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Open Culture Live Webinar: Changing the Subject & Respectful Terminologies

A detail from the painting showing a scene of Indian princesses gathered around a fountain with multi-colored dresses, overlaid with the CC Open Culture logo and Open Culture Live wordmark, and text saying “Changing the Subject & Respectful Technologies 29 November 2023 | 4:00 PM UTC” and including an attribution for the image: “Princesses Gather at a Fountain, ca. 1770 Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
Princesses Gather at Fountain”, ca. 1770, shown slightly cropped. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public Domain.

We are excited to host the second installment of Open Culture Live with our next conversation:
Changing the Subject & Respectful Terminologies
29 November 2023 at 4:00 UTC

For centuries, cultural heritage institutions have been undertaking the work to document and catalog objects in their collections — sometimes this work suffers from a legacy of colonialism and discrimination in the way their collections are labeled and categorized. Some institutions are working to update these labels with more respectful terminology. Hear more from some of the changemakers working to update labels and metadata with more respectful terminologies during this CC panel.

As CC’s Open Culture team works to promote better sharing, we think it is important to address some of the key challenges and concerns that come along with promoting open access to cultural heritage. These challenges are not always simple to address, but they are important to ensuring that open access policies and practices go hand in hand with harm reduction, and do not perpetuate or amplify historic injustices.

Learn from the experts involved in addressing harmful labels in cultural heritage institutions in this conversation. We will ask the experts if any institutions serve as a good model for rethinking their labels, acknowledging that many are in the process of ongoing work. We will discuss where to start, how to think about some of the challenging decisions, why and how to preserve historical metadata, and how digital archival practices can support this work. We hope that this will provide a guide of some of the ways you might consider adopting better metadata practices and using more respectful terminologies in your collections.

The panel will feature:

With introductory remarks from Brigitte Vézina and moderation by Jocelyn Miyara.

Register here to attend >

→ To stay informed about our open culture work:

Dave Hansen — Open Culture VOICES, Season 2 Episode 33

Dave talks about how many “institutions are on a mission to expose their collections to the world and make them available for everyone.” Dave sees this as a major evolution from a time not too long ago when it was only those with means who could access collections in any way.

Open Culture VOICES is a series of short videos that highlight the benefits and barriers of open culture as well as inspiration and advice on the subject of opening up cultural heritage. Dave is the Executive Director at Authors Alliance which is a non-profit focused on sharing work broadly with the public together with authors in the US.

Dave responds to the following questions:

  1. What are the main benefits of open GLAM?
  2. What are the barriers?
  3. Could you share something someone else told you that opened up your eyes and mind about open GLAM?
  4. Do you have a personal message to those hesitating to open up collections?

Closed captions are available for this video, you can turn them on by clicking the CC icon at the bottom of the video. A red line will appear under the icon when closed captions have been enabled. Closed captions may be affected by Internet connectivity — if you experience a lag, we recommend watching the videos directly on YouTube.

Want to hear more insights from Open Culture experts from around the world? Watch more episodes of Open Culture VOICES here >>

CC’s Key Insights from WIPO’s Meeting on Copyright

From 6 to 8 November 2023, Creative Commons (CC) participated remotely in the 44th session of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR). In this blog post, we look back on the session’s highlights on broadcasting, exceptions and limitations, and generative AI, from CC’s perspective.

As in previous sessions, our main objective was to drive copyright reform towards better sharing of copyright content in the public interest and in tune with the sharing possibilities of the digital environment. In this short session, we addressed the proposed broadcasting treaty and exceptions and limitations in our opening statement, as reported in the​​ “Statements” information document (SCCR/44/INF/STATEMENTS).

We also offered views on exceptions and limitations for cultural heritage institutions, i.e. libraries, archives and museums; you can watch our intervention on the WIPO webcast. These views are in line with our Open Culture Program’s recently launched initiative Towards a Recommendation on Open Culture (TAROC) which aims to develop policy to recognize the role of open culture to reach wider policy goals notably in relation to copyright and access and use of cultural heritage — see our TAROC Two-Pager in English, Shqip, français, Español, 日本語, Türkçe, italiano, عربي.

Overall, we are rather satisfied with the session’s outcomes. On broadcasting, we remain concerned that discussions on the draft broadcasting treaty are being maintained on the agenda despite evidence of a clear stalemate in the discussions; we are nonetheless heartened by the acknowledged need to work towards a balanced approach on exceptions and limitations in the draft treaty.

On exceptions and limitations, we are pleased that the SCCR Secretariat has undertaken to prepare a detailed implementation plan for the Work Program on Exceptions and Limitations; in CC’s views, this plan should provide for open and transparent engagement opportunities and wide participation from civil society of which CC is a leading voice. It should notably allow for real progress on substantive issues to support meaningful access and use of cultural heritage for preservation and other legitimate purposes.

We also welcome the organization of a virtual panel discussion on cross-border uses of copyright works in the educational and research sectors open to all member states as well as observers. As an accredited observer, CC places high value on broad and inclusive participation to ensure balanced and diverse perspectives can be brought to the table for a constructive debate. We recall that licensing falls short of addressing the problems that libraries, museums, archives, educational and research institutions, as well as persons with disabilities, face on a daily basis. Licensing is not a substitute for robust, flexible, mandatory exceptions and limitations to empower those who teach, learn and research, those who share in and build upon cultural heritage, and people with disabilities.

We note Group B’s Proposal Information Session on Generative AI and Copyright (SCCR/44/8) and look forward to the Secretariat organizing an open, inclusive, and balanced session at the next SCCR under the item of Copyright in the Digital Environment. As we have stated at the WIPO Conversation on Generative AI and Intellectual Property last September, generative AI raises important issues and is having an enormous impact on creativity, the commons, and better sharing, i.e., sharing that is inclusive, equitable, reciprocal, and sustainable. Our consultations on the matter have revealed a wide variety of views among creators, AI developers, and other stakeholders in the commons. They have also shed light on the fact that copyright is but one lens through which to consider generative AI; what is more, it is a rather blunt tool that often leads to black-and-white solutions that fall short of harnessing all the diverse possibilities that generative AI offers for human creativity. Our interventions on copyright and generative AI in the United States and the European Union contexts attest to those nuanced views. We thus call on the Secretariat to ensure the session will offer a balanced and representative set of perspectives.

We look forward to participating in the Committee’s next session, to take place from April 15 to 19, 2024, and to bring our expertise on copyright, better sharing of cultural heritage, and generative AI in order to help create a fairer and more balanced international copyright system in the public interest.

→ To stay informed about our policy and open culture work:

Sign up for our Open Culture Matters newsletter >

CC Responds to the United States Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry on Copyright and Artificial Intelligence

In August, the United States Copyright Office issued a Notice of Inquiry seeking public responses to 34 questions (and several sub-questions) about the intersection of copyright law and artificial intelligence. The comment period closed on 30 October with over 10,000 individuals and organizations responding, representing a broad spectrum of interests on how copyright should apply in relation to generative AI. CC joined in the conversation to provide our own thoughts on copyright and AI to the copyright office.

Since our founding, we have sought out ways that new technologies can serve the public good, and we believe that generative AI can be a powerful tool to enhance human creativity and to benefit the commons. At the same time, we also recognize that it carries with it the risk of bringing about significant harm. We used this opportunity to explain to the Copyright Office why we believe that the proper application of copyright law can guide the development and use of generative AI in ways that serve the public and to highlight what we have learned from our community through the consultations we have held throughout 2023 and at our recent Global Summit about both the risks and opportunities that generative AI holds.

In this post we summarize the key point of our submission, namely:

AI training generally constitutes fair use

We believe that, in general, training generative AI constitutes fair use under current U.S. law. Using creative works to train generative AI fits with the long line of cases that has found that non-consumptive, technological uses of creative works in ways that are unrelated to the expressive content of those works are transformative fair uses, such as Authors Guild v. Google and Kelly v. Arriba Soft. Moreover, the most recent Supreme Court ruling on fair use, Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith, supports this conclusion. As we commented upon the decision’s release, the Warhol case focus on the specific way a follow-on use compares with the original use of a work indicates that training generative AI on creative works is transformative and should be fair use. This is because the use of copyrighted works for AI training has a fundamentally different purpose from the original aesthetic purposes of those works.

Copyright protection for AI outputs subject to significant human creative input

We believe that creative works produced with the assistance of generative AI tools should only be eligible for protection where they contain a significant enough degree of human creative input to justify protection, just like when creators use any other mechanical tools in the production of their works. The Supreme Court considered the relationship between artists and their tools vis-a-vis copyright over 100 years ago in Burrow-Giles v. Sarony, holding that copyright protects the creativity that human artists’ incorporate into their works, not the work of machines. While determining which parts of a work are authored by a human when using generative AI will not always be clear, this issue is not fundamentally different from any other situation where we have to determine the authorship of individual parts of works that are created without AI assistance.

Additionally, we believe that developers of generative AI tools should not receive copyright protection over the outputs of those tools. Copyright law already provides enough incentives to encourage development of these tools by protecting code, and extending protection to their outputs is unnecessary to encourage innovation and investment in this space.

Infringement should be determined using the substantial similarity test

We believe that the substantial similarity standard that already exists in copyright law is sufficient to address where AI outputs infringe on other works. The debate about how copyright should apply to generative AI has often been cast in all-or-nothing terms — does something infringe on pre-existing copyrights or not? The answer to this question is certainly that generative AI can infringe on other works, but just as easily it may not. As with any other question about the substantial similarity between two works, these issues will be highly fact specific, and we cannot automatically say whether works produced by generative AI tools infringe or not.

Creators should be able to express their preferences

In general, we believe there is value in methods that enable individuals to to signal their preferences for how their works are shared in the context of generative AI. In our community consultations, we heard general support for preference signals, but there was no consensus in how best to do this. Opt-ins and opt-outs may be one way, but we do not believe they need to be required by US copyright law; instead, we would like to see voluntary schemes, similar to approaches to web scraping, which allow for standardized expression of these preferences without creating strict barriers to usage in cases where it may be appropriate.

Transparency is necessary to build trust — Copyright is only one lens through which to consider AI regulation

We urge caution and flexibility in any approach to regulating generative AI through copyright. We believe that copyright policy can guide the development of generative AI in ways that benefit all, but that overregulation or inappropriate regulation can hurt both the technology and the public. For example, measures that improve transparency into AI models can build trust in AI models by allowing outside observers to “look under the hood” to investigate how they work. But these measures should not be rooted in copyright law. Copyright is just one lens through which we can view generative AI, and it is ill equipped to deal with many of the social harms that concern us and many others. Attempting to use copyright to solve all of these issues may have unintended consequences and ultimately do more harm than good.

We are happy to see the Copyright Office seeking out guidance on these many difficult questions. We will have to wait to see what comes from this, but we will hope for the best, and continue to engage our community so we can more fully understand what role generative AI should play in building the commons and serving the public good.

Read CC’s full submission to the Copyright Office >

Kyle K. Courtney — Open Culture VOICES, Season 2 Episode 32

Kyle believes that “the artistic and creative expressions of humanity is the best way to experience our human efforts” and open GLAM makes this a reality for much more than what you can see on a given day in a museum. Open GLAM also helps drive more digitization of collections around the world in an effort to make institutions more known.

Open Culture VOICES is a series of short videos that highlight the benefits and barriers of open culture as well as inspiration and advice on the subject of opening up cultural heritage. Kyle is a copyright advisor at Harvard library and helps people understand how material can be used in the library and online for users.

Kyle responds to the following questions:

  1. What are the main benefits of open GLAM?
  2. What are the barriers?
  3. Could you share something someone else told you that opened up your eyes and mind about open GLAM?
  4. Do you have a personal message to those hesitating to open up collections?

Closed captions are available for this video, you can turn them on by clicking the CC icon at the bottom of the video. A red line will appear under the icon when closed captions have been enabled. Closed captions may be affected by Internet connectivity — if you experience a lag, we recommend watching the videos directly on YouTube.

Want to hear more insights from Open Culture experts from around the world? Watch more episodes of Open Culture VOICES here >>

Announcing CC’s Open Infrastructure Circle

A black and white Creative Commons icon and logo above

CC Licenses make it possible to share content legally and openly. Over the past 20 years, they have unlocked approximately 3 billion articles, books, research, artwork, and music. They’re a global standard and power open sharing on popular platforms like Wikipedia, Flickr, YouTube, Medium, Vimeo, and Khan Academy.

CC’s Legal Tools are a free and reliable public good. Yet most people are unaware that their infrastructure and stewardship takes a lot of money and work to maintain. 

We need to secure immediate and long term funding for the CC licenses and CC0 public domain tool, which are key to building a healthy commons. We’re facing many challenges and threats to the commons–libraries are under attack, misinformation is rampant, and climate change threatens us all. CC is one of the few nonprofit, mission-driven organizations fighting to ensure we have a sound legal infrastructure backing open ecosystems, so that culture and knowledge are shared in order to foster understanding and find equitable solutions to our world’s most pressing challenges.

We need support from like-minded funders to champion sharing practices and tools that oppose the enclosure of the commons.

That’s why we’re launching the Open Infrastructure Circle (OIC) — an initiative to obtain annual or multi-year support from foundations, corporations, and individuals for Creative Commons’ core operations and license infrastructure.

With consistent funding, we can resolve “technical debts” (years of work we’ve had to put on hold due to underfunding!) and make the CC Licenses more user-friendly and accessible to our large, global community. The world has changed a lot since the CC Licenses were first created in 2002, and we want to ensure they stay relevant and easy to use going forward.

We are grateful to our early Open Infrastructure Circle supporters, including the William + Flora Hewlett Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Paul and Iris Brest.

Sign up to join OIC with a recurring gift! Or reach out to us for more information about OIC at development@creativecommons.org.

Thank you for considering joining the Open Infrastructure Circle and contributing to the legal infrastructure of the open web.

CC’s #BetterSharing Collection | November: Shared Knowledge, Shared Future

A collage of photos of various objects — bird, flower, hand, etc — and various icons all interconnected by bright yellow lines with occasional dots, like a circuit board, all on a light blue background with the text: Shared knowledge Shared future.
Shared Knowledge, Shared Future” by Luisa Brando for Creative Commons and Fine Acts is licensed via CC BY-SA 4.0.

As part of our #20CC anniversary, last year we joined forces with Fine Acts to spark a global dialogue on what better sharing looks like in action. Our #BetterSharing collection of illustrations was the result — we gathered insights from 12 prominent open advocates around the world and tasked 12 renowned artists who embrace openness with transforming these perspectives into captivating visual pieces available under a CC license.

Each month throughout 2023, we will be spotlighting a different CC-licensed illustration from the collection on our social media headers and the CC blog. For November, we’re excited to showcase “Shared Knowledge, Shared Future” by Colombian illustrator, Luisa Brando. The piece, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0, was inspired by a quote from Molly Van Houweling, former chair of CC’s Board of Directors:

“Better sharing for a brighter future means that the world is wrapped in a living connective tissue of shared knowledge, culture, and insights that spread joy and alleviate suffering.”

Meet the artist:

Headshot of Luisa Brando
“Luisa Brando” used by permission of “TheGreats.co.

Luisa Brando is dedicated to producing visual art and architecture projects sensitive to heritage conservation and dichotomies between nature and culture, tradition and development. Brando currently teaches at Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá), coordinates a Master Plan in Ibague, and continues her artistic work on the geopolitics, images and imaginations of water and other living beings.

Follow Luisa on Instagram: @luisa_brando_art

Maarten Zeinstra — Open Culture VOICES, Season 2 Episode 31

 

Maarten believes that “Open GLAM is a necessity of a disbalanced copyright framework.” Maarten talks about how open access policies help institutions achieve their public missions. Open access policies in instutions provides good evidence that society and communities need access to cultural heritage to flourish.

Open Culture VOICES is a series of short videos that highlight the benefits and barriers of open culture as well as inspiration and advice on the subject of opening up cultural heritage. Maarten is an independent consultant and intellectual property lawyer who works with GLAM institutions on open access policies and implementing open information management systems.

Maarten responds to the following questions:

  1. What are the main benefits of open GLAM?
  2. What are the barriers?
  3. Could you share something someone else told you that opened up your eyes and mind about open GLAM?
  4. Do you have a personal message to those hesitating to open up collections?

Closed captions are available for this video, you can turn them on by clicking the CC icon at the bottom of the video. A red line will appear under the icon when closed captions have been enabled. Closed captions may be affected by Internet connectivity — if you experience a lag, we recommend watching the videos directly on YouTube.

Want to hear more insights from Open Culture experts from around the world? Watch more episodes of Open Culture VOICES here >>

Sorry: This video does not exist. CC’s Open VIdeo Blocked by Automatic Copyright Robots

Screenshot of the Creative Commons home webpage, showing a missing video replaced with the text “Sorry! This video does not exist.”
“Sorry! This video does not exist.” by Creative Commons is licensed via CC BY 4.0.

Visitors to the CC  home webpage recently were welcomed by a big black box and the message “Sorry: This video does not exist.” In the spot where CC was showcasing a custom video made last year for CC’s 20th anniversary, there was now a stark error message, making it look like the CC website was broken.

After some investigation, CC learned that the copy of the video we had hosted on the Vimeo platform had been tagged with an automated copyright violation takedown notice. Anyone who has had this experience knows that typically a service will stop delivering content that automated processes have identified as violating copyright, and then it’s up to you as the account holder to prove you have rights to share the work, or modify it so it no longer triggers automated filters. Meanwhile, your content is missing and your website may look broken.

Almost a week later, Vimeo approved CC’s detailed appeal of the takedown and the video was back on our home webpage. It’s not always easy to figure out how to file an appeal for a takedown like this — in fact Vimeo’s appeal button led to a dead link, so it actually took us at CC extra time to even figure out how to file an appeal with Vimeo.

Robot justice may be blind, but there was plenty of irony in this takedown notice, delivered to an organization like CC that knows a bit about people’s freedom to share. Irony on top of irony: the specific content flagged for copyright infringement was a sample of a musical track from The Wired CD, perhaps the most famous collection of openly licensed music ever published.

Fortunately, CC had taken great care in the production of the video, carefully tracking attributions for every sound and image. In another dose of irony, there is no good way to display the rather lengthy attributions for this video on Vimeo, and so one must look to a different host — like Flickr — for the video to display the full attribution statement.

The internet may not have missed this specific version of a short video for a few days, but this small example demonstrates the stakes of automated systems that put the interests of big copyright ahead of everyone else’s. Even with the black and white “Sorry,” the message that “this video does not exist” betrays a vision of a world where copyright reigns supreme with little to no space left for uses based on fundamental freedoms, like the freedom of expression. Because the video does indeed still exist, not only on Vimeo, where it was merely locked in private mode, awaiting appeal, but also anywhere else it might live, like on Flickr, the Internet Archive, Wikimedia Commons, YouTube (which also has the video in private mode, pending CC’s appeal), or — if you have the resources — on your own internet hosting infrastructure.

CC was embedding the version of this video hosted on Vimeo on our home webpage because Vimeo embedding has some technical advantages, but one lesson here is never to put all your web hosting eggs in a single basket — if you have the time and resources to share open content in multiple places, your content is less likely to “not exist” due to the whims of any one host.

Another lesson is that good attribution practices are not only important to meet the requirements of open licensing — giving credit to upstream creators and guidance to downstream users — but also as a record of the multiple layers of rights and permissions within your  work, ready for you to use when you get that unexpected copyright takedown notice or legal challenge. Because CC had taken such care with the attributions for this video, we were well-equipped to file a successful appeal with Vimeo.

Why wait for your next takedown notice? Brush up your skills in making good attributions via CC’s online guidance or go deeper with our CC Certificate program >

Marike van Roon — Open Culture VOICES, Season 2 Episode 30

Marike van Roon shares that “the main benefit of open culture is accessibility” because if you are not fortunate enough to be part of organization that pays for you to have access to collections and you don’t live in city with public collections it’s almost impossible to access a lot of cultural heritage. In this episode we learn about the institutions that support opening up collections in the Netherlands and how detrimental copyright laws and pay walls are to open culture around the world.

Open Culture VOICES is a series of short videos that highlight the benefits and barriers of open culture as well as inspiration and advice on the subject of opening up cultural heritage. Marike van Roon is currently an independent art historian and has been part of the cultural heritage sector in the nNetherlands for more than 30years. She is also a Wikipedian and was a member of the board of Wikimedia Nederland.

Marike responds to the following questions:

  1. What are the main benefits of open GLAM?
  2. What are the barriers?
  3. Could you share something someone else told you that opened up your eyes and mind about open GLAM?
  4. Do you have a personal message to those hesitating to open up collections?

Closed captions are available for this video, you can turn them on by clicking the CC icon at the bottom of the video. A red line will appear under the icon when closed captions have been enabled. Closed captions may be affected by Internet connectivity — if you experience a lag, we recommend watching the videos directly on YouTube.

Want to hear more insights from Open Culture experts from around the world? Watch more episodes of Open Culture VOICES here >>