free culture

Free Culture Conference hits NYC April 20-21

Timothy Vollmer, April 5th, 2013

The Students for Free Culture conference will take place in New York City April 20-21. The conference–dubbed FCX 2013–will be held at New York Law School.

fcx13

The Students for Free Culture Conference is an annual gathering of student and non-student activists, thinkers, and innovators who are dedicated to advancing discussions on technology, law, and public policy. Through panels and keynote speakers, FCX 2013 will focus on current issues in intellectual property law, open access to educational resources, maker culture, and technology policy. Through workshops, the conference will revisit the core pillars of the free culture movement, examine the success stories from our movement, and identify new ways in which Students for Free Culture can advocate for a more free, open, and participatory digital environment.

Longtime SFC member Benjamin Mako Hill (who will be giving the opening keynote) says: “If previous years are any indication, the conference can serve as an incredible introduction to free culture, free software, wikis, remixing, copyright, patent and trademark reform, and participatory culture. For folks that are already deeply involved, FCX is among the best places I know to connect with other passionate, creative, people working on free culture issues.”

The event is open to all, with a suggested $15 donation to help defray costs. Registration is open, and some limited travel assistance may be available for students of active SFC chapters.

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School of Open returns to Berlin for a workshop with Wikimedia Germany

Jane Park, February 20th, 2013

Wikimedia Office in Berlin

Wikimedia Office in Berlin / Hari Prasad Nadig / CC BY-SA

On March 2nd, the Creative Commons & P2PU School of Open will join forces with Wikimedia at the Wikimedia Germany offices in Berlin! As part of Open Education Week, CC Germany and Wikimedia Germany are kicking things off early with a workshop to introduce P2PU and the School of Open, and to create and translate School of Open courses in German, in addition to brainstorming ideas for new courses about Wikipedia as part of the School.

Event details

What: School of Open workshop
When: 2nd of March, 11 – 16:00
Where: Wikimedia Germany Offices, Obentrautstr. 72, 10963 Berlin
Who: Wikimedia Germany, Creative Commons Germany, P2PU community, all enthusiastic promoters of free knowledge with the desire to share their knowledge
RSVP: Space will accommodate up to 25 participants; please send an email to legal@creativecommons.de by Feb 27th so that we can keep track of who’s coming.
Language: Likely German

From Wikimedia Germany’s blog (and via Google translate),

“We want to start the year with a workshop with Creative Commons and the initiative “School of Open”! The initiative of Creative Commons and the Peer-2-Peer University (P2PU) aims to develop online courses that help you create free content and tools to use and develop. There are English courses on Wikipedia and the use of free content, but as of yet nothing in German. Also, the subject of “free educational content” is not yet represented in courses. So there is still much to do. As part of Open Education Week further work is required.

Together, we want to work intensively on the expansion of the existing courses. It will focus on tools and topics related to free access to knowledge. Anyone can create courses and remix existing courses on their own — but it’s best to share. After some brief input from Creative Commons, we will start working. So bring your ideas, and let’s share our knowledge!”

To participate, please RSVP to legal@creativecommons.de by February 27th!

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Culture Freedom Day is May 19

Jane Park, May 16th, 2012

Get ready to join Culture Freedom Day

This Saturday is Culture Freedom Day, a worldwide celebration of free and open culture through education efforts, on- and offline events, and promoting artists who work in free culture. Culture Freedom Day is organized by Digital Freedom International, a nonprofit that also promotes software freedom.

As stewards of the open licenses and tools that enable creators to contribute to a free and open culture, Creative Commons encourages you to celebrate this day by learning more about it and the open licenses that make up the infrastructure for free cultural works. You can also CC license one or more of your own works, remix or build upon an existing CC-licensed work, or help bring awareness to one of your favorite CC artists.

Celebrate Free Culture with us on May 19!

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Announcing the Liberated Pixel Cup: an epic contest for gaming freedom

Chris Webber, April 11th, 2012

Liberated Pixel Cup banner

We’re pleased to announce the launch of the Liberated Pixel Cup, a free-as-in-freedom game authoring competition being launched in cooperation between Creative Commons, the Free Software Foundation, and OpenGameArt!

Liberated Pixel Cup outdoor example artwork
Liberated Pixel Cup example outdoor artwork / Lanea Zimmerman / CC BY-SA 3.0

Liberated Pixel Cup is a two-part competition: make a bunch of awesome free culture licensed artwork, and program a bunch of free software games that use it. Hopefully many cool projects can come out of this… but that will only happen if people like you get involved!

Technically the project will run in three phases. One of the major goals of the project is for the community to be able to produce content that’s stylistically consistent. To that end, “phase zero” of the project is to produce a style guide that people can work off to produce content that meshes together nicely, something along the lines of what the Tango style guide does for icons. We’ve been working with a few excellent artists to commission a base example set to build the style guide out of, and we’re fairly thrilled with where things are going!

Liberated Pixel Cup outdoor example artwork
Liberated Pixel Cup example indoor artwork / Lanea Zimmerman / CC BY-SA 3.0

And this is where you come in: “Phase one” of the competition will then be building artwork that matches that guide that should then be uploaded to OpenGameArt and dual licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 and GPLv3. This part of the project will run from June 1st through June 30th. “Phase two” of this competition will be building GPLv3 or later games that incorporate artwork from the artwork building phase of the project. People can work in teams or individually, and this portion of the contest will run from July 1st through July 31st.

Afterwards will be judging entries and handing out awards. We’re planning on giving out some prizes for both the content building and the game programming phases. To see more details about all this, check out the rules page.

We’re very proud to be working on this collaboration with OpenGameArt, but especially the Free Software Foundation, a true ally of ours in the quest for user freedom in all domains. And it seems that feeling is mutual:

The FSF is happy to join with our peers and support this contest. We’re already excited about the new free software games that will come out of it — not only because we like games, but because this is an area that is still very much in the grips of proprietary software companies using nasty Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), and an area holding back free software adoption for many users.
– John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation

We think Liberated Pixel Cup is a great opportunity for the commons in many ways! Right now it’s hard to find free culture content to bootstrap games that match a consistent style and hard for artists to collaborate on such. We’re also very interested in areas where free software and free culture directly intersect, which we don’t always see enough of (and which sometimes can even get a bit complex, so it’s good to have opportunities to think about them when we can), and games are a great example of this overlap. We hope you’ll participate!

And on that note, there’s several things we’d like to fund with this project. First of all, we’d like to pay the artists that have we’ve commissioned for this style guide actual money, as laying down a set of fundamentals for the artwork is a lot of serious work. Second, we’d like to be able to do cool things like give out prizes for people who win the various stages of the competition.

To that end, we’re trying to raise some money for the Liberated Pixel Cup. So please help make that happen, and donate today!

About Creative Commons

Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org) is a globally-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Creative Commons provides free licenses and other legal tools to give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions and get credit for their creative work while allowing others to copy, distribute and make specific uses of it. Donations to support Creative Commons work can be made at https://creativecommons.net/donate/ and also by contacting development@creativecommons.org.

Contact
Christopher Allan Webber
Senior Software Engineer
Creative Commons
+1 (773) 614 2279
cwebber@creativecommons.org

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users’ right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software — particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants — and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF’s work can be made at http://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

Contact
Joshua Gay
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
campaigns@fsf.org

About OpenGameArt

OpenGameArt.org was founded in 2009 for the purpose of archiving art for use in free and open source games. Since then, OGA has grown into a vibrant community of artists and developers who are passionate about games and free culture. You can join the community or explore by visiting http://opengameart.org/.

Contact
Bart Kelsey
Founder, OpenGameArt.org
bart@opengameart.org

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Libre Graphics Meeting 2011: Year of the Innovative Libre Graphics Desktop

Chris Webber, May 26th, 2011

Faces of Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 image
Faces of Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 by Tom Lechner / CC BY-NC-SA

In 2007, Jon Phillips wrote this about Libre Graphics Meeting:

I wanted to underline how key it is for all those in Open ____ (Open Content, Open Source, Open etc) get together at some point to see each other physically, as often it’s only virtually.

It’s now 2011 and Jon Phillips is a CC alumnus but still active in Libre Graphics Meeting every year. This year Jon Phillips invited me to attend and speak as CC representative and community member about Blender and about free network services. I spoke three times:

  • At the Montreal Python usergroup giving a talk on Blender and Python very similar to the talk I gave at PyCon this year and similarly well received (slides here). I also gave a lightning talk on my new project, GNU MediaGoblin.
  • Another talk on Blender, this one focused more on artists and advocacy animations.
  • An autonomo.us panel on free network services. I strongly believe that licensing that permits copying and modification is essential to the success of free network services and we addressed this a bit but not as strongly as I’d hoped. Aside from this, the conversation was very good, especially in the second half of the talk which was mostly driven by audience participation. It seems clear to me that the Libre Graphics Meeting community understands why distributed free software network services matter, even to artists. GNU MediaGoblin was introduced formally to Libre Graphics Meeting during this talk also.

If I were to describe Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 in one phrase it might be “2011 is the year of the innovative libre graphics desktop.” Of course, in saying this I am making a joke, but there is some truth to it. It’s unfortunately true that libre graphics are unlikely to become the dominant software tools for graphics authoring in the near future, but even still, Libre Graphics Meeting demonstrates that people are clearly doing great and innovative things in the libre graphics world.

And just as Free Software Needs Free Tools, free culture also needs free tools. If culture is going to be reworked, remixed, and even simply survive the dangers of obsolescence, we need unencumbered formats and tools to empower current and future authors and artists. And so the libre graphics community plays a critical role here.

Free culture and free software don’t mix often enough, but when they do the result is powerful. In few places does this mixing happen as clearly as it does in the libre graphics community, and so it’s good that we have Libre Graphics Meeting as a gathering point for powerful intersections such as these.

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CC Talks With: Ton Roosendaal, Sintel Producer and head of Blender Institute

Chris Webber, October 27th, 2010

Sintel poster
Sintel poster by Blender Institute / CC BY

Ton Roosendaal is head of the Blender Institute, leader of Blender development, and producer of the recently released 3d short film Sintel, which is released as Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

Sintel is the Blender Institute’s third “open movie”. Could you describe what “open movie” means to the Blender Institute?

Oh… many things. First, I love to work with artists, which goes much easier than working with developers! And making short animation films with teams is an amazing and very rewarding activity. With this large creative community of Blender artists, the financial model enables it even; not many short film makers have this opportunity.

But the practical incentive to do this is because it’s a great development model for Blender. Putting artists together on a major challenge is the ultimate way to drive software like Blender forward. That way we can also ensure it fits ambitious targets weeding out the ‘would be cool features’ for the ‘must need’ ones. And it’s quite easier to design usability with small diverse teams, than have it done online via feedback mechanisms, which easily becomes confusing with the noise of hundreds of different opinions.

It’s also a fact that the Blender Institute was established for open movie projects, so for me (and the Blender Institute) it means our core business.

Blender Institute projects have a rare but heavily developed intersection between free and open source software (Blender the software and its developer community) and free culture (the films the Blender Institute produces). How related and similar are these worlds?

I don’t consider myself much related to “free culture” really, and certainly not in the political sense. For Blender projects it’s just a natural way to deliver it in open license like with [the licenses provided by] CC. We want our users to learn from them, to dissect our tricks and technology, or use them for other works. And not least: to allow everyone who works on a project to freely take it with them; as a portfolio, or companies who sponsor us who need demos or research material. So in that sense we are free culture!

But each time I meet people who work in this field, it’s mostly theorists, not practicists. so I’m a bit biased [...] people who talk about free culture don’t seem to make it (at least here in the Netherlands, at conferences or meetings). I get regular invitations to talk on this topic. I do it sometimes, but the blah-blah level disturbs me a bit. Free culture is about doing it.

So at the Blender Institute, you have artists working on these works, and you have programmers working on this code. How similar are those worlds?

For Blender, I think we have a great mix, with a lot of cross-overs. Several of our coders started as users, and we involve artists closely in design for tools or features.

This doesn’t always go perfectly, especially when it’s highly technical, like simulation code. But if you visit our IRC channel, or mailing list, or conferences… it’s always a great mix. Maybe this is because 3d art creation is quite technical too? I dunno… not many users will understand how to construct bsp trees, yet they use it all the time.

In general compared to other open source projects, I think we’re quite un-technical and accessible. A big reason for that is because I’m not even a trained programmer. I did art and industrial design. When coders go too deep in abstract constructions I can’t follow it either and can simply counter it with an “Okay, but what’s the benefit for using this?” And when the answer is “It makes coders’ lives easier” I usually ignore it. In my simple world, coders suffer and artists benefit! But one coder can also do some stuff — taking a few hours — that saves hundreds of thousands of people a few seconds in a day. And that’s always good.

What’s the development of a film like Sintel like as in terms of internal development vs community involvement in production? Has that dynamic changed at all from work to work? I partly ask this because some people think “Oh, open movie, they must have their SVN repository open the whole time and just get random contributions from everywhere,” but Blender Institute films don’t tend to work that way.

Right, we keep most of our content closed until release. I’m a firm believer in establishing protective creative processes. In contrast to developers — who can function well individually online — an artist really needs daily and in-person feedback and stimulation.

We’ve done this now four times (three films and one game) and it’s amazing how teams grow in due time. But during this process they’re very vulnerable too. If you followed the blog you may have seen that we had quite harsh criticism on posting our progress work. If you’re in the middle of a process, you see the improvements. Online you only see the failures.

The cool thing is that a lot of tests and progress can be followed now perfectly and it suddenly makes more sense I think. Another complex factor for opening up a creative process is that people are also quite inexperienced when they join a project. You want to give them a learning curve and not hear all the time from our audience that it sucks. Not that it was that bad! But one bad criticism can ruin a day.

One last thing on the “open svn” point: in theory it could work, if we would open up everything 100% from scratch. That then will give an audience a better picture of progress and growth. We did that for our game project and it was suited quite well for it. For film… most of our audience wants to get surprised more, not know the script, the dialogs, the twists. Film is more ‘art’ than games, in that respect.

Ton Roosendaal
Ton Roosendaal by Kennisland / CC BY-SA

You also did the sprints this time, which pulled in some more community involvement than in previous projects. Do you think that model went well? Would you do it again?

The modeling sprint was great! We needed a lot of props, and for that an online project works perfectly. The animation sprint (for animated characters) was less of a success. Character animation doesn’t lend itself well for it, I think. There’s no history for it… ehh. Like, for design and modeling, we have a vocabulary. Most people understand when you explain visual design, style, proportions. But for animation… only a few (trained) animators know how to discuss this. It’s more specialist too.

How has the choice of the Creative Commons Attribution license affected your works?

How would it affect our works? Do you mean, why not choose ND (no-derivatives) or NC (noncommercial)? Both restrictions won’t suit well for our work. And without attribution it’s not a CC license.

I did get some complaints why not choose a FSF compatible license, but the Free Software Foundation has no license for content like ours either.

What kinds of things have you seen / do you expect to see post-release of a project such as Sintel?

A lot of things happened with previous films, Elephants Dream and Big Buck Bunny, ranging from codec research in companies, showcases on tradeshows, to student composers using it to graduate. Even wallpaper!

We are working now on a 4k resolution of the film (4096 x 2160). The 4k market is small, but very active and visible in many places. They’re dying for good content. I’m also very interested in doing a stereoscopic ’3d’ version. As for people making alternative endings or shots; that hasn’t happened a lot, to my knowledge. Our quality standard is too high as well, so it’s not a simple job.

But further, the very cool thing of open content is that you’re done when you’re done! A commercial product’s work stress only starts when the product is done. That’s what I learned with our first film. Just let it go, and move on to next.

And at least one “free culture” aspect then: it’s quite amazing how our films have become some kind of cultural heritage already. People have grown fond of them, or at least to the memory of them. It’s part of our culture in a way, and without a free license that would have been a really tough job.

Might there be a Sintel game (Project Jackfruit?) using the Blender Game Engine like there was a game following Big Buck Bunny (Yo Frankie)?

Not here in the Blender Institute. But there’s already a quite promising online project for it.

You can watch Sintel online and support the project (and get all the data files used to produce the film, tutorials, and many other goodies) by purchasing a DVD set. You may also wish to consider supporting Creative Commons in our current superhero campaign.

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“Free Culture” officially introduced in the Czech Republic

Jane Park, May 10th, 2010


Over the weekend, the Czech Republic celebrated Liberation Day and officially introduced the complete Czech translation of Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture. The translation was the culminating work of fifty volunteers over three years, and was enabled by the CC BY-NC license of the original English publication. The Czech version is also available under the same license. Adam Hazdra, project initiator and coordinator, writes, “I hope it will contribute to the promotion of Creative Commons and free culture it aims to restore.”

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Free Culture Forum is October 29th – November 1st in Barcelona!

Fred Benenson, October 26th, 2009

FC Forum
If you’re anywhere near Barcelona this coming weekend, you should seriously consider attending the Free Culture Forum:

Across the planet, people are recognizing the need for an international space to build and coordinate a global framework and common agenda for issues surrounding free culture and access to knowledge. The Free Culture Forum of Barcelona aims to create such a space. Bringing together under the same roof the key organizations and active voices in the free culture and knowledge space, the Forum will be a meeting point to sit and put together the answers to the pressing questions behind the present paradigm shift.

Representatives from Creative Commons Spain, Students for Free Culture and Wikimedia will be in attendance (among many others), so it’ll be a great opportunity to meet plenty of people in our community. Registration is free and open to the public, but there are more details on how to get involved here.

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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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Free Culture Swimming Upstream

Fred Benenson, November 5th, 2008

It is one thing for the relatively nascent Wikipedia to embrace free culture as a way to create and share new cultural works, but it is another thing for established media players constrained by traditional markets and economic forces to embrace free culture.

Despite this, it is becoming less difficult to convince incumbent mainstream press and media to fully embrace the inevitability and ubiquity of free culture and there are a few key strategies that are emerging. Perhaps the most obvious lies in the the numerous cases of journalists using Creative Commons licensed photography to illustrate their articles. Faced with the complexities and cost of securing private digital licenses from stock agencies like Getty or Corbis, journalists and bloggers have discovered that eliminating those transaction costs (fiscal and otherwise) through the use of CC licensed photos can substantially increase the quality of their posts.

Some recent exciting examples include two New Yorker posts, one onliterary Halloween costumes and another on Obama’s victory; the LA Times featuring a flickr user’s photo of ex-Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin; and the New York Times’ Polling Place Photo Project which we’ve blogged about several times.

If you’re not already using CC licensed material in your posts and digital media, these examples should give you another reason to consider the choice.

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