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Google Image Search Implements CC License Filtering

Fred Benenson, July 9th, 2009

Google Image Logo

Today, Google officially launched the ability to filter search results using Creative Commons licenses inside their Image Search tool. It is now easy to restrict your Image Search results to find images which have been tagged with our licenses, so that you can find content from across the web that you can share, use, and even modify. Searches are also capable of returning content under other licenses, such as the GNU Free Documentation License, or images that are in the public domain.

To filter by CC search, go to Google’s advanced Image Search page and select the options you’d like in the “Usage rights” section. Your results will be restricted to images marked with CC licenses or other compatibly licensed photos.

Remember, Google can only provide search results that its algorithms find tagged with the license you specify; it is your obligation to verify the license of the image you’re using and make sure you’re conforming to its guidelines.

This is a huge step forward for the future of image search on the web, so congratulations to the Google team on another great CC implementation!

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Outreach to GFDL licensed wikis: migrate to CC BY-SA by August 1st!

Mike Linksvayer, May 27th, 2009

To take maximum advantage of Wikipedia’s migration to CC Attribution-ShareAlike, other wikis licensed under the GFDL should, where possible, migrate to CC BY-SA before the deadline set by the GFDL version 1.3 — August 1st.

Ideally all works under free (as in freedom) licenses should be freely remixable, greatly increasing the pull of the Free universe. Wikipedia’s adoption of CC BY-SA goes a long way toward that goal, and each additional wiki that can migrate by the deadline helps even more.

Benjamin Mako Hill (Wikipedian, Free Software Foundation board member, and one of the people crucial to making the migration possible) writes on the Wikimedia Foundation mailing list:

As the group with the most to lose and as the group that introduced the change at issue, the foundation and its broader community should devote as much time as possible to this issue in the next two months before it is too late.

I’m happy to see that work is already being coordinated here:

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Licensing_update/Outreach

As many people as possible should join in this effort and spread the word.

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Know of a GFDL licensed wiki not on the outreach list? Add it.
  • Participate in one of the wikis on the list? Help that wiki migrate, even just by alerting its community to the importance of migration.
  • Want to volunteer to help but aren’t sure where to start, or have other questions? Leave a note on the outreach talk page.
  • Spread the word about this effort to others who might be able to do one of the above.

It’s also worth noting that the outreach page calls out Appropedia as an example to follow. Appropedia actually took advantage of the GFDL 1.3 to migrate to CC BY-SA before the Wikipedia community vote concluded, and is an excellent and innovative wiki and community unto itself, focusing on appropriate technology for “collaborative solutions in sustainability, poverty reduction and international development.”

Thanks to everyone who has and will help move this distributed free culture optimization procedure forward!

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Report from Creative Commons’ December 2008 board meeting online

Mike Linksvayer, January 13th, 2009

CC CEO Joi Ito notes that we’ve just posted a summary of CC’s December 2008 board meeting:

Highlights included the CC Network, progress with the Free Software Foundation with respect to CC and the GFDL, CC0, integration with additional tools such as Picasa, the “Defining Noncommercial” study, partnership with the Eurasian Foundation, the fall fund-raising campaign, website updates, updates from Science Commons and ccLearn and the launch of four new jurisdictions – Romania, Hong Kong, Guatemala and Singapore.

See our June 2008 board meeting summary, or for more excitement, video of the Berkman/CC event from the night before the December board meeting. Video from the CC tech summit of the same day will be up very shortly.

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Wikipedia licensing Q&A posted

Mike Linksvayer, December 16th, 2008

Erik Möller of the Wikimedia Foundation announced a questions and answers document concerning the possible licensing update for Wikimedia Foundation projects to CC BY-SA. On “What will happen next?”

We will present a proposal for dual-licensing all Wikimedia projects currently using the GFDL, by January 15, 2009. It will be published on the foundation-l mailing list. This proposal will be discussed and revised through open community discussion, leading to an open vote among all active Wikimedia contributors (to be defined using similar criteria as the Board elections). If a majority of community members favor migration to CC-BY-SA, it will be implemented.

This follows the enormously important November 3 move by the Free Software Foundation to enable FDL-licensed wikis to migrate to CC BY-SA. For more background and why this is so important for free culture, see our post on the FSF’s move.

FSF president and free software movement founder Richard Stallman has since written an open letter on the matter. Excerpt:

If a wiki site exercises the relicensing option, that entails trusting Creative Commons rather than the Free Software Foundation regarding its future license changes. In theory one might consider this a matter of concern, but I think we can be confident that Creative Commons will follow its stated mission in the maintenance of its licenses. Millions of users trust Creative Commons for this, and I think we can do likewise.

This is a great honor for Creative Commons, and a debt of trust we are compelled to uphold. We hope the Wikimedia community will come to the same conclusion. Regarding maintenance of CC BY-SA licenses, see our Statement of Intent, also cited by the Q&A linked at the top of this post.

For a more general take on license stewardship, please see Bradley Kuhn’s post on The FLOSS License Drafter’s Responsibility to the Community, prompted by Stallman’s letter:

The key quote from his letter that stands out to me is: “our commitment is that our changes to a license will stick to the spirit of that license, and will uphold the purposes for which we wrote it.” This point is fundamental. As FLOSS license drafters, we must always, as RMS says, “abide by the highest ethical standards” to uphold the spirit that spurred the creation of these licenses.

Far from being annoyed, I’m grateful for those who assume the worst of intentions and demand that we justify ourselves. For my part, I try to answer every question I get at conferences and in email about licensing policy as best I can with this point in mind. We in the non-profit licensing sector of the FLOSS world have a duty to the community of FLOSS users and programmers to defend their software freedom. I try to make every decision, on licensing policy (or, indeed, any issue) with that goal in mind. I know that my colleagues here at the SFLC, at the Conservancy, at FSF, and at the many other not-for-profit organizations always do the same, too.

CC does not create software licenses (we recommend existing excellent free software licenses, such as the FSF’s GNU GPL), but these are words to take to heart as closely as possible.

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Wikipedia/CC news: FSF releases FDL 1.3

Mike Linksvayer, November 3rd, 2008

The Free Software Foundation has just released version 1.3 of its Free Documentation License containing language which allows FDL-licensed wikis to republish FDL content under the CC Attribution-ShareAlike license until August 1, 2009. Excepted from this are FDL documents originating elsewhere unless they have been incorporated into the wiki prior to November 1, 2008.

This is a crucial step toward de-fracturing the free (culture) as in (software) freedom world, which should have the impact of greatly accelerating the growth of that world. Last December the Wikimedia Foundation requested that the FSF make this step.

Thanks and congratulations to the WMF and FSF (if you haven’t wished the latter a hearty 25th anniversary yet, please do so) and to the free world.

The next step is for the Wikipedia/Wikimedia community (and other FDL-licensed wikis) to decide to offer wiki content under CC BY-SA 3.0.

We hope that these communities find CC the best steward for free culture licenses to be relied upon for massively collaborative works. See our Statement of Intent for Attribution-ShareAlike Licenses and Approved for Free Cultural Works branding rolled out in February and April of this year respectively for some background on this.

In the longer term (i.e., in a future version of the CC BY-SA license, which as the FSF does their licenses, we version very carefully and deliberately) we will address other issues of particular interest to communities creating massively collaborative works, in particular attribution for such situations (our version 2.5 licenses begin to do this) and how strongly copyleft (ShareAlike in CC parlance) attaches to the context in which CC BY-SA licensed images are used (as we did for video synced to music in version 2.0).

Thanks again to the FSF and WMF, which as CC does, build critical infrastructure for a free world. All of these organizations are nonprofits deserving of your support. CC is running its annual fundraising campaign right now. :)

Also see Lawrence Lessig’s post on Enormously important news from the Free Software Foundation.

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Inside track on the future of free content licenses

Mike Linksvayer, August 9th, 2006

If you want an inside track on the future of free content licenses you could hardly do better than watch or listen to recordings of two Wikimania sessions — Lawrence Lessig on The Ethics of the Free Culture Movement (particularly the last twenty minutes) and Eben Moglen on Document Licenses and the Future of Free Culture, which also features Q&A with both Moglen and Lessig.

You’ll recognize this discussion if you followed Lessig’s series about the history and future of Creative Commons from the end of last year.

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