Wikipedia

Wikipedia + CC BY-SA = Free Culture Win!

Mike Linksvayer, June 22nd, 2009

As anyone following this site closely must know, the Wikipedia community and Wikimedia Foundation board approved the adoption of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license as the main content license for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites. A post about the community vote has many links explaining the history and importance of this move.


Detail of Win win relationship by Alex Brollo / CC BY-SA

Starting last week with English Wikipedia (there are over 700 Wikimedia sites in over 250 languages — the image to the right is sourced from one of them), the copyright notice on Wikimedia sites is being changed to CC BY-SA. See the Wikimedia Foundation Terms of Use.

The outreach effort to non-Wikimedia wikis to take advantage of this migration opportunity is ongoing. Help if you can. One very important milestone was reached June 19, when most wikis hosted by Wikia (there are thousands, including some big ones) converted to CC BY-SA.

Hooray for Jimmy Wales, founder of both Wikipedia and Wikia! (Note the two organizations are unrelated.) CC is fortunate to also have Wales as a member of our board of directors. Without his vision, this unification of free culture licensing would not have been possible.

Here’s to a huge win for Wikipedians, all of free culture, and everyone who made it possible! Already the licensing change is enabling content to flow between Wikipedia and other projects. Will you interoperate? See a post on my personal blog for a long-winded conjecture about long-term impacts of the licensing change.

Finally, note that this is only one instance of the Wikipedia community showing great foresight and leadership. For example, clearly the Wikipedia community’s steadfast commitment to open formats played a major role in giving open video (effectively meaning Theora) a chance for wide adoption, which it now appears on the verge of. Hooray for visionary free culture communities and many wins to come!

Addendum 2009-06-30

Erik Moeller writes on the Wikimedia Foundation blog that the licensing update has been rolled out on all Wikimedia wikis:

Perhaps the most significant reason to choose CC-BY-SA as our primary content license was to be compatible with many of the other admirable endeavors out there to share and develop free knowledge: projects like Citizendium (CC-BY-SA), Google Knol (a mix of CC licenses, including CC-BY and CC-BY-SA), WikiEducator (CC-BY-SA), the Encylcopedia of Earth (CC-BY-SA), the Encyclopedia of the Cosmos (CC-BY-SA), the Encyclopedia of Life (a mix of CC licenses), and many others. These communities have come up with their own rules of engagement, their own models for sharing and aggregating knowledge, but they’re committed to the free dissemination of information. Now this information can flow freely to and from Wikimedia projects, without unnecessary legal boundaries.

This is beginning to happen. A group of English Wikipedia volunteers have created a WikiProject Citizendium Porting, for example, to ensure that high quality information developed by the Citizendium community can be made available through Wikipedia as well, with proper attribution.

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REMINDER: CC Salon NYC / OVC Pre-party is Thursday Night (+music & beer)

Fred Benenson, June 16th, 2009

CC Salon NYC Logo
Open Video Conference

Just a reminder that the Creative Commons Salon NYC / Official Open Video Conference Pre-party is happening Thursday night!

I’m also excited to announce that we’ve added a live acoustic set from CC musician Adam McHeffey (of FrostClick fame) as well as lots of cold beer sponsored by blip.tv!

Here’s all the info:

June’s Salon will feature an in depth chat with Brett Gaylor, writer and director of RiP! A Remix Manifesto, a presentation by Erik Moeller, Deputy Director of the Wikimedia Foundation WMF on Wikipedia’s switch to Creative Commons licenses, and a live acoustic set from singer song writer Adam McHeffey.

Thursday, June 18th, from 7-10pm
For Your Imagination Loft
22 W. 27th St., 6th Floor
Between Broadway & 6th Ave.
New York, NY

We’ll have free (as in beer) beer for the reception afterward. If you’ve didn’t make it to any past CC Salons, don’t miss this one, and if you did, you’ll know to come early as space is limited.

RSVP to the event via Facebook or by e-mailing me: fred [at] creativecommons.org.

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Announcing June’s CC Salon NYC / Official OVC Pre-party

Fred Benenson, June 8th, 2009

CC Salon NYC Logo
Open Video Conference

After taking a break for a bit (things have been busy at CC) I’m happy to announce our June Salon, which we’ll be partnering with the Open Video Conference on. Think of it as a Salon and the official OVC pre-party.

So come out to have some beers with the CC community watch some cool presentations, and meet some new faces in the free culture space.

June’s Salon will feature an in depth chat with Brett Gaylor, writer and director of RiP! A Remix Manifesto, a presentation by Erik Moeller, Deputy Director of the Wikimedia Foundation WMF on Wikipedia’s switch to Creative Commons licenses, and some more guests to be announced.

Here are the details:

Thursday, June 18th, from 7-10pm
For Your Imagination Loft
22 W. 27th St., 6th Floor
Between Broadway & 6th Ave.
New York, NY

We’ll have free (as in beer) beer for the reception afterward. If you’ve didn’t make it to any past CC Salons, don’t miss this one, and if you did, you’ll know to come early as space is limited.

RSVP to the event via Facebook or by e-mailing me: fred [at] creativecommons.org.

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2nd CC Community Call (5/27/09) recording now online

Allison Domicone, June 1st, 2009

We hosted our second community conference call last Wednesday, May 27. Donors were invited to join members of CC’s staff and board, including CEO Joi Ito and new Board Chair Esther Wojcicki, to discuss organizational updates, including CC Zero, GreenXchange, the future of the CC Network, and an update on the Wikipedia migration to CC BY-SA. We also took questions and comments from participants. The call was a great success and a valuable opportunity to reach out to and connect with our supporters; we will continue to host community conference calls on a quarterly basis, and anyone giving $250 or more will be invited to take part.

An audio recording of the call is now available online. Thanks to everyone who participated, and as always, we would like to extend a big thank you to all members of our community for your continued support!

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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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Wikimedia Foundation board approves license migration

Mike Linksvayer, May 21st, 2009

The Wikimedia Foundation board has approved the licensing changes voted on by the community of Wikipedia and its sister sites. The accompanying press release includes this quote from Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig:

“Richard Stallman’s commitment to the cause of free culture has been an inspiration to us all. Assuring the interoperability of free culture is a critical step towards making this freedom work. The Wikipedia community is to be congratulated for its decision, and the Free Software Foundation thanked for its help. I am enormously happy about this decision.”

Hear, hear!

Earlier today we blogged that results of the Wikipedia community vote on adding the CC BY-SA license. Over 75% of votes were cast in approval of the change, but as has been pointed out by Wikimedia Foundation Deputy Director Erik Moeller and board member Kat Walsh, this number understates the level of support for the change. 14% voted “no opinion”, while only 10% opposed.

In any case we are deeply gratified that such an overwhelming majority (88% of those who voted with an opinion) approved this change worked on over several years by the Free Software Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, and Creative Commons, are proud to stand with such trusted organizations, and will live up to that trust!

The addition of the CC BY-SA license to Wikimedia sites should occur over the next month. Now is a good time to start thinking about whether your works and projects ought to interoperate with Wikipedia. If you’re using (or switch to) CC BY-SA, content can flow in both directions (your work could be incorporated into Wikipedia, and you can incorporate Wikipedia content into your work). If you use CC BY or CC0, your work could be incorporated into Wikipedia, but not vice versa. If your work isn’t licensed, or is under a CC license with a non-commercial or no derivatives (NC or ND) term, nothing can flow in either direction, except by fair use or other copyright exception or limitation.

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Wikipedia community votes 75% in favor of CC BY-SA

Mike Linksvayer, May 21st, 2009

Results of the WIkipedia community vote on licensing are now in:

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has proposed that the copyright licensing terms on the wikis operated by the WMF — including Wikipedia — be changed to include the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) license in addition to the current GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). This will affect all text and rich media (images, sound, video, etc.) currently licensed under “GFDL 1.2 or later versions”. This change is meant to advance the WMF’s mission by increasing the compatibility and availability of free content. Further details and motivation for this change are explained in the licensing update proposal and the associated FAQ.

To gauge community support for adopting this change, a Wikimedia-wide vote was conducted between April 12 and May 3, 2009. The vote was managed by volunteers associated with the licensing update committee and conducted on servers controlled by the independent non-profit SPI.

Licensing Update Poll Result
“Yes, I am in favor of this change” 13242 75.8%
“No, I am opposed to this change” 1829 10.5%
“I do not have an opinion on this change” 2391 13.7%
Total votes cast and certified 17462

If “no opinion” votes are not included, the Yes/No percentage becomes 87.9%/12.1% (15071 votes).

For lots of background on why this is a great thing, see our post on the community vote and the previous posts it links to. CC Denmark public project lead Henrik Moltke’s immediate microblogged reaction is a good summary:

Wikimedia/pedia adopting CC a giant leap; will unite & focus strengths, facilitate participation + convey strengths of free licensing

Thanks for voting for licensing sanity!

As the results page says, the Wikimedia Foundation board must still approve any licensing change.

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Wikipedia community vote on migration to CC BY-SA begins now

Mike Linksvayer, April 13th, 2009



A community vote is now underway, hopefully one of the final steps in the process the migration of Wikipedia (actually Wikipedias, as each language is its own site, and also other Wikimedia Foundation sites) to using Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike as its primary content license.

This migration would be a huge boost for the free culture movement, and for Wikipedia and Creative Commons — until the migration happens there is an unnecessary licensing barrier between the most important free culture project (Wikipedia of course, currently under the Free Documentation License, intended for software documentation) and most other free culture projects and individual creators, which use the aforementioned CC BY-SA license.

To qualify to vote, one must have made 25 edits to a Wikimedia site prior to March 15. Make sure you’re logged in to the project on which you qualify, and you should see a site notice at the top of each page that looks like the image below (red outline added around notice).

licensing update site notice

Click on “vote now” and you’ll be taken to the voting site. [Update: If you see a different site notice, it’s because other important notices about the Wikimania conference are rotating with the vote notice. In that case you can go directly to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:SecurePoll/vote/1. For other Wikimedia sites, change en.wikipedia to the domain of the site in question.]

For background on the migration process, see Wikimedia’s licensing update article and the following series of posts on the Creative Commons blog:

Here’s a great “propaganda poster”, original created by Brianna Laugher (cited a number of times on this blog), licensed under CC BY. See her post, Vote YES for licensing sanity!

Indeed, please go vote yes to unify the free culture movement!

Vote YES! For licensing sanity!

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250,000 Images Donated to the Commons

Michelle Thorne, April 2nd, 2009

Not wanting April Fool’s Day to overshadow this announcement, we’re posting today about the 250,000 images recently donated to Wikimedia Commons, a sister project of Wikipedia.

588px-fotothek_df_n-06_0000031

The images, part of the German Photo Collection at Saxony’s State and University Library (SLUB), are being uploaded with corresponding captions and metadata. Afterward, volunteers will link the photos, all available under Germany’s ported CC BY-SA 3.0 license or in the public domain, to personal identification data and relevant Wikipedia articles. The collection depicts scenes from German history and daily life.

As a bonus for the donating library, the metadata supplied by the German Photo Collection will be expanded and annotated by Wikipedia users, and the results will be seeded back into the collection’s database.

The donation marks the first step in a collaboration between SLUB and Wikimedia Germany e.V., the pioneering Wikimedia chapter who faciliated a similar 100,000-image-strong cooperation with the German Federal Archives last December.

Fotothek df n-06 0000031.jpg” by Eugen Nosko,  provided to Wikimedia Commons by the Deutsche Fotothek of the Saxon State Library (SLUB) as part of a cooperation project. The file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License.

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On being a creative commoner

Mike Linksvayer, March 29th, 2009

Domas Mituzas writes in an extremely nice post:

It takes time to understand one is ‘creative commoner’. I do have a t-shirt with such caption, but it is much more comfortable once you start feeling real power of use and reuse of information. Few anecdotes…

He tells stories of the joy of being reused (see our last post on that subject for similar).

Mituzas recognizes the importance of standard copyright licenses in facilitating such reuse…

Also, by using CC license I simply used lingua-franca of world I’m in – and now my content can evolve into shapes that I couldn’t expect, and that would be limited by non-portable licenses.

…and the problems posed by non-interoperable licenses:

Of course, there other different stories. My colleague (and manager) runs a wiki about his own town, Bielepedia, and he wants to exchange information with Wikipedia. Now he can’t, as well as quite a lot of other free content community projects. Though of course, some may believe license difference doesn’t mean much, in this case it means that we’re building borders we don’t need nor we have intent to maintain.

Indeed, one of Mituzas’ points is that Wikipedia should migrate to CC BY-SA (he is an active Wikipedian and Wikimedia Foundation board member, also see the migration decision timeline and our most recent post on the matter).

Unnecessary licensing incompatibility between Wikipedia and much of the rest of the free content world not only prevents specific reuses, but probably hampers the growth of free content overall, as mentioned in the Creative Commons Statement of Intent for Attribution-ShareAlike Licenses:

When a copyleft license is widely used, it not only protects essential freedoms for all users, it fosters the spread of those freedoms. This occurs when people who may not know or care about Freedom as understood by the Free Software movement, but merely wish to use works that happen to be Free, release adaptations under a Free license in order to fulfill the requirements of the license. By the same token, if there are pools of Free content that may not be mixed because their copyleft style licenses are legally incompatible, the spread of essential freedoms is constricted.

However, it’s important to note that Bielepedia, as currently licensed, would not benefit from the migration of Wikipedia to CC BY-SA. That’s because Bielepedia is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA. Hopefully inspired by the possibility of interoperability with Wikipedia, Bielepedia and many other projects will see fit to migrate to more liberal CC licences that are interoperable with CC BY-SA and meet the WIkimedia Foundation’s licensing policy (CC BY, CC BY-SA, and CC0/public domain, though the latter aren’t licenses).

If you haven’t yet please go read Domas Mituzas’ post on being a creative commoner. It really is very nice!

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