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Public Domain Day 2010 and Beyond

Diane Peters, January 1st, 2010

Creative Commons has been celebrating Public Domain Day – January 1st – for several years, alongside many others who are similarly passionate about the value of the public domain and the need to prevent its demise. Each year on this day, copyright protection expires for millions of creative works, allowing those works to be used, repurposed and built upon by anyone, without restriction or need for permission.

This year we are excited to witness a growth in the number of organizations and websites dedicated to celebrating and promoting this day. COMMUNIA, the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain and an organization in which Creative Commons is a member, has started a new website devoted to Public Domain Day that includes resources such as public domain calculators, information about countries’ copyright terms, and related information.  The “project aims at increasing public awareness of this celebration and educating about the Public Domain concept and its potentialities for spreading culture and knowledge worldwide.”

As well, the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University has several valuable web pages dedicated to Public Domain Day, including a detailed FAQ.  As the site explains, “On the first day of each year, Public Domain Day celebrates the moment when copyrights expire. The films, photos, books and symphonies whose copyright term has finished become “free as the air to common use” (quoting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis).

As Creative Commons embarks on its 8th year, plans are well underway to increase our focus and effort in the public domain arena.  Here are a few highlights of what you can look forward to:

  • In 2009, we launched the CC0 waiver, a tool that allows creators to effectively place their works in the public domain through a waiver of all copyright to the extent permitted by law.  This coming year, Creative Commons will publish for comment and adoption norms – non binding, community-based guidelines such as how to properly cite the author – to accompany CC0.  Look for more information about norms in early Spring.
  • As a complement to CC0, which is designed to add content to the public domain, in 2010 we will also be increasing development efforts on our public domain assertion tool.  This tool will enable members of the public and organizations such as libraries and museums to mark and tag public domain works available over the Internet.  Although long in the development cycle, the demand and desire for such a protocol endures.  Look for more information about our development plans soon.
  • As always, Creative Commons will continue its public domain work in other fora, such as COMMUNIA WG6 (Mapping the Public Domain).

These initiatives, together with those of many other like-minded organizations and individuals, are critical to the construction and maintenance of the public domain.  We hope you will join us in our efforts to build, preserve and make easily accessible this shared cultural resource.

Happy Public Domain Day 2010!

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$500,000 raised for CC by YOU and thank YOU!

Mike Linksvayer, December 31st, 2009

cc-shepard-fairey-logo-mediumWe launched our fifth year-end campaign on October 5 in a very difficult economic environment. Today, the final day of the year, the decade, and last scheduled day of the campaign, we surpassed our goal of raising $500,000.

Three major contributions in the last 24 hours carried us over the top from our board member Eric Saltzman, entrepreneur Reid Hoffman, and the Lewis Charitable Foundation.

Just as exciting, we’ve received support from more individual donors than in any previous year.


If you’re a new supporter, you’re joining many individuals, corporations, and foundations that have supported our work to build the commons for years. Congratulations!

One new supporter needs to be called out here — Lulu — for making a very significant multi-year commitment to Creative Commons. Details in a dedicated post soon. Many thanks to Lulu founder Bob Young, one of our original funders.

2009 was a groundbreaking year for Creative Commons. Thanks to you, 2010 should be even better. With your support, we will be working to make the 2010s a decade in which the voluntary commons contributes mightily to realizing the potential of digital networks for the arts, media, education, science, the public sector, and collaboration and innovation across fields.

If you haven’t given yet, there’s still time to support the commons in 2009! Any amount will help. As a reminder, a donation of $75 or more gets you a CC t-shirt designed by artist Shepherd Fairey (image above). For as little as $3.50 you can get swag from our store.

Thanks again. Watch for an analysis of the campaign and lots of exciting initiatives in 2010 — we’ll be asking for your input. Spread the word!

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Digital Garage pledges $100,000 to Creative Commons!

Melissa Reeder, December 29th, 2009

Digital Garage has just pledged $100,000 to support Creative Commons’ work in 2010. Digital Garage has been a key corporate funder of Creative Commons since 2006 and we’re thrilled to continue having their support.

Digital Garage CEO Kaoru Hayashi explains their mission:

Digital Garage was founded so we could contribute to the building of a better society by creating the Internet contexts for “real space” and ever-expanding “cyber space,” as well as by connecting Japan with countries overseas, marketing with technology and the present with the future.

Creative Commons is a key piece that helps enable their mission, and we’re proud to continue working with Digital Garage and other innovative companies who value collaboration and creativity.

With Digital Garage’s help, as of this moment we need to raise $105,245 of our $500,000 goal for this year’s campaign. That gap will get smaller by the moment — but only if you help. Please join Digital Garage and the thousands of people and organizations investing in the future of creativity and knowledge by donating to Creative Commons today!

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CC@7 Birthday Party Round-Up

Michelle Thorne, December 29th, 2009

From a “Happy Birthday” rendition in Korean to apple schnapps in Reykjavik and a Free Culture debate in Poland, Creative Commons’ seventh birthday was celebrated this month with originality and cheerful camaraderie.

The global parties kicked off in Beijing at the opening of “Remix and Share”, a contemporary art exhibition featuring 60 acclaimed artists across the country. Afterward a discussion forum explored the event’s theme, led by CC Project Leads and representatives from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, and others in the Asia-Pacific region. The icing on the cake appeared literally later that evening when CC China Mainland volunteers threw a surprise CC birthday party. “Happiness was seen on everyone’s face,” the team recounts.



That same day Warsaw hosted a Free Culture debate during Swoją drogą, a conference for Poland’s independent cultural sector. A few nights earlier, Warsaw’s nightclub Wspaniały Nowy Świat jammed to free music by Eileen Simpson and Ben White from the Open Music Archive.

On December 17 Guatemala City sipped cocktails in honor of CC@7 while Reykjavik enjoyed beers and exotic “topaz shots” (tópas-skot) at Zimzen.

Later, a live installation in Oslo shook the walls of RAM Gallery using light and sound to explode “the white cube”, an architectural concept to describe traditional gallery space. The exhibition’s curator collaborated with the ccMixter community to “soundtrack” the exhibition, entitled The White Cube Remix.

A continent away, Seoul organized CC Hope Day, an annual event by CC Korea to celebrate achievements and thank friends. This year a lively crowd gathered in the club Tool to be entertained and inspired by an incredible line-up, part of a joint program with OCW, IgniteSeoul, TEDxSeoul, TEDxMyeongdong, TEDxSookmyung, and of course the fabulous CC Korea team. The video from the evening is priceless.


The global parties wrapped up in San Francisco with an installation of its own, Into Infinity, a music collaboration with dublab, Creative Commons, and many talented artists. Taking the stage at PariSoMa was also Alex Macgillivray, General Counsel of Twitter, a supporter of Creative Commons. CC’s Vice President Mike Linksvayer spoke with the crowd about some of CC’s major accomplishments in 2009 and talked about what’s in store for 2010.


Well, it has indeed been a great year. But there’s still work ahead. To make a difference, there are many things you can do — like volunteering for your local CC project, creating & using freely licensed works, teaching others about Creative Commons, or doing something very important this time of year: giving financial support. Each contribution is a step towards a more balanced future and a healthy sharing culture.

To all of CC friends and birthday planners, happy 7th and thank you!

Image credits: “志愿者合影” and “p360816336” by Feng Qian and SOS / CC BY. “CC hopeday – CC Friends party” by cckorea / CC BY. “ted cutting CC’s 7th birthday cake” by tvol / CC BY.

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One Last Commoner Letter – from Lawrence Lessig, CC’s Founder

Allison Domicone, December 28th, 2009

Though our 2009 Commoner Letter series has officially come to an end, we are pleased to announce one final letter, this time from our Founder and Board Member Lawrence Lessig. Professor Lessig needs little introduction, so I’ll leave it to him tell you in his own words why supporting the mission of Creative Commons is vital for anyone who cares about building a culture of free and legal online sharing. If you, like Professor Lessig and hundreds of thousands of creators and consumers around the world, care about sustaining CC in the long term, then I encourage you to give back to CC and invest in the work we do. As an added incentive to answer Professor Lessig’s call for support, Attributor and wikiHow are currently matching gifts made to CC – so donate today and make your year-end gift really count!


It is the end of another year, and I find myself frantically reaching out through as many channels as I can to get friends of the commons to support Creative Commons. I’ve been writing emails — yes, actual hand-made emails — to everyone who’s given significant contributions to us before but not this year. I’ve been writing to others who should be giving but haven’t so far. And I’ve been writing more machine made emails (like, for example this) to everyone else. 

My freneticism about this is in part personal, part not. The part that’s not is the stuff that you’ve been reading about — about Creative Commons — in all these letters. You’ve helped us build something important and valuable, that is supporting a much bigger and much more valuable ecology of creativity that everyone should be celebrating. If I had thought at the start to predict when I knew we had marked our space, it would have been when the White House, Al Jazeera, and Wikipedia all adopted CC licenses. That happened this year. And now that it has happened, we all have an even stronger obligation to make sure this thing that thousands helped build over the past 7 years continues to grow and succeed and inspire. 

But the part of the frenetic that’s personal is that I worry that I myself am not doing enough for this amazing organization that I helped found. That I’m an absent father — or worse. That because I felt I had to devote the majority of my energy to a new, and truly impossible project — fighting “institutional corruption,” especially as it debilitates our government — I was leaving this child on its own a bit too early. 

I can’t hide that I fear exactly this. This year in particular, despite our receiving more contributions than ever in our history, we are struggling to meet our goal. The desert that is corporate contributions has hit us hard, and that forces all of us (and especially, absent fathers) to work harder. 

That is why I asked the team at Creative Commons to let me write this last Commoner letter for the year. Tough times force us to shake out the old, and focus on the future. Creative Commons will be an even bigger part of a much saner future. A world is beginning to recognize the place for reasonableness and balance. They are beginning to practice that using our tools. 

But you need to help us to continue building that future. One click will get that started. Please, as you complete the list of great orgs to support this year, be certain you have reserved a space for us. This year more than any other before, we need that support. Donate today.

Thank you. 



Just Announced! Attributor and wikiHow Will Match $5500 in Donations!

Allison Domicone, December 28th, 2009

We’re absolutely thrilled to announce that our longtime friends Attributor and wikiHow have come together in the final days of our annual campaign to generously match the next $5,500 in donations! wikiHow has committed to giving $3000 and Attributor $2500, so please join them and show you care about the future of Creative Commons and building a culture of sharing. Even if you’ve already donated, please consider giving whatever you can today – it will automatically be doubled!

We’re proud to have the continued support of both wikiHow and Attributor, who, since each company’s founding, have been dedicated advocates of the commons and have demonstrated how we can use the Internet as a powerful digital tool to promote collaboration, innovation, and the sharing of information.

wikiHow is “a collaboration to build and share the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual.” Every month, millions of people turn to the multilingual site to learn how to do something new, and it relies on the knowledge, creativity, and contributions of people around the globe to make it a unique and useful tool. wikiHow supports Creative Commons because, in the words of its founder, Jack Herrick, “I’d like to live in a world where knowledge can grow and be built upon by many. Creative Commons creates the infrastructure to make this information sharing possible.” Check out wikiHow’s redesigned Web site.

Attributor provides the free service FairShare, first previewed at the CC tech summit in 2008. FairShare lets you assign a CC license to your work and receive information on how and where it is shared with others. Results come back as an RSS feed and include information about the percentage of your work re-used, whether you’ve received attribution and if ads are present. According to Attributor VP, Rich Pearson, “We’re a proud supporter of Creative Commons and do everything we can to spread their vision of saving the world from failed sharing.”

Please join Rich, Jack, and the rest of the folks at Attributor and wikiHow in investing in Creative Commons and a bright future for the world of online sharing. Your support helps, and every contribution counts, so please give what you can and donate today!

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CC Talks With: The Shuttleworth Foundation on CC BY as default and commercial enterprises in education

Jane Park, December 22nd, 2009

Photo by Mark Surman CC BY-NC-SA

For those of you who don’t know Karien Bezuidenhout, she is the Chief Operating Officer at the Shuttleworth Foundation, one of the few foundations that fund open education projects and who have an open licensing policy for their grantees. A couple months ago, I had the chance to meet Karien despite a six hour time difference—she was in Capetown, South Africa—I was in Brooklyn, New York. Via Skype, I asked her about Shuttleworth’s evolving default license (CC BY-SA to CC BY), her personal stake in OER, and how she envisions us (CC Learn and Shuttleworth) working together. She also gave me some insights into three innovative open education projects they have a hand in: Siyavula, M4Lit, and Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU).

The conversation below is more or less transcribed and edited for clarity. It makes for great holiday or airplane reading, and if you’re pressed for time, you can skip to the topics or projects that interest you. This is CC Learn’s last Inside OER feature of 2009—so enjoy, and happy whatever-it-is-that-you-are-doing-in-your-part-of-the-world!

Read More…


Commoner Letter #6: Stephen Friend of Sage Bionetworks

Allison Domicone, December 21st, 2009

Stephen Friend is the President, CEO, and co-founder of Sage Bionetworks. He was previously a Senior Vice President at Merck & Co., Inc. where he led Merck’s Basic Cancer Research efforts. Stephen is a committed advocate of Science Commons, the wing of Creative Commons dedicated to making the Web work for science. Stephen’s innovative work with Sage creating an open access bionetwork is inspiring and commendable, and we’re honored to have him write the sixth letter in the Commoner Letter series of this year’s fundraising campaign. We hope you will be inspired by his story of scientists coming together to grow a commons that will help speed medical innovation and discovery and will join him in supporting Creative Commons today.

Stephen Friend

Dear Creative Commoner,

I’m writing today as the President and co-founder of Sage Bionetworks, a new non-profit medical research organization. At Sage, we’re working to build a pre-competitive space for scientists, research foundations, and research institutions to collaboratively discover the way diseases really work in the human body.

I started my career as a doctor, treating kids with cancer. My experience there led me into a deep study of genetics, and into the use of software and computation to investigate diseases by filtering genome data. For a long time, the field has been dominated by a reductionist approach to disease, and by the idea that success would come to individual groups who gathered and mined their own self generated enclosed data and content.

With my scientific partner Eric Schadt, we built software and databases at Merck that assemble “globally coherent” data (like clinical outcomes, genetic variation, intermediate traits, drug reactions) into unified predictive models. We have proven that it works.

But after spending seven years building massive models of human disease it becomes clear to me that no single company, not even one as big as Merck, could possibly gather and integrate enough information to make the decisions we need to make about when and how to treat something as complicated as cancer or Alzheimer’s, or for that matter, cardiovascular disease.

It was going to take a collaborative effort. I saw inspiration in Wikipedia, in GNU/Linux, in systems that were capable of scaling far beyond the capacity of a single institution.

So I decided to leave Merck, and build the seed of an open, pre-competitive space in biology using what we’d done inside the company. Merck gave us more than $150,000,000 worth of work, software and data and supercomputers, and we launched this fall with funding from disease foundations and other donors.

Our goal is ambitious. We want to take biology from a place where enclosure and privacy are the norm, where biologists see themselves as lone hunter-gatherers working to get papers written, to one where the knowledge is created specifically to fit into an open model where it can be openly queried and transformed. To learn more, please look at our website at We feel very fortunate to be working with the Science Commons project at Creative Commons on the construction of a scalable, open commons for biological research.

What Creative Commons is doing to build scalable communities who share – whether it’s creative works like photographs, stem cells, patents, or massive biological data like we’re doing at Sage – is essential infrastructure for the Web. Our goals at Sage won’t be realized if we can’t build a commons for us, for our users, for our patients.

I strongly urge you to join the fall campaign to support Creative Commons with a donation, and I also urge you to get out there and start licensing!

Stephen H. Friend
President, CEO and a Co-Founder, Sage Bionetworks

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Intellectual backing for the CC paradigm shift

Mike Linksvayer, December 21st, 2009

Our board member Hal Abelson points us to Modeling a Paradigm Shift: From Producer Innovation to User and Open Collaborative Innovation , an important new paper by Carliss Y. Baldwin and Eric von Hippel. If you’re interested in the theoretical case for the ascendancy of innovation and creativity in the commons — and for policy that does not cripple the commons — read, or at least skim these highly readable 29 pages. Their first policy recommendation should come as no surprise:

The roots of this apparent bias in favor of closed, producer-centered innovation are certainly understandable – the ascendent models of innovation we have discussed in this paper were less prevalent before the radical decline in design and communication costs brought about by computers and the Internet. But once the welfare-enhancing benefits of open single user innovation and open collaborative innovation are understood, policymakers can – and we think should – take steps to offset any existing biases. Examples of useful steps are easy to find.

First, as was mentioned earlier, intellectual property rights grants can be used as the basis for licenses that help keep innovation open as well as keep it closed (O’Mahony 2003). Policymakers can add support of “open licensing” infrastructures such as the Creative Commons license for writings, and the General Public License for open source software code, to the tasks of existing intellectual property offices. More generally, they should seek out and eliminate points of conflict between present intellectual property policies designed to support closed innovation, but that at the same time inadvertently interfere with open innovation.

You can be a policymaker — share, discover, and support the commons. Regarding the last, read and heed Hal Abelson’s personal appeal — in this you’ll join Eric von Hippel, co-author of the above paper (see contributor list on Hal’s page).

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We Met Twitter’s $3k Matching Challenge! Happy Birthday CC!

Allison Domicone, December 17th, 2009


Thanks to everyone who donated to help us meet Twitter’s $3,000 matching giving challenge in record time! This is particularly great news, since today marks CC’s 7th birthday, so thanks to Twitter and thanks to everyone who donated – we’ve now raised a total of $6,000 toward our annual fundraising campaign!

We’re honored to have Twitter’s support, since the social networking site has played a huge role for CC over the past year. We use Twitter to engage directly and efficiently with people worldwide who care about participatory culture and the innovation and social good that come from it, and as a nonprofit we’re grateful for this valuable medium for giving and getting feedback, promoting projects, and announcing milestones. If you’re not one of the more than 240,000 people already following us on Twitter, visit our page and become one! It’s a simple way to stay up to date with all things CC.

Help ensure that Creative Commons is around for another seven years! We need everyone’s contribution in this final push for our 2009 annual campaign, so please donate today!

CC 7 years

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