Thank you

Elliot Harmon, January 8th, 2015

Creative Commons would not exist without you.

As we wrap up our winter fundraising campaign, it’s time for our most important message: thanks.

Thank you for your donations to support the work of our staff, affiliates, and volunteers around the world. We met and exceeded our goals. Without your support, Creative Commons simply wouldn’t exist.

Donating is one important contribution, and we thank you for it. But we also thank you for using Creative Commons licenses to share, remix, and collaborate. Without people like you using them, CC licenses would be meaningless. Because of you, CC is a growing, evolving movement that’s redefining how knowledge, culture, and information are shared.

Thank you for being a voice for open in your schools, businesses, organizations, and governments. Over the past 12 years, you’ve shown the world that sometimes sharing content freely makes it more valuable, not less.

Thank you for wearing those CC T-Shirts, uploading those CC-licensed photos, and displaying those license badges on your blogs.

2015 is going to be a big year for Creative Commons. We’ll be back in touch soon to talk with you about some big projects we’re working on and how you can get involved.

But for now, thank you for supporting Creative Commons. We’re proud to be fighting together with you.

Here’s to more sharing in 2015.

Creative Commons

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Boston Children’s Hospital OPENPediatrics Launches Open Multimedia Library

Cable Green, January 6th, 2015

boston children's hospital
Children’s Hospital, Boston, Mass. [front] / Boston Public LIbrary / No known copyright restrictions

The OPENPediatrics program at Boston Children’s Hospital announced the launch today of a new open educational resource (OER), a multimedia library that presents animations and illustrations from OPENPediatrics instructional videos under CC BY-NC-SA for use by clinicians and academics in their own instructional materials.  OPENPediatrics provides online learning opportunities for pediatric clinicians worldwide on a website specifically for medical professionals, but some of the resources created for that site—including those in the new multimedia library—are now being made available to the general public as well.

“An important part of our production process is the addition of high quality animations and illustrations to our didactic and procedural videos,” said Steve Carson, Director of Operations for the program.  “Until now these resources have been embedded in our videos and only accessible to clinicians.  Now, inspired by MIT OpenCourseWare and other OER projects, we are making the animations and illustrations available under open licenses and in downloadable formats to encourage wide usage.”

The initial 48 animations and illustrations are among the hundreds that will eventually be made available. The first set of resources illustrates key concepts of airway management, respiratory care, neurology, clinical procedures and other areas of pediatric care. The animations and illustrations have all been peer reviewed for accuracy.  In the coming months, OPENPediatrics will continue publishing animations and illustrations from its back catalog as well as from newly released videos and other resources. The multimedia library is the second publicly available resource from OPENPediatrics, joining a collection of World Shared Practice Forum videos, which share global perspectives on key aspects of pediatric care.

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Institute for Open Leadership kicks off next week

Timothy Vollmer, January 5th, 2015

The Presidio by Mindus under CC BY-NC-SA

It’s a new year, and Creative Commons and the Open Policy Network are excited to work with the inaugural group of fellows at the Institute for Open Leadership. The Institute for Open Leadership–or IOL–is an effort  to cultivate new leaders in open education, science, public policy, and other fields on the values and implementation of openness in licensing, policies and practices. The rationale for the Institute is to educate and empower potential open advocates within existing institutional structures in order to expand and promote the values and practices of the idea that publicly funded resources should be openly licensed.

We received nearly 100  high quality applications and selected 14 fellows for the first Institute. The fellows come from around the world (12 countries), and reflect a wide range of institutions–from community colleges to government ministries  to public radio.

We’re hosting the in-person portion of the Institute in California next week. It’s important that the Institute help fellows move from theory to reality: a major component of the program requires fellows to develop, refine, and implement a capstone open policy project within their home institution. Creative Commons and the open community will provide mentorship and guidance throughout this process. As the fellows build and eventually implement their policy projects, we’ll ask them to share their progress, challenges, and successes. We also plan on running a second Institute for Open Leadership outside of North America – in late 2015.

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A year-end message from our CEO

Ryan Merkley, December 31st, 2014

There’s still time. Support Creative Commons in 2014.

This is the fundraising message where the CEO writes and tells you about how important your donation is. And without question, your donation is important. Earlier this month, you heard from our board chair, and a member of our legal team, and a volunteer leading our chapter in El Salvador. My message today is the last of a series of messages that we hope has inspired you to give to Creative Commons before the end of the year.

The year-end campaign is the most important fundraiser for any nonprofit. Most charities will raise half their funds between November 1 and December 31. And almost half of that — a quarter of total annual fundraising — will happen in the final two weeks.

Right now.

So first of all, let me say I’m sorry for all those messages. From everyone, not just us. It’s a lot of email to get, all with the same punchline: please give.

But I wouldn’t do it if it weren’t so important.

Of all the organizations that fundraise to help create a more open web, CC’s budget is tiny.

We have fewer than 20 full-time staff, but we have a large community: over 100 volunteer chapters in 79 countries. We set an ambitious goal this year, with higher targets, and we’re almost there. Your donation today could help us meet our annual goal.

Despite our small stature, we’re a big deal on the web.

Wikipedia, Flickr, SoundCloud, and YouTube, and 9 million other websites all rely on our licenses to provide legal sharing options. We’re the global standard that powers free culture, open access in science and academia, open textbooks, and open data. Every day, our small team works as part of a number of global movements that rely on CC licenses.

This year, CC licenses were endorsed by both the White House and the European Commission for open government. Both the Gates and Hewlett Foundations adopted policies that will require the money they grant to create freely licensed content and research. Just a few examples of our team creating a more open world for all of us.

The commons now contains almost 1 billion works. And they are viewed tens of millions of times a day. All that content is free — both to those who share and to those who enjoy what is shared.

I expect you give to a few charities every year. Most people do. My hope is that this year, you’ll choose Creative Commons as one of them. Donations of $5 or $10 really add up, and mean a lot to CC and to our global community. Will you support Creative Commons today?

The commons is a huge collaborative project that spans centuries, and CC is creating enormous and lasting value — every dollar helps ensure that more free content makes it online: data, academic research, educational curriculum, videos, music, pictures, and more.

And once it’s there, it’s there forever. For anyone to use.

This is an important year for Creative Commons. Our 12th anniversary was earlier this month, and while we are well known and vital to the web, we’re not sustainable without your help. We rely on a small and very dedicated base of annual donors who help ensure we keep doing our work, and a number of very generous foundations.

But to continue to meet our goals, we need to grow our donor network. That means we need to earn your support, and that of your friends, and your friends’ friends.

It’s a big undertaking, and you’ll hear more from us over the coming year about it, along with some really exciting new projects, like a mobile photo app, tools for searching the commons, and more.

But for now, I’m hoping you’ll make a donation as part of your year-end giving that will directly support the kind of internet we all love: free, open, transparent, vital, and even a little silly.

Thank you for listening, and thank you for your support.


PS: If you make a donation, your gift will count as double thanks to a grant we received from the Brin Wojcicki Foundation. Please give today.

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Sharing is our path forward

Claudia Cristiani, December 29th, 2014

Invest in a more open culture. Support CC.

I’m writing on behalf of the Creative Commons Affiliate Network, a community of over 100 affiliate teams in 79 countries. El Salvador joined CC’s global network this year, and I am its first public lead. I work every day to preserve and protect cultural heritage, under CC’s model of open sharing for everyone.

Creative Commons is a global movement, but our work requires a local touch. We donate our time to bring the joy of sharing to educators, lawmakers, and artists. And we do it all because we believe in CC.

Sometimes when I tell people about my work with CC, they ask why I spend my time on something so complicated and academic, especially in a world of urgent need and important causes.

I disagree. Creative Commons makes access to knowledge possible in a concrete, tangible way. And access to knowledge is essential. It has a real and immediate impact on all fundamental rights, from self-determination to participation in cultural life. Your donation to CC is an investment in a more open culture and an active CC community in every country on the planet.

There are many organizations and groups fighting to improve people’s quality of life. The changes we’re fighting for at Creative Commons benefit the work of those organizations too. Sharing is our path forward, both for El Salvador and for the world.

If you believe that everyone should have access to the world’s knowledge and culture, I’m proud to be on your side. Will you help us by making a donation to Creative Commons today?


Support Creative Commons


Photo: Claudia Cristiani de Creative Commons El Salvador en el #CPSLV1 / Sara Fratti / CC BY 2.0

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Norwegian translation of 4.0 published

Kat Walsh, December 23rd, 2014

Congratulations to CC Norway on the Norwegian translation of 4.0! This is the second published official translation of the license suite.

The translation effort was led by longtime CC affiliate and noted internet scholar Gisle Hannemyr, of the University of Oslo. We are particularly grateful to this early team for working with us as we developed the translation process (as did CC Finland, whose 4.0 translation was recently published).

We’re excited to see this work progressing as more people are able to use the CC licenses in their own language. Look for a few translations from outside the Nordic region—including some involving teams from several continents!—in the near future.

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The world Creative Commons is fighting for

Paul Brest, December 23rd, 2014

Be a voice for sharing. Support CC.

2014 was a big year in the open movement. Both the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation approved open policies requiring grantees to publish their content under CC BY, the most open Creative Commons license. That means that for any content funded by either foundation, anyone can reuse it for any purpose, so long as they give attribution.

Being former president of the Hewlett Foundation and the current board chair at CC, I had a unique perspective on Hewlett’s open policy, and got to watch closely as it came together.

In many ways, the Hewlett Foundation’s decision was exactly what you would expect from them. After all, it was Hewlett that helped start the open education movement, and it has been Hewlett’s policy to require CC BY for educational resources for years. And yet, before the decision was finalized, it met a fair amount of uncertainty, both internally and from grantees. And the organization that was consistently there to encourage and assist the foundation was Creative Commons.

After 12 years, it’s easy to see Creative Commons’ impact on the world. 14 countries have made national commitments to open education. Here in the U.S., the Department of Labor is spending two billion dollars on open educational resources. The idea that openly licensed resources can do more good for the world than closed ones is becoming mainstream, and that’s largely thanks to CC and its supporters.

But the fight isn’t over. Governments, foundations, institutions, and even corporations need someone pushing them in the direction of sharing. And CC has stepped up to lead.

Please take a moment to think about why Creative Commons is important to you. CC is a very small nonprofit funded only by donations and grants. Your gift supports the licenses, our ongoing advocacy, and a global network in 79 countries. I know that you’re inundated with fundraising letters at this time of year, but I hope you will consider making a donation to CC.

Support Creative Commons



Public access to research language retained in U.S. spending bill

Timothy Vollmer, December 22nd, 2014

Last year, the U.S. Congress included a provision in its appropriations legislation that would ensure that some research conducted through federal spending would be made accessible online, for free. It mandated that a subset of federal agencies with research budgets of at least $100 million per year would be required provide the public with free online access to scholarly articles generated with federal funds no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The agencies affected by the public access provision of the appropriations bill included the Department of Labor, Department of Education, and Department of Health and Human Services. Of particular note is the Department of Health and Human Services, which encompasses research-intensive agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SPARC reports that the public access language has been included in the fiscal year 2015 spending bill (PDF), which appears on p. 961-962:

SEC. 525. Each Federal agency, or in the case of an agency with multiple bureaus, each bureau (or operating division) funded under this Act that has research and development expenditures in excess of $100,000,000 per year shall develop a Federal research public access policy that provides for— 1) the submission to the agency, agency bureau, or designated entity acting on behalf of the agency, a machine-readable version of the author’s final peer-reviewed manuscripts that have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals describing research supported, in whole or in part, from funding by the Federal Government; (2) free online public access to such final peer reviewed manuscripts or published versions not later than 12 months after the official date of publication.

Alongside the federal spending legislation, there were references included in accompanying reports (see Departments of Commerce, Justice, Science report at p. 30 and Department of Interior report at p. 32) that point to President Obama’s Directive requiring agencies to increase access to the results of federally funded scientific research. The appropriations language passed for 2014 and 2015 echoes the language of the White House Directive, issued in February 2013. It directs “Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research.” The agency plans were due in August 2013, and according to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), all agencies have submitted at least a draft plan (PDF). Those plans are now being reviewed by OSTP.

Progress has been slow, but public access to publicly funded research remains on the table in the United States.


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What School of Open volunteers accomplished in 2014

Jane Park, December 22nd, 2014

Another End of Year list, but one which I hope you’ll take to heart: the amazing accomplishments of the volunteers running School of Open programs around the world, comprised of the Creative Commons, P2PU, Mozilla, and related open communities.

SOO wreath
SOO logo on Holiday Wreath by Kelly Teague under CC BY-SA

This year, our community:

For 2015: Some changes are on the horizon. Mainly, we’ll be working to revamp our website to better support our volunteers wherever they are based, streamline the process for volunteers who want to run their own online courses, and re-strategize around what it means to develop and run a School of Open program. Above all, we want to increase our impact by combining forces with all open web and education advocates who are being leaders in their regions. Stay tuned…

On behalf of our intersecting communities, CC wishes you a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

See how far we’ve come:

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The Commons in Aotearoa showcased on NZCommons.org.nz

Jessica Coates, December 21st, 2014

Wellington / John Bunney, courtesy of Te Papa Tongarewa / No known copyright restrictions

In the first of a series of blog posts focusing on our global activities, Matt McGregor tells us of exciting developments in CC in New Zealand Aotearoa.

2014 has been a busy year for the commons in Aotearoa. After a few years of relatively slow progress, many of New Zealand’s public institutions have started to adopt open policies. So many, in fact, that we’ve decided to launch an entire website, NZCommons.org.nz, dedicated to discussing the opportunities and challenges of opening New Zealand’s culture and knowledge for access and reuse. With a particular focus on copyright, licensing and the public domain, the NZCommons site aims to help cross-pollinate and energise the various open groups in New Zealand, who are all doing excellent work, though too often in isolation from one another. The site will have news, case studies and a range of pieces from New Zealanders working to grow the commons, supporting and encouraging the many individuals and institutions working to adopt CC licensing across the country.

And what a lot there is to be discussed. I’ve already mentioned some of the developments being highlighted on NZCommons in my recent post to this blog about Creative Commons policies being passed in New Zealand schools, now up to the rate of around one per week. But the increased adoption of CC licensing hasn’t been limited to schools.

This year, both the University of Waikato and the University of Canterbury passed open access mandates requiring all research published within their respective institutions to be uploaded to the library’s repository, enabling research to be made openly available as soon as possible. In so doing, they joined Lincoln University in paving the way for open access policies at other New Zealand research institutions.

And then, in the middle of the year, we saw three big developments in the heritage sector. First, the National Library of New Zealand passed their excellent use and reuse policy, which provides a clear framework for opening up the library’s collections. Under the policy, out-of-copyright works will be clearly labelled as such, which has not generally been the case in the sector; also, in-copyright works that are owned by the library will be made available under a Creative Commons licence. Our case study of this policy has been up on NZCommons for a few weeks now.

Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand followed this announcement by releasing over 30,000 high resolution images under either a no-known copyright or a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives licence — a figure that has since approached 40,000. As it happens, we published a case study about Te Papa recently, as well. Since that release, Te Papa have signalled that they will shortly remove the ‘ND’ restriction from their licences.

Then, the WW100 team, announced that as part of New Zealand’s commemorations of the Centenary of World War I, the Turnbull Library was openly releasing the H Series of photographs taken during by New Zealand’s official photographer, Henry Armytage Sanders. As Melanie Lovell-Smith points out in a detailed background piece, these photographs are “the most comprehensive visual record of New Zealanders on the Western front from 1917 to 1918.” Other GLAM projects, such as the Marsden Online project, are also starting to use CC licensing.

One of the most exciting things about these announcements is the best practice implementation by each of the institutions. Although all of them use their own method, all of the photos are clearly marked as being available to download and free of copyright restrictions, with a detailed and easily accessible description of what you can and can’t do with the image (see pictured). Te Papa even allows you to use copyright status as a search term. This level of transparency when it comes to copyright is essential to unlocking the value of our national collections.

Excerpt from Te Papa’s image download page / Te Papa Tongarewa

Other open projects — such open government data, open textbooks in higher education and legal tools for indigenous knowledge — are also progressing quickly. Working with Susy Frankel and Aroha Mead from Victoria University of Wellington and CC Panel Member Karaitiana Taiuru, the local Creative Commons team is working on developing an indigenous knowledge notice that will help Māori creators, iwi (tribe) and hapū (sub-tribe) to release their works more openly.

In the government data sector, Land Information New Zealand have released truly massive — and massively interesting — open datasets, including detailed aerial photography of the entire country and 3D models of Christchurch before September 2010. These openly licensed models can be adapted and 3D printed by anyone, to help remember the heritage that was lost in the earthquakes.

Taken together, these projects will add an enormous amount of high quality copyright works to the commons, making it easier to access and reuse the works produced and held by New Zealand’s public institutions. These releases promise to save time and money for both the organisations involved and the public. They will also enable others to adapt and build on existing works, which means that fewer people will have to — excuse the cliche — reinvent the wheel.

Good news, then. But these projects are only the beginning: there are thousands of other schools, heritage and research institutions with millions of copyright works that could be made openly available to the public for sharing and reuse. This could fundamentally change how New Zealanders access and engage with their culture and knowledge.

For this to happen, these sectors are going to need some help. To help out, we’re developing toolkits — remixing some resources and platforms developed by HQ, and making a bunch of our own — that organisations can use to open their works for reuse. These toolkits will include an introductory paper, brochures, articles, sample policies and examples of best practice from New Zealand and around the world. We’re hoping to launch them at the National Digital Forum in Wellington in late November.

Beyond the toolkits, though, we’re going to need much more open discussion and analysis on copyright, licensing and reuse — especially in the heritage sector, where copyright issues can be very complicated, and where there isn’t nearly enough information and discussion available online. NZCommons is designed to prompt that discussion. With it we hope to build momentum and support for more open policy across the country, and help realise the potential of the commons in Aotearoa.

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