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Apply now for 2013 Google Policy Fellowship at Creative Commons

Timothy Vollmer, February 19th, 2013

Update: Please be sure to apply at the Google Policy Fellowship website.

For the fifth year, Creative Commons will take part in the Google Policy Fellowship program. It’s fantastic to see that Google has expanded the number and diversity of groups involved in the fellowship program. This year there are participating organizations from Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America.

The Google Policy Fellowship program offers undergraduate, graduate, and law students interested in Internet and technology policy the opportunity to spend the summer contributing to the public dialogue on these issues, and exploring future academic and professional interests. Fellows will have the opportunity to work at public interest organizations at the forefront of debates on broadband and access policy, content regulation, copyright and trademark reform, consumer privacy, open government, and more.

The 2013 Google Policy Fellow will receive a grant to work at Creative Commons’ office in Mountain View, California.

Past CC Google Policy Fellows have worked on a wide variety of projects. These have included surveying intellectual property and licensing policies of philanthropic foundations, research on the welfare impact of Creative Commons across various fields, and an investigation of the characterization of Creative Commons within U.S. legal scholarship.

We look for motivated candidates with partially-developed ideas in exploring a particular interest/expertise area, short research project, or related activity within the broad spectrum of open licensing and the commons. In 2013 we are particularly interested in working with fellows interested in supporting education and advocacy efforts around open policies so that publicly funded resources are openly licensed resources. One specific project we are looking for assistance on is the development of an Open Policy Network. We are very flexible in accommodating project ideas that will be mutually beneficial to the candidate and CC. The project work with CC will not be supervised by an attorney.

Please be sure to apply before March 15, 2013, and good luck.


4.0 draft 3 published – final comment period underway

Diane Peters, February 14th, 2013

“… Civile”

“… Civile” / umjanedoan / CC BY

It’s a fitting start to CC’s second decade as a license steward that we are publishing for comment the third and final draft of version 4.0.

This draft has been long in the making, but we think it’s all the better for the extended discussion and drafting period, and therefore that much closer to finalization and realizing its full potential as an international license suite.

New in Draft 3

Much of our attention since publishing draft 2 has been focused on improving the license in ways tied to key objectives we had in mind when this process started a little more than a year ago.

Sui generis database rights – a weighty factor in our decision to version – are now handled more thoroughly and clearly. The changes introduced in draft 3 will be of particular benefit for data projects and communities forced to manage the complexities of licensing those rights in addition to copyright. The 4.0 suite will provide more certainty about application of the license and the obligations of re-users of data where those right apply. The revisions also reinforce CC’s policy of combatting the expansion of sui generis database rights beyond the borders of the few countries where they exist. Those rights and obligations remain safely confined.

Interoperability has been a second, important objective of this versioning process. Our BY and BY-NC licenses have never specified how adaptations may be licensed. This is a source of confusion at times for users, especially for those remixing materials under a variety of licenses whether within or external to the CC suite. In draft 3, we have introduced provisions specifying how contributions to adaptations built from BY and BY-NC licensed material must be licensed. The rule we introduce should be intuitive for most (and has always been true), and will be easily recognized by others because of its foundation in copyright. We are eager to hear feedback on whether it’s a workable rule in practice. If so, then these new provisions will clear the way for increased interoperability between those two licenses and other public licenses.

We have also introduced a number of features to better ensure that works can be reused as the licenses (and licensors) intend. We recognize that licensors are often required or encouraged to apply technological protection measures when distributing their works through large platforms, and that those TPMs can prevent the public from using the CC-licensed work as the license permits (reproduce, modify, share, etc.). The license is now clear that if users choose to circumvent those measures in order to exercise rights the CC licenses grant, the licensor may not object. In some situations others (such as the platform provider) may have the right to object, and in some circumstances and jurisdictions doing may still be a criminal offense. Our licenses do not help in those situations (and should not be relied upon to protect users in those cases). But at least between licensors and those reusers, circumvention is expressly authorized.

Several other changes have been introduced to improve the smooth functioning of the licenses, including a few worth highlighting here:

  • Although we have decided not to pursue a proposal that would have required licensors to offer representations and warranties, we now prominently highlight important before-licensing considerations that encourage rights clearances and proper marking of third-party content. These practices and considerations have long been promoted by CC. Placing them in closer proximity to the licenses educates licensors and encourages responsible licensing practices, and alerts the public to the limitations of the licenses.
  • The license now includes a mechanism that allows for automatic reinstatement of the license when a violation is cured within 30 days of discovery, while preserving a licensor’s right to seek remedies for those violations. This was a popular request, particularly by institutions wanting to use high-quality CC-licensed content in important contexts but who worried about losing their license permanently for an inadvertent violation.

Public Discussion – Featured Topics

In this third discussion period, we will be returning our attention to ShareAlike compatibility, the centerpiece of our interoperability agenda. We will take a harder look at the mechanism necessary to permit one-way compatibility out from BY-SA to other similarly spirited licenses like GPLv3, and whether one-way compatibility is, in fact, desired. We will also develop compatibility criteria and processes, though that may not conclude until after the 4.0 suite is launched. We expect to explore the introduction of a compatibility mechanism in BY-NC-SA similar to that already present in BY-SA. Draft 3 incorporates the changes that would accomplish all of this, if the decision is made to pursue these actions following vetting with our community.

Internationalization will also be a highlight of this discussion period. We will be making a final push with our legal affiliates to fine tune the legal code so the licenses operate as intended and are enforceable around the world. As part of this, we expect a full discussion on the new interpretation clause that establishes a default rule for how the license should be interpreted.

Other topics we will be covering include attribution and some finessing of those requirements. And as publication time draws nearer, we will also be having discussions about the license deed and related matters. You can find a complete list of open topics, a list of changes in draft 3 and a side-by-side comparison of Draft 2 and Draft 3 (237 KB PDF) on our 4.0 wiki, as well as downloads and links to all six draft licenses.

We look forward to hearing from you in this final comment stage. Check out all six of the 4.0d3 licenses, and join the CC license development and versioning list, or contribute ideas directly to the 4.0 wiki.

Thanks again for a productive comment period. Thanks for the many valuable contributions to date!


Commercial Rights Reserved proposal outcome: no change

Kat Walsh, February 14th, 2013

CC recently considered a proposal to rename the NonCommercial license to “Commercial Rights Reserved”, as raised on this list back in December.

We have decided not to pursue that proposal, and to leave the name of the license the same. However, there is a possibility of using the “Commercial Rights Reserved” language in messaging and other informational materials about the license to make the function of the license clearer.

We are continuing to work on the other action items to improve understanding around the NC and ND licenses.

We received a lot of valuable feedback on the Commercial Rights Reserved proposal, and ultimately, there were many strong arguments both for and against it. One point that was broadly recognized, however, was that a change of the license name would be difficult to communicate and require a fair amount of time, effort, and in some cases expense, and a change would have to justify this cost. After evaluating the feedback, we believe that the case for changing the name was not strong enough for this.

Some common arguments in favor:

  • It avoids the problem of licensors selecting an NC license due to misunderstanding based on the name.

Some of the use of NonCommercial comes from licensors who choose to use it based on the name alone. More specifically, some licensors are choosing NC because they intend to use their work only for non-commercial purposes. They may be choosing NC without considering that it also restricts licensees.

  • It is more descriptive of the way the license operates.

Many license users are confused about the actual operation of the NonCommercial license. Some believe, for example, that it is to be placed on works that are not meant to be commercialized at all, including by the licensors themselves. CRR describes what it does, not what it doesn’t.

  • The proposed name would help make some CC business models clear.

Many potential licensors are not aware that you can use CC licenses as part of a business model that includes reserving rights for paid use. A license with a name that is more explicit about commercial rights could make it more immediately apparent that this possibility exists.

And against:

  • There is difficulty involved in any name change that potentially comes at high cost.

The primary argument against a rename is that any switch would potentially create a great deal of confusion among the license-using community, as well as work to rebrand and relocate all of the materials currently referring to NonCommercial.

  • A name change may lead to licensors adopting this license instead of more free licenses.

Changing the name to “Commercial Rights Reserved” may attract some licensors to use it who were not previously thinking about the possibility of leveraging their commercial rights and might otherwise have used a free license.

  • The name would be harder to understand.

“Commercial Rights Reserved” is more “legalese” than “NonCommercial”. Potential licensors who wish to use a no-commercial-use license may not understand that this would meet their needs, leading them to avoid using CC licenses altogether.

  • The change would not satisfy the desires of those critical of NC.

Though it would be intended to address some of the criticisms of NonCommercial license, many would see the rename as too small a change to meaningfully address their concerns.

Many thanks to those of you who offered feedback, both on and off the lists; while we have ultimately decided not to make this change, the comments we received in the consultation process contained a lot of useful insight and information that we’ll take into account when revising and creating new educational materials around the 4.0 licenses.

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FASTR introduced in U.S. Congress to drastically expand public access to federally funded research

Timothy Vollmer, February 14th, 2013

Today marks an historic step forward for public access to publicly funded research in the United States. The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) was introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. FASTR requires federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to the research articles stemming from that funded research no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

If passed, the legislation would extend the current NIH Public Access Policy (with a shorter embargo) to other US federal agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and others.

The bill text is available here. The legislation was introduced with bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate. Sponsors include Sens. Cornyn (R-TX) and Wyden (D-OR), and Reps. Doyle (D-PA), Yoder (R-KS), and Lofgren (D-CA).

Creative Commons has supported policies aligned with the practice of making taxpayer funded research available free online and ideally under an open license that communicates broad downstream use rights, such as CC BY. While FASTR – like the NIH Public Access Policy before it – does not directly require the application of open licenses to the scientific research outputs funded with federal tax dollars, it represents a key next step toward increasing the usefulness of public access to research.

Specifically, FASTR includes provisions that move the ball down the field toward better communicating reuse rights. Peter Suber notes,

  • FASTR includes a new “finding” in its preamble (2.3): “the United States has a substantial interest in maximizing the impact and utility of the research it funds by enabling a wide range of reuses of the peer-reviewed literature that reports the results of such research, including by enabling computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies.”
  • FASTR includes a formatting and licensing provision (4.b.5): the versions deposited in repositories and made OA shall be distributed “in formats and under terms that enable productive reuse, including computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies.”
  • FASTR requires that the annual report from each covered agency include a statement from the agency on “whether the terms of use applicable to such research papers are effective in enabling productive reuse and computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies” (4.f.2.B.i) and the results of the agency’s “examination of whether such research papers should include a royalty-free copyright license that is available to the public and that permits the reuse of those research papers, on the condition that attribution is given to the author or authors of the research and any others designated by the copyright owner” (4.f.2.B.ii).

In addition to making articles free to access and read after a six-month publishing embargo, these new provisions make a significant impact in pushing federal agencies to ensure that the research they fund is available and useful for new research techniques like text/data mining.

SPARC has issued an action alert, and there are several specific things you can do to support of FASTR. Today marks the 11th anniversary of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, and you can voice your support that the public needs and deserves access to the research it paid for and upon which scientific advancement and education depends.


CC Arab World Community Gathers and Celebrates

Donatella Della Ratta, February 13th, 2013

CC Arab World
Faiza Souici / CC BY-SA

In keeping with the tradition inaugurated by the third Creative Commons Arab regional meeting (30th June-2nd July, Tunis, 2011), the 2012 fourth annual gathering of the CC Arab communities was marked by a great deal of creative energy and a strong push towards strengthening a sharing culture in the Arab region.

Organized in cooperation with Arab Digital Expression Foundation (ADEF), an Egyptian NGO extremely active in the domain of free culture and sharing, the fourth Creative Commons Arab regional meeting was held in Cairo from 10 to 14 December 2012, with participants coming from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar, Sudan, Oman, and Egypt.

Three days of intensive hands-on workshops, held at ADEF headquarters in the beautiful area of Moqattam overlooking Cairo, were self-organized and led by members of the CC Arab community. Workshops tackled issues such as licensing artworks under CC licenses, or using open-source tools to design and produce creative work. A team of musicians, together with a filmmaker and a graphic designer, worked on a multimedia project aimed at producing a creative journey into science fiction literature in the Arab world (see sample below).

A group of visual artists worked on caricatures of the participants, which were remixed and turned into beautifully colored cartoons. Another team worked on the concept of Creative Commons as bringing creative people to life; or lampooning the traditional copyright as a “locked up” culture.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday / Bilal Randeree / CC BY-NC-SA

Egyptian guest speakers were also featured during the three days meeting, such as filmmaker Ahmed Abdallah who directed the popular movie Microphone and who raised the controversial issue of using CC-licensed music in movies that the producers then decide to distribute under a traditional, all-rights reserved copyright. Blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah and technologist Ahmed Gharbeia also shared their thoughts about openness.

The works produced during the meeting were showcased on 14 December at Zamalek Public Library, in a closing ceremony which also celebrated the 10th anniversary of Creative Commons.

The 10th anniversary celebrations were held across the four corners of the Arab region. Creative Commons communities in Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, and Oman all hosted live events animated by local artists and communities, featuring light talks, discussions about sharing culture, and homemade birthday cakes.

CC CEO Cathy Casserly, in her first official trip to the Middle East, joined the CC Qatar celebrations in Doha, before heading to Cairo where she participated in the CC Arab community’s call to free Bassel Khartabil aka Safadi, the public lead of CC Syria who has been detained in Damascus since March 2012. During the closing ceremony of the 4th Arab regional meeting in Cairo, the CC Arab community recorded a video message for Bassel and emphasized that in the Arab region, advocating for free culture and sharing might put one’s life at risk of imprisonment or death.

Two months later, the open community is still urging for Bassel’s release. The good news is that Bassel has been granted visitation rights, and even wrote a letter to #freebassel supporters. Visit to find out how to get involved.

Since the outbreak of the uprisings in late 2010, the Arab world has witnessed the rise of popular movements for political and social change. This has been matched by violent reactions by authoritarian regimes, repression and political unrest. Yet, a genuine push towards peer-produced and collaborative work has responded to violence and repression with creativity and innovation. The fourth Creative Commons Arab regional meeting has been a celebration of this courageous stance of the Arab youth and of their defiance in responding to authoritarian power with the weapons of creativity.

Related Links

CC Cairo meeting

Creative Commons 10th anniversary in the Arab world

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Open Science Course Sprint: An Education Hackathon for Open Data Day

Billy Meinke, February 11th, 2013

An Education Sprint

The future of Open is a dynamic landscape, ripe with opportunities to increase civic engagement, literacy, and innovation. Towards this goal, the Science Program at Creative Commons is teaming up with the Open Knowledge Foundation and members of the Open Science Community to facilitate the building of an open online course, an Introduction to Open Science. The actual build will take place during a hackathon-style “sprint” event on Open Data Day on Saturday, February 23rd and will serve as a launch course for the School of Open during Open Education Week (Mar 11-15).

Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 3.56.45 PM

Want to help us build this?

The course will be open in it’s entirety, the building process and content all available to be worked on, all to help people learn about Open Science. Do you know a thing or two about Open Access? Are you a researcher who’s practicing Open Research? Do you have experience in instructional or visual design? This is an all-hands event and will be facilitated by representatives at CC, OKFN, and others in the Community. Open Science enthusiasts in the Bay Area are invited to the CC Headquarters in Mountain View for the live event. Remote participants will also be able to join and contribute online via Google Hangout.

The day will begin with coffee, refreshments and a check-in call with other Open Data Day Hackathons happening around the globe. The Open Science Community is strengthened by shared interests and connections between people, which we hope will grow stronger through networked events on Open Data Day. The Open Science course sprint at CC HQ will build upon open educational content, facilitate the design of challenges for exploration, and provide easy entry for learners into concepts of Open Access, Open Research, and Open Data. It will be done in a similar fashion to other “sprint-style” content-creation events, with lunch and refreshments provided for in-person participants. We’re literally going to be hacking on education. Sound like something you’d be interested in?

Join us.

For details about the ways you can participate, see the Eventbrite page here.
To see the draft (lightly framed) course site on Peer to Peer University, go here.
For information about other Open Data Day events, see the events wiki here.


We need you, too! Basic skills for working with open datasets is important, and can be difficult to grasp. Who better to develop great lessons about working with data than you? Similarly, for those interested in building upon apps and projects from other Open Data Events, updated source code and repository information will be posted to a public feed (for now, follow hashtags #ODHD13 and #opendataday on Twitter).

For other information, contact billy dot meinke at creative commons dot org or @billymeinke.twitter_logo

This event is being organized by the Science Program at Creative Commons with support from the Open Knowledge Foundation, PLOS, and members of the Open Science Community.


Clarifications about CC BY in the UK Open Access Policy

Timothy Vollmer, February 8th, 2013

In the UK, the House of Commons has asked for feedback on their Open Access Policy. One provision of that policy requires that articles funded through the Research Councils UK (RCUK) must be released under a CC BY license. Last year, CC submitted a short comment in support.

And just last month, the House of Lords completed a consultation period which has generated some misinformation about how the CC BY license operates. So, in order to clarify some of these misconceptions, Creative Commons and Creative Commons UK submitted a joint response to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee to set the record straight.

We’ve pulled together some clarifications to some of the uncertainty lobbed at the CC BY license provision in the Open Access Policy. Some of the reasons given that CC BY should not be retained include:

  • it would promote “misuse of research or would cause authors to “lose control of their work”
  • third party rights negotiations for content that authors wish to include within an openly licensed article would prove too difficult
  • open licensing provides less protection against plagiarism
  • CC BY is not widely used in OA publishing
  • authors should choose licensing conditions, not funders

These claims are confusing, misguided, or not backed up by evidence. We offer our responses and support here.

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Work for Creative Commons in Europe: new Regional Coordinator job opening up

Jessica Coates, February 4th, 2013

After nearly two years working with to support our community and forward Creative Commons in Europe, our European Regional Coordinator, Jonas Öberg, will be leaving us at the end of the month. Jonas has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Shuttleworth Foundation to further his research into metadata standards for open materials. We will be very sad to lose Jonas, who has done a wonderful job of promoting CC and open in general over the last few years, and has worked tirelessly to support our European affiliates in their work. Europe is CC’s biggest region, with 37 affiliates stretching from Ireland and the UK all the way through Kazakhstan and Russia – so the job isn’t easy.

The good news is that Jonas won’t be going far, with his Shuttleworth work likely to keep him a constant face in our community.

The other good news is that this opens up a new position for someone to work with Creative Commons in Europe. You can find the full position description here.

Jonas Oberg

Jonas Öberg / Mathias Klang / CC BY-ND

In summary, our European Regional Coordinator works to “Assist Creative Commons and the CC Global Network team with organizational planning, strategic communications, community building, and fundraising in Europe in support of the organization’s mission, goals and objectives.” This means running events, coordinating collaborative projects, and generally assisting our European affiliates to build and grow their community. We also expect that 2013 in Europe will see a lot of work with local organisations advocating for the adoption and implementation of open policies in the region, particularly in the fields of government and educational materials.

If you have an interest in community management, open access, and Creative Commons, and live in or have ties to Europe, we’d love to hear from you.

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Jane Park, February 1st, 2013

In December, we blogged about a new initiative by journalists called Syria Deeply, a news platform aiming to redesign the user experience of the Syrian conflict through news aggregation, interactive tools, original reporting, and feature stories. To encourage sharing and viral distribution, Syria Deeply licensed everything on its site under Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY).


Now “I Am Syria,” a project to increase education about Syria in the classroom, is working with Syria Deeply and President-elect Steve Armstrong of the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) to build a lesson plan about the Syrian crisis. This lesson plan, along with other open educational resources for the classroom, is available at under CC BY. It will be the first in a series of teaching materials on global events and humanitarian issues.

From the announcement,

Even the most off-the-shelf tech solutions can make a monumental impact in bringing more foreign policy education to our schools. Which is why we built our Creative Commons licensed open courseware on as a portal to our teacher friendly lesson plan. You simply go to to download a Teacher’s Guide, and you will have a full 40 minute lesson plan’s worth of Common Core friendly material to expand your student’s horizons about global affairs. Included on the website is an introductory background video for your students as well as supplemental materials for executing the lesson plan, including a PowerPoint with accompanying worksheet, a video on what other kids are doing, and a Presidential Cabinet exercise which has been focus-grouped and loved by students.

By CC licensing its resources, “I Am Syria” will encourage teachers everywhere to educate their students about events in Syria and why it impacts them. Teachers will also be able to adapt “I Am Syria” resources to their particular classroom needs, and even contribute to the resources’ improvement over time.

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PLOS and figshare make open science publishing more open

Puneet Kishor, January 31st, 2013

PLOS and figshare announced a partnership earlier today that will allow authors publishing in PLOS journals host their data on figshare. The authors would also benefit from the visualization capabilities that figshare provides right in the browser alongside the content. This partnership symbolizes all that is good about a healthy scientific publishing process that is enabled by innovative thinking aided by open licensing tools from Creative Commons.

When PLOS launched ten years ago, everyone involved could only hope for the kind of success it has seen in promoting open access publishing. Now with seven journals, six Currents sections, a network of blogs and new ways such as hubs and collections to organize content post-publication, PLOS spans a range of options from very selective to relatively inclusive. PLOS is the undisputed leader in the open access publishing space, and everything published by PLOS is under a CC license. But PLOS is constantly thinking of new ways to make the publishing process better.

John Chodacki, Director of Product Management at PLOS: “We know that Supporting Information acts as a container for valuable resources and data, but can remain relatively hidden from readers. With our partnership with figshare we are opening this data up to PLOS readers and showcasing its value.”

figshare is much younger. Founded by Mark Hahnel, a young scientist frustrated with the stunted mechanism for data sharing, figshare also adopted a blanket open licensing policy based on CC licenses and public domain dedication, and made it easy to upload, visualize and share data.

Mark says, “The common goal of PLOS and figshare for open access to research are connected by the liberal licensing of content, giving authors control over their outputs. Without the standards set out by Creative Commons, partnerships such as this would be much less achievable. Long may it continue as the academic space moves into new ways of disseminating research”.

Both PLOS and figshare leverage the internet to the fullest giving scientists a better way to publish research results and data. This directly promotes CC’s vision of realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.

By complementing each other, PLOS and figshare help the entire scientific process take another step toward being truly open. They are shining examples of leveraging the open licensing and public domain dedication tools created by Creative Commons. We wish them continued success and a future full of innovations we hope will continue to surprise and delight us.

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