Commons News

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?

Sincerely,
Claudia

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.

screenshot-norwegian-small
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

 

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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
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.

Wellington
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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European Space Agency shares Mars Express images and videos under CC

Elliot Harmon, December 19th, 2014

Hellas Chaos on Mars
Hellas Chaos on Mars / ESA/DLR/FU Berlin / CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

As of yesterday, the European Space Agency is now sharing all of its images and videos from the Mars Express mission under CC BY-SA. ESA is using the IGO port of CC BY-SA 3.0. ESA is one of several intergovernmental organizations to use the IGO port since we introduced it last year.

From ESA’s announcement:

Since January 2004, ESA and its partners at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Freie Universität Berlin (FUB) have been jointly publishing colour, stereo pictures of the martian surface from orbit, both still and moving. For example, a “Mars showcase” video, comprised of HRSC images, has been viewed almost 700,000 times since it was published on ESA’s Youtube channel in 2013.

But starting today, something is different with these regular image releases: in a joint undertaking by all three partners, Mars Express HRSC images will be made available under a Creative Commons (CC) licence. The licence we will apply is the same one we recently introduced for Rosetta NAVCAM images: CC BY-SA IGO 3.0.

[…]

While at ESA we have only just begun releasing content under Creative Commons licences, our partners at DLR have been using CC as their standard licencing policy since 2012. Nevertheless, there is still something just a little bit special about the news today: as far as we know, it is the first time that three public organisations in Europe have teamed up in licencing a batch of joint content under Creative Commons.

ESA also posted this amazing video yesterday, making it the first video of Mars the agency has published under BY-SA:

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Flickr removes CC-licensed photos from Wall Art program

Ryan Merkley, December 18th, 2014

In October, Flickr announced a new service that allows its members to order printed photos on wood or canvas, choosing either from their own photos, from a set of curated images, or from about 50 million CC BY or CC BY-SA–licensed images. Flickr would share profits with the photographers of the curated images, but not the CC-licensed ones, as those licenses permit Flickr to use the photos commercially.

Today, we learned that Flickr is removing all CC-licensed images from the Wall Art program. I understand why Flickr has made the decision to change the program, and appreciate their commitment to working to strengthen our community.

This has been a controversial topic here at Creative Commons — at all levels of the organization, and in our community. Some feel that a community discussion should have come before launching the program, or that Flickr users should have had a choice of whether to allow Flickr to monetize their CC-licensed photos. Others think that abiding by the terms of CC BY isn’t enough, and that there is a moral obligation to share profits. And still others think that this is exactly what the free culture movement intended — permissive use of any kind by anyone (even large companies), so long as the terms are met.

Flickr has been a big part of the growth of the commons, and the advancement of CC licenses. In our recent State of the Commons report, we identified over 880 million licensed works — 307 million of them are on Flickr. It’s the largest public archive of CC-licensed images. So when I read articles and blog posts recommending that Flickr users remove their works from the commons, I was concerned. Users of any media platform should feel secure in their understanding of how their content will or won’t be used.

A central principle of open licenses is that the rights they grant apply to everyone, from hobbyists to large corporations. I hope this decision does not create confusion for those who would use licensed works. Under CC licenses, everyone plays by the same rules. Entrepreneurs should be able to experiment with monetizing openly licensed content without fear that if they become successful, the licenses will no longer apply to them. Just as licensors should be able to feel confident that the licenses are legally airtight, so should licensees.

Everyone can agree that providing clearer information on how CC licenses work — and what rights they grant — can prevent many misunderstandings. I see this as an important opportunity for Flickr and CC to do more to engage and inform users. We’re a global nonprofit that represents a diverse community of creators, users, businesses, and activists. In order for our work to be meaningful, we must recognize that the people who make up the commons are its most important asset.

Our vision is one where content of all kinds is freely available for use under simple terms, where the permissions are clear to everyone. If that doesn’t happen, creators can feel misled or cheated, and users are left uncertain if they can use the commons as a source of raw material. That’s not just about the terms of the licenses. It’s about how platforms develop and position their products and services, and how users engage in a community.

The Flickr team has asked Creative Commons to work with them to help make their messaging about CC license options clearer, and help ensure their programs are in alignment with the spirit of both communities. We hope that we can use this opportunity to help foster stronger relationships throughout the commons community, license users and media platforms alike. As we do that work in the coming months, I welcome your suggestions and ideas.

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Brin Wojcicki Foundation doubles gifts to CC

Elliot Harmon, December 16th, 2014

We just received a wonderful gift for our 12th anniversary: the Brin Wojcicki Foundation is giving to CC to match all of your donations from now until the end of the year!

Every dollar you donate will now be doubled by funds from the Brin Wojcicki Foundation.

Please consider making a donation today.

Support Creative Commons

 

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Happy birthday, Creative Commons

Lawrence Lessig, December 16th, 2014

Help build the next era of sharing online.
Make a donation to Creative Commons.

12 years ago today, we launched the first Creative Commons license suite.

The internet was changing the way people share, and changing what it meant to be a creator. But copyright law hadn’t caught up. The Net was making sharing easy; the law was making it hard.

We made a bet that many creators would stand between the extremes. That they would be inspired by the idea of “some rights reserved” and dedicate some of their rights to the commons.

One billion licensed works later, I think we were right.

Back then, it was a leap of faith. We just didn’t know. I certainly didn’t know that CC licenses would catalyze a global community in almost 80 countries, or that governments and foundations would take our values and embed them in official policies, dedicating funds to create freely available works. But that’s what CC has been helping to facilitate.

Today, Creative Commons is making another leap. We’re betting that if we can make it more seamless to share CC-licensed content between different web platforms, we can multiply CC’s impact exponentially. So this is what our tech team is building.

We’re also betting that by investing in a new generation of advocates for open, we can accelerate our policy wins to a worldwide tipping point.

CC licenses are having a real impact on people’s lives. They are helping reveal information used to treat diseases, to make governments more transparent and accountable, and to make education accessible for everyone, everywhere. That’s an incredible impact for a set of simple, free licenses.

That’s why I hope you will consider making a donation today.

I’ve been inspired by many idealists. And I’ve had my heart broken more than a few times as I’ve rallied people together for change. But CC has proved that big change can happen, when it is supported by many, and often.

So please take a moment to think about the role that Creative Commons licenses play in your life and in our communities. CC licenses have transformed how the internet works, but we’re just getting started.

Please consider making a gift to Creative Commons.

Sincerely,
Lessig

Support Creative Commons

 

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