2005 December

Creative Commons Three Sixy Five

Mike Linksvayer, December 31st, 2005

Grant Robinson is doing his part to make the new year uncommonly great. He’s launched CC:365, a project/podcast to highlight a great CC licensed song every single day of the year. Check out Day One.

Grant also would up 2005 with episodes of The Revolution (unofficial ccMixter 2005 countdown) and Staccato as a guest DJ.

2005 also brought a third program/podcast of all CC music, eight episodes of Songs from the Commons, with Lisa Rein as dj. The most recent show is the strongest yet.

While numerous podcasts feature CC licensed music, as far as I know Staccato, The Revolution, and Songs from the Commons are the only program-length podcasts to feature only CC licensed music.

Black Sweater, White Cat is also worth mentioning, as it features almost all CC licensed music, and is a full two hour weekly program broadcast at WBCR, a community radio station in western Massachusetts, also available as a podcast. The program is really excellent–I’ve listened to many hours of BSWC archives, and plan to listen to every show in 2006.

Know of other CC-only music programs? Leave a comment.

Rumor has it an all-funk guest hosted episode of Staccato is coming soon. Listen in…


Anne N. Marino, Development Director, gives thanks to all of CC’s donors

Anne ???, December 30th, 2005

We launched the 2005 fundraising campaign in October and have received an outpouring of gifts from so many dedicated people who also believe what we at CC believe: that supporting free culture in all its forms is paramount. Your donations are greatly appreciated.

Because of this tremendous community support, the groundwork for CC’s fundraising program is in place. 2006 will bring many more opportunities for CC to serve the public, create programs for individual Commoners to connect and participate, provide networking forums and events for CC’s new Corporate Commoners Program and encourage and involve continuing institutional support. Stay tuned! 2006 will have many surprises!

Thanks again for each and every gift to CC (and please keep them coming so we can make our goal!). We’re looking forward to providing the community with more services, opportunities and fun events that will keep this movement growing.

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ccInternational – Consolidation and Expansion

Anne ???, December 29th, 2005

In 2005, through the ongoing work and support of the network of international collaboration teams, Creative Commons consolidated and expanded. Because of these dedicated volunteers CC’s core licensing suite has been “ported” (that is, linguistically translated and legally adapted) and is now used in 26 countries. Teams in Croatia, South Korea, Australia, Israel, South Africa, Chile, Slovenia, England and Wales, Poland, Argentina, Scotland and Sweden initiated localized CC licenses. License porting work began in Nigeria, Malta, Mexico, China, Denmark, Jordan and Malaysia. And with the South Africa launch, CC licensing is now represented on every populated continent (we’re not counting the scientists who weather it out in Antarctica!). And the list keeps growing.

In June 2005, the first Creative Commons International Summit was held at Harvard with the invaluable assistance of the
Berkman Center. The energy at the Summit was amazing. Project leads made presentations on their experiences with license porting and legal and community issues in connection with CC’s licensing system. We left Cambridge newly enthused and energized and with many great memories – not the least of which were encouraged by some very potent tequila (compliments of CC Mexico project leads).

The global impact of CC’s work has been tremendous: the launch of a
South African ccMixter site, the adoption of CC licensing by musicians and recording labels in Brazil, the UK and Sweden and the expansion of opencourseware projects. And in November, CC was invited to address the
WIPO Information Meeting on educational materials and developing nations.

CC is most definitely on the map.

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CC in Review: Lawrence Lessig on Final Thoughts

Lawrence Lessig, December 28th, 2005

[This email is part of a weekly series written by Lawrence Lessig and others about the history and future of Creative Commons. If you would like to be removed from this list, please click here:
Alternatively, if you know others who might find these interesting, please recommend they sign up at
http://creativecommons.org/about/lessigletter ]

And so this is the final of these letters explaining the origin and aims of Creative Commons. When I started this writing about three months ago, I wasn’t sure I’d have something to say each week through the end of 2005. But as the year comes to an end, I realize I could continue writing these emails to you through all of 2006 and still not be finished with everything there is to say.

These letters have been part of a campaign to build a diverse base of financial support for the organization, Creative Commons. That organization has just under 20 employees working in offices in Berlin, London, Boston and San Francisco. About a quarter of the staff builds the technical infrastructure. Another quarter coordinates the spreading of the project internationally. One (and soon two) work on the Science Commons project from Boston. And the balance of the staff working in San Francisco keep the trains running on time, and help spread the message and the infrastructure into as many places as we can.

If you had asked me four years ago what the chances were that I’d be helping to direct a 20 person staff, I would have said exactly zero. My father was the entrepreneur. I was to be the academic. But though these years have been difficult, the most rewarding part has been to build an organization that is hard working, and committed. This is an underpaid, overworked staff that I am extraordinarily proud of. They have accomplished more in these last years than anyone — certainly I — even imagined they would.

But the part that is missing from even a complete description of the organization, Creative Commons, is the part that in my view will ultimately be the most important. That is the growing number of affiliate organizations around the world that have first ported Creative Commons licenses to their local jurisdictions and are now pushing the movement far beyond licenses.

As I described in week 7, we initially thought we would spread Creative Commons internationally by simply porting licenses to local jurisdictions. But that process sparked a network of creators, scholars, librarians and activists who all recognize that they share a common set of interests that Creative Commons can help organize. iCommons was thus launched to be the infrastructure of this network. The iCommons Summit last June marked its birth. And the most important work that we will do over the next few years is to support this international network. Not everyone within the iCommons network will be from Creative Commons. But I want Creative Commons to help build a broad federation of individuals and organizations, from the Free Culture Movement that has been launched at universities across the world, to WikiPedians and others who want to make the protections of the law that we call “copyright” make sense in a digital age.

This ultimately will be the real contribution of Creative Commons, if in fact we can make it work. As I’ve traveled to the launches of Creative Commons projects across the world, I’ve met literally thousands working on a common set of ideals. Every one of them sees a promise in the creative potential that the Internet could enable. Every one of them sees a reason to work now to make that potential real. Some have spent literally hundreds of hours spreading the work of CC, not as staff, but as volunteers. Others have just begun this work, both within CC, and outside it.

I could never say anything that would adequately thank these volunteers. The most that we all can do is to make their project work. We are extremely close to meeting the targets we set for this campaign. We must meet those targets if we are to continue. Thank you for allowing me to invade your inbox every week over these past months. But please help us in these remaining three days to meet our challenge, and spread CC.

One final word of thanks: I am grateful to Maria Cristinia Alvite and the iRights.info project for their work in translating these letters. Some day we will find a leader for this movement who can speak all the languages of the movement. I promise, I am looking.

Thanks again for your time, your help, and your inspiration.


John Wilbanks, Science Commons ED, on The NeuroCommons

Anne ???, December 27th, 2005

One of the most exciting Science Commons projects that was born in 2005 and will continue to grow in 2006 is the NeuroCommons. The NeuroCommons is a proving ground for the ideas behind Science Commons: open legal contracts, open access literature, advanced use of open-standards semantic web technology and the construction of a community involving all the stakeholders in scientific funding, research and publishing.

The NeuroCommons project will:

1. Use freely available literature and databases to make scientific knowledge, descriptions of biological materials and data sets easier to use and find. A graph will connect neurological information and publish it in semantic web standard formats.

2. Provide an infrastructure for community-driven additions and annotations.

3. Lower the legal and technical barriers to finding and sharing knowledge and tools in the neurosciences.

The backbone of the NeuroCommons is the scientific canon or set of facts published in neurological research. Presently, the vast majority of these facts are trapped in document formats that are readable only by individuals – PDF, Word, HTML – and in many cases, usage is constrained by copyright. Users wishing to develop new methods to manage the literature can face a multitude of license schemes from publishers, digital rights management preventing text mining and other library management protocols. Although the methods for generating data are transformed by miniaturization and automation, the methods for interpreting those data remain stolidly traditional: individuals reading the peer-reviewed literature. The barriers to changing the system are both legal and technical.

A new kind of scientific publishing known as “open access” uses standard copyright licenses from Science Commons’ parent organization to explicitly allow users to share, repost and run software across scientific articles. This has created a growing body of literature that is legally re-usable without the involvement of lawyers or clearance with institutions such as universities. The NeuroCommons will be built upon this body of literature as well as the many public databases created in the US, the UK, the EU, Japan and other countries.

The success of the NeuroCommons will depend on the creation and evolution of a true open community like that in the free and open source software world. NeuroCommons is supported in conjunction with Teranode, a private software company with a semantic web focus as well as funders investing in researching complex neurological disorders, principal investigators in neuroscience, bio-materials repositories and others.


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Reflection and Anticipation

Eric Steuer, December 26th, 2005

The end of the year is a time for reflection and anticipation. So, each day this week, a different member of the Creative Commons team will spend a few moments thinking about what was great in 2005 and what’s great to come in 2006.

One of my favorite things about 2005 has been watching artists use the Creative Commons model — as well as a generally open approach to creating — to land themselves some really cool gigs.
I’ve also loved hearing all of the incredible work going on at ccMixter and watching how CC’s remix contests have
inspired people to create, collaborate and recreate.

We’ve got lots of plans for 2006. I’m most excited to help teach kids about making, remixing, sharing and managing their creative work. We’ve got a load of CC-hosted presentations, performances, contests, workshops and products in the pipeline; I especially can’t wait for the release of the new CC compilation album and the launch of a regular CC community salon. And of course, it’ll be a thrill to meet new artists and explain to them how Creative Commons can help people collaborate and interact in new, exciting ways.

In short, 2006 is gonna rock. Happy new year!

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50 percent Christmas, 100 percent CC

Mike Linksvayer, December 24th, 2005

Uwe Hermann has collected 111 Christmas songs, all CC licensed.

If listening to Christmas songs is not your idea of fun (mine neither), it just happens that Uwe Hermann’s Music Podcast is up to 111 songs, all CC licensed, with helpful mini reviews and descriptions by Uwe.

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Awesome Flickr/CC tribute

Mike Linksvayer, December 24th, 2005

If you’ve spent any time surfing photo collections at Flickr or elsewhere, you’ll certainly appreciate Jonathan Coulton’s music video produced with CC licensed images found on Flickr:

I won’t explain too much about it here, except to say that it’s an example of what Creative Commons licensing makes possible. I was able to do this without calling any lawyers or receiving any cease and desist letters, because all these photos were published on Flickr with CC licenses that let me know it was OK to use them this way. No doubt you’ve finished your Christmas shopping already, but if you forgot to get something for The World, maybe you should take a moment to CC license something you created and release it into the wild…

Also check out Jonathan’s other songs, all CC licensed and funny.

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CC in Review: Lawrence Lessig on New Projects

Lawrence Lessig, December 21st, 2005

[This email is part of a weekly series written by Lawrence Lessig and others about the history and future of Creative Commons. If you would like to be removed from this list, please click here:
Alternatively, if you know others who might find these interesting, please recommend they sign up at
http://creativecommons.org/about/lessigletter ]

From last week’s email:
Next week: More new projects.

The story continues.
So, what’s new? Where are we going next? What projects would Creative Commons like to do that this fundraising campaign could support?

In this next-to-last email, I’ll describe two projects we’d like to launch. This isn’t a formal announcement. If you ask me about these projects outside of this email, I’ll deny knowing anything about them. Both are far enough along to build support to launch them, but not far enough along to properly announce them. What would put them over the edge is a strong reaction of support from you (or your friends). And now is the time we need that support.

A public domain wiki

One project that we’re very close to announcing draws together the wisdom and expertise of the Wikipedia project with the extraordinary foresight of a major rights organization keen to help clarify the boundaries of the public domain. The project would work something like this: This rights clearing organization (and we can’t say which one just now) would give us a data dump of records they have about authors in a particular country. Those records would include books published by those authors, the authors’ dates of birth, and if available or relevant, the authors’ dates of death. Using that information, one could determine which works were in the public domain. The problem is that the data about whether an author has died is often incomplete and sometimes inaccurate. So the question is how we might supplement that data through a community process that could add lots of value to this database.

Enter the ideals of a wiki. Through a site run by the Creative Commons affiliate in the country we’re working with, we’d build a community devoted to “rediscovering the public domain in country X.” That community would develop procedures for updating the data about the public domain status of a work— procedures for establishing levels of confidence in the accuracy of that data, for example, before it was added to the wiki. The community would also encourage other data be added to the database, such as reviews of the authors’ books, links to places the books might be bought, and biographies of the authors themselves. We imagine this site could become a goldmine of information about authorship within country X, drawing new attention out of print or hard to find work by older authors and generating new interest in their work.

We’d then craft a set of APIs — basically interfaces to the database — that anyone could use to ping the database and get information about a particular work. For example, anyone could ask, for free, if a particular book by a particular author is in the public domain or not, and the database would return an answer with some indication about levels of confidence. (E.g., “With 95% confidence, we can say this book is in the public domain.”) This data could then be used by people to decide what books could be made available on the Internet or what permissions are needed to use the book in a university class.

This project, called the WikiPD, has just received seed funding. For us to commit to it will require another big chunk of public support. So here’s the question for you: Should we?

Returning Authors’ Rights

The second project we’ve been working on in stealth is a plan to give creators a chance to recover rights that they signed away many years ago which the law gives them the chance to recover. Under US copyright law, a creator has the right to “terminate” any transfer of rights he or she made 35 years after the transfer. But to do so requires an insanely complex series of steps which most creators simply don’t have the time or knowledge to engage in. Thus, the law gives authors this right, but the law is so insanely complicated that creators would have a difficult time trying to exercise it.

We can help with this. Over the past year, we’ve been mapping out a computer program — a kind of wizard for termination of transfer applications — that creators could use to know whether they have rights that they might reclaim and to help authors reclaim those rights. Using our wizard, a creator would enter information about his or her transfer of rights. The wizard would then indicate what possibilities are likely. And if the creator wants, the system would then refer the case to a legal aid clinic or Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, so that with the help of a trained counselor, the creator could reclaim his or her rights. We’d offer this tool for free. And while, of course. we’d give creators the freedom to license any rights they recover under Creative Commons licenses, we wouldn’t require them to do so. Instead, our only purpose is to make the law simple so that it might work better for the people it was intended to benefit: Creators.

This project will surprise some — those who think (wrongly) that we’re against authors’ rights. In fact, in my view, this project is the best expression of the ideals of Creative Commons: Find a way to make the law simpler to manage, and find a way to make it easier for creators to get what they want.

This project too needs a substantial amount of support. We should have a beta by the beginning of February. But to test and implement the project will require a great deal of infrastructure. Here is yet another reason why you need to click on the support link below. Or better yet, another reason why you should send the support link to your 10,000 best friends. If we’re to make these projects happen, we need to build the infrastructure that they need. And while some out there work for the sort of salary I get at CC (ie, nothing!), not everyone on our staff can afford that sort of commitment. So click and support, or email and ask others for support.

Next week, the final of these emails.


Explore Yourself, Free Your Mind – With Auto Auto

Mia Garlick, December 21st, 2005

One of the first creators to adopt the Creative Commons Sweden licenses, which were released last week is the band auto auto. auto auto released all of the tracks on their latest EP totem under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 se license together with remix-kits. The band state their mission to be: “to provide you with means of inspiration to try to make your everyday society a better place to live in.” So go enjoy some of their inspiration and add some of your own.

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