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Press Robot, November 11th, 2003

Semantic Web: Out of the Theory Realm” By Michael Singer

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Join the “Copyleft, Right, & Center: Innovations in Law” online forum

Neeru Paharia, November 11th, 2003

From November 12th through 19th, Creative Commons will host a week-long online discussion entitled “Copyleft, Right & Center: Innovations in Law,” cosponsored by Eyebeam and the University of Maine. We’d like to invite you, members of the Creative Commons community, to participate in the discussion by joining the list. The resulting dialogue will be edited and published in a book and the archived discussion will be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license. The inaugural message will be sent on November 12th from Eyebeam, to be followed-up with a message from Creative Commons. If you wish just to follow the discussion, you’ll be able to read the archives here.

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Berklee Shares Launches — Free Under Creative Commons

Glenn Otis Brown, November 10th, 2003

Berklee College of Music, the world’s largest independent music college and the premier institution for the study of contemporary music, today launched Berklee Shares, a groundbreaking new program that offers music lessons — free under Creative Commons licenses — and encourages musicians to share and distribute the lessons online. Berklee Shares consist of a growing catalog of MP3s, QuickTime movies, and PDF files derived from curriculum developed at the college by its world-renowned faculty. The lessons are available for download right now at the Berklee site, affiliate partner sites, and peer-to-peer networks, including Limewire.

Just a few highlights:

–For students of songwriting, a close song analysis of John Lennon’s “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

–For perscussionists, a Quicktime film on Afro-Cuban Conga rhythms and techniques.

–For guitarists, a short instructional film on jazz voicings.

–For producers and engineers, a crash course in setting up a recording studio with ProTools.

The site has so much great information that we CC staffers are already getting distracted from work . . . .

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UK passes law to create online archive

Matt Haughey, November 6th, 2003

Last week, British lawmakers passed a new bill to add electronic publications (including websites) as documents stored in national archives. This new law augments existing laws that cover all printed materials produced in the UK since 1911.

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9th Circuit Rules on Sampling

Glenn Otis Brown, November 5th, 2003

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (in California) ruled yesterday that the Beastie Boys’ sampling of a three-note segment of James Newton’s composition to the song “Choir” did not infringe Newton’s copyright. The court ruled that the sample was a “de minimis” — or trivial — instance of copying and thus not a violation.

A few things to note here.

First is to point out the distinction between sound recordings and their underlying compositions. These are separate copyrights and are often owned by different entities. Here, Newton transferred his right in the recording of “Choir” to ECM Records in 1981; ECM later sold the Beastie Boys a license to sample from the recording.

Newton held on to his right in the underlying composition, however — and it was this right that was at stake in this case. Because the pattern of notes used by the Beastie Boys was a pretty generic and very short three-note sequence, the court said “no foul.”

Now, the court did not rule that bands who sample needn’t bother clearing rights to both recordings and compositions as a general matter. The court implies that had the Beastie Boys sampled some more distinctive pattern of notes — distinctive not in their recording, but in their abstract ordering — or had they taken more of those notes, they would have violated Newton’s copyright in the composition.

So, the upshot: This is a moment in copyright law, if for no other reason than the court’s cool, rational approach to the question. The decision does the important duty of reminding us, in this time of copyright hysteria, that “[e]ven where there is some copying, that fact is not conclusive of infringement. Some copying is permitted. In addition to copying, it must be shown that this has been done to an unfair extent.” This is a basic principle of the law governing creativity that has been all but drowned out in recent years.

That said, this case doesn’t open the door to a free-for-all of creative appropriation. In other words, for artists who want to invite more than trivial uses of their stuff, who want to really open the floodgates of re-creativity, the future is in tools like our forthcoming Sampling Licenses.

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Financial Times on Creative Commons

Matt Haughey, November 4th, 2003

In the Creative Business section of today’s Financial Times, there’s a good article about how and why Creative Commons was formed, titled “ItÂ’s not all or nothing: A middle way for copyright holders is emerging.” A subscription is required to review the article.

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PLoS Biology hitting the news

Matt Haughey, November 3rd, 2003

The Public Library of Science, an open access journal we covered as a featured commoner, has released new articles from its upcoming Biology issue (which is also Creative Commons licensed). One article in particular (PDF synopsis) details a study that found a strong association between obesity and a gene on chromosome 10. As obesity is quickly becoming a major health issue in many industrialized nations, the news of this article has been spreading quickly.

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MoveOn using licenses in contest

Matt Haughey, October 30th, 2003

A month ago, we mentioned the emerging “mob spots” phenomena, and how Creative Commons licenses might play a role. It looks like the folks at have come close to the goals laid out in our earlier post. They’re doing a 30-second spot contest, with all entries licensed under Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivative Works. This should allow anyone to copy, share, and mirror the movies without any legal hassles.

It’s also similar to the rules for our Moving Images Contest, which you have just two months left to submit entries for.

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Loca Records

Matt Haughey, October 30th, 2003

This week’s featured content is Loca Records. This is an “open source” record label that features a variety of electronic music artists, with many of their songs available under a Creative Commons license. Their mission is to change the way record companies do business and follow the GNU/Linux model of releasing work and receiving compensation.

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Algunos Derechos Reservados (Some Rights Reserved)

Glenn Otis Brown, October 29th, 2003

Sounds good in Spanish, too. Here’s an article from on Creative Commons and director James Boyle‘s recent visit to Argentina. The piece doesn’t quite get how Creative Commons’s approach is reliant upon and compatible with copyright, but it’s nice to see another example of interest in our work building across the world.

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