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A Quick Look at the CC Strategic Workshop on Open Heritage

One year after Creative Commons (CC) hosted an exploratory Open Culture Roundtable, in Lisbon, Portugal, which initiated the Towards a Recommendation on Open Culture (TAROC) global initiative, nearly 50 stakeholders from all continents gathered again for a strategic workshop, in Lisbon, in May 2024. In this blog post, we share a snapshot of key highlights.

TAROC aims to support the international community in developing a positive, affirmative, and influential international normative instrument (possibly a UNESCO “recommendation”) enshrining the values, objectives, and mechanisms for open culture, notably open heritage,  to flourish. Such an instrument would recognize the importance of global open sharing of cultural heritage as a means to activate and support wider cultural and information policy ambitions. Concretely, it would help remove undue barriers and promote equitable access to cultural heritage, especially in the digital environment, for a more inclusive and connected world.

The aim of the workshop was to build on the foundation previously laid and design a roadmap for future action. Over two productive days of collaborative work facilitated by Mona Ebdrup and Abdul Dube, a diverse collective of knowledgeable experts and driven activists articulated a shared vision for the elaboration of a UNESCO instrument.

A group of people standing together looking at the camera in a green garden.
Open Culture Strategic Workshop Group Photo by Filipa Alfama, CC BY 4.0

Véronique Guèvremont (Université Laval and UNESCO Chair on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions) opened the workshop with an inspiring keynote on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and Claire McGuire (IFLA) led an eye-opening discussion with Lutz Möller (German UNESCO National Commission), Fackson Banda (UNESCO Memory of the World Program), Jaco Du Toit (UNESCO Access to Information), Peter Scholing (National Library of Aruba and Memory of the World Latin America and the Caribbean), and Harriet Deacon (University of Hull) who shared valuable insights on the important considerations to account for in the process towards a recommendation. Andrea Wallace (University of Exeter) and Teresa Nobre (Communia Association) offered key practical and policy advice to anchor openness in the cultural heritage sector. All participants shared invaluable input and showed deep  engagement throughout the two days in Lisbon. Thank you all!

Here’s what some of the participants said about the workshop: 

“How can we improve access to cultural heritage? How can open licenses and technologies help? How could a UNESCO Recommendation help that regard? In Lisbon, Portugal, Creative Commons has assembled some 50 experts from around the globe to discuss next steps. At Goethe-Institut e.V. Lisbon.” — Lutz Möller, Deputy Secretary-General for the German Commission for UNESCO, Germany

“The TAROC Strategic Workshop was an intense, yet super inspiring time in Lisbon, empowering to witness how the idea of having values behind Open Heritage translated into UNESCO recommendations is shaping up supported by the right mindset, energy and expertise of an amazing group of advocates from all over the world and it allowed me to hope the goal is achievable.” — Maja Drabczyk, Chair of the Board, Head of policy and advocacy, Centrum Cyfrowe, Poland

“Two days of discussion in Lisbon brought out the complexities, challenges, and many points of unity among people and sectors seeking to make the world’s creativity more accessible. It also brought home the realities of engaging with inter-governmental processes that have their own momentum and language. But we have a plan, and I left with a lot of energy!” — Matt Voigts, independent, Netherlands

“Very happy to take part in such interesting conversations around open culture, public domain, and the digital world surrounded by colleagues that I admire and have followed since I began my advocacy work within the digital rights environment. Thanks so much to Creative Commons” — Patricia Diaz, Executive Director, Wikimedia Chile, Chile

“The workshop inspired me a lot and helped me think of some ideas — hopefully I can implement some and write to you all with a collaboration proposal!” — Medhavi Gandhi, Founder, The Heritage Lab, India 

“We gathered as a diverse team of experts and activists from around the world to strategize how open culture values might be embodied in a future UNESCO recommendation. There is much work to do, but we left energized and optimistic.” — Douglas McCarthy, Head of Library Learning Centre,  Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

 

Furthermore, Minister of Finance and Culture of Aruba, Xiomara Maduro, stated in an official press release: “The global experts who participated in the discussions emphasized the importance of Open Culture in strengthening social resilience and fostering an environment of knowledge and experience sharing.”

Overall, the workshop consolidated broad community support and mapped out concrete next steps for the TAROC initiative. We are currently assessing the event’s rich outcomes and will be sharing more in-depth insights soon. Stay tuned!

Recap & Recording: “Open Culture in the Age of AI: Concerns, Hopes and Opportunities”

In May, CC’s Open Culture Program hosted a new webinar in our Open Culture Live series titled “Open Culture in the Age of AI: Concerns, Hopes and Opportunities.” In this blog post we share key takeaways and a link to the recording.

With CC considering new ways to engage with generative AI, we are excited to share highlights from the conversation that demonstrate some of the complex considerations regarding open sharing, cultural heritage, and contemporary creativity.

Suzanne Duncan, Chief Operating Officer at Te Hiku Media, New Zealand, said that her organization was born out of the Māori rights movement. It is collecting an archive of Māori language samples on its own platform to maintain data sovereignty. Te Hiku Media is now working to use AI tools to teach the language to heritage language reclaimers. Suzanne recommended that the best way to ensure diverse representation in AI outputs is to have communities involved in the building and testing of AI models, ideally by communities, for communities.

Minne Atairu, interdisciplinary artist and doctoral student in the Art and Art Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University, USA, shared examples of her works using the Benin Bronzes, artworks from Nigeria stolen by the British in the 19th century, and the changes that happened in the visual representation of art after the looting took place. Using images of the stolen items, she used models to explore visuals and materials and convert text to 3D models. Minne hopes that better ways of attribution and compensation can be re-envisioned, and that the wealth generated by AI and other technologies should be spread among creators, not just tech executives.

Bartolomeo Meletti, Head of Knowledge Exchange at CREATe, University of Glasgow, Scotland, spoke about copyright law and copyright exceptions in the UK, EU and US, focusing on what one can do with AI and copyrighted works without permission from the copyright owner, especially for purposes of research and education. He works to create guidance about how to navigate those permissions with generative AI in mind.

Michael Trizna, Data Scientist at the Smithsonian Institution, has explored how generative AI can help to speed up processes like providing “alt text” (text descriptions of visual materials) to images, without compromising the accuracy of the audio or visual description of works. He has also worked on an AI values statement, including labeling AI generated content as such and mechanisms for the audience to provide feedback. Mike raised concerns about the fact that only a few large cultural heritage institutions are resourced to engage with generative AI responsibly.

Overall, panelists conveyed a need for greater AI literacy to enable people to interrogate AI and ensure it can be used for good.

Watch the recording here.

CC is a non-profit that relies on contributions to sustain our work. Support CC in our efforts to promote better sharing at creativecommons.org/donate.

 

What is Open Culture Live?

In this series, we tackle some of the more complex challenges that face the open culture movement, bringing in speakers with personal and professional expertise on the topic.

The CC Open Education Platform Funds Five New Community Projects

Thanks to our community’s time proposing projects and voting on the proposals, CC now has five winning ideas to advance open education globally. CC is proud to fund the projects spanning Brazil, Ghana, Nepal, and Nigeria, as well as ongoing work supporting the UNESCO Recommendation on OER.

Thanks to the CC Open Education Platform community’s time proposing projects and voting on the  proposals, we now have five winning ideas to advance open education globally. CC will fund five projects in 2024, spanning Brazil, Ghana, Nepal, and Nigeria. The CC Open Education Platform is also funding ongoing global community work supporting the UNESCO Recommendation on OER. We are delighted to share updates about the projects below.

CC lauds all of the open education community efforts, and we look forward to sharing additional highlights at the end of this year.  The CC Open Education Platform funded projects include:

V Simpósio de RPG, Larp e Educação. The project will organize a symposium about tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) and live action roleplaying (LARPs) on Human Rights Education, to be held remotely in Brazil in June 2024. The event will happen during 8 days with lectures, workshops and talks. Participants will be able to interact live with the speakers as the lectures are streamed, and all the recordings are going to be openly available after the event. The lecturers are also being invited to produce and send hands-on written digital materials detailing the instructions of the activity presented, and those are going to be compiled on an openly available digital book. Some of the lectures will approach how TTRPGs and LARPs can be used as tools to facilitate the inclusion and discussion of human rights in educational activities. After the event all of the produced material (videos and written content) will be openly available under CC-BY licenses. 
Country: Brazil
Project Lead: Marcos Vinícius Carneiro Vital

An Open Education Club and OER for Climate Education in High Schools. The project will create awareness of OER in 20 High schools, introduce High School Students to the wide array of opportunities in OER and then use it as a tool for climate and environmental education.  The project will organize special sessions on Open Education, form an Open Education club and then train club members on how to use OER for climate education and to build capacity for climate action (SDG 13). 
Country: Ghana
Project Lead: Otuo-Akyampong Boakye

Empowering Librarians: Enhancing OER Awareness in Ghana’s Tertiary Schools. This project will raise awareness and utilization of Open Educational Resources (OER) among librarians, faculty, and students. The project will offer training on open licensing, co-creating curated collections of OER materials, as well as building partnership and advocacy, in order to empower librarians to effectively integrate OER into their institutions. 
Country: Ghana
Project Lead: Stephen Dakyi

Open Education Initiative in Nepal. This project will establish an Open Education Initiative to enhance access to quality educational resources for all learners in Nepal, regardless of their location or socioeconomic background. The key components include using a centralized online platform, training educators on OER, promoting community outreach, investing in digital infrastructure, and advocating for policies promoting open education practices. The implementation plan includes a pilot phase, scaling up, and integration and sustainability. CC Nepal and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (Government of Nepal) will collaborate together on this project. 
Country: Nepal
Project Lead: Roshan Kumar Karn

Open Educational Resources for Yoruba Culture. This project will create a set of OER centered on the rich and diverse culture of the Yoruba people — one of Africa’s major ethnic groups, predominantly found in Nigeria, Benin and Togo. Through a series of video episodes, learners will be able to explore elements of Yoruba culture such as the language, food, music, festivals and names, and more. 
Country: Nigeria
Project Lead: Isaac Oloruntimilehin

Supporting the UNESCO OER Recommendation 
In addition to the five winning projects, CC and community members will continue to work closely with UNESCO on refining media “explainers,” about open licenses and their importance for global open education.  Once video editing, graphics and translations are complete, we look forward to publishing them. 

If you would like to get involved in CC’s open education community and activities, join us! Contact jennryn [at] creativecommons.org for more details. 

Join the Creative Commons Board of Directors

We are now welcoming nominations to the CC Board of Directors.

Each year, we seek nominations from the Creative Commons community for thoughtful and talented individuals invested in the future of the organization.

The CC Board of Directors guides the strategic direction of Creative Commons, provides valuable expertise in key programmatic areas, and champions the activities of the organization. New board members will be joining a group of legal and policy experts, open advocates, and innovators as CC undergoes a strategy refresh and expands its commitment as the stewards of the commons and the CC licenses that enable sharing.

This year, we are looking for two to three global candidates familiar with non-profit governance who demonstrate some of the following skills:

We are especially excited to receive nominations from the Global South and Latin America, and from historically marginalized groups including women, people with disabilities, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, and Indigenous peoples.

We welcome self-nominations. We also encourage community leaders to solicit nominations from community members and submit them on behalf of the group. Please use the nomination form to submit your nomination. Be sure to submit your nomination by June 13, 2024.

Nominations will be reviewed by the Governance and Nomination Committee, Angela Oduor Lungati (Chair), Delia Browne, James Grimmelmann, and Alek Tarkowski. Short-listed candidates will then be invited for an interview.

Thank you in advance for your ideas, and for all of the contributions you make as a member of our CC community to build a better future together.

Time for a Refresh

The CC team has been evaluating our progress toward our 2021-2025 strategy. Through that process, we have noticed the ways we have been organically adjusting to the social and technical shifts around us, as well as the ebbs and flows of funding availability. It would be an understatement to say that much has changed since we developed the strategy in 2020 and launched it in 2021. Turns out that our predictions and plans set forth in 2020 are not as helpful in the reality of 2024 and likely even less so for 2025 and beyond.

Rather than continuing to progress through the existing strategy, we have determined that the stronger, and dare we say more strategic, approach is to conduct a strategy refresh.

Refreshing Our Strategy

Organizational strategies are meant to be living documents that guide the efforts of the organization towards its north star—the mission and vision. What we thought would be a strategy that would guide us into 2025 has actually been the foundation of us better understanding CC’s role in a post-pandemic time of significant technological development with generative AI, a much needed social and racial justice reckoning globally, and a rapidly shifting socio-economic environment, all affecting our team and our community.

This strategic refresh process will build on past strategies, leveraging what has worked and learning from what hasn’t. Rather than a strategic shift for CC, we are steering this process with the goal of returning to the core of CC, as a movement, as a community, and as legal and technical infrastructure. Our goal is to emerge with an updated strategy that takes into account generative AI alongside the human act of creating and sharing; paired with a sound operational and sustainable organizational layer.

Intentional Engagement with our Community

Community involvement and engagement with this process will be critical for its success. As the CC team and Board grapple with the directions that this strategic refresh will take, we want to hear from you. What role do you see for CC in the future? How can CC support you and your community in stewarding openness practices and making available the knowledge that will help to solve the greatest challenges of our time? What are the elements that make a strong and effective CC, today, tomorrow, and into the future?

In June, we will begin scheduling a series of open community and stakeholder sessions to be held throughout July and August. Participation information will be shared on our blog and via social media. If you wish to indicate your early interest in participating, please sign up to our mailing list. We are looking forward to connecting with you on this process and we can’t wait to hear your insights on the future of CC.

Open Culture Platform Activity Fund Winners 2024

As part of the Open Culture Platform’s 2024 work plan, we at Creative Commons are offering funding for community activities.

We called for proposals and invited the community to vote on the activities. The projects needed to have a focus on building community through outreach and helping institutions move toward open. Here are the four projects that are being funded. We look forward to sharing more about the projects when they are complete.

Public Domain Digitization Advocacy across GLAM Institutions in Nigeria

Àlàáfíàbámí Ọládipúpọ̀

The Public Domain consists of materials from which society derives knowledge and inspiration to create new cultural and creative works. Having a great interest in the Public Domain, Free Knowledge Africa has tasked itself with organizing a series of events and projects fashioned to promote Public Domain works in Nigeria. In doing so, we have been able to document over a thousand works in the Public Domain database we are currently building and have been able to digitize a few of them.

This proposed activity, funded by the Creative Commons Open Culture Activity fund, seeks to advocate for the Public Domain within GLAM Institutions across Nigeria. Our primary goal is to inspire these institutions to embrace openness and digitize the valuable works within their collections. Building upon our established connections with the National Library of Nigeria, developed through previous projects, we aim to extend our outreach to 5 state branches and encourage the adoption of Open Access practices.

Beyond advocacy, our initiative includes the identification and digitization of approximately 100 Public Domain works from each library, totalling at least 500 digitized works. Subsequently, we plan to upload these digitized materials and create Wikidata Items for a minimum of 500 Public Domain Works in Nigeria.

Expected outcomes include heightened awareness and acceptance of Open Access principles among GLAM Institutions, leading to increased digitization efforts. The project aims to significantly contribute to the preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage, making a substantial impact on the accessibility and appreciation of Public Domain materials in Nigeria.

 

The Gateway to Amazonian Knowledge: A Project for Openly Disseminating Cultural Collections from Belém

João Alexandre Peschanski

“The Gateway to Amazonian Knowledge” project intends to openly disseminate cultural collections from Belém — especially connected to biodiversity and traditional culture — emphasizing the crucial role of open knowledge in preparing for COP-30 in Belém. This initiative involves a collaborative process to enhance content donation from local institutions, with a particular focus on strengthening partnerships with the Emílio Goeldi Museum. By fostering open access to cultural resources, the project seeks to enrich understanding and appreciation of Amazonian heritage while promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing on a global scale. This specific project will be part of a broader campaign called Wiki Loves Pará, that is especially geared towards contributing textual content about the Brazilian Amazonian Forest into Wikipedia.

 

Unearthing Ghana’s Hidden Heritage: Exploring Historical Artifacts in Northern Kingdoms

Mohammed Awal Alhassan

The northern half of Ghana, steeped in a rich and often overlooked history, harbors a treasure trove of undocumented artifacts. Within its borders lie the ancient Dagbon, Mamprugu, and Waala Kingdoms—custodians of a cultural heritage spanning centuries. Our project aims to explore and document these artifacts, increasing awareness through Wikipedia articles and images/videos on Wikimedia Commons. Additionally, we will create structured data for these artifacts using Wikidata, which could be utilized in the future to develop visualization tools and other resources.

Tangible items such as traditional woven fabrics like “smock” clothing, handmade beads, wooden sculptures, swords, bows and arrows, traditional drums, and handmade pottery items such as bowls, jars, and decorative pieces all reflect the region’s historical connections to weaponry and hunting practices, and as well reflect the local craftsmanship and cultural heritage making them valuable artifacts that reflect local craftsmanship and traditions.

 

Open access to cultural heritage/GLAM Rwanda

Nyirahabihirwe Clementine

In Rwanda there is a lack of awareness and understanding about open cultural practices in GLAMs.

Some proposed activities of this project are:

  1. CC Chapter Rwanda aim to reach out new members online and offline and reach over 40 members for a baseline of  15 members, these will be achieved through special 4 online events and active social media engagement
  2. CC Chapter Rwanda aims to reach out new members offline specifically in 10 GLAM institutions, through 3 workshops which will be held in 3 different districts (Huye, Nyanza, Kigali City) with 40 participants from different communities, districts and GLAMs. These workshops will enhance collaborative dialogue methodology among stakeholders, which will be designed as part of the project for its sustainability.
    • Explain them the importance of the  visibility of GLAM collection on online,  identify together the challenges and way forward for promoting them and increase their engagement in open GLAM practices.
    • Make the Rwandan community aware about Creative Common licenses/tools: Online training  on Open practice, the use of Open CC licenses & attributions to increase the online visibility of GLAM collections.
    • Document taken pictures from GLAMs in Rwanda on Wikimedia Commons and improving Wikipedia articles.
    • Making resources from different GLAMs available to be used by anyone around the world through Creative Commons tools and licenses.
    • Provide Wikimedians around the World with Rwandan digitized resources to contribute to the continued improvement of Wikimedia projects such as Wikipedia and its sister projects (WikiSource, Wikidata, WikiCommons…).
    • Creation and engagement GLAM community: Offer opportunities for members to participate in meaningful activities and events that build GLAM community and foster engagement, seek out collaborations with other groups and organizations to increase the size and diversity of the community.
    • Encourage and support community members to take on leadership roles and responsibilities. In total we will have +30 participants (20 from five GLAM institutions + 10 CC Rwanda members + others who will be interested).

 

We plan to report back at the end of the year with the results of each project. Congratulations to the winners!

Learn more about CC’s Open Culture Program, and if you’d like to get more involved, check out the Open Culture Platform.

Join us at Common(s) Cause: Towards a shared advocacy strategy for the Knowledge Commons – a side event to Wikimania 2024

Creative Commons, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Future, and Wikimedia Europe are  hosting a day-long side event to Wikimania 2024. The event will take place in Katowice, Poland, on 6 August 2024, the day before Wikimania kicks off on 7 August 2024.

Wikimania 2024 is the biggest meeting of open movement activists and organizations this year. It offers a rare occasion for activists to meet in person. We are making use of this opportunity to bring together those working in the field of Openness, Free Knowledge, and the Digital Commons to talk about shared advocacy strategies: the political challenges of Knowledge Commons. We are counting on the participation of people already planning to attend Wikimania, and those who will come especially to attend our side event. We are expecting around 70 people to join our event.

Our goal is to establish relationships needed to design a shared advocacy vision that over time can result in stronger, collaborative advocacy work. To this end, the event will focus on three topics: 1) Legal and Policy issues, 2) Communication and Global Campaigns, and 3) Community activation and Sustainability.

Are you planning to attend Wikimania and interested in joining us for this event? Please fill out this interest form.

There are few opportunities to bring together the movement’s most engaged participants and discuss shared strategies for advocacy and ways of moving forward together. Wikimania’s 2024 motto is “Collaboration of the Open.” Our one-day side event to Wikimania is an opportunity to bring this motto to life.

Learn More with Creative Commons: Recent Training Highlights

CC’s Learning and Training team share highlights from a range of trainings, discussions, and engagements in the first few months of 2024. If you would like to explore CC Certificate courses or have a custom training, please email learning [at] creativecommons.org. We would look forward to working with you.

If the embedded timeline above is not working, the highlights are also listed below.

What’s next

In the coming months, we  look forward to co-developing a public folder of CC training materials with CC communities around the world. Stay tuned for more information and how to get involved. 

Meanwhile: would you like a CC training at your institution or community of practice? Learn more on our website and email learning [at] creativecommons.org for more information. We’d be delighted to help you continue to grow your knowledge of Creative Commons licensing and the open movement.

CC heart-shaped logo in green

Timeline text

Webinar: Open Culture in the Age of AI: Concerns, Hopes and Opportunities

Black and grey image of speckled orbs in the background. In the foreground the text reads
An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe. Plate XXXI. ”. By Thomas Wright. Public Domain

On Wednesday, 8 May  2024, at 2:00 pm UTC, CC’s Open Culture Program will be hosting a new webinar in our Open Culture Live series titled “Open Culture in the Age of AI: Concerns, Hopes and Opportunities.”

At CC, we promote better sharing and open access to cultural heritage to help build and sustain vibrant and thriving societies. With generative AI entering the scene, what are some of the issues to consider to ensure institutions make the most of this new technology and avoid its pitfalls as they fulfill their missions? In this panel we will discuss some of the opportunities and risks that come along with embracing generative AI in cultural heritage institutions, and some ideas for engaging in this new technology for the benefit of institutions, creators, as well as curious visitors and learners.

Firstly, looking inwards,  what are some of the ways in which cultural heritage might implement the use of AI to automate and improve labor-intensive processes as well as explore and enrich their data?

Secondly, looking outwards, when it comes to sharing their cultural heritage collections and related data online, potential use as AI training data is on the minds of many institutions. On the one hand, collections can offer important and useful training data for beneficial projects. Indeed, more diverse inputs to training datasets could aid in countering bias and ensuring outputs are more representative. On the other hand, especially in the age of AI, sharing collections needs to be done responsibly, respectfully and ethically, and institutions must remain guided by their public service missions. With generative AI here to stay, how can these considerations be adequately balanced? How can cultural heritage institutions play a role in contributing to the development of responsible AI?

We will be joined by a panel of experts including:

Register here. 

CC is a non-profit that relies on contributions to sustain our work. Support CC in our efforts to promote better sharing at creativecommons.org/donate.

What is Open Culture Live?

In this series, we tackle some of the more   challenges that face the open culture movement, bringing in speakers with personal and professional expertise on the topic.

What are the Benefits of Open Culture? A new CC Publication

An illustration of a prehistoric landscape with dinosaurs and reptiles.
Duria Antiquior by Henry De la Beche, National Museum Cardiff, Public Domain

Today we in the Open Culture Program are releasing a new publication: Don’t be a Dinosaur; or, The Benefits of Open Culture.

Following in the footsteps of open culture pioneers, many institutions are taking the leap to open their collections online, partly as a way to celebrate a sense of (re)connection with cultural heritage collections in the digital space. While the road to OC is strewn with barriers, its benefits are well worth the journey. 

This report distills the many views expressed in our Open Culture Voices (OCV) series about the ways in which so many people can benefit from open culture. In short: 

To find out more:

To stay informed about our open culture work: