Content from the Embedded Viewer. Upon request, you agree to take prompt action to stop using the Embedded Viewer and/or Getty Images Content.” So unlike even the most restrictive Creative Commons license (which permits verbatim noncommercial copying with attribution), Getty Images requires an HTML embed which it solely controls. When images are licensed under Creative Commons licenses, downstream users are granted more permissive rights. As stated in our Frequently Asked Questions:

The CC licenses are irrevocable. This means that once you receive material under a CC license, you will always have the right to use it under those license terms, even if the licensor changes his or her mind and stops distributing under the CC license terms.

Finally, the Getty terms prohibit uses “outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer”, which means that you can’t use the Getty images in remixes, videos, or really anywhere that doesn’t use embeds. On the other hand, CC-licensed images permit reuse in any medium. The licenses grant users authorization to exercise their rights under the license “in all media and formats … and to make technical modifications necessary to do so.”

It’s good that Getty Images is providing free online access to millions of images. But the advantages of CC-licensed photos is clear: users can’t have the content pulled out from underneath them, the images can be used for any reason in any format, and in many cases images are licensed for broad reuse and modification. And remember, there’s a huge trove of Creative Commons-licensed images out there too (not to mention millions of photographs in the public domain for use without any restrictions whatsoever!). Flickr now contains over 300 million CC-licensed photos. Wikimedia Commons hosts over 20 million multimedia files (a large proportion which are openly-licensed photographs being used on Wikipedia). Or even check out Google Images or Bing to easily discover CC-licensed images.

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Join us in San Francisco for Free Bassel Day

Elliot Harmon, March 7th, 2014

Bassel Khartabil is a Syrian-Palestinian computer engineer who, through his innovations in social media, digital education, and open-source web software, played a huge role in opening the internet in Syria and bringing online access and knowledge to the Syrian people. Many people reading this blog know Bassel through his work as lead for CC Syria. He was arrested in March of 2012 in Damascus, and has been detained ever since.

The second #FreeBassel Day will be held globally on March 15, marking the second anniversary of his imprisonment and the third anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian uprising.

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, come join the SF open community on #FreeBassel Day SF at the Wikimedia Foundation offices in downtown San Francisco. In addition to sharing art, music, food, and stories about Bassel, we will be hosting a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in honor of him. Bassel is a Wikipedian himself, so we’ll be working on writing and improving articles on topics that he cares about (and might be editing now if he weren’t in prison). Such topics include: Syria, computers, technology in the MENA region, open source web development, and peace (to name a few). Learn more about Bassel in his own words and the words of friends here and here.

No Wikipedia editing experience is necessary – just bring your laptop, and seasoned Wikipedians will be there to provide guidance in copy-editing, article creation, and sourcing. And friends and colleagues of Bassel will be there to tell you more about him and his work.

We’ll have an informal potluck, including food and beverages sourced from the #FreeBassel Cookbook V.1, a collection of recipes from friends and supporters of Bassel, collected by The Big Conversation Space and sponsored by Aerbook. Please bring something to share.

We’ll also be sharing art and media created by #FreeBassel supporters, including Disquiet Junto #FreeBassel and Letters for Bassel.

Details

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CC Europe responds to review of EU copyright rules

John Weitzmann, March 6th, 2014

Yesterday the European CC Leads have under their regional identity CC Europe responded (PDF) to the ‘Public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules’, run by the EU Commission through its Internal Market and Services Directorate. Like several other groups, the CC Leads have stressed the need for more robust and flexible exceptions and limitations throughout the region, especially regarding transformative uses in general and educational uses in particular. They also urge the EU Commission to find ways for copyright law in Europe to better recognize creator’s wishes to contribute to the ‘voluntary Public Domain’ through legal tools like CC0. They also highlighted once more the fact that CC Licenses are a patch for certain aspects of the copyright system but not a fix that substitutes legislative action. According to the Commission, all responses to the 80 question consultation will be published at some point in the future.

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Affiliate Project Grant Update: Asia-Pacific

Meryl Mohan, March 4th, 2014

This is part three of a five week series on the Affiliate Team project grants. So far, you’ve heard from our affiliates in Africa and the Arab World. Today, we’re showcasing projects in our Asia-Pacific region, including open data workshops from Japan, a media studies textbook from New Zealand, and software tools and guidelines for public domain materials from Taiwan.



Japan: Workshops and Symposium for Open Data in Japan
by Puneet Kishor (project lead: Tomoaki Watanabe)

Last year in June, the CommonSphere, won a grant to hold three workshops and a public symposium on the use of CC tools (licenses and the CC0 Public Domain Dedication) in the context of open data. The aim of the workshops was to respond to informal inputs from government and other stakeholders on their implementation of CC tools in the context of open data, a new frontier of openness in the last few years in Japan. The team was planning to invite involvement from Japanese national and municipal government agencies and Open Knowledge Foundation Japan.

The first event was a workshop at Information Processing Agency, IPA, an independent administrative agency discussing open data licensing. The panel involved a member of Open Knowledge Foundation Japan as well. The whole session was video-recorded by the IPA staff, and it is now available online, along with presentation materials. The attendance was mostly government officials and the agency staff, around 50 people, and an attendant survey indicated a reasonable success.

The second meeting was held among key figures related to open data and other relevant initiatives, as invitation-only discussions on licensing and other legal issues. CCJP provided logistics support and expertise. It was decided by the attendants that the discussion will remain informal and unpublished.

The third was a symposium to discuss implementation issues of open data, including licensing issues organized by the third party, Innovation Nippon, a joint project between Google Japan and GLOCOM. Both CCJP and OKF Japan helped with pre-event publicity and provided expertise. It featured and was attended by local government officials and municipal law makers, along with business people and academics. The event was videocast and the archive is available already, along with the slides.

The team also responded to an important emerging development – Japanese national government is revising terms of use for government web sites. Creative Commons Japan’s interest has been to present benefits of interoperability with Creative Commons licenses, and ways to achieve that.

The discussion is still ongoing, and some are concerned about potential “undesirable” use of government information, which may lead to a non-interoperable terms of use. The Japanese government may lean towards more liberal and interoperable approach if a few of the following happen:

  1. Political will, however, key politicians are not necessarily expected to support liberal licensing allowing use that goes against public order.
  2. Evidence, anecdotal or scientific, showing that more liberal licensing results in better outcomes. However, such evidence is not abundant, and some government agencies have very specific uses in mind that may make them hesitate.
  3. Evidence showing other governments of developed countries are doing things differently from what Japan is doing or planning to do. UK, FR, US, AU, NZ all are CC-BY compatible or use a CC-BY license. Their licensing all seem to be open in the Open Definition sense. Japan may result a bit differently.
  4. Prospective users actively asking for a change.

The challenges faced by the team so far have been 1) the above-mentioned development away from CC tools and 2) the lack of availability of licensing and editing talent on a more stable basis.

The team is in talks with a local government to hold at least one more workshop to discuss licensing issues as they relate to local governments. The symposium was originally planned to be at the end, but given the emerging development above, it may be timed differently.


New Zealand: Media Text Hack
by project lead Matt McGregor

In the middle of 2013, a few New Zealand academics and librarians began to toss around an exciting-but-preposterous-sounding idea: what if they could hack a media studies textbook in a weekend, and then release the results to the world under an open Creative Commons license?

The social benefit – the why – was clear. With textbook prices continuing to rise (and rise) well above inflation, and student debt levels ballooning, the Pacific region desperately needs a new model for producing and distributing educational resources. As Dr Erika Pearson, who led the Media Text Hack project, put it, “Textbooks currently available for New Zealand first year students are often produced overseas, usually the US, and can have a cripplingly high price tag.”

The how was a bit more difficult. Academics and librarians are already rather busy people, and the process of building and managing a team of contributors is labor intensive, with plenty of emailing, documenting, cat-herding, and problem-solving. Thankfully, with the help of a $4000 affiliate grant from Creative Commons, the team could hire a project manager — Bernard Madill — to help build the network of contributors, document progress, and make sure the hack weekend progressed smoothly.

Cut to 16-17 November, 2013: the team, largely made up of early career researchers from across New Zealand and Australia, got together and successfully produced the ‘beta’ version of the textbook. For the last few months, they have been progressively editing and re-editing content, to ensure that the textbook is classroom ready in time for the first down-under semester, which starts in late February.

As the book is shared, edited, and reused by students and teachers across the world, the team will incorporate new ideas, explanations, and examples, producing a text that can be hacked and re-hacked over the years ahead.

This is new territory: while there have been a few textbooks hacks in other disciplines – including this inspirational group of Finnish mathematicians – this is of the first (to our knowledge) of this kind of text-hack in the humanities.

For this reason, the team is putting together a parallel ‘cookbook’, to enable other projects to understand what worked – as well as what did not work – about the project. This will be released in the first half of 2014, and will hopefully inspire other projects around the world to attempt open textbook projects of their own.

The team is hopeful that open textbooks will become more prevalent in public higher education. As University of Otago Copyright Officer Richard White, a core member of the text-hack team, puts it, the open textbook marks a return to the “core principles of academia: sharing knowledge, learning from, and building on the work of others.”


Taiwan: Practices and Depositories for The Public Domain
by project lead Tyng-Ruey Chuang

The project “Practices and Depositories for The Public Domain” (PD4PD) aims to develop software tools and practical guidelines to put public domain materials online more easily. This is a joint uptake of the GNU MediaGoblin project [1], NETivism Ltd. [2], and Creative Commons Taiwan [3], with the latter coordinating the team effort. The overall project goal is to firm up access to and reuse of the many digital manifestations of public domain cultural works by means of replicable tools, practices, and communities.

Tools: The plan is to extend the functionality of the GNU MediaGoblin software package so as to make it more suitable for hosting large collections of public domain materials. For this purpose, new features have been suggested to add to GNU MediaGoblin to help users self-hosting their media archives. These features include batch upload of media (with proper metadata annotations), customizable themes and pages, and an “easy install” script (to install GNU Media Goblin itself).

Practices: The plan is to develop guidelines and how-to on self-hosting public domain materials. Two versions are planned: One in English and the other one in the Chinese language used in Taiwan. An educational website on the public domain, and self-hosting, is also planned.

Community: The plan is to outreach to content holders in Taiwan, and to work with them in releasing some of their holdings to the public domain. It will be demonstrated by a website using the tools mentioned above.

This six-month project started in December 2013 and plans to finish in June 2014. The GNU MediaGoblin project has been focusing on tool development while NETivism Ltd. is concentrating on community outreach. Creative Commons Taiwan is working on practical guidelines. Several interns have been recruited to help with this project.

[1] http://mediagoblin.org/
[2] http://netivism.com.tw/
[3] http://creativecommons.tw/

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A message from Cathy: Farewell for now

Cathy Casserly, February 27th, 2014

The Long Lonely Road
The Long Lonely Road / Chuck Abbe / CC BY

Dear CC Community,

I love this CC photo of the open road. It is inspiring, and speaks to me of the journey, the path one travels. You can’t quite see around the bend, but you suspect the road will take you to another intriguing place, and so you are urged on and continue to learn and explore.

And so it is with me. Tomorrow I will sign off from this section of the path. My journey with CC has had different segments, contexts, and textures. What I have found so rewarding during this leg as CEO is working closely with our deeply talented and dedicated staff, regional coordinators, affiliates, partners, and supporters.

Together, we have made tremendous progress to create a global footprint of sharing, legally. We continue to extend our reach into critical communities – learning, science, data, and culture – and educate the world about the power of open. And while we have not yet reached our collective mission, we have advanced, and will continue to do so. Here at CC, we have worked hard over the past months to ensure the CEO transition is smooth. The board has the search well underway and Paul Brest, CC board chair, has stepped up as interim CEO. My profound thanks to Paul, both personally and on behalf of the broader community, for his unyielding leadership and support.

My open journey began more than a decade ago with an arc that brought me from Hewlett to Carnegie to CC, and has most often felt like a sprint. So during the next few months, I will pause and relish more time with family and at the coast, and the opportunity to trek along remote mountain paths. After my hiatus, after what I am sure will feel like the blink of an eye, you will find me re-engaged to advance the newly emerging architecture for learning, an ecosystem no longer constrained by time, space, and pace.

Looking back on the open road, I am grateful for the camaraderie of fellow travelers energized by the challenge. And looking ahead, I await our next productive collaboration.

Until then I wish you all the very best,
Cathy

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Affiliate Project Grant Update: Arab World

Meryl Mohan, February 25th, 2014

CC is doing a five week series on the Affiliate Team project grants. Last week, you heard about the exciting events and activties from CC’s African region, and today we are featuring those from the Arab World. You’ll learn about a book about Arabic iconic figures that is first of its kind, videos explaining CC in a simple and exciting format, a book on open technology and media production, and an open source platform for stories of hope and change led by a group of Palestinian rappers and spoken word artists.


Algeria: Arabic Icons
by Meryl Mohan (project lead: Faiza Souici)

CC Algeria is currently finalizing its project agreement. With Faiza Souici as lead, the team will prepare an Arabic book under CC licenses, telling the stories of iconic Arabic figures who have had a positive influences in countries throughout the Arab World. They plan to include as many as 20 participants from the community, each writing about the distinctive personality of his or her country. CC Algeria plans to introduce the book at the next CC Salon.


Lebanon: CC Explained Simply in Arabic
by project lead Maya Zankoul

We’re working on two explainer videos for Creative Commons in Arabic. The first movie explains to people with no background whatsoever what Creative Commons is, how it started, and why there is a strong need for Creative Commons. The second movie is focused on licensing, explaining in Arabic what are the different types of licenses and how they can be used.

Our first movie is ready; you can view it here:

Our second movie is being animated at the moment and will be ready in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here is a screenshot from the movie!


Maya Zankoul / CC BY


Morocco: Creative BookSprint
by Meryl Mohan (project lead: Ahmed Mansour)

CC Morocco is writing a print and online book that will be the first in Arabic language on open source software for multimedia production, remixing, and publication. The title of the book will be “Guide to Free Culture,” or in Arabic “دليل الثقافة الحرة” where they will talk about the broad free culture movement (open source software, open data, OER, etc.) with a focus on Creative Commons licenses and most importantly how to be part of that larger movement by licensing your content using CC.

The project targets media creators in the Arab region by introducing them to the free culture movement and the benefits of CC licenses. In addition, it will be a how-to guide to using open source software in producing and remixing media including audio manipulation and video editing.

Four participating authors from Morocco’s affiliate team will work on the project, and upon its completion, they will continue to update the book with feedback from the community. By collaboratively engaging the local community and sending the resulting book to other local affiliates in the region, others can also use it for future workshops and events. With this initial project, free culture and the CC mission can continue to spread throughout Morocco and the North African region.

The book cover and the website (still under construction) where the book will be available for download and online viewing are here: http://opentaqafa.github.io.

The cover is made of a “remix” of the Glider that represents the hacker subculture and CC license symbols.


Ahmed Mansour / CC0


Palestine, Lebanon: Hope Spoken/Broken: Change in the Eyes of Palestinian Refugees
by project leads Bashar Lubbad and Stefan Larsson

Hope Spoken/Broken is a social innovation project hosted by the Internet Institute and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University. The project records stories of hope and change from the Jabalia Refugee Camp in Palestine and invites rappers and spoken word artists to reflect on these stories using hip hop and spoken word poetry. In this project, we will interview Palestinians from different age groups, record their oral histories, and work with rap artists and poets (spoken word artists/lyricists) to turn their true stories into performance pieces for a wider audience. Using digital and social media, we will spread the words, thoughts, and feelings of Palestinians living in the Jabalia Refugee Camp to viewers around the world who would otherwise never hear these stories. Spoken word and hip hop poetry have the unique ability to increase listeners’ empathy. By connecting with poets who live in both Washington D.C. and Palestine as well as with rappers from Sweden, Denmark, and Palestine, we will build an international partnership to create, record, and share an original collection of poems and songs inspired by recorded oral histories from the Jabalia Refugee Camp. Artists (poets and rappers) will attempt to draw parallels between the lives of Palestinian refugees and that of ethnically, socially, politically and economically marginalized groups in the United States, Denmark, and Sweden.

For further information, check out the links below:

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Cookbook in honor of Bassel Khartabil

Elliot Harmon, February 24th, 2014

In honor of Bassel Khartabil and Free Bassel Day, artist Niki Korth is putting together a #freebassel cookbook. Bassel, a free software activist and leader of the Syrian Creative Commons community, has been in prison since 2012. In Niki’s words:

The #FreeBassel Cookbook is a collection of recipes from people who care about Bassel and would like to share a meal with him if he weren’t in prison.

Please contribute a recipe to this collection. Submit it before 10 March 2014 to get it included in the first edition of the cookbook. Pick a recipe that is special to you, a recipe that makes you think of Bassel, a recipe that reminds you that the virtual/digital world is only a tool for real world human encounters, and is in no way a substitute for experiences such as sharing a meal, or a recipe for a meal that you think Bassel would enjoy.

The #FreeBassel Cookbook V.1 will be released as a free, digital book on #FreeBassel Day 2014 (15 March)

If Bassel has not been freed by this date, please make a recipe from this collection on this day in his honor and share it with people who you care about. Share pictures of your meal with the #FreeBassel hashtag.

Repeat until Bassel is free.

Submit your recipe here. See our previous post to learn how to get involved with Free Bassel Day.

Previously: Disquiet Junto honors Bassel Khartabil

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CC Workshop for Musicians in Vanuatu

Soohyun Pae, February 20th, 2014

Singaot Musik Kamp
Cristina Panicali / CC BY-NC

The first-ever CC Workshop in Melanesia was held on October 23rd in Port Vila, Vanuatu during the Singaot Musik Kamp, a two-week long residency program for musicians from the Pacific, Southern Africa, and Europe.

Singaot Musik Kamp is part of the Music Bridges project which aims to reinforce the creation and production of music industry in Vanuatu and Mozambique, engaging with diverse musicians from Melanesia and Southern Africa through music camps, festivals, and workshops. Around 70 musicians and experts in the music industry from Vanuatu and the Pacific region, Mozambique, Reunion Island, and Australia gathered to share experience, build networks, and to learn skills and strategies to promote their music.

Singaot Musik Kamp

Cristina Panicali / CC BY-NC

After the two weeks of festive live performances and jam sessions, musicians were invited to sit down together to discuss various topics such as distribution/promotion strategies and copyright, including Creative Commons licenses. Entitled “Music Industry Development & Rights,” the two-day training workshops were dedicated to discussing technical, managerial, and production skills and related issues for musicians, artists, and industry professionals to build careers and opportunities. As most of the participating musicians had very limited or no knowledge about copyright and music industry, it was especially meaningful to help them understand copyright system and learn how they can manage and exercise their right in a way they want.

Representatives from SOMAS – a collective management society from Mozambique – and a collective management society in Fiji introduced the concepts of copyright and collective management in general and discussed business strategies for musicians who wanted to promote their work and develop their careers.

The second day was dedicated to the introduction of CC licenses as the last session to wrap up the whole program. Around 50 people in the music field attended the workshop from Vanuatu and neighboring islands as well as Mozambique and Reunion Island in South Africa. Cristina Perillo from Fondazione Lettra27 opened the session as the moderator, welcoming the participants and introducing the structure and background of the workshop. I gave a presentation to introduce what the CC license is and how it works and to explain why it can be useful to musicians using some case studies. Some participants nodded when the presenters pointed out that sharing was what musicians (including those who were participating in the camp) had already been doing to get inspiration for their work and to meet and communicate with the audience, and that CC license could be useful as a way to meet broader audience and to promote one’s work.

Singaot Musik Kamp

Cristina Panicali / CC BY-NC

Luciano Mabrouck from Kom Zot, a band renowned as the pioneers of reggae made in Reunion, took part in the workshop as guest speaker to share his experience of the benefits of sharing. He introduced an interesting example where one of his band’s demo files were accidentally leaked to the public. Unexpectedly, it acted in the band’s favor: more people listened to and loved their music, resulting in increase in sales. The band and their management team did not take any action to stop people from sharing the files; rather they used it as an opportunity to communicate with fans, promote their music, and explore new opportunities. Luciano’s talk allowed the participants to have a better understanding of the benefits of what sharing and CC license can bring in a more practical way.

The last session was a group discussion where participants shared their views and questions with each other. They helped each other understand the new concepts and talked about challenges they would face when using CC license.

The workshop was a good opportunity to help musicians in the region have a better understanding of copyright and CC license and what sharing can bring to them. It was also meaningful in that it was the first-ever CC-related workshop in Melanesia, which I hope will lead to more CC stories in the region of vibrant culture and rich heritage in the future.

The music camp was the first part of the two-year-long project. Next year Music Crossroads will be the host to in Maputo, Mozambique.

Read a blog post by COSV to learn more about the event.

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Thank you, Donatella Della Ratta

Jessica Coates, February 18th, 2014

Donatella Della Ratta
Donatella Della Ratta / Joi Ito / CC BY

Creative Commons extends its deepest gratitude to Donatella Della Ratta. For almost six years, she’s been working as a tireless advocate for Creative Commons and open culture in the Arab world, increasing the knowledge and adoption of CC, conducting outreach to creative communities, and connecting activists throughout the region. Dona has done all of this with grace and tenacity in the midst of an oftentimes unpredictable and sometimes unstable political and social environment in much of the Arab world. We thank you, Dona.

Even though Dona is leaving her position as regional coordinator for the Arab world, Creative Commons will continue to support this incredibly important region. We are in the process of bringing on two new part-time regional coordinators, as we’ve done with other geographic areas. Below is a note from Donatella.


On my way back from Amman, where the fourth Arab Bloggers meeting was held this year, I was thinking that it all started here. Back to early 2008, I was lucky enough to breathe an atmosphere of excitement and change that pervaded the Arab region, and encouraged the Arab youth to gather and discuss ideas, projects, new challenges. Technology played a key role in these gatherings: at the time, open communities such as Linux, Wikipedia, Mozilla, and the like, were being formed and getting together. We started the Creative Commons Arab world community during that wave of change, connecting with the other Arab communities which were using technology to create content together, promote social change, defend freedom of choice – and of expression.

We launched the first archive of CC-licensed broadcast footage with Al Jazeera, at a time when the lack of foreign journalists on the ground in Gaza during the Israeli attack had made information a very precious and scarce resource. Since 2008, many things happened in the Arab region. The Creative Commons Arab community has grown exponentially, and many countries have joined: together with Jordan and Egypt, where we had already official affiliates prior to 2008, informal communities started to gather in Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, UAE, Palestine, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Iraq, Oman, and Mauritania. The latest addition has been Yemen, where few months ago the first training workshop on CC and open licensing was held in Sana`a.

During these years, we have held CC Salons everywhere in the region, from Doha to Casablanca; we have hosted CC Iftars in a number of Arab capitals, from Damascus to Amman. CC Arab communities have gathered in regional meetings four times (2009 Doha; 2010 Doha; 2011 Tunis: 2012 Cairo). We have hosted CC training sessions, panels and hands-on workshops in many regional, tech and community related events. In 2011, we started the first Pan Arab peer-produced and CC-licensed music project, “It will be wonderful”, which is still traveling around the world and being remixed. We produced the first collaborative, open-licensed comics fanzine between Egyptian and Moroccan artists. And many other exciting projects are in the pipeline: books, videos, music, and training toolkits, in Arabic and free to share.

Meanwhile, the Arab uprisings have happened, and this was probably the biggest change that the region witnessed in decades. Today the Arab world lives in difficult conditions: after the first wave of excitement for the toppling of many authoritarian regimes in the region, the civil movement for change has now to face tough challenges. Activists are being jailed and tortured, and creativity and cooperation are being repressed in an atmosphere of dire restoration. One of the most prominent member of the CC Arab world community, Bassel Khartabil aka Safadi, has been imprisoned by the Syrian government for two years without charges, probably being guilty of having dreamt a more free and open society for himself and his peers. Yet, against all odds, the Creative Commons Arab world, together with many other youth-led movements and communities in the region, is still producing content, sharing and building on other people`s ideas, and working for a better, more open society.

After five years spent as Arab world regional coordinator, I am proud to have helped this community to come together, and humbled by the strength and energy of this youth. While I am leaving my official role at Creative Commons, I will always be involved with the amazing Arab community and work together to push forward new ideas and exciting projects, despite all the problems we have to face in the region. And we will be waiting for our friend Bassel Safadi to join us in new, upcoming challenges.

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