Wikimedia Foundation board approves license migration

Mike Linksvayer, May 21st, 2009

The Wikimedia Foundation board has approved the licensing changes voted on by the community of Wikipedia and its sister sites. The accompanying press release includes this quote from Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig:

“Richard Stallman’s commitment to the cause of free culture has been an inspiration to us all. Assuring the interoperability of free culture is a critical step towards making this freedom work. The Wikipedia community is to be congratulated for its decision, and the Free Software Foundation thanked for its help. I am enormously happy about this decision.”

Hear, hear!

Earlier today we blogged that results of the Wikipedia community vote on adding the CC BY-SA license. Over 75% of votes were cast in approval of the change, but as has been pointed out by Wikimedia Foundation Deputy Director Erik Moeller and board member Kat Walsh, this number understates the level of support for the change. 14% voted “no opinion”, while only 10% opposed.

In any case we are deeply gratified that such an overwhelming majority (88% of those who voted with an opinion) approved this change worked on over several years by the Free Software Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, and Creative Commons, are proud to stand with such trusted organizations, and will live up to that trust!

The addition of the CC BY-SA license to Wikimedia sites should occur over the next month. Now is a good time to start thinking about whether your works and projects ought to interoperate with Wikipedia. If you’re using (or switch to) CC BY-SA, content can flow in both directions (your work could be incorporated into Wikipedia, and you can incorporate Wikipedia content into your work). If you use CC BY or CC0, your work could be incorporated into Wikipedia, but not vice versa. If your work isn’t licensed, or is under a CC license with a non-commercial or no derivatives (NC or ND) term, nothing can flow in either direction, except by fair use or other copyright exception or limitation.

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Wikipedia community votes 75% in favor of CC BY-SA

Mike Linksvayer, May 21st, 2009

Results of the WIkipedia community vote on licensing are now in:

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has proposed that the copyright licensing terms on the wikis operated by the WMF — including Wikipedia — be changed to include the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) license in addition to the current GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). This will affect all text and rich media (images, sound, video, etc.) currently licensed under “GFDL 1.2 or later versions”. This change is meant to advance the WMF’s mission by increasing the compatibility and availability of free content. Further details and motivation for this change are explained in the licensing update proposal and the associated FAQ.

To gauge community support for adopting this change, a Wikimedia-wide vote was conducted between April 12 and May 3, 2009. The vote was managed by volunteers associated with the licensing update committee and conducted on servers controlled by the independent non-profit SPI.

Licensing Update Poll Result
“Yes, I am in favor of this change” 13242 75.8%
“No, I am opposed to this change” 1829 10.5%
“I do not have an opinion on this change” 2391 13.7%
Total votes cast and certified 17462

If “no opinion” votes are not included, the Yes/No percentage becomes 87.9%/12.1% (15071 votes).

For lots of background on why this is a great thing, see our post on the community vote and the previous posts it links to. CC Denmark public project lead Henrik Moltke’s immediate microblogged reaction is a good summary:

Wikimedia/pedia adopting CC a giant leap; will unite & focus strengths, facilitate participation + convey strengths of free licensing

Thanks for voting for licensing sanity!

As the results page says, the Wikimedia Foundation board must still approve any licensing change.


“Here. My Explosion..”: CC-Licensed Feature-Length Film and Soundtrack

Cameron Parkins, May 18th, 2009

Here. My Explosion… is a new feature-length film from Reid Gershbein. Released under a CC BY-NC-SA license
(the film’s soundtrack is released under a CC BY-SA license), and is available for free download here.

The film is shot using a tilt-shift photography technique and clocks in at around 75 minutes. If you like the film, you can support it through donation at Gershbein’s website. Thanks to Boing Boing for the heads up.

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Jane Park, May 7th, 2009

A couple years ago, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab developed a Web 2.0 programming platform for kids called Scratch. Scratch allows kids, and virtually anyone else, to create and remix rich media of all kinds—video, video games, even simple photo animations. The programming behind Scratch focuses on building blocks, like Legos, to get kids not only friendly, but adept at the technology that dominates our world. Each user can create a project, whether it be a video or a video game, and upload it to share on the Scratch website. Scratch currently exceeds more than 400,000 projects, all licensed CC BY-SA, allowing any youth to flex her creative muscles and enhance a peer’s project by remixing it with her own.

The School Library Journal wrote up an excellent article about them last week, emphasizing that “Literacy in the 21st century encompasses the full range of skills needed to engage in our global society—computer, information technology, media, and information literacy skills.” The SLJ reports that Scratch is now being tested in libraries in the Minneapolis area, “to determine if the workshops and classes for young people are replicable and sustainable for a range of libraries.” Unsurprisingly, library staff are finding that kids quickly learn the program on their own, and are guided more by their own intuitions than an “expert’s” instruction.

I decided to try out Scratch myself, and found some cool projects along the way. One project by “cougars” is a photo animation of a human skateboard. Another is a video game simulation of the Buggers war from Ender’s Game by PetertheGeek. (How cool is that?)

What’s more, the Scratch program is global, available in more than 40 languages, and the code itself is free for anyone to copy, publish, or distribute.

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Davos World Economic Forum’s Photos Under CC-BY-SA

Fred Benenson, April 30th, 2009

Davos Flickr
There’s great news over at the Davos World Economic Forum blog:

We have just uploaded 300 of our best pictures from the Annual Meeting 2009 in Davos to the World Economic Forum’s Flickr account. Admittedly it took us some time to choose the best pictures from the thousands shot by our official photographers from Swiss-Image. My colleague Dafni Kokkidi spent the past week adding descriptions, tags and geo tags to all the photos. But it was well worth it, because these 300 high-resolution portrait shots are available for anyone to download in all sizes. Best of all, these pictures are licensed under the Creative Commons licence (BY-SA 3.0) meaning you can use them for free on your blog, on your website, in print and even for commercial purposes under the condition that you credit the World Economic Forum. We also uploaded the best pictures from our regional summits such as the recent World Economic Forum on Latin America in Rio.

Many of these photos have already made their way over to Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia, so they’ll probably be making an appearance in your favorite world leader’s article soon. Thanks to Davos for their substantial contribution to the commons!

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Norwegian Minister Publishes Book under CC BY-SA

Michelle Thorne, April 16th, 2009

delte meningerFrom CC Norway:

Today, Norway’s Minister of Government Administration and Reform, Heidi Grande Røys, launched a new book, edited by the Minister, about sharing and the social side of computer networks.  The book is titled “Delte  meninger” (in Norwegian this has the dual meaning of “shared  opinions” and “conflicting opinions”). There is also a website dedicated to open, public debate about the issues raised in the book.

Both the website and the print edition will carry a ported Norwegian CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

The print edition of the book will be published by Universitetsforlaget and is the first instance of a major book in Norway that carries a Creative Commons license.

Delte meninger / CC BY-SA 3.0

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Wikipedia community vote on migration to CC BY-SA begins now

Mike Linksvayer, April 13th, 2009

A community vote is now underway, hopefully one of the final steps in the process the migration of Wikipedia (actually Wikipedias, as each language is its own site, and also other Wikimedia Foundation sites) to using Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike as its primary content license.

This migration would be a huge boost for the free culture movement, and for Wikipedia and Creative Commons — until the migration happens there is an unnecessary licensing barrier between the most important free culture project (Wikipedia of course, currently under the Free Documentation License, intended for software documentation) and most other free culture projects and individual creators, which use the aforementioned CC BY-SA license.

To qualify to vote, one must have made 25 edits to a Wikimedia site prior to March 15. Make sure you’re logged in to the project on which you qualify, and you should see a site notice at the top of each page that looks like the image below (red outline added around notice).

licensing update site notice

Click on “vote now” and you’ll be taken to the voting site. [Update: If you see a different site notice, it’s because other important notices about the Wikimania conference are rotating with the vote notice. In that case you can go directly to For other Wikimedia sites, change en.wikipedia to the domain of the site in question.]

For background on the migration process, see Wikimedia’s licensing update article and the following series of posts on the Creative Commons blog:

Here’s a great “propaganda poster”, original created by Brianna Laugher (cited a number of times on this blog), licensed under CC BY. See her post, Vote YES for licensing sanity!

Indeed, please go vote yes to unify the free culture movement!

Vote YES! For licensing sanity!


Free Culture Conference 2008 Videos & T-Shirts

Fred Benenson, April 9th, 2009

Free Culture Conference Video
Before working for Creative Commons full time, I was a student activist in the Students for Free Culture movement. I’m still on the board of the organization (though this will change shortly as I am not seeking reelection in the upcoming board race), and I helped work on the Free Culture Conference 2008 at Berkeley. The Free Culture @ Berkeley team did a smash-up job of running the conference and recording all of the video for archival purposes and now all the videos are available online.

There are some really fantastic talks in here, including a keynote interview with John Lily Mozilla, Anthony Falzone on Fair Use, and many more. Check out the channel here and download all the Attribution licensed videos.


We also commissioned a design for free culture t-shirts from Patrick Moberg. We are now retailing them through a modest PayPal storefront here for $20 + S/H, and all proceeds will go to help Students for Free Culture grow. The shirt designs are CC licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike, so feel free to download the files and make your own!

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Winner of “One Billion Fans” contest announced

Mike Linksvayer, April 9th, 2009

Last fall we posted about the One Billion Fans contest run by the music website TribeOfNoise. Today the winner has been announced (pdf press release) — Dereck Rose, a Jamaican-born singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist.

Congratulations to Dereck Rose, the jury-selected winner, and the other top ten finalists (I can actually recommend the top vote getter, Bleeemo)!

Also congratulations to TribeOfNoise for pulling off the contest. To be completely blunt, the site looks more crassly promotional than many sites hosting music under CC licenses. However, just as bluntly, there’s a need for hard core promoters of freely licensed music (note that “hard core” modifies “promoters”) — judging by promotions for mass market music, that’s needed for mass market success, and there’s no reason freely licensed music shouldn’t compete in such arenas.

TribeOfNoise is also more innovative on the licensing front than most sites. All music on the site is available under CC Attribution-ShareAlike. Here’s an explanation sent last month from Hessel van Oorschot, the site’s “Chief of Noise”:

Artists like Moby, Nine Inch Nails and Radio Head made the first moves towards an alternative form of music distribution. A Dutch company called Tribe of Noise takes it one step further. At Tribe of Noise, composers upload their music under a Creative Commons license and allows companies to download, remix and commercially use the music FREE and 100% legal.


“While the traditional music industry is still in the repressive mode by introducing digital rights management and sending out the watch dogs, we rather think in solutions for like-minded spirits”, says Sandra Brandenburg, founder of Tribe of Noise. “It was not difficult to find thousands of independent artists worldwide who believe in sharing their music, and who actually encourage fans and professionals to freely distribute and build upon their work.”

“We take the Darwinist approach; adapt and you will survive. So instead of resisting change and become extinct you want to embrace change. People are going to share music, so give them something to share. Simultaneously the artist builds an inner circle of valuable contacts. Game developers ($50 billion industry), advertisement agencies ($750 billion industry) and others are more than willing to pay for music. Getting Exposure is the name of the game.”

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250,000 Images Donated to the Commons

Michelle Thorne, April 2nd, 2009

Not wanting April Fool’s Day to overshadow this announcement, we’re posting today about the 250,000 images recently donated to Wikimedia Commons, a sister project of Wikipedia.


The images, part of the German Photo Collection at Saxony’s State and University Library (SLUB), are being uploaded with corresponding captions and metadata. Afterward, volunteers will link the photos, all available under Germany’s ported CC BY-SA 3.0 license or in the public domain, to personal identification data and relevant Wikipedia articles. The collection depicts scenes from German history and daily life.

As a bonus for the donating library, the metadata supplied by the German Photo Collection will be expanded and annotated by Wikipedia users, and the results will be seeded back into the collection’s database.

The donation marks the first step in a collaboration between SLUB and Wikimedia Germany e.V., the pioneering Wikimedia chapter who faciliated a similar 100,000-image-strong cooperation with the German Federal Archives last December.

Fotothek df n-06 0000031.jpg” by Eugen Nosko,  provided to Wikimedia Commons by the Deutsche Fotothek of the Saxon State Library (SLUB) as part of a cooperation project. The file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License.

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