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2005 July

Everybody loves Creative Commons

Mike Linksvayer, July 27th, 2005

Creative Commons made an appearance of sorts in the free software in-joke comic Everybody loves Eric Raymond.

As it happens the strip is CC-licensed. That makes at least two.

Thanks to Will for the pointer.

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Creative Fiction, or CC SF

Will Frank, July 27th, 2005

With all of the public debate about the role of innovation in music and movies, it’s not surprising that discussion of the uses of Creative Commons licenses tends to be about their place in the music and movie industries. When there is discussion about text and books, it tends to be about academic works, like Professor Lessig’s book Free Culture or the Public Library of Science, and even then it’s discussed much less. Fiction books, such as the science fiction and fantasy (from now on abbreviated as SF, and please don’t start with me about that) that occupies most of my spare time, seem to glide almost completely under the radar.

Part of the reason no one worries about books is that there isn’t a BPAA, and the print publishing industry is much less deserving of vitriol than the music publishers; part of it is that authors have or at least appear to have much more creative control than the musical artists who tend to take point on the screaming about infringement; but most of it is that reading real books is satisfying in a way that reading PDFs or HTML on a screen, or a Palm, or even a bunch of laser-printed pages completely fails to be.

However, there are a few enterprising SF authors who have, in addition to publishing their books through traditional methods, released Creative Commons-licensed copies of their work. As I’m the local SF nut, I was asked by the bosses to give a basic rundown of what’s out there. I was also told very firmly not to get into reviews, merely survey the field; I don’t do too well with limits, and there’s only so much hard drive space…

Anyway. The first name in Creative Commons-licensed SF is the one and only Cory Doctorow. If you’ve made it all the way here without encountering that name, then I have to wonder where you’ve been looking. Cory has three full novels, Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom, Eastern Standard Tribe, and Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town, all
of which have been CC-licensed. He also has any number of shorter stories (such as his ongoing “Deconstructing SF” series), many of which are, again, licensed. Cory is probably the most vocal supporter of the Creative Commons in the fiction world, so if you’re looking for some SF and you want to be CC-conscious, there are no better places to start. His work tends to be near-future nanopunk, but it’s solid nanopunk; if you’ve never read in the genre, it’s not a bad introduction to the genre, and if you have, and didn’t like it, this may be a better example. If you don’t like this either, then nanopunk probably isn’t for you.

Next up is Charles Stross, an occasional collaborator with Cory, who released his most recent novel Accelerando under a CC license just a few weeks ago, and who has some older works licensed as well. Like Cory, Charlie–ah, the wondrous informality of the Internet; if ever I met them in person they’d be “Mr. Doctorow” and “Mr. Stross,” is that just me?–deals in near-future nanopunk (actually, Accelerando starts at near-future and just goes further thataway), and he has made a big splash with this novel. He certainly has one fan in high places.

Now we’re leaving the safe areas of books I’ve read or at least skimmed. There are two other authors whose CC-licensed work has been brought to the attention of us here at CC-HQ. First is Peter Watts, who has released his first two novels Starfish and Maelstrom under CC licenses, plans to do the same for the third novel in the trilogy, Behemoth (sorry, Peter–there it is again–but I’m not putting in the Beta), and has a handful of earlier stories available as well. By all lights Peter’s area is not nanopunk; he seems to be closer to biopunk. Topics in his “Rifters Trilogy” include evolutionary biology, marine mammalia, sexual sadism, and dystopian futures. Lest you think I’m kidding, I took all of this from his website. Like I said I haven’t had the chance to sit down and read his work yet. But I’m certainly looking forward to the change of pace. Then again, I do remember that Neal Stephenson wrote Zodiac: An Eco-Thriller before he became the second darling of the cyberpunks, so you never know…

The last author that’s on our list of known CC-licensed SF is Kelly Link, who released her short story collection Stranger Things Happen at the beginning of this month. While I haven’t yet read the collection, I’ve been reading up on it and her and, again, I’m looking forward to my next chance to sit down and really tear into the material. It’s a little more fantastical than some of the other work (apparently she’s been compared to Neil Gaiman, a comparison no one can win but the ultimate case of praising with faint damnation), not that I’m complaining mind you, so it would probably make a good chaser for some of the harder nanopunk.

That’s all that we know of so far. A list in progress can be found at http://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/Books#Fiction, so if you know of more CC-licensed SF books or fiction in general feel free to add it.

I should mention, before I sign off, that we do know there are some other free but not CC-licensed SF sources out there. Baen Books has been keeping its Baen Free Library since before Creative Commons was founded, and Neal Stephenson has put up a copy of In The Beginning Was The Command Line at Cryptonomicon.com. Allies in spirit, I hope.

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Free Beer

Dana Powers, July 22nd, 2005

Sometimes we get thirsty here at CC-HQ, and so sometimes we head up to the
coffee machine and press the button for coffee. Or sometimes we make espresso
and dump the left over grounds down the drain until the drainage pipe clogs
and our downstairs neighbors get a wonderful espresso-ground shower. And then
sometimes we decide to brew beer. Good ole’ CC licensed beer. Beer that might
be terrible, but that we really hope isn’t. And then sometimes we blog about
it.

So we the interns of CC decided to take a shot at brewing the href="http://www.voresoel.dk/main.php?id=70">infamous CC-beer. The recipe
was first published by some students in Denmark under an Attribution-ShareAlike
license – perhaps as a joke in reference to the free software movement’s
mantra, “free as in speech, not as in beer.” We think that’s funny, but we also
think beer tastes good. So we took the recipe down to the local homebrew
store, SF Brewcraft, and consulted
with the masters: href="http://www.sunsetbeacon.com/archives/richmondreview/2005editions/Apr05/richmondcurrentissue.html">Griz and href="http://www.sfrichmondreview.com/archives/richmondreview/2005editions/Apr05/brewcraft.html">Rev.
Because we’re first time brewers, they suggested we modify the recipe slightly
to make it easier on our inner newbishness. The Danes, apparently, are quite
advanced in their beer-making-methodologies. We’re sad to say that we had to
ditch the guarana beans, though. It was partly because we couldn’t find any,
partly because we really had no idea how to work them into the modified recipe,
and partly because Griz kept looking at us funny and talking about monkeys and
footballs. So href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/fcb/27800655/in/set-587055/">this is the
recipe we ended up using, CC-licensed of course. When we manage to decipher
exactly what the recipe actually says, we’ll post that online as well.

Anyways, we bought a basic homebrew kit and enough ingredients for our
first batch: grains, hops, some malt extract, a bit of yeast, and a dash of
sugar, and then we began our foray into fermentation. Altogether, the recipe
should make about 5 gallons of homebrewed beer gloriousness and will take around
one month start to finish. Right now, our brew is fermenting in href="http://creativecommons.org/about/people#44">Free Culture Fred’s

laundry room to give it that “so fresh and so clean” feel. After another week
or so it’ll be ready to bottle – although sadly it will still have to sit
for a few weeks more before it is ready to drink. We’re also working on some
nice CC beer labels, maybe even some CC bottle caps, but we’ll blog more about
that later. Until then, we thought you might find href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/fcb/sets/587055/">our flickr stream
entertaining. Mmmm, beer.

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Commons Jamming across the net

Mike Linksvayer, July 22nd, 2005

NINJAM is a free software product that lets you jam (make music) with other NINJAM users across the net. It’s weirder and cooler than just that. All tracks, remote and local, can be saved individually for offline remixing, and all NINJAMmers agree to use a Creative Commons license in order to participate. The weirder part … you’ll have to try for yourself.

Check out a directory of jams created by NINJAM users, all CC licensed of course.

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Belgrade Gallery

Mike Linksvayer, July 20th, 2005

Free computer art software visual artist activist programmer (mix and match, also CC mailing list discussant) Rob Myers has a lecture (July 29) and exhibition (running July 27 – August 8) at o3one gallery in Belgrade, Serbia, supported by the British Council.


From 1969 by Rob Myers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Addendum: Pictures of the show.

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Lisa DeBenedictis Remix Contest

Neeru Paharia, July 15th, 2005

The Magnatune Lisa DeBenedictis Remix Contest on ccMixter is soon coming to a close. The deadline for entries is July 31st. Send your remixes in soon!

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PBS to release NerdTV under a Creative Commons License

Raul, July 14th, 2005

I’m always amazed at how far the power of invention mixed with a determination to realize your idea on a large scale can take you. That’s why the new PBS one hour television series about the people who are shaping technology and the Silicon Valley landscape seems so interesting. PBS will be launching NerdTV, the first downloadable, web-exclusive series, beginning Sept. 6th. You can check it out here. NerdTV viewers are encouraged to download and copy the shows, share them with friends and even post them on their own Web sites – all legally.

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CC Licensing for WordPress: Now with AJAX

Nathan Yergler, July 12th, 2005

wpLicense 0.5 is out. wpLicense is a project I whipped up a while back to experiment with the Creative Commons web services and AJAX. I also needed CC licensing for WordPress and wasn’t satisfied with the existing solutions. This is the third release I’ve made, and the first I actually think should be usable by the world at large.

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The relatively large increase in version number (up 3/10ths as opposed to my usual 1/10th of a version) reflects the large number of changes as well as the amount of testing that went into this version.

In the bug-fix category:

  • Unbeknownst to me, my web host uses PHP 5 by default, so I happily used PHP 5-specific features such as SimpleXML without knowing it. Unfortunately, lots of people still use PHP 4, so some refactoring was in order. This release supports PHP 4 (> 4.3 for sure, possibly older although I won’t guarantee it).
  • I had also used libcurl in the previous version, which while it existed in PHP 4 wasn’t always turned on. We’re using a little more braindead way of calling the webservice now that should work with non-libcurl-enabled installations of PHP.
  • Finally, we fixed a rather annoying bug that caused the generic jurisdiction Attribution licenses to be issued as 2.0, even though 2.5 is the current version. Feh.

This release also adds a new configuration option: “Include license badge in default footer”. The new "Include license badge" option in wpLicense.If you use the default WordPress theme (or probably 90% of the other themes out there that call wpfooter(); ), checking this saves you the hassle of manually editting your template. The template functions are still available for manipulating and displaying the license information in other ways, this just seemed like a logical addition to make life easier.

All this combined with some (but not lots, mind you) UI-lovin’ means that anyone using an old version (yes, both of you) should go ahead and upgrade. Go on, check it out.

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Announcing the new CC Store and Donation page

Matt Haughey, July 12th, 2005

We’re happy to announce that we have revamped our online store and donations page to highlight new t-shirts and products available with a Creative Commons logo. We’ve got new Science Commons shirts, a new shirt for 2005 donations, and a variety of products from Cafepress as well.

All proceeds aid our non-profit and help us maintain our charitable non-profit status. If you’d like to show your support for the Creative Commons, the best way is to become a Commoner today. We offer several different gift packages in exchange for your tax-deductible donations.

One of our new interns Fred cooked up a pretty cool flash movie for the announcement.

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Don’t Let the Build Bugs bite!

Nathan Yergler, July 12th, 2005

Every now and then you realize that something stupid has gotten in the way of perfectly good software, and as a result made things difficult for users. Today I ran into two of those situations with CC software.

First, the installation packages for ccPublisher for Windows were corrupted on the server. The result is that when you tried to install, Windows complains that the file “is not a valid installer.” Luckily that was an easy problem to fix. I’ve updated the file on the server, so if you’ve tried to install ccPublisher for Windows recently, try again. You can download the installer here.

Around the same time people were reporting problems with ccPublisher for Windows, others were reporting problems with ccLookup for Mac OS X. In particular, using ccLookup under Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. So there’s a new build available here. ccLookup 1.1 fixes problems with the application under Tiger, and also supports OS X 10.3 (Panther). Note that OS X 10.2 is not supported. Finally, make sure you copy the application off the disk image before attempting to run the application.

Thanks again to all our users and everyone who reported these problems. If you run into other problems, feel free to email our software support email address: software@creativecommons.org.

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