2007 October

Firefox Knowledge Base

Mike Linksvayer, October 2nd, 2007

The Firefox Knowledge Base (also known as SUMO, or support.mozilla.com) launched as alpha, with all content licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike. There are lots of really practical uses of this great content allowed under the license — for example, an IT department, school, or NGO creating training materials covering specific browser tasks.

For example, the Knowledge Base article on managing the Firefox search bar, which includes CC Search in its default list of available search engines.

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Creative Commons 3rd Annual Fundraising Campaign

Melissa Reeder, October 1st, 2007

Today, Creative Commons officially launched its third annual fundraising campaign. Our goal is to raise $500,000 before Dec. 31st which means we need your support! To help promote this campaign we’ve redesigned our website (as you may have noticed) to include a dynamic map which shows where in the world our support comes from and released the new 2007 limited edition campaign tshirts. We’ve also revamped the Lessig Letter series and are finalizing the plans for the 2nd annual CC swag photo contest — stay tuned for details.

I just want to reiterate how important our community’s support is to sustaining Creative Commons and the broader movement for “free” culture. We exist for you — please help us raise these needed funds so we can continue our work providing options for those who believe in a participatory culture.

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Creative Commons @ 5 years

Lawrence Lessig, October 1st, 2007

Five years ago this December, we launched Creative Commons. At a party with music by DJ Spooky, and video endorsements by John Perry Barlow and (the late) Jack Valenti, we began to implement a gaggle of legal hacks to let the copyright system better reflect the views of many artists, authors, educators, and scientists. Some of those ideas bombed. But the core flourished — far beyond the wildest dreams of any of us back then. We have taken the insight of the Free Software Movement, and made it real in the space of culture, science and education. There is now a language to signal the freedoms creators support, and a set of legal and technical tools to make those freedom stick.

In the five years since our launch, we have grown up fast. In 2004, we incubated an international movement supporting the ideals of the Internet and cultural freedom (iCommons). This year we spun that organization out as an independent UK-based charity. In 2005, we launched a project to support a commons within science (Science Commons). This year Science Commons launched the Neurocommons, an e-research project built exclusively on open scientific literature and databases, and the Materials Transfer Project, an extension of the ideas of the commons to physical tools such as gene plasmids and cell lines. And just two months ago, we announced a significant grant that has enabled us to launch a project focused on learning and education (ccLearn). There is now a staff of over 30 in four offices around the world, supporting thousands of volunteers in more than 70 local jurisdiction projects around the world, who, in turn, support the millions of objects that have been marked with the freedoms that CC licenses enable.

Our work so far has provided a legal infrastructure to support what our chairman, Joi Ito, calls the “sharing economy.” It recognizes that in addition to the amazing creativity of authors and artists who want to sell their work, there is amazing creativity by scientists, teachers, authors, artists and the rest of us who simply want to share our creativity. CC has provided this economy of giving an infrastructure to support that giving. We have enabled a platform that makes the choice clear, and literally millions of creative works have been offered on that platform.

But this year we have added one more important layer to our tools. Building upon our metadata architecture, we have added a simple way for creators to both share, and profit from the creativity that they share. This is the CC+ project. An artist, for example, can release her work under a CC Attribution-Noncommercial license, but then, using the CC+ infrastructure, enable those who want commercial rights (or anything else beyond the freedoms granted in the license) to link to a site that can provide those other rights. In this way, CC now helps support a hybrid economy of creativity. We provide a simple platform to protect and enable those who want to share; and we’ve built a simple way to cross over from that sharing economy for those who want to profit from their creativity.

This December will also mark my fifth year leading CC, first as Chairman of the Board, and now as CEO. It has been wildly more amazing and more difficult than I ever expected. It is extraordinary to see the success of a powerful and successful team. Yet it is extraordinarily difficult to feel the constant obligation to make sure the organization continues to have the financial support it needs to keep the work going.

I will continue to devote every hour I can to supporting the work of CC. Though my academic focus has moved beyond copyright — see http://lessig.org/blog/2007/06/required_reading_the_next_10_y_1.html — I remain committed to this organization, and to its success. I will remain its CEO. But my primary aim now is to put Creative Commons on a solid financial footing, to guarantee the next five years at least. That security will begin if we can meet the goal we have for this campaign — $500,000.

Over the next few months, we will share five stories by five prominent members of the CC community. They will give you a fuller idea of where we are, and where we are going. But as we have done for three years now, these missives have a mission. We want them to inspire you to support us again.

If you’d like to receive these via email, visit http://creativecommons.org/about/lessigletter.

Please enjoy the story of CC @ 5. And please help us secure another 5 at http://support.creativecommons.org/donate.

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Neurocommons in the news

Kaitlin Thaney, October 1st, 2007

New on the Science Commons blog

Pharmaceutical companies may soon be adopting Semantic Web standards and technology if they haven’t already, according to a recent piece in Chemical & Engineering News. The cover story, “The Semantic Web: Pharma researchers Adopt an Orphan Internet Standard”, looks at the desirability of such search technology and functionality in the pharma world, specifically highlighting our proof-of-concept project – the Neurocommons.

From the article:

“John Wilbanks, executive director of the Science Commons, a spin-off of Creative Commons that develops routes to legal sharing of copyrighted scientific documents and data, sees a critical mass of IT-savvy researchers enthusiastically pursuing projects using the semantic Web. He compares their efforts to pioneering work on the Internet itself.

‘Around 1995 or 1996, all the subterranean work exploded,’ Wilbanks says, ‘and most people discovered the Web. What is happening now on the semantic Web is similar to what was going on in the five years leading up to that explosion.’

Science Commons, in association with W3C, recently launched a demonstration project called Neurocommons to illustrate the benefits of the semantic Web in neurological disease research. […]

[…] [Wilbanks] says companies will eventually have to adapt in-house semantic Webs to a broader standard that expedites collaborative research between companies and institutions. Such a standard will most likely emerge as in-house projects “boil over” and merge. ‘There are enough databases and enough smart people involved,’ he says. ‘You can really see the momentum now.’

The article can be read in its entirety here.

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CC in Thailand: a debut at ComWorld

Michelle Thorne, October 1st, 2007

Visitors to one of Thailand’s largest digital trade fairs, the Comworld Exhibition, were greeted this year by the CC Team in Thailand. The dedicated Thai team members erected a booth in the Web 2.0 area and spent September 27-30 informing the public about the CC project. The hard working volunteers handed out leaflets with translated material, dubbed videos, and answered questions about Creative Commons.

The CC Booth in the Siam Paragon was joined by Fuse.in.th, a local upload portal for creative works and was supported by CC team members from Dharmniti Law Office, Thai Rural Net, Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, and other organizations.

Stay tuned to creativecommons.org/international for the upcoming public discussion about the first draft of the Thai CC licenses.

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Creative Commons Announces New Vice President and General Counsel

Mike Linksvayer, October 1st, 2007

Creative Commons is extremely pleased to welcome Virginia Rutledge as Vice President and General Counsel. This is an extraordinary hire. One press release quote, from William Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel at Google:

I applaud Creative Commons for its inspired choice of Virginia Rutledge as Vice President and General Counsel. Virginia’s background in academia, the art world, and the white-shoe corporate law firm environment is unique. Her ability to forge consensus, her love of learning and commitment to the public interest will serve Creative Commons and the rest of us exceedingly well.

Read the press release for more quotes and full details.

Welcome, Virginia!

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