Commons News

ccSalon SF (2/16/10): Panel Discussion with CEO Joi Ito

Allison Domicone, January 28th, 2010

salon-sf

If you’re in the SF Bay Area, we hope to see you at our next Creative Commons Salon, which will feature a panel discussion about CC from an international perspective. The panel will feature CC staffers CEO Joi Ito, Arab World Media & Development Manager Donatella della Ratta, and International Project Manager Michelle Thorne, who will be joined by David Sasaki, Outreach Director for Global Voices.

This will be a great chance to learn about how globally diverse communities use Creative Commons, as well as challenges faced in various regions and projects around the world. How do sharing norms, for example, or compelling use cases differ from country to country? What works in one context may not carry over to another, so where do models fail and what lessons can be learned? How can specific fields, such as open education or citizen journalism, solve some of these issues and foster healthier sharing communities?

Come meet CC staff and other free culture friends and enthusiasts from the Bay Area in an informal setting.

When: Tuesday, February 16, 7-9pm
Location: PariSoMa, 1436 Howard St. (map and directions). Plenty of street parking available. (Please note, the space is located up two steep flights of stairs, and unfortunately does not currently have elevator access.)

Light refreshments will be provided, and since we rely on the generosity of our community to keep us afloat, we’ll be accepting donations for CC at the door.

Check out the event posting on Upcoming and Facebook. We hope to see you there!

CC Salons are global events, and anyone can start one, no matter where you live. We encourage you to check out our resources for starting your own salon in your area.

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Planning for sustainable and strategic impact: Creative Commons and open education

Mike Linksvayer, January 25th, 2010

Creative Commons recently celebrated its seventh anniversary, capping an impressive year of success for the organization, including the launch of CC0, our new public domain tool, migration of Wikipedia to a CC license, and compelling new implementations — from CC-aware discovery in both Google and Yahoo! image search, to adoptions of CC licenses ranging from the U.S. White House to Al Jazeera, and by major educational and scientific institutions to countless individual bloggers, musicians, photographers, teachers, and more. We also surpassed our year end public fundraising goal, raising $533,898 to continue building infrastructure that makes sharing easy, scalable, and legal. Thanks again!

In light of our continued growth and maturation, we are ever mindful of how CC can best ensure that as an organization we continue to increase our impact sustainably. As a provider of critical infrastructure that millions and more depend upon, this is our responsibility. Sustainability is not only or first a financial issue — though we will ask for your continued support in funding the organization — but depends on staying focused on our goals, executing on our strengths and core competencies, constantly looking for ways to streamline operations while empowering our vast international community, and avoiding mission creep however tempting.

Over the last six months we’ve been putting these thoughts into plans and action. Last summer we integrated the team supporting our international affiliates with our core team of experts based in San Francisco, eliminating two of our three Berlin-based staff positions. Over the next several months most of our science team (Science Commons) will move from Boston to San Francisco to align message and operations with our core, also. This month, we are integrating our education team (known heretofore as CC Learn), the subject of the rest of this message.

CC Learn was conceived as a focus point for CC adoption in the education arena. Since its launch two and one half years ago, it has progressed itself into a valuable member of, and broadly engaging with, the open education movement, providing not only legal and technical infrastructure and expertise, but subject matter expertise on a range of issues relevant to open education. Education is one of the most compelling uses of CC legal and technical tools. CC licenses are mission-critical for the development and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) — the ecosystem would fail without standard, interoperable legal terms for sharing, using and reusing content. It relies on collaboration between many institutions and many individuals in many different jurisdictions. Only CC licenses are capable of providing such a bridge.

Yet as much as CC has to offer as a leader of the open education movement, we remain humbled by the many others with yet deeper expertise and experience in these areas and from whom we continue to learn. And while we have much to offer, and will continue to offer as a life-long member of these remarkable movements and communities, we feel compelled to consider our own sustainability. We come back to, as we always have, our irreplaceability on the infrastructure level of providing unparalleled legal and technical excellence that allows education, science, and culture to work — this is what we do uniquely, and this is what we do best. We’ve decided that we can best support the open education and OER communities by focusing our resources and support where we are strongest and provide the most unique value. This means engaging the open education community as legal and technical experts rather than as participants in a broad conversation about the potentialities of open education — which we fully believe in, making the need to support open education in the most leveraged fashion we can all the more compelling.

Such changes mean that some of the activities and, sadly, personnel cannot be integrated successfully with the new structure, consequently transitioning out of CC so that they can better pursue such work elsewhere. In this current transition, Ahrash Bissell, the Executive Director of CC Learn, has left the organization. As with all alumni, CC expects great things of the departing staff and looks forward to ongoing collaboration with Ahrash and the open education community, building on his excellent work. We extend to Ahrash our heartfelt gratitude for his passion, dedication and wisdom, and wish him well with his future endeavors.

In the coming months we’ll be making further announcements about our comprehensive integration of education and science into our core activities and messaging. Exciting developments are on the horizon with respect to new and enhanced legal and technical tools as well as explanatory materials and support for policy development in education and science. More importantly we’ll be asking for your support and input, including specific feedback on designs, prototypes, messages, and initiatives as they develop. Most importantly, we will be asking for your input on whether we’re on the right track. Have something to say about CC? We’re listening!

Addendum: See a follow-up post with specifics concerning CC’s plans, projects, and team for open education in 2010 and beyond.

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UK moves towards opening government data

Jane Park, January 21st, 2010

In a step towards openness, the UK has opened up its data to be interoperable with the Attribution Only license (CC BY). The National Archives, a department responsible for “setting standards and supporting innovation in information and records management across the UK,” has realigned the terms and conditions of data.gov.uk to accommodate this shift. Data.gov.uk is “an online point of access for government-held non-personal data.” All content on the site is now available for reuse under CC BY. This step expresses the UK’s commitment to opening its data, as they work towards a Creative Commons model that is more open than their former Click-Use Licenses. From the blog post,

“This is the first major step towards the adoption of a non-transactional, Creative Commons style approach to licensing the re-use of government information.

The Government’s commitment in Putting the Frontline First: smarter government is to “establish a common licence to re-use data which is interoperable with the internationally recognised Creative Commons model”. This is key to supporting new information initiatives such as the beta release of data.gov.uk also launched today to promote transparency, public service improvement and economic growth.”

We at CC are thrilled by this new development and congratulate the UK for this move. Though we are confident that this shift will increase the UK’s capacity to foster reuse, collaboration, and innovation in government and the world, we hope to see the UK as well as other governments move in the future towards even fuller openness and the preferred standard for open data via CC Zero, a tool that “enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright-protected content to waive copyright interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright.”

This would not have been possible without the hard work of Creative Commons teams in the UK, especially that of Dr. Prodromos Tsiavos, our CC England and Wales Legal Project Lead. Check out the press release, the PerSpectIves or data.gov.uk blog, and the Guardian article for more details.

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New Stanford Electronic Dissertation Program enables CC licensing

Jane Park, January 21st, 2010

Last November, Stanford started accepting digital dissertations for the first time, allowing students to opt out of hundreds of dollars in printing and processing costs. The new program also enabled CC licensing, allowing students to make their work available under a license of their choosing. Of the 60 doctoral students who submitted their dissertations electronically, 52 went with CC licensing, choosing the CC BY-NC license. 47 doctoral theses will be displayed in their entirety in the Stanford Digital Repository. From the Stanford Report,

“The doctoral students who chose the digital route last quarter came from five of Stanford’s seven schools: Earth Sciences (1), Education (2), Medicine (7), Humanities and Sciences (15) and Engineering (35).

Gunnarsdottir’s 160-page dissertation, “Modeling the Martian Surface Using Bistatic Radar at High Incidence Angles,” honed an existing method for evaluating the roughness of the planet’s terrain – one of many factors NASA uses to select landing sites for spacecraft.

She used “The Dish,” the 150-foot diameter radio telescope located in the Stanford foothills, to beam a signal to Mars. Then she analyzed the surface echo detected by the orbiting 2001 Mars Odyssey, the NASA spacecraft carrying science experiments designed to improve understanding of the planet’s climate and geologic history.

“Our results were incorporated into the landing site selection of the 2007 Mars Phoenix Lander,” said Gunnarsdottir, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Iceland in 1999, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Stanford in 2002.”

Since the program is already in place, Stanford expects greater numbers of electronic dissertations this quarter. We hope other universities will take Stanford’s lead in enabling the CC license option for their students’ work. For past dissertations that have been CC licensed by individuals, see my post “CC Licensing Your Dissertations.” “CC licensing increases your creation’s visibility, even if by only a small margin at first. It lets current and future students access and read (and even derive, based on the specific CC license you choose) your work so that they can build and improve upon it—all the while giving credit where credit is due, namely, to you.”

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CC Licenses and the Haiti Relief Effort

Cameron Parkins, January 20th, 2010

In the immediate aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake a number of efforts were put in place to connect survivors with their family and loved ones. In all its good intention, this lead to numerous websites that, in the words of Marc Fest of the Knight Foundation, became “silos” of information with no ability to interact. As a result, Fest – who is VP of Communications – sent an impassioned plea to news organizations to utilize an open-source Google app that was not only collecting similar information but releasing the data under a CC Attribution license – from PhilanTopic:

We recognize that many newspapers have put precious resources into developing a people-finder system. We nonetheless urge them to make their data available to the Google project and standardize on the Google widget. Doing so will greatly increase the number of successful reunions. Data from the Google site is currently available as “dumps” in the standard PFIF format…and an API is being developed and licensed through Creative Commons. I am not affiliated with Google — indeed, this is a volunteer initiative by some of their engineers — but this is one case where their reach and capacity can help the most people.

A similar effort has been taken up by Architecture for Humanity. Already known for their use of CC licenses, AFH is proposing a plan to build Community Resource Centers – centralized locales that will operate as base points for greater building relief through out Haiti. All of the work produced in these recovery centers would be released under a CC license, mirroring similar centers that were built in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

In both efforts, there is a distinct desire to keep relief efforts fluid and focused on helping people, a goal assisted by keeping valuable information open, free, and widely usable. Put succinctly by AFH co-founder Cameron Sinclair, “there is no ‘ownership’ in rebuilding lives.”

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Copyright Criminals: PBS Documentary on Sampling

Cameron Parkins, January 15th, 2010

Copyright Criminals is a new documentary on the rise of sampling, specifically in hip-hop music, and the cultural and legal effects it has caused. From the Copyright Criminals website:

Copyright Criminals examines the creative and commercial value of musical sampling, including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and (of course) money.

This documentary traces the rise of hip-hop from the urban streets of New York to its current status as a multibillion-dollar industry. For more than thirty years, innovative hip-hop performers and producers have been re-using portions of previously recorded music in new, otherwise original compositions. When lawyers and record companies got involved, what was once referred to as a “borrowed melody” became a “copyright infringement.”The film showcases many of hip-hop music’s founding figures like Public Enemy, De La Soul, and Digital Underground—while also featuring emerging hip-hop artists from record labels Definitive Jux, Rhymesayers, Ninja Tune, and more.

The film will be broadcast publicly on PBS this Tuesday night, January 19th so be sure to check your local listings for time. You can get a taste of what is in store by watching the film’s trailer and starting January 26th you will be able purchase the film on DVD.

In conjunction with the film’s development a contest was held at ccMixter challenging community members to sample select voice-overs from the film to create an original track. Winner Dermes’ track Sounds that Sound good is featured on the Copyright Criminals DVD as well as a compilation CD featuring the other 12 top entries. All of the tracks are available for free at ccMixter under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Lastly, for those in New York City, a party is being held this Tuesday (1/19) at The Brooklyn Bowl to celebrate the film’s premiere and DVD release. The night will feature appearances by EL-P, Eclectic Method, Mr. Len and DJ Spooky – doors open at 8PM to be followed by the PBS Broadcast Premiere at 10PM.

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Daily life in Iraq—new footage at Al Jazeera

Jane Park, January 14th, 2010

Last year, Al Jazeera launched their Creative Commons Repository with 12 videos shot in Gaza under CC’s most open license, Attribution only. Since then, Al Jazeera’s collection has grown, and their most recent footage includes videos documenting everyday life and culture in Iraq.

Check out this video of an Iraqi artist sculpting a Minaret and painting a tree. The sculptures seem to be encased afterward in gold or some other substance—I’m not entirely sure since I’m not fluent in Arabic. The good news is that the video and all others in this repository are licensed CC BY, so someone can help translate this into English or other languages, for use by rival broadcasters or in documentaries.

There are also more videos about the communication network in Iraq, and Samarra’s pharmaceutical factories and poultry farms.

You can also start remixing these videos to tell a compelling story, whether it’s a 30 sec or twenty minute film clip, maybe laid with some CC licensed soundtracks. Be creative. There’s a lot of CC licensed stuff out there. All Al Jazeera CC repository videos are available via CC BY, which means you can edit, adapt, translate, remix or otherwise use them as long as you credit Al Jazeera. Interested persons can add the Al Jazeera repository to their Miro feeds.

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Robin Sloan’s “Annabel Scheme”

Cameron Parkins, January 14th, 2010

Robin Sloan, a San Fransisco-based writer best known for his short stories and writing at culture blog Snarkmarket, recently completed work on his first novella, Annabel Scheme.

Sloan used Kickstarter, a social fundraising platform, to garner patrons for Annabel Scheme prior to publishing. By offering a number of incentive levels with varying amenities, Sloan was able to raise just shy of $14,000 for the project – over $10,000 more than he had originally asked. Had he not been able to raise the original goal of $3,500, no backers would be required to pay, making the process low risk for those looking to fund, as Kickstarter puts it, “creative ideas and ambitious endeavors.”

Towards the end of the fundraising round, Sloan decided Annabel Scheme was to be released under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial license – more than that, he chose to devote $1,000 of the excess budget to a remix fund. Sloan put out an open call for pitches on interesting ways to take the book and build something new from it. These pitches are now being voted on by the book’s backers, with an announcement on fund allocation forthcoming.

A unique project all around, it is no wonder Kickstarter awarded Annabel Scheme best project in their 2009 retrospective. You can download the novella for free at Sloan’s website.

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The White Cube Remix

Cameron Parkins, January 13th, 2010

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Oslo’s RAM Galleri is currently showing The White Cube Remix, a “sonic art” exhibition that features a collaborative soundtrack created by 68 ccMixter community members.

The project began in November 2009 when Rolf Gerstlauer, exhibit curator at RAM, approached ccMixter users Sackjo22 and Gurdonark about creating a collaborative soundtrack for the exhibit. The pair released two tracks – The White Cube (accapella) and Winter Lights (ambient) – and asked the ccMixter community to build from there. From ArtistTechMedia:

Gurdonark and SackJo22 first composed and recorded ambient samples and spoken word source material, reflecting the central themes of this exhibition — light and winter in the north, which were then contributed to the ccMixter community for remix under a Creative Commons license. In less than one month, more than 94 original compositions, from ambient music to chill beats, were created by international music makers at ccMixter specifically for the White Cube exhibit.

SackJo22 and Gurdonark compiled a playlist of these 94 original compositions onto an mp3 player that [is] installed in the RAM Galleri, thus providing more than six hours of original music as a soundtrack for the White Cube exhibition.

All of the tracks created for the project are released under a CC Attribution license, allowing them to be freely shared and reused as long as the original creators are attributed.

RAM will be hosting a symposium tomorrow (January 14th) between 7-9PM CET to discuss the project generally, how the soundtrack was created, and its relation to participatory culture in a broader sense. For those not based in Oslo, you can watch the symposium online via a dedicated video feed (browser plug-in instillation required) – the required meeting ID number is 64858:

Contained In: The Continuous Production of the Ultimate White Cube?
Moderator: Carl Mattias Ekman (architect, scholar PHD AHO)

Participants:
Susan Joseph (ccMixter – initiator of the white cube remix project)
Robert Nunnally (ccMixter – initiator of the white cube remix project)
Emily Richards (ccMixter and ArtisTech Media)
Gisle Hannemyr (CreativeCommons.no)
Frode Gether-Rønning (IT-director, AHO)
Rolf Gerstlauer (architect, curator of the exhibition, professor AHO)

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FMA Guest Curator: Catching The Waves

Cameron Parkins, January 12th, 2010

Late last year we began reaching out to those working to expose and support CC-licensed music for help with our curator portal at the Free Music Archive. Our first guest curator was ccMixter admin Victor Stone, whose mix highlighted the talent of the ccMixter community. Now, we are happy to present the second mix in the series, featuring some incredible tracks selected by CC/netlabel music blog Catching The Waves:

I am deeply honoured to join in the fun at the FMA. My mix consists of some of the best tracks from some of the best albums that have been lassooed (SP) at CTW. It features lots of different genres, tempi and moods (rock, IDM, trip-hop, minimal, folk, ambient, etc.,) from as far afield as Germany, Japan, Colombia, the United States, France, Canada, Italy and the U.K. It was murderously difficult to whittle the mix down to a still unwieldy twenty tracks. It would be wonderful if people who were new to netlabels, and CC music in general, stumbled upon these songs and realised, as I did, that there’s a whole world of wonderful music just waiting to be discovered – and that it’s all free, legal and made by artists who want their music to be downloaded, copied and shared. Catching the waves can be fun…

You can listen to the whole mix at our FMA Curator Portal. Big thanks to Catching The Waves for the excellent selection!

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