CC BY-SA

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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:SecurePoll/vote/1. 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!

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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 blip.tv channel here and download all the Attribution licensed videos.

sffc-shirts-by-patrick-moberg-300x142

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.

ARE THEY MAD?
WHY DO MUSICIANS GIVE AWAY THEIR MUSIC FOR FREE TO COMPANIES?

“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.

588px-fotothek_df_n-06_0000031

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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Cloud Commons

Mike Linksvayer, March 26th, 2009

Creative Commons licensing has been highlighted in a couple prominent discussions of “” documents recently.

Last week Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote about Sun’s cloud computing strategy:

Second, we announced the API’s and file formats for Sun’s Cloud will all be open, delivered under a Creative Commons License. That means developers can freely stitch our and their cloud services into mass market products, without fear of lock-in or litigation from the emerging proprietary cloud vendors.

The API specification Schwartz writes about is released under a CC Attribution license.

Today Microsoft’s Steven Martin wrote critically of a cloud computing “manifesto” that has apparently been developed behind closed doors:

To ensure that the work on such a project is open, transparent and complete, we feel strongly that any “manifesto” should be created, from its inception, through an open mechanism like a Wiki, for public debate and comment, all available through a Creative Commons license. After all, what we are really seeking are ideas that have been broadly developed, meet a test of open, logical review and reflect principles on which the broad community agrees. This would help avoid biases toward one technology over another, and expand the opportunities for innovation.

Of course a document can be at first developed in private, then released in public under a CC license, but Martin is certainly correct that a document that is open in its development and in what can be done with it upon release ought to be published under a CC license, as should the debate and comment surrounding document creation.

The manifesto Martin discusses apparently is still private, though a commenter on his post notes that the Cloud Computing Community Wiki has taken up the challenge to develop its own cloud computing manifesto in public under a CC Attribution-ShareAlike license. Of this, Sam Johnson commented on Martin’s blog:

Here’s hoping that when this consortium reveals itself their work will also be available under a CC-BY-SA license so we can cherry pick the better parts, but in the mean time if you have anything to add then please feel free to do so.

It’s really great that the necessity of releasing specifications, manifestos, and other documents under liberal CC licenses has such broad buy in. Among other things, the practice probably saves lots of money and frustration — big companies don’t have to spend on lawyers to negotiate copyright terms on the documents they collaborate on nor to develop onerous terms that individuals and others must agree to in order to contribute to such documents — to say nothing of the opportunity cost of not pre-clearing documents for translation and inclusion in educational materials.

However, it’s also important to note that applying a liberal CC license to a specification or other computing-related document is only one of a number of steps required to ensure that a computing technology is and remains really open. For example, is the technology patent encumbered? Is there an open source reference implementation? We sketched this out in a bit more detail almost a year ago in a post titled What good is a CC licensed specification?

Consider the above an opportunistic public service announcement rather than a criticism of Sun or Microsoft in these particular instances. Martin’s post is about a manifesto about interoperability — so a CC license may be all that is needed for that document to be open, at least after publication — though perhaps the document should recommend more than that of cloud computing initiatives that develop specifications intended to be interoperable. The rest of Schwartz’s post (actually it is 4th in a series of 4 posts) talks a lot about the free software community and building on open source software, so it is possible Sun is doing everything possible to make the cloud API it proposes open — I just haven’t evaluated whether that is the case.

It’s also worth noting here that not only big companies are thinking about keeping cloud computing open (if you’re annoyed by use of the fuzzy “cloud” term and have managed to read this far, congratulations) — many in the free and open source software community have related concerns and have begun to develop their own manifestos and guidelines (unsurprisingly, available under CC Attribution-ShareAlike), which interestingly address all of the above and other issues of software freedom and free culture.

Now go forth and make the cloud interoperable, open, and free (as in speech), understanding that CC licensing specifications and manifestos is a necessary step, but only one of many steps toward fulfilling your mission.

Update 2009-03-30: The Open Cloud Manifesto is now available, and it is indeed published under CC BY-SA.

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Creative Commons wins the 2008 Free Software Foundation Award for Project of Social Benefit!

Mike Linksvayer, March 24th, 2009

Saturday at Libre Planet, the Free Software Foundation’s annual conference, Creative Commons was honored to receive the FSF’s Award for Projects of Social Benefit:

The FSF Award for Projects of Social Benefit is presented annually to a project that intentionally and significantly benefits society by applying free software, or the ideas of the free software movement, in a project that intentionally and significantly benefits society in other aspects of life.

Since its launch in 2001, Creative Commons has worked to foster a growing body of creative, educational and scientific works that can be shared and built upon by others. Creative Commons has also worked to raise awareness of the harm inflicted by increasingly restrictive copyright regimes.

Creative Commons vice president Mike Linksvayer accepted the award saying, “It’s an incredible honor. Creative Commons should be giving an award to the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman, because what Creative Commons is doing would not be possible without them.”

Congratulations also to Wietse Venema, honored with the Award for the Advancement of Free Software for his “significant and wide-ranging technical contributions to network security, and his creation of the Postfix email server.”

FSF president Stallman presented a plaque by artist Lincoln Read commemorating the award to Creative Commons.

It is worth noting that the FSF Social Benefit Award’s 2005 and 2007 winners are Wikipedia and Groklaw both because it is tremendous to be in their company and as the former is in the process of migrating to a CC BY-SA license (thanks in large part to the FSF) and the latter publishes under a CC BY-NC-ND license.

Only last December CC was honored to receive an award from another of computing’s most significant pioneers, Doug Engelbart.

Thanks again to the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman. Please join us in continuing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his founding of the free software movement. As Stallman would say, “Happy Hacking!”

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Nina Paley’s “Sita Sings the Blues” Out Under Attribution-ShareAlike

Fred Benenson, March 10th, 2009

Sita Sings the Blues
Talented animator, writer and producer Nina Paley has freely released her animated film, Sita Sings the Blues under our copyleft license, Attribution-ShareAlike. Copies of Paley’s feature length film are available on Archive.org, LegalTorrents, and various other sites in many different formats. Nina explains her decision to her audience on the film’s site:

Dear Audience,

I hereby give Sita Sings the Blues to you. Like all culture, it belongs to you already, but I am making it explicit with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show Sita Sings the Blues. From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes.

You don’t need my permission to copy, share, publish, archive, show, sell, broadcast, or remix Sita Sings the Blues. Conventional wisdom urges me to demand payment for every use of the film, but then how would people without money get to see it? How widely would the film be disseminated if it were limited by permission and fees? Control offers a false sense of security. The only real security I have is trusting you, trusting culture, and trusting freedom. …

Nina’s film retells the classic Indian myth Ramayana and has already received critical acclaim from the NYTimes, Rogert Ebert who gave it two thumbs up, and many others. On March 7th, it was broadcast on PBS/WNET and is now available streaming on thirteen.org.

Check out SitaSingstheBlues.com for more information, download links, and of course, a wiki.

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Wikipedia and attribution

Mike Linksvayer, March 9th, 2009

The potential migration of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects to using CC BY-SA as their primary content license has spurred some interesting discussions about attribution — how to give credit for a massively collaborative work in a variety of mediums? This question is relevant regardless of migration, but clearly migration has prompted the discussion and provides an opportunity to progress best practices.

Erik Möller has posted results of a survey run on the English and German Wikipedias regarding how contributors feel about what constitutes appropriate credit for using Wikipedia content. Raw survey data is available for independent analysis.

Unsurprisingly (at least in hindsight), attribution via linking to the article used was most popular, while not giving credit at all was least popular. Here’s the Condorcet ranking, provided by Robert Rohde:

1) Link to the article must be given.
2) Collective credit (e.g. Wikipedia community).
3) Link to the version history must be given.
4) For online use: link. For other uses: full list of authors.
5) Full list of authors must always be copied.
6) No credit is needed.

Creative Commons had wikis in mind when we added attribution via link in version 2.5 of our licenses in 2005. If there are further changes we can make to address attribution and massively collaborative works, it is surely something we’ll want to look at in a future version of the CC licenses, regardless of Wikipedia migration, as wiki and wiki-like mechanisms will only grow in importance for the creation of free cultural works — though it will be very helpful to have the brainpower and experience of the Wikipedia community guiding such developments.

Correction 2009-03-11: We added attribution by link in version 2.0. The change in 2.5 did have wikis in mind, but was more subtle — allowing the licensor to designate that attribution should go to an entity such as a journal or wiki. Thanks to Anthony for prompting this correction on the Wikimedia Foundation discussion list.

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Clivir

Cameron Parkins, January 28th, 2009

logo-1Clivir, a learning community site that allows users to post lessons of any and all types, just added support for CC licensing. The site already has amassed a large amount of teachable knowledge and by adding CC licensing options Clivir are giving users the ability to keep this knowledge open, shareable, and reusable (depending on which license is indicated).

Clivir have a released all of their own lessons under a CC BY-SA license, setting a strong example for the rest of their community to follow suit. While the ability to filter lessons by license choice is unfortunately not available yet, it is still great to see CC licenses integrated into communities like Clivir that pride group collaboration and collective knowledge.

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The Legal Education Commons

Jane Park, January 27th, 2009

The Legal Education Commons launched yesterday with open access to over 700,000 federal court decisions. The LEC is an “open, searchable collection of resources designed specifically for use in legal education.” It is made possible by a collaboration between the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. From the press release:

“All teachers of law have materials and notes they use in teaching,” says John Mayer, CALI Executive Director. “Many freely share their materials with colleagues, but there has never been a singular searchable, taggable space to serve that function for the entire legal academy,” he explains, “until now.”

While the LEC opens with an extensive collection of court cases and images, it can expand its collection of resources only through contributions and donations from the legal education community.

CALI implores faculty and staff at CALI member schools to share any files from personal collections that may facilitate learning amongst the legal education community. “Especially as we increasingly garner more participation and sharing from legal educators,” says Mr. Mayer, “the Legal Education Commons will be a great, non-commercial tool for those who are both teaching and learning the law.”

All material in the Legal Education Commons is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license (CC BY-SA), making it interoperable with a great deal of other open educational resources.

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