Commons News

#FreeBassel Day 2015: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at EFF

Timothy Vollmer, March 5th, 2015

Bassel
Bassel / Joi Ito / CC BY

Bassel Khartabil (also known as Bassel Safadi) is a computer engineer who, through his innovations in social media, digital education, and open-source web software, played a huge role in opening the Internet in Syria and bringing online access and knowledge to the Syrian people. Many people reading this blog know Bassel through his work as lead for CC Syria.

Sunday, March 15, 2015 marks the third anniversary of Bassel’s arrest and imprisonment in Syria, as well as the fourth anniversary of the Syrian uprising.

In San Francisco, #FreeBassel supporters, artists, and members of the open community are gathering at the Electronic Frontier Foundation for a community-building event organized around a Wikipedia edit-a-thon in Bassel’s honor. We’ll be working to improve and add articles and media content related to Bassel and articles of interest to him. We’ll also be discussing his case and brainstorming about new projects and ideas to help bring awareness to his case. Here are the details:

March 15, 2015
2:00pm — 6:00pm
EFF HQ: 815 Eddy St., San Francisco

No prior Wikipedia editing experience is necessary, we’ll have experienced editors present to help you get set up and make your first edit. Artists and activists interested in freedom of expression are encouraged to come contribute to the discussion. Experienced Wikipedians also welcome to come learn more about Bassel, contribute to Wikipedia, and help others to become involved.

For more details on the #FreeBassel Day event, click here.

This entry is remixed from Wikipedia:Meetup/San Francisco/FreeBassel Day 2015, available under CC BY-SA.

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Creative Commons logo acquired by MoMA and featured in new exhibit

Jane Park, March 4th, 2015

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) announced today its acquisition* of the Creative Commons logo and license icons into its permanent collection, currently featured as part of a new exhibit called, “This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good.” The Creative Commons logo (double C in a circle) and license icons for Attribution, ShareAlike, Noncommercial, and NoDerivatives are featured alongside universal designs such as the @ symbol and the International Symbol for Recycling.

From the MoMA blog,

“The exhibition takes its title from British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, who lit up the stadium at the 2012 London Summer Olympics opening ceremony with a simple tweet: “This Is for Everyone.” His buoyant message highlighted how the Internet—perhaps the most radical social design experiment of the last quarter century—has created seemingly limitless possibilities for discovering, sharing, and expanding knowledge and information.

The Creative Commons logos, and the organization and movement for the commons they represent, fit solidly within this narrative of imagining a better world through design — and Creative Commons is honored to be featured in this new exhibit and acquired as part of MoMA’s permanent collection. We’d especially like to highlight the designers: Ryan Junell of the original and now standardized CC logos, Alex Roberts of the re-conceived Attribution icon.

Read more about the acquisition at the MoMA blog and Wired’s coverage of the exhibit. Also stay tuned for a more detailed post on the origin story of the CC logos.

* Different museums have different criteria for acquiring objects into their collection. Here’s MoMA’s criteria in context of its @ symbol acquisition. To acquire doesn’t mean to own, but to obtain permission for reproducing the work as a matter of copyright. Our logos are still our trademarks!

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CC Malaysia, where are we now? A mixtape, open data and more

Jessica Coates, March 2nd, 2015

CC Malaysia Album Cover Art
CC Malaysia Mixtape 2015 by Muid Latif under CC BY NC ND

A guest post by CC Malaysia Lead, Muid Latif.

In the recent years, Malaysia has been more active in adopting open culture. Local mainstream media has provided a continuous platform for Creative Commons Malaysia to reach out to Malaysians in promoting CC, and both government and the community have been proactive in spearheading interesting online projects for everyone’s benefit.

For example, last December I had the chance to approach several local musicians and producers who are familiar with Creative Commons licenses on SoundCloud to find out if they were keen to have their music under a CC license. It was great to see that local musicians are very supportive of CC and how it empowers their works. This resulted in the release of CC Malaysia’s very own Creative Commons Malaysia Mixtape 2015. Inspired by this year’s World CC Mixtape, the Malaysia collection features 12 tracks from eight artists: the notable DJ Rezabudculture, Space Gambus Experiment, Metahingaq, NERO ONE, Z-1, Zam Nayan, Ugendran and Mohammad Yazid. The tracks are mostly uptempo or experimental. Listen to it here.

Our community also wants to play a greater role in open data. One of the biggest outcomes from this is Sinar Project, a mainly volunteer-run organisation which uses open technology and applications to make government information–such as budget expenditure and assets of those holding political office and parliamentary bills–public and more accessible to the Malaysian people. The Sinar project won a 2014 Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF Asia) Award, under the “Rights” category (see more here). The Malaysian government has also taken the initiative to progress open data by setting up www.data.gov.my as well as adopting Big Data Analytics (BDA) mandates to the Ministry of Communication, the Multimedia, Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) and Multimedia Development Corporate (MDeC).

In this context, I have recently had the chance to contact the founder of the Big Data Malaysia network, Tirath Ramdas, about his view on open data here in Malaysia and concerns about citizen engagement. He thinks that open data is not a one way street. Any investment into open data from government will be a waste of taxpayer funds if the Malaysians do not make productive use of the data released. Raising general awareness of open data is therefore be highly important at this point in time. With this in mind, MDeC and Tentspark, an IT solutions provider, recently launched the National Big App Challenge to stress the importance of big data analytics in solving Malaysia’s challenges related to national issues and societal well-being.

In the near future, we would love to see Malaysia join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), following the Big Data Analytics Framework goal to have the framework ready by the end of this year and in line with the Digital Malaysia 354 Roadmap (DM354 Roadmap). With increased focus on sharing by both the government and private citizens, there seems to be a good chance for this to happen.

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Creative Commons celebrates Fair Use Week

Sarah Hinchliff Pearson, February 26th, 2015

"Niagara" by Jeff Koons, famously held to be a fair use of a photograph in Allure magazine. (Screenshot of image used under fair use.)

“Niagara” by Jeff Koons, famously held to be a fair use of a photograph in Allure magazine. (Screenshot of image used under fair use.)

Today we commemorate Fair Use Week, a week-long celebration of the doctrines of fair use and fair dealing.

Creative Commons is proud of how its licenses respect fair use and other exceptions and limitations to copyright. CC licenses end where copyright ends, which means you don’t need to comply with a CC license if you don’t need permission under copyright. You will hear us repeat this fundamental design principle about our licenses often because it is important in practice, but even more so as policy. Anything that claims to grant “permission” to do things allowed under fair use is problematic because it promotes “permission culture” and increases FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about fair use. This maxim goes for open licensing just as it does anything else, which is what makes the treatment of fair use in our licenses so important.

Even so, there remains some potential tension between open licensing and fair use. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that relying on fair use to include content in an otherwise openly-licensed work can make it difficult for people around the globe to reuse your work. While most countries have some form of fair-use-like rights, those rights are not harmonized internationally. That means it is possible that the portion of your work used under fair use would have to be carved out before it is reused in some jurisdictions. Proper marking of what content falls outside the scope of the license can help minimize this problem.

The other potential tension results from the gray area around where fair use begins and ends. Thanks in no small part to the work of Peter Jaszi and Patricia Aufderheide, the public has a much better idea of how fair use plays out in practice than it used to. But inevitably, some challenging fair use questions remain. When reusers are faced with those close cases, some opt to use CC-licensed work instead of relying on fair use of an all rights reserved work. By providing a licensed alternative, CC licenses provide a nice cushion for fair use in those situations. But in other contexts, reusers have to decide whether to rely on fair use when reusing a CC-licensed work. While it is common practice to give attribution when using something under fair use, complying with other CC license restrictions is often impossible when relying on fair use. This is exactly how it should be. As we know, using a work under fair use means the CC license is irrelevant and the license terms do not apply.

Creative Commons never discourages reusers from relying on fair use or other exceptions or limitations to copyright, even when that means not complying with a CC license. Respect for fair use was written into the code of our licenses from the start, and that has not changed. We recognize that fair use is a muscle, and it needs to be exercised. Now go workout.

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Why Creative Commons uses CC0

Kat Walsh, February 25th, 2015

Creative Commons dedicates the text of our licenses and other legal tools, as well as the text of our Commons deeds, to the public domain using the CC0 Public Domain Dedication. While that doesn’t mean that anything and everything is allowed by those choosing to reuse these materials (as explained below), we believe that copyright isn’t a good fit for every creative work, and we don’t think it is right to leverage it as a stick in these instances.

CC has never asserted copyright in the text of our licenses or other legal tools. We made our policy clearer a few years ago by specifically declaring they are released under CC0. The text of the licenses, public domain tools, and license deeds we publish are all unrestricted by copyright worldwide, and we recently added a sentence to that effect in the notice at the bottom of our licenses and CC0.

No copyright ≠ no rules

Although these materials are public domain as a matter of copyright, the Creative Commons name and logo are our trademarks and can only be used according to our trademark policy.

This can be a difficult concept to communicate: while we want people to freely reuse the texts of our legal tools and deeds, we don’t want to give people the wrong idea about what we enable and what we do not: the difference between copyright and trademark can be complicated.

We’ve had a long-standing policy against use of our trademarks or name in connection with modified versions of our legal tools and other products (like our deeds). We’ve tried to make this policy simple and understandable, and just updated it for added clarity, though substantively nothing has changed from when CC published the first licenses in 2002. In a nutshell, we need to be sure the public is not confused about what comes from and is supported by Creative Commons, and what isn’t. We need to be sure the public doesn’t associate CC with other content and materials. While we hope this is simple enough to need no further explanation, if you want to reuse CC materials in a way that uses or associates our name or logos, please see our trademark policy to be sure you’re in the clear or contact CC.

Credit where credit is due

We appreciate and want credit for our work! We just don’t require it as a condition of exercising rights that we control under copyright.

Even though CC0 imposes no legal obligation to provide attribution, courtesy, good practice, norms, and community expectations often mean that you should give credit anyway. (For example, we recommend CC0 for scientific data, but many reusers include source information, both to acknowledge others’ work and to establish the data’s provenance.) Giving proper credit helps others understand the origin of the text so they can learn more and identify any changes that have been made. That may not always be reasonable or possible, but in any case we won’t be using copyright as a means to enforce our request for credit.

For more information, you might find our guidelines for using public domain material instructive.

(Trade)mark our words…

We strongly recommend against any modifications of our licenses and other legal tools. However, if you choose to change the text of our legal tools either directly through edits or indirectly through additional terms, such as terms of use on your website, you may not claim that your offering(s) are under Creative Commons, and you may not call the modified result a CC legal tool. You are free to link to us, talk about us, cite us, and yes, criticize us by name without infringing our copyright or trademark rights. However, you may not use or associate our name or brand with a license or any other legal tool of your own.

What about license proliferation?

Creative Commons provides a standard set of licenses suitable for a wide variety of uses and situations. Our licenses reduce the need for custom licenses that create separate pools of material under incompatible terms (i.e. “license proliferation”). By choosing not to use copyright to restrict modifications of CC license text, we recognize we may be encouraging license proliferation, because people will feel free to remix the content and publish their own, new custom license.

This is a fair criticism, but it fails to account for the reality that those wanting different terms will make that happen with or without repurposing our text. We believe our efforts are better focused on explaining the rationale for standard licensing, and helping creators understand that as much as they may think they need specialized terms, that those sometimes (if not often) work against their sharing goals and inflict more harm than provide benefit. This includes additional transaction costs for them and their reusers, who are forced to understand specialized terms unique to the custom license.

Withholding permissions and exercising copyright in legal tools are hardly effective tools in this campaign against license proliferation—those who want their own licenses will make that happen whether or not we impose some rights reserved (or even all rights reserved) on the text of our legal code. We will, however, continue to strongly encourage would-be custom license creators to use our standard licenses, which have a long history and a thriving user base as well as robustness internationally, rather than creating new custom and incompatible licenses and legal tools.

Let’s share!

We believe in creating a vibrant commons, that maximizes the ability of others to build upon our works with the least restrictions possible. We hope you will consider joining us by using CC0 for your own materials!

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Dutch translation of 4.0 published

Kat Walsh, February 25th, 2015

With the Dutch translation of the 4.0 licenses published today, we now have a second translation of the complete set of current CC legal tools, and the first one by a cross-jurisdiction team! CC Netherlands and CC Belgium worked together on this translation, as well as Kennisland and the Institute for Information Law (part of the University of Amsterdam).

Screen shot 2015-02-25 at 11.23.02 AM

Our thanks and congratulations to the translation team of Maarten Zeinstra (CC-NL, translation coordinator), Lucie Guibault (CC-NL, legal lead), Yannick H’Madoun (CC-BE), Lisette Kalshoven (CC-NL), Tamara Mangelaars (Kennisland, editor), Tiara Roquas (CC-NL intern), and Tessa Askamp (CC-NL, technical interpreter). Additional help was provided by law students from the Institute of Information Law (Rutger de Beer, Sarah Johanna Eskens, Sam van Velze, Marco Caspers, and Alexander de Leeuw), and CC’s own regional coordinator (and native Dutch speaker) Gwen Franck.

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Report back: Institute for Open Leadership meeting

Timothy Vollmer, February 10th, 2015

Creative Commons and the Open Policy Network hosted the first Institute for Open Leadership meeting in San Francisco 12-16 January 2015. The Institute for Open Leadership (IOL for short) is a training program to identify and cultivate new leaders in open education, science, public policy, research, data and other fields on the values and implementation of openness in licensing, policies and practices. The rationale for the IOL 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.

iol group small
IOL group shot by Cable Green under CC BY

There was significant interest in the first iteration of the IOL program: we received over 95 applications and selected 14 fellows for the first Institute. The fellows came from around the world (Bangladesh, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Greece, Nepal, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Somalia, United States ), and reflect a wide range of institutions–from community colleges to government sector to public radio.

The central component of the IOL program requires fellows to develop, refine, and implement a capstone open policy project within their home institution. Creative Commons staff and other selected mentors provided guidance throughout this process.

Week’s activities
The week was deliberately structured with the fellows at the center of the conversation, with a specific focus on providing them with the information and tools to develop and successfully implement their open policy project in their institution. We constructed the week’s activities to cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Overview of Creative Commons and open licensing, as this is a key aspect to all open policies.
  • Deep dive into open policy, including identifying existing real world examples, sharing lessons learned, discussing the value proposition, sharing typical opposition arguments.
  • Discussion of practical development of policy roadmaps and roll-out strategies across different sectors/institutions.
  • Campaign planning and advice/best practices about how to communicate with decision makers about open policy.
  • Identification of resources in support of open policy development and implementation, including presentations, reports, videos, informational and promotional materials.
  • Sharing of best methods for educating and informing decision makers about open policy, including workshops, courses, hackathons.
  • Testing fellow’s open policy knowledge and expected challenges through an open policy “shark tank.”
  • Hewlett Foundation communication team interviewed multiple IOL fellows for a Hewlett story on the power of CC licensing.

Mentors included Cable Green, Paul Stacey, Timothy Vollmer and Puneet Kishor from Creative Commons and Nicole Allen and Nick Shockey from SPARC. Each of these persons had specific subject-area expertise and acted as a “mentor” for two or more of the fellows. We grouped the fellows based on their project ideas with a mentor in the following categories: Open Educational Resources, Open Access, Open Data, Open GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums), and Open Business Models. During the week, we provided time for fellows to work individually, with other fellows, and with their mentors.

iol conference small
IOL session by txtbks under CC BY

On the final day of the in-person Institute we asked each fellow to report back on their progress from during the week, and asked each to answer common questions, such as talking about their open policy project objectives, planned activities to meet those objectives, identification of challenges they expect to face, partners they plan on working with, and metrics for success.

In addition to the whole group discussions, mentor breakouts, and individual work, we included informational and motivational speakers to talk with the fellows over our lunch breaks. These talks were given by individuals with experience working in open policy across a variety of sectors, including Hal Plotkin (former Senior Policy Advisor within the U.S. Department of Education), Abel Caine (OER Program Specialist at UNESCO), Heather Joseph (Executive Director at SPARC), Laura Manley (Project Manager at Open Data 500) and Romain Lacombe (Plume).

Next steps
With the successful completion of the in-person portion of the IOL, the fellows have now returned to their home countries and will begin the process of implementing their open policies. The mentors are committed to continue working with their respective fellows, including providing advice and assistance. Fellows and mentors will meet to discuss progress over webinars planned for the following months. The goal is for the fellows to have implemented their open policy at the institution within a year. The fellows will be able to share more information about the implementation of their capstone policy projects in the coming months.

We’ve already solicited feedback from fellows and are currently evaluating the activities and structure of the just-completed IOL. There are already several improvements we’d like to see as we begin to develop the second round of the IOL, to be held outside of North America in January 2016. We plan to open the application process for round two in mid-2015. The demand for IOL is large and additional funding is being sought to support additional ones beyond the first two.

yodasmall
Yoda Fountain by Nasir Khan under CC BY-SA
Note: Lucasfilm has offices inside The Presidio, where the IOL took place. Thus, Yoda.

One of the aims of the Institute For Open Leadership is to link participants together into a global network. Participants from this inaugural Institute for Open Leadership, and all future ones, become part of a peer-to-peer network providing support for each other, asking and answering questions, and getting ongoing help with open policy development and implementation. This network helps participants overcome barriers and ensure open policy opportunities come to fruition.

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Ford Foundation to require CC BY for all grant-funded projects

Timothy Vollmer, February 3rd, 2015

FordFoundationLogo

Today the Ford Foundation announced an open licensing policy for all of their grant-funded projects and research. The new arrangement came into effect February 1, 2015 and covers most grant-funded work, as well as the outputs of consultants. The Ford Foundation has chosen to adopt the CC BY 4.0 license as the default for these materials. Grant agreements will now include a paragraph requiring the grant recipient to broadly share all copyrightable products (such as research reports, photographs, videos, etc.) funded by the grant under CC BY. And the Ford Foundation is leading by example by adopting CC BY for all materials not subject to third-party ownership on their own website.

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, said, “This policy change will help grantees and the public more easily connect with us and build upon our work, ensure our grant dollars go further and are more impactful, and – most importantly – increase our ability to advance social justice worldwide.”

“We’re incredibly pleased to see the Ford Foundation adopting a Creative Commons licensing policy for a wide range of grant-funded works, promoting openness and re-use of content produced through its philanthropic grantmaking,” said Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons. “The Ford Foundation joins a growing movement of foundations and governments adopting policies that increase access to and re-use of digital education materials, research articles, and data using Creative Commons.”

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization created in 1936. Its mission is “to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.” In 2013 the Ford Foundation granted almost $570,000,000 to projects and organizations around the world.

The Ford Foundation joins several other philanthropic grantmaking organizations who have adopted Creative Commons licensing policies for the outputs of their charitable giving. We’ve highlighted several over the last few months, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (who also now require CC BY for all their project-based grantmaking) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (who adopted a CC BY open access policy for published grant-funded research and data). Releasing grant-funded content under permissive open licenses like CC BY means that these materials can be more easily shared and re-used by the public. And they can be combined with other resources that are also published under an open license.

Congratulations to the Ford Foundation on adopting an open licensing policy that will encourage the sharing of rich content and data in the digital global commons. Creative Commons continues to urge other foundations and funding bodies to emulate the ongoing leadership of the Ford Foundation by making open licensing an essential component of their grantmaking strategy.

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A step toward compatibility with GPLv3

Sarah Hinchliff Pearson, February 2nd, 2015

Free Software Foundation Bulletin by Osama Khalid under BY-SA 2.0.

Free Software Foundation Bulletin by Osama Khalid under BY-SA 2.0.

Together with the Free Software Foundation, Creative Commons has officially proposed the GNU General Public License version 3 as a candidate for compatibility with CC BY-SA version 4.0. The announcement was made on the CC license development mailing list on January 29th, kicking off what will be at least a month-long discussion period before a final compatibility determination is made.

This proposal is significant because it would bridge a gap between two of the most widely-used copyleft licenses for code and content. Currently, developers are sometimes reluctant to integrate BY-SA content into GPL projects because of uncertainty about how the two licenses work together. Eliminating obstacles to remix between licenses so similar in aim and spirit is precisely what the compatibility mechanism in BY-SA was designed to do.

However, there are differences between the two licenses that pose issues for the CC and FSF communities to consider before declaring compatibility. Over the next several weeks, we will be leading a public discussion about those topics, ensuring the final decision will be informed by community input. We encourage anyone interested to join the discussion by signing up here.

GPLv3 is the second candidate for ShareAlike compatibility considered by Creative Commons. The Free Art License version 1.3 was considered under CC’s established compatibility process and criteria and was declared compatible in October 2014.

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Creative Commons DIY Salon: February 13th in San Francisco

Matt Lee, January 30th, 2015

DIY Salon_with CC

Join us in San Francisco at Park Life Gallery on 13 February 2015 for a Creative Commons DIY Salon. This salon features local artists who celebrate inexperience, sharing culture, and self-taught expertise in projects ranging from publishing and printmaking, to web-based collaborative music communities, to building open source libraries and visualizations.

This event also celebrates the San Francisco launch of I Can Do Anything Badly 2: Learning By Doing is a Shared Responsibility, a Creative Commons licensed artist’s book by Hoël Duret & The Big Conversation Space, designed by Frédéric Teschner, which features conversational interviews in English and French about DIY culture – from computer programming and independent publishing, to Wikipedia and furniture design.

Talks will be interspersed with ambient music performances from musicians from the Disquiet Junto.

Event Details:

Friday February 13th
5:00 – 8:00 PM
Park Life Gallery
3049 22nd Street
San Francisco, CA

Facebook event page.

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