The guest post below was written by Erik Moeller from Passionate Voices, in support of our campaign “Made with Creative Commons: A book on open business models” which will present in-depth profiles of Creative Commons use.
The dragoncow is chewing on an uprooted tree, its bulging eyes staring vacantly into the distance as the orange cat hanging off its udder extracts a large drop of milk into a wooden bucket held by a young witch balanced precariously on her broomstick. The scene is from David Revoy’s Pepper & Carrot, a much-loved comic strip about a witch and her cat.
Unlike most webcomics, which release new strips a few times per week, there’s typically one episode of Pepper & Carrot every month. Each episode is several pages long, crafted with an attention to detail rarely seen outside more commercial work. Slowly but surely, David is building Pepper’s identity and the world she inhabits. “So much heart in each and every piece you do”, writes one admirer in the comments.
Volunteers translate each episode to a dozen or so languages, on the basis of the source files which can be downloaded freely. David uses a GitHub repository to collaborate with the community and to share assets.
All this is possible because the entire comic strip is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Other than CC0, this is the most permissive licensing option Creative Commons offers. Works under these terms can not only be copied, but also remixed and built upon, including for commercial uses. Re-users just have to attribute David Revoy as the author.
David is no stranger to Creative Commons. He was art director for Sintel, a crowdfunded CC-BY licensed 3D animated movie produced by the Blender Foundation. His love for open source goes back even further, as he explained in a recent interview with Passionate Voices: “Even when I was using Windows and proprietary software, I always kept an eye on the Linux distributions. I always kept an eye on GIMP. It was one of my first digital painting tools. And I always really appreciated the whole movement.” Today, David uses Krita, an open source digital painting application which has been supported by two Kickstarter fundraisers.
David’s work on Pepper & Carrot is funded by a Patreon campaign. As of this writing, for every episode he produces, his supporters donate $1200, which is inching ever closer to the amount David needs to focus fully on creating the webcomic as his “dream job”. As such, he is not concerned about others building on his work as long as they attribute him for it: “I’m really happy if Pepper & Carrot can bring more money for external people.” David is disappointed when people fail to meet the simple requirement to credit him as the author: “It’s easier to respect something that was given for free, in my opinion.”
Back in May, a Kickstarter campaign launched without David Revoy’s involvement to create a printed version of Pepper & Carrot. The initial version of the campaign suffered from attribution issues: “The author of the Kickstarter, in the description of his crowdfunding page, was acting like he was the creator. He was quoting my name but he was acting like it was my Kickstarter page, and it was really not visible inside the page.“ After David contacted the campaign creator, the attribution issues were fixed, and David tweeted in support of the campaign. In the end, $6,837 were raised towards a print edition which otherwise would not have happened.
Although David recognizes the power of the CC-BY license, there are circumstances where he uses more restrictive licensing. The Yin and Yang of World Hunger, a powerful painting which depicts the disparity between rich and poor, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial No-Derivatives license, because David doesn’t want to see it used for commercial or political purposes without his approval. The license doesn’t preclude him from selectively granting those permissions: “There are plenty of associations about hunger that use this illustration, and I’m really happy to give them the illustration for free.”
David’s long term vision is to create an animation studio which only produces works under a free license. With his growing base of supporters, his vision is audacious but not outlandish. Today, many creators of webcomics and YouTube channels are funding their work through their fanbase, whether it’s through one-off campaigns or ongoing Patreon-style support. But relatively few use a Creative Commons license, and fewer still the very permissive CC-BY license alongside an open source toolchain.
When confronted with commercial use and unwanted derivatives, creators may be tempted to to default to a license that places limits on re-use, and as David’s story demonstrates, this can be a good answer, especially when dealing with sensitive works. And yet, there’s always the tantalizing question: What if? What if you let go, what if you set your work truly free? What if you push the limits of what’s possible with open source software?
Artists like David are experimenting with permissive licensing options and open source production methods to create a free culture with no strings attached. Fan support through crowdfunding platforms gives them the ability to do so without fearing loss of income. You can find my full interview with David Revoy (and with other pioneers) on Passionate Voices, and of course you can read Pepper & Carrot online and join David’s community of supporters.
With your help, Creative Commons will be able to showcase many other examples of CC use and re-use. Please consider supporting the Creative Commons campaign, “Made with Creative Commons: A book on open business models”.No Comments »
Greg Grossmeier was a CC intern, community assistant, and for the last year and a half, a volunteer fellow. He is rejoining CC staff as Education Technology and Policy Coordinator, initially focused on the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative.
How did you get involved in CC initially?
It all started back when I was a student at the University of Michigan School of Information working with the fledgling Open.Michigan initiative (of which current CC staff member Tim Vollmer was one of the founders). Open.Michigan is the initiative at the University of Michigan that helps faculty, students, and staff share their educational material with the world as OER (Open Educational Resources). I was drawn to this project primarily because it aligned with my background as a member of the Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) community. As I saw in the FLOSS world, our ability as creators of useful objects such as software and educational material to share these objects with each other in a way that allows them to not only read them, but also build upon them, is changing the way we interact with the world. One part of this ability is the legal assurance that you will not be sued for building upon someone else's work. This is where my interest, and involvement, with Creative Commons got its start.
I was an intern under the amazing Jon Phillips (rejon) during the summer of 2008 then stayed on as a Community Assistant for the next year. I continued my outreach as an unpaid fellow traveling to conferences until coming back to Creative Commons full-time.
Education Technology & Policy Coordinator, that's a mouthful. What does that mean? How does it relate to the work of other CC staff?
It is a mouthful! It means that I am the person you should talk to if you are working in the world of education, specifically Open Education, and have questions regarding integrating or consuming metadata, license choice and its ramifications, or any other legal, technical, or policy issue. This work dovetails nicely with the work being spearheaded by Tim Vollmer, Policy Coordinator, as I am focusing my time mostly in the education and technology realm while Tim also works on issues such as government data sharing and funder policy. I will be sort of a bridge between the CC technology team (note we’re hiring a CTO) and the policy and legal people, and a liaison for technology/policy discussions externally. My new boss is Cable Green, Director of Global Learning, who holds the big picture of how to scale OER.
I’m also looking forward to seeing how my new role can support and be informed by the work of the many OER leaders in the worldwide CC affiliate network.
You've been a copyright specialist at MLibrary for two years. There's a ton of cool stuff coming out of MLibrary. Tell us about that.
At MLibrary I worked for the Copyright Office which, contrary to what Melissa Levine’s (our fearless leader’s) title of "Copyright Officer" may imply, is not the copyright cop of the university. Instead, much of what I did was outreach and education on how faculty, students, and staff can share their scholarly works more broadly. This included issues of data sharing, open education, and open access publishing.
Specific to the library, the Copyright Office spearheaded the change of default CC license on the MLibrary website from CC Attribution-NonCommercial to CC Attribution. I hope that our reasoning for making the switch, which I outlined in a blog post, will help other galleries, libraries, archives, or museums (GLAM-institutions) adopt a similar license choice.
It is also about time for this year's Copyright Camp which is put on by MPublishing (the division within MLibrary that the Copyright Office resides). Copyright Camp is an unconference on all things copyright; from libraries to musicians, policy to practice, even education to robots!
Along with our outreach efforts, the Copyright Office also manages important projects at MLibrary including a new one concerning "orphan works."
So your most recent project is this orphan works thing, say more…
"Orphan works" are works (nominally books in our case) that are still under copyright but the copyright holder is not findable and/or contactable. These works are thus still unable to be legally reused without permission but there is no one to ask permission to reuse them.
With the leadership of Melissa and the help of my coworker Bobby Glushko, I built the process that powers the Orphan Works Project. The goal of the MLibrary Orphan Works Project is to either find the work's copyright holder OR determine that they are truly an orphan and make them available to users of MLibrary. (If you are a copyright holder of any works in the MLibrary collection, please fill out the form available on the project website.)
One could characterize part of the orphan works problem as one of a lack of metadata, or works with inadequate provenance. In a way, CC is mitigating future orphan works issues by making it easy for metadata to travel with works on the web.
You mentioned metadata and provenance, what excites you about the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative?
LRMI excites me because it will finally allow all of the hard work being done by the various online education projects (open or not) to correctly tag their works with important information (such as license, audience, subject, learning outcomes, etc) to be indexed and exposed by popular search engines. Currently we have a smorgasbord of education-specific search engines that attempt to give learners access to the world's knowledge but they routinely fall short due to technical limitations. If the metadata applied to these resources is consumed and used by popular search engines, learning management software, and even the student's own computer then, I hope, big advances in education can be made more easily.
How can people get involved in LRMI?
You're also a technologist, not just a metadata technologist — no disrespect to the meta! What do you do with the Ubuntu community?
The Ubuntu community was the first FLOSS community I felt at home in. When I moved to Michigan for graduate school there was no local community team (aka "LoCo" in Ubuntu parlance) so I took it upon myself to create one. Little did I know that there was a wonderful group of individuals waiting for something like this and the team took off. The Michigan LoCo Team has since been your go-to group for Ubuntu (and FLOSS) related activities including release parties and bug and packaging jams. During graduate school when I should have been studying for exams or writing papers I spent a lot of my Ubuntu/FLOSS time reporting and triaging bugs.
Do you see underplayed opportunities for CC and OER communities to leverage Ubuntu and other FLOSS communities and vice versa? Or instances that we just know more about?
Everywhere. The FLOSS community is first and foremost a sharing or gift economy. This aligns well with the OER community (as I said before). There are many FLOSS projects that are primarily developed to be used in OER (such as the OERbit publishing platform and OERca content management system from Open.Michigan) that could have far greater impact when applied to non-institution specific endeavors.
I also firmly believe that some of the sticking points holding wide spread adoption of OER back can be addressed using software, and specifically FLOSS. Examples of this are the Open Attribute browser plugin that makes attributing CC-licensed works dead simple, the Open Badges platform being created by Mozilla that will help online learners record and display their efforts, and AcaWiki which aims to make high-quality scholarly article summaries available in every discipline. These are all great projects to get involved with from both the education side and the software side, if you are looking for something to contribute to in your free time!
Comments Off on [Re-]Introducing Greg Grossmeier, Education Technology & Policy Coordinator
At the beginning of this year we announced a revised approach to our education plans, focusing our activities to support of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. In order to do so we have worked hard to increase the amount of information available on our own site – in addition to a new Education landing page and our OER portal explaining Creative Commons’ role as legal and technical infrastructure supporting OER, we have been conducting a series of interviews to help clarify some of the challenges and opportunities of OER in today’s education landscape.
One major venue for the advancement of OER is through policy change at the local, state, federal, and international levels. As such, we recently caught up with Cathy Casserly. Cathy is the Vice President for Innovation and Open Networks and Senior Partner at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Cathy is also a member of the board of directors at Creative Commons and a longtime leader, strategist and advocate of OER. In our interview with Cathy, we discussed sustainability, challenges to integrating OER in education reform, and the infrastructure role of Creative Commons.
Q: You used to be Director of the Open Educational Resources Initiative at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Hewlett has been a huge supporter of OER over the years. How do we expand interest in OER and open education to a broader set of funders? Perhaps more importantly, how can OER initiatives within institutions transition to becoming more sustainable? What do you see as the role of government in OER?
From the funder perspective, we need to continually educate funders to help them understand that openness will aid in their core mission–which is typically to spur innovation and disseminate the knowledge developed within the projects they fund. Oftentimes that knowledge sits within the foundation, or with the program officer, and we don’t have a very reliable system to distribute it to a broader audience. As a result, there’s a lot of that knowledge goes untapped. When foundations begin to use Creative Commons licenses, and to begin to practice openness and transparency to disseminate the knowledge from within the foundation, we’ll see a multiplier effect in the reach and impact of that investment. At this point, some foundations just don’t understand that. Part of what we need to do is to help more foundations understand the role of Creative Commons and the potential for open licensing to add value to their core missions. Foundations can get their feet wet by implementing open licensing on a part of their portfolio they feel comfortable with, and extend this practice to a broader percentage later on.
Cathy Casserly by Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching / CC BY
Sustainability has always been a core issue. At Carnegie, we’re trying to design for sustainability and openness from the beginning. Ultimately, for a project to scale in the long term, it has to become self-sustaining in some way. We have some core funding from the Carnegie Foundation itself, and we’re securing funding from outside funders, but this won’t last forever. There will be a point in time where need to figure it out on our own. And, it can be difficult to add sustainability afterward. Today, many more organizations are much more aggressive and thoughtful in thinking about issues of sustainability. In the early days of the OER movement, we were thinking about sustainability, but as a first step we really didn’t know if or how people would use the content. We had a chicken and egg problem because we needed to find out if there was really a thirst for this content. We wanted to know whether people would use it, repurpose it, and reshare it. We’ve heard a resounding “yes” to those questions. But, the OER community is relatively young, and with any new space, some of the issues are tricky to figure out–we’re still trying to understand it.
In terms of government support for open education, I think the government obviously leads the way, certainly in investing a huge amount of public dollars in education. Some of this investment includes many types of materials and learning assets that could be created for less cost, while maintaining the same–if not higher–standards of quality. These open resources would have the added benefit of allowing iteration and continued improvement on them. The federal government, state governments too, are beginning to understand that making investments in educational materials without erecting the traditional boundaries around them is sound practice. By making content systems more permeable, such as by releasing educational resources under Creative Commons licenses, governments empower educators to build on these resources again, so they don’t have to start from scratch. We see this in the open textbook space. Right now, it’s difficult in that the market is shifting, and the publishing industry is fighting. But, at some point we have to realize that we have a new distribution system with the web, and we don’t have to resort to some of the same old models for updating and improving materials. Also, we have a data backend now such that we can begin connect students to materials and learning tools that are complimentary to their needs as an individual learner, whether it be a video, a game, or an ongoing assessment. There are powerful tools we can harness via the web. It’s imperative we do this, and that the government invests in this area too.
Q: In Opening Up Education, you wrote, “the most important obstacles to rapid innovation are not technical…[t]hey have to do with the customs, standard practices, and vested interests of people in the universities and schools and within the markets, such as publishing, that may be forced to change as OER strategies gain more traction.” Since many of the challenges to incorporating OER are social (changing perceptions and practices of teachers and learners) and institutional (traditional school systems are slow to change and risk-averse), how do we approach this set of problems in an effective and scalable way?
In K-12, it’s well recognized that we have a big chasm now between what students do in school and what they do outside of school. Outside of school, students find information, interact with friends, and engage with the world in ways that are very technology-centric. In schools, it looks very much like it did in the 1950s. This is not surprising, because large systems tend to be very inert, so the structural education systems are very inert. Our education systems are not structured to look for innovation, and there needs to be something that is pushing on these systems to get them to integrate innovative ideas. There are pockets of innovation in the K-12 sector, but they’re on the edges. John Seely Brown has talked about the edge influencing and re-shaping the core, and this is beginning to happen within education systems.
In new markets utilizing new technologies, we can disaggregate and unbundle the commoditization of higher education, which has traditionally revolved around the intersection of the tutor (the teacher), the knowledge base (the content or other educational curriculum), and the assessment (the means to certify the knowledge that exists). Emerging models like the University of Phoenix, Kaplan, and other online groups have begun to challenge the incumbent system. We realize that many individuals can’t take the time to enroll in a four-year program at a university, or want to have flexible learning anywhere at any time. The system that we have now was structured for a good reason, it’s existed for a very good reason, and it’s been very resistant to change. When there’s pressure on these longstanding institutions, new organizations will pop up, and will begin to pull some of the education market their way because students realize they’re not being served as best as they could, or because they need more alternatives to a traditional degree, or because there’s more demand than there are spaces, allowing breathing room for alternatives to deal with the supply.
Q: How do you see the role of Creative Commons within the OER movement? How can CC help?
Creative Commons is the foundation for open education. Without flexible licensing there’s no way to determine which materials are shareable, adaptable, reusable, and localizable. Creative Commons is absolutely an incredible asset and core to the work of open education. It’s critically important that we get a broader group of people understanding the need to adopt Creative Commons licenses. A lot of educators and creators in the education space are creating different types of content and curriculum and want to share them. They think that other people can just pick them up and take them, but they don’t realize they’re most likely locked up under copyright. Teachers go into education because they believe in it, they want to share knowledge, and they like the idea of playing around with other ways of teaching. From individual conversations I’ve had with faculty at MIT, Yale, Harvard, and other universities, the ability for them to have their resources widely shared through open courses/courseware has been an incredibly affirming aspect to why they became an educator in the first place. We really haven’t tapped the depths of this volunteerism yet. What’s encouraging is that students who are now going through our schools of education are digital natives. They’ve grown up in a very different way, and it’s just a matter of time until they create so much pressure on the existing system that it will have to shift. What I’d like to see is that the system be very thoughtful about shifting, so it can serve students well, and equally.
Q: In our interview with the Virginia Department of Education, the respondents reiterated that OER is one component of comprehensive education reform, and that we have to think systematically in the incorporation of OER for it to be implemented into the education system. What are some of the things that OER producers (like open textbook providers) and infrastructure providers (like CC) should keep in mind in order to mesh OER in a smart and effective manner?
OER can’t be a siloed reform effort; it has to become a part of the larger system. The Holy Grail is integrating OER with student assessments, and setting up systems to feed back loops so we can understand how students are learning and what is needed to improve. In this way, we can begin to connect students with the best lessons for them at the right time, and organize individuals into smaller groups to work through different topics–for instance, I might be faster in grasping physics, whereas you might be better in math. We don’t really have a way to differentiate instruction right now, and we won’t really be able to until we have more of an individual assessment system. Such a system can take advantage of the underlying power of technology and openness. We know that courses that use this kind of embedded assessment scaffolds the student’s learning in a very structured way, and the learning outcomes–as best as we can measure them–far surpass courses taught using traditional methods. We need to scale these innovative assessment tools and materials in a systematic way. We need to figure out how to integrate face-to-face teaching and online tools and resources so that we can create better learning communities that pull from the best parts of both worlds.
Q: Wrapping up, what does a successful teaching and learning environment implementing the power of OER “look like”? Do you have any lingering thoughts—worries, hopes, or predictions?
I think that in the next decade we’ll see a significant shift–online communities will become part of accepted hybrid models for learning. These models will blend what teachers and those with expert knowledge can best contribute to help teaching and learning, scaffold learning for individuals, and utilize the best of what we can harness with technology and the web so students can learn in interesting, animated, and engaging ways. We need to begin to understand and differentiate content, learning styles and education processes to works for individual students based on that student’s prior cognitive and non-cognitive skills. There’s a huge untapped white space in better integrating OER, and we need to think about how to blend the efficiency and effectiveness of open materials.Comments Off on Cathy Casserly: Open Education and Policy
We’d like to point out GOOD’s latest interview from its “We Like to Share” series by Eric Steuer—“Frances Pinter on the (Academic) Value of Sharing.” Frances elaborates on Bloomsbury Academic‘s decision to license their academic publications via CC BY-NC, academics’ need for exposure, and the changing landscape in publishing,
“So much of academic output is now available on the web, and when you talk to academics they are not 100 percent happy with how difficult it is becoming to find their works. They are looking for tools; a digital means of selecting, filtering, and ranking the materials they are using and recommending. We are actually in a period of transition where we are still relying on the old, but wanting to experiment with the new. People like myself who spend a lot of time with the open access crowd can kind of forget there are a lot of academics who aren’t so vocal, who are primarily interested in producing their content, getting materials in front of their students, and getting their promotion and their recognition for work that they produce.
In this period of transition there is a lot of investment required in experimenting with new technologies. And with the experimenting of new technologies, we have to make sure the recognition and the openness is absolutely essential and part of it.”
The interview is also available in audio, and if you want to learn more about Frances and Bloomsbury Academic, be sure to check out the longer ccLearn interview with her from last year, as part of our Inside OER series.
All GOOD “We Like to Share” interviews are available to share via CC BY.Comments Off on Frances Pinter from GOOD’s “We Like to Share” Series
Comments Off on GOOD: “We Like to Share” interview series
This past December, I conducted a series of interviews with people about the value of sharing information and resources in their respective fields of work. The interviews were edited into a podcast for GOOD entitled “We Like to Share” that was made available to people who attended the GOOD December series of events in Los Angeles. Last week, GOOD began posting CC BY-licensed text versions of the interviews on its website and will roll out one a week over the next few months. The first interview is with Chris Hughes, one of the co-founders of Facebook, who was the online strategist for the Barack Obama campaign. Check back at “We Like to Share” each Thursday (starting tomorrow) to read interviews with iconic sharers like Jimmy Wales, Chris Dibona, Frances Pinter, Jesse Dylan, and Curt Smith.
For those of you who’ve been following, ccLearn started interviewing innovative people and projects in the open education space last April, when we kicked things off with a highly informative interview of Leigh Blackall at Otago Polytechnic (the university whose default licensing policy is CC BY. Inside OER is the current culmination of our efforts, the full suite of interviews available for redistribution and remix at the ccLearn site.
Now we’ve tried something new. For our latest Inside OER, IssueLab’s Lisa Brooks on Opening Up Research, we decided to make our own adaptation, lifting the complete text of the interview and remixing it with images, screen shots, and speech bubbles. Drawing extensively from resources in the public domain, CC licensed photos on Flickr, and the help of a handy application known as Comic Life, we give you our very first issue of Inside OER, the Comic.
Hopefully, this will not only grab but sustain short attention spans. IssueLab, in particular, is doing great things for the open education community and Lisa is especially apt at articulating exactly what that is and what they are aiming for.
In April, ccLearn crossed telephone lines with Italy and Ukraine for the first time. Executive Director Ahrash Bissell spoke with eIFL.net, Electronic Information for Libraries, an international nonprofit organization whose interests, among many, lie in open access publishing and fair and balanced intellectual property laws for libraries.
Below is a follow-up interview over email with Rima Kupryte, Director of eIFL.net, and Iryna Kuchma, Program Manager of eIFL-OA (Open Access).
First, can you say a few words about yourselves and eIFL? How did you come to get involved in eIFL and to hold your respective positions within the larger framework? What about eIFL attracted you?
I am a professional librarian, graduated from Vilnius University in Lithuania. I joined the Open Society Institute – Budapest (OSI) Network Library Program late in 1995. The idea for eIFL was born at OSI and later the idea turned into an independent organisation which I joined from its establishment in 2003. Coming from Lithuania, which had poorly resourced libraries and where access to information was restricted when I was a student, I was very passionate about ideas—what could be done in order to improve libraries, open them and offer better services to its users. eIFL.net is a very innovative and creative organisation that offers a lot of opportunities and ideas; it makes things happen.
eIFL’s mission statement, “Enabling access to knowledge through libraries in developing and transition countries,” appeals to me a lot. I graduated from the social sciences department and access to knowledge was one of my research topics as well as social aspects of open access, free and open source software and open content licenses. For nine years I worked for OSI in Ukraine and Open Access was one of my program areas. It was fascinating to see the positive changes in scholarly communication and I am glad I can go on with this program – Open Access – in eIFL.net.
What about eIFL itself–can you sum up what it stands for, its mission and overarching agenda? Assuming you don’t already have one, if you could come up with a catchy new slogan for what eIFL is trying to do, what would it be?
eIFL.net is a not-for-profit organization that supports and advocates the wide availability of electronic resources by library users in transitional and developing countries. It is universally acknowledged that access to knowledge is fundamental to education and research and the creation of human capital upon which the development of societies depend. This is especially true in a knowledge society where economic progress depends on having a literate and educated population. Libraries and education are synonymous. A library has little meaning if it cannot impart knowledge. Good education cannot exist without access to quality information resources to support teaching, learning and research. Our current slogan is “Enabling access to knowledge through libraries in transition and developing countries”. In July we will be having an eIFL visioning retreat to brainstorm and think where eIFL.net will be five to ten years from now.
eIFL.net is a powerful network of 2,220 libraries in 47 transitioning and developing countries with a combined population of 800 million people including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Croatia, Egypt, Estonia, Georgia, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine, Poland, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In 2008, a pilot Open Access workshop is planned in Latin America – Cuba.
I’ve gathered (mainly from information on your website) that eIFL and Creative Commons are promoting and doing similar things. For example, the vision of the eIFL program “Advocacy for Access to Knowledge: copyright and libraries”, known as eIFL-IP, is the development of fair and balanced copyright laws taking into account libraries and the public interest. How would you relate these goals to CC and CC-licensing?
The goal of eIFL-IP is to maximise access to knowledge for education, research and civil society through fair and balanced copyright laws that take into account the needs of libraries and students, researchers and professionals who depend on library services to advance their education, careers and life opportunities. Our vision is that eIFL-IP librarians will become activists and leaders for promoting access to knowledge, especially in the digital age. We are achieving this by
- creating a network of library copyright specialists and building capacity in the library perspective in copyright issues.
- becoming the recognised advocate for library copyright issues in developing and transitioning countries at international and national levels.
- encouraging the international library community to place the issues of developing and transitioning countries high on their agendas.
eIFL-IP and CC are natural allies because
- eIFL-IP supports the use of alternative models through open content licenses, such as CC and GPL. eIFL.net advocates for open access and OER.
- eIFL-IP and CC both promote access to content (for CC digital content).
- eIFL-IP builds capacity and raises awareness, including how to use copyright law as an enabler of access to knowledge rather than a means to distort, deny or delay access. CC licenses support this goal by promoting the full spectrum of possibilities within the copyright system, i.e. from all rights reserved to the public domain.
- As information professionals, librarians should be in a position to advise library clients on issues relating to access and use of digital content. With its powerful brand, CC helps librarians to understand and promote issues relating to access.
For more information on the library perspective on CC: http://www.eifl.net/cps/sections/services/eifl-ip/docs/handbook-e/#cc
What are some of the major challenges eIFL-IP faces?
The challenge that remains is how to build capacity at the national level; when we are working well at both international and national levels, we will achieve the best results.
The relevance of copyright to libraries wasn’t always recognised because the connection with day-to-day library activities was not fully understood. This is changing, however, and eIFL-IP librarians are becoming more aware and thus are more active. Once this connection is made, the importance of advocating for better copyright laws will be better understood.
Good activists are in short supply so it is disappointing to lose trained people due to changes in jobs or through emigration. We rely almost entirely on volunteers which limits our ability to make too onerous demands or to enforce deadlines.
How do you think these challenges will be overcome?
By focusing on building capacity
- providing resources e.g. http://www.eifl.net/cps/sections/services/eifl-ip/issues/eifl-handbook-on
- holding an annual conference for face-to-face training e.g. http://www.eifl.net/cps/sections/services/eifl-ip/training/2008-istanbul
- identifying “champions” and encouraging those who are active e.g. Moldova came to WIPO in March 2008, support for regional events (e.g. Nigeria Library Association pre-conference on copyright and digitisation in June 2008).
- developing a curriculum in copyright issues for libraries for mass training (see below).
You are also now developing a distance learning course on copyright for librarians jointly with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law. Can you describe the project?
In partnership with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School in the USA, we are developing a brand new curriculum on copyright for librarians. This is a first, and we hope that many more librarians, especially in developing and transitioning countries, will benefit from the training and become advocates for access to knowledge.
The curriculum seeks to develop greater understanding of copyright by librarians. The goal is to build a human network from which they can draw support. We hope to reach a critical mass of librarians who can contribute to public discussion, who can take part in informed debate with government and industry representatives, and who can join the library community from the developed world by expressing their views in important international forums, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The course should be implemented with strategic partners in the global South, such as library training and law schools in universities, as well as distance learning programs.
The goals of the course are:
- To develop greater understanding of copyright by librarians by providing copyright training tailored to the needs of librarians in developing and transitioning countries.
- To support librarians’ mission (participation to the access to knowledge movement).
- To help librarians answer copyright questions they face during their work.
- To help librarians answer users’ questions on their rights (professors, students, general public).
- To empower librarians to advise governments and other public policy makers and initiatives toward balanced copyright law.
The project lead Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, Berkman Fellow, has been legal lead for CC France since 2003.. A meeting of international experts in libraries, copyright, distance learning and developing countries took place at the Berkman Center 17-18 April 2008 to provide advice on the structure, methodology and the content of the course as well as its sustainability.
How important is this and other collaborative relationships to your work? Are you reaching out to additional partners? What types of organizations are key to your efforts?
Collaboration is very important as our agenda and wishes are great and we can not accomplish everything by ourselves. There are certain movements and program areas that require strong advocacy, and for this, more voices are better. This applies to our activities in Open Access (OA), Intellectual Property (IP) and Free and Open Source (FOSS). Some of our programs are more advanced than others as we launched them in different years. Our newest program is on FOSS; we started it only last fall. We have quite a long list of NGO partners in IP, which were built due to our strong presence at WIPO. We are building more partnerships in OA and FOSS this year.
Our target audience is scholars and researchers, doctors and lawyers, students and teachers. And in Open Access projects we set alliances with human rights groups, environmental organizations, patient groups demanding access to government information, Internet activists (Wikipedia communities, Creative Commons, etc.) modeling the approach of the Alliance for Tax Payers Access (a diverse and growing alliance of organizations representing taxpayers, patients, physicians, researchers, and institutions that support open public access to taxpayer-funded research). We are working closely with SPARC and SPARC Europe, EurOpenScholar, DRIVER project, Electronic Publishing Trust, BioLine International, Association of Research Libraries, Stichting SURF, Dutch collaborative organization for Higher Education and Research on IT, Directory of Open Access Journals, and we are also glad to start working with ccLearn and Creative Commons International (and iCommons).
Like ccLearn, eIFL is a project that is involved with the Open Education Movement. How would you define the Open Education Movement, and what role does eIFL play in it?
The goal of the Open Education movement is to create a world where each and every person on earth can access and contribute to the sum of all human knowledge. This goal can be reached by developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use. eIFL Open Access (OA) Program encourages sharing of research publications and educational materials.
Through the eIFL OA Program, eIFL members build capacity of the issues related to OA to enable members to benefit from the content, which is made freely available through OA, as well as ensuring that the local content produced within their countries is widely distributed. This is accomplished through the development of open repositories (for the research papers and educational materials) and by encouraging authors within the countries to publish their articles in Open Access journals. eIFL-OA Program seeks to enhance access and use of research findings, increase the efficiency of research developments, and accelerate use and innovation—stimulating the economy. To achieve this, we apply the developing practices of Open Access as defined by the Budapest Open Access Initiative (http://www.soros.org/openaccess/). The same practices became the foundation for the recently launched Cape Town Open Education Declaration: Unlocking the promise of open educational resources (http://www.capetowndeclaration.org/).
Among other things, ccLearn is focused on educating people about the importance of legal and technical interoperability for open education. What are your thoughts on this? What other activities do you think should be priorities for ccLearn (and Creative Commons) with respect to open education?
Yes, legal and technical interoperability is extremely important for open education. We encourage educators, scholars and students to use open technologies that facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing. We advocate for Creative Commons Attribution Licenses used by a number of open access projects, e.g. The Public Library of Science (PLoS) – a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world’s scientific and medical literature a public resource. Everything they publish is freely available online to read, download, copy, distribute, and use (with attribution) any way one wishes. Creative Commons did a lot for the free culture movements around the world. These approaches should be adjusted now for the educators and learners encouraging them to practice open education and raising their awareness about open content licences. Raising awareness and sharing good examples and advocacy are key elements to the success of the Open Education movement.Comments Off on eIFL.net on Open Access, Open Education, and Creative Commons