Change.gov, the website of US president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, has undergone some important and exciting changes over the past few days. Among them is the site’s new copyright notice, which expresses that the bulk of Change.gov is published under the most permissive of Creative Commons copyright licenses – CC BY.
Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Content includes all materials posted by the Obama-Biden Transition project. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Change.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
This is great news and a encouraging sign that the new administration has a clear sense of the importance of openness in government and on the web (there’s a bit more on this over at Lessig’s blog). The embrace of Creative Commons licensing on Change.gov is consistent with earlier support by both Obama and McCain for the idea of “open debates.” (It’s also in line with Obama’s decision to publish the pictures in his Flickr Photostream under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license – pretty cool!)
Tim O’Reilly has written a smart post (which has elicited some very thoughtful reader comments) recommending that Change.gov use revision control as a way to further improve transparency and make it possible for the public to review any changes that occur on the site. Of course, licensing is just one component of openness, but getting licensing right is necessary for enabling people to truly take advantage of technologies that facilitate collaboration.
Update: Several people have pointed out that “works created by an agency of the United States government are public domain at the moment of creation” (see Wikipedia for more on this). Change.gov is not currently the project of a government agency, but a 501(c)(4) that has been set up to manage the Obama-Biden transition. Also, the public is being invited to contribute their own comments and works to the site, and it is important to have a clear marking of the permissions that other people have to this material.
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Food writer and culinary culture aficionado Brian J. Geiger maintains a great site called The Food Geek, which features a blog, podcasts, recipes, and loads of helpful cooking tips. The site – which combines Gastronomica‘s thoughtful analysis and Alton Brown‘s geeky wisdom – is published under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Over the weekend, Geiger posted a column entitled “Who owns that recipe?,” which explains why recipes can’t be copyrighted (while the expression of recipes can) and encourages food knowledge sharing as a way to “make a better life for ideas.” Highly recommended for food fans and free cultural works proponents alike.
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Ideas are better shared than they are stored. Ideas like company. Ideas like new environments. Ideas like to frolic in new brains with other ideas. It’s how baby ideas are made. Ideas can’t reproduce well alone, so everyone wins if ideas are allowed to be promiscuous. … How firmly do I believe in this? I have released all of my original work for this site under a Creative Commons License.
The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) is a group that “builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes.” With those telescopes they produce some absolutely amazing photographs and videos, all of which are released under a CC BY license. Check out their visual of the week for some particularly stunning photographs.3 Comments »
Spot.us is a recentlly launched nonprofit project from the Center for Media Change that aims to pioneer “community funded reporting.” Stories are pitched online with an amount of money needed for publication – users and site visitors can donate to any pitch they deem worthy, with the resulting article released under a CC BY license. From Poytner Online:
Users create story ideas that they think should be investigated and submit them to the site. From these ideas, journalists choose to write story pitches and open the idea up to the public to make donations. Once the project reaches its funding goal, those who have donated pay up and the journalist produces the story. If the project doesn’t receive enough funding, no one is charged. After the story is complete, Spot.Us publishes it and offers it to news organizations for free (the site’s content is licensed under Creative Commons). There is an option for news organizations to buy exclusive rights to the story, with the funding money going back to the journalist.
Spot.us has been getting a ton of great press including a nice write-up in the New York Times. Check out the site – no articles have been published yet but there are plenty of great pitches waiting to be funded. Similarly, don’t hesitate to start your own.
Addendum: Spot.us and Wikinews are both presenting tomorrow at a special CC Salon San Francisco on citizen journalism. It’s cool that both sites use the permissive CC BY license — they could each reuse the other’s stories, so long as they give credit — and you could too.Comments Off on Spot.us: CC-Licensed Community Funded Reporting
Some very cool news from the design world: The Designers Accord, a community of more than 100,000 designers who are committed to environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible design practices (read more the project in GOOD Magazine’s interview with founder Valerie Casey) has launched an online platform for sharing design ideas. The Designers Accord Web Community is a collection of case studies, resources, methodologies, and best practices that have been created by designers and are intended for public use. All submissions and materials on the site are available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. This approach will enable the development of a body of freely-licensed design resources that can be used by people around the world, even for commercial purposes. A big bravo to the people behind this incredible effort!
If the Designers Accord community site was a traditional website, it might behave like a catalog or encyclopedia of best practices, cases studies, and references. Most likely, it would present a single voice to an audience of listeners.
It would be hugely helpful to all of us if that universal resource existed. But it doesn’t. Yet.
We can create this resource through our coalition. The reason we have the Designers Accord is that the creative community has yet to create a definitive set of instructions, or a clearly defined roadmap for fully integrating the principles of sustainability into our work. We are struggling through these difficult challenges together, and this site is a repository for content related to this journey.
Thanks very much to Katy Frankel for introducing us to the people at the Designers Accord and for her help in making this happen.Comments Off on Designers Accord Web Community launches under CC BY
The legendary mashup DJ Z-Trip has released a new mix under our Attribution license intended to help garner support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Z-Trip’s Obama Mix is a recording of the set he’s been playing at recent fundraisers he’s organized with the artist Shepard Fairey (creator of the ubiquitous OBEY campaign and more recently, the Obama HOPE posters). Z-Trip wants you to push the mix as far and wide as possible so it makes sense he chose our least restrictive license:
I encourage you to download it and pass it along to anyone you think should hear it. Feel free to burn copies, share it with friends, family, co-workers, strangers, and especially anyone you know is on the fence about this election. I’m also putting out a radio friendly version, in case anyone wants to broadcast it.
Regardless of your political affiliation, the mix deserves a listen for anyone interested in political speech and sound. Download Z-Trip’s mix here.1 Comment »
It certainly isn’t the most publicized use of CC licences we have seen, but Scott Carpenter’s “Slyvan Sunset” appearing on the cover of the 2008/2009 Rapid City/Gillete Phone Book has us ecstatic nonetheless. While big names help gain wider exposure for CC, it is important to remember that these are tools meant for everyone, of which Carpenter’s photo re-use is an excellent example. From MTF.org:
Last September I received an email from someone at Yellowbook, saying that they were interested in using my picture for the cover of the Rapid City phone book […] I said that they were already free and welcome to use it under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license with which it was published, but that I’d be willing to relicense it as Attribution only, which I did, and also signed a form giving them permission to use it. I often wondered if I should have held out for money also, but seeing the small role of the picture, it’s just as well I didn’t. Something tells me they wouldn’t have paid much for that, if anything, and I’m simply pleased to get some exposure and have an artifact of free culture–the CC license–appear right there on the cover of an old media phone book.
Carpenter’s experience highlights many of the things we love to see – licences increasing content visibility, the ability for a creator to reach a separate agreement outside their original CC license, and proper and thorough attribution (even if we have to agree with Carpenter that a graphic designer might “balk at this kind of verbiage […] with the picture being such a minor part of the page”). Kudos to Carpenter and the countless others who use CC for everyday reasons and, every so often, experience surprising results.Comments Off on CC Licensed Image on Rapid City/Gillete Phone Book
Creative Commons and the makers of the independent film currently in production RIP: A Remixer’s Manifesto a co-production between Montreal-based production house Eye Steel Film and the National Film Board of Canada are making a Call for Soundtracks. The film itself is released under a CC license and has been produced collaboratively through hundreds of submissions and remixes at Open Source Cinema.
A mashup in its own right, RIP tackles the issue of Fair Use ─ broadly defined as the limited use of copyrighted material without requiring the permission of the rights holders ─ on its own uncertain ground. Pulling footage from a range of sources, filmmaker Brett Gaylor looks at cultural appropriation throughout history, from Muddy Waters to the Rolling Stones to the king of the remix, Walt Disney. With legal advice from Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig, Brett negotiates the tricky world of fair-use filmmaking.
Now the producers and CC are using ccMixter to host a Call for Soundtracks hoping to finish the music soundtrack for the film using remixes made from CC Attribution licensed source material. Instructions and details can be found at ccMixter.Comments Off on Call for Soundtrack: RIP A Remixer’s Manifesto
Joi Ito, CC’s CEO, recentlly sat down with Business Week to discuss Creative Commons, our mission, and how our licenses work the way they do. The article has an obvious focus on the business potential of CC licences but touches on the implications our licences have in the arts and education as well. It’s a great write up and hopefully gives a bit of context about where we are right now and where we are headed in the near future.
Outside of CC, the article talks at length about Joi’s upcoming photography book, FREESOULS. FREESOULS features photography Joi has taken over the past year of individuals, both well known and lesser known, that had few or no images of themselves publicly available under a CC licence or in the Public Domain. The book and the images therein are being released under a CC BY license and many of the photos already available online under the same terms.Comments Off on Joi Ito Discusses CC in Business Week
Turn on Creative Commons Licensing
It’s easy to turn the default setting for new photos uploaded to Creative Commons Attribution (our favorite) by visiting the Privacy & Permissions tab in your account. Unfortunately there’s not clear, working links from Flickr to an explanation of the different licenses. Here they are on the Creative Commons site.
CC Attribution is a license that says other people can use it and change it, including in a commercial context, as long as they give you attribution as the creator. It greases the wheels for quick and easy media sharing. That’s good and it would be nice if more quality media was licensed this way. We keep a link to the Creative Commons by Attribution search on Flickr in our browser toolbar and use it frequently for photos in posts. Those could be your photos we and others are using!
Read the whole article for Marshall’s other helpful suggestions on how to make the most out of Flickr.1 Comment »