I’m delighted to announce, on behalf of the Creative Commons (CC) Board of Directors, the formal launch of the global search for the next Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CC.
The timing could not be more exciting for CC. We will welcome our next CEO as we prepare to enter our third decade as the global standard for sharing works of knowledge and creativity.
Our new CEO will both shape the organization’s future strategy and operationally lead the team and community by leveraging CC’s tremendous assets. These assets include CC’s core competencies, credibility, and track record; as well as the skills, commitment, and passion of its talented board of directors, advisory council, staff, global network, and volunteers.
This is an outstanding opportunity for a creative strategist and manager to champion the work of a leading voice in the open movement as it evolves its role within its community and the world.
This is part of a series of posts introducing the projects built by open source contributors mentored by Creative Commons during Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2019. Ari Madianwas one of those contributors and we are grateful for his work on this project.
The Creative Commons (CC) License Chooser was made nearly 15 years ago and is long overdue for an update. The purpose of the CC Chooser is to help users choose which CC license is right for them and their needs. However, since its release, it has fallen short in a few respects.
First, the user interface is quite cluttered, with no clear visual hierarchy. For example, elements on the page appear to be fighting for equal importance. Second, the lack of a clear call-to-action makes it difficult to get started using the tool. Third, it’s difficult to understand what the selected license means, as well as get an idea of what the full CC license suite has to offer due to a lack of information.
The New Chooser
Since May 2019, an updated version of the CC License Chooser has been in development as part of the 2019 Google Summer of Code (GSoC). The main goal of the original GSoC project, “Human-Centered Education of CC Licenses,” was to revamp the CC Chooser with a greater focus on usability and on the educational experience of the license suite. Today, the updated CC Chooser is still a work in progress, particularly with regards to the user interface design and internationalization.
The screenshot above shows a small section of the new CC Chooser. At the top of the image is the updated CC license selection section. In terms of design and usability, this is already a huge improvement over the existing CC Chooser. However, we’re still making minor improvements based on user feedback. We’ve carried over the functionality of the HTML license mark generator from the original CC Chooser but added rich text generation, simplified it to be more usable, and brought a more contemporary look to the generated mark.
A new addition to the CC Chooser is what we call the “Help Section,” which can be seen at the bottom of the image. The purpose of this section is to help answer questions that users might have during the license selection process and to help users get a better idea of what the CC license suite has to offer, as well as how it works.
The new CC Chooser still needs some work before it’s ready to become the CC Chooser. For example, we need to:
Make improvements to the CC Chooser’s UI and selection process. This includes making license selection easier, simplifying the UI, and integrating it with CC’s new web design system called Vocabulary.
Internationalize the CC Chooser (i.e. make it available in multiple languages)
Finish technical work related to the CC Chooser’s infrastructure
The UI improvements and internationalization work are core objectives of the Outreachy internship running from December 2019 to March 2020. Olga Bulat is the Outreachy intern currently working on the CC License Chooser. She’s experimenting with the introduction of a step-based system for CC license selection, which will help guide the user through the various licensing considerations. She’ll also be collaborating with CC’s legal counsel and communications team to provide updated text describing each license in a clear and succinct way.
Anyone can contribute by testing the beta deployment of the new CC License Chooser. At the top of the page, there is a link to a feedback form. Take a look at the new CC Chooser and let us know what you think! You can also join the #cc-dev-license-chooser channel on Creative Commons’ Slack and keep an eye out for calls for volunteers to test usability.
Those who are technically inclined can contribute by fixing code issues, as well as finding and reporting bugs. The GitHub repo for the new CC Chooser is called “cc-chooser,” and can be found here. Please remember to read the contributing section in the chooser repo’s README. Issues marked with the green “help wanted” tag are open to contributors, however issues marked with the yellow “in progress” tag are not open.
This is part of a series of posts introducing the projects built by open source contributors mentored by Creative Commons during Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2019.Maria Belen Guarandawas one of those contributors and we are grateful for her work on this project.
“By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes.” David McCandless
The landscape of openly licensed content is wide and varied. Millions of web pages host and share CC-licensed works—in fact, we estimate that there are over 1.6 billion across the web! With this growth of CC-licensed works, Creative Commons (CC) is increasingly interested in learning how hosts and users of CC-licensed materials are connected, as well as the types of content published under a CC license and how this content is shared. Each month, CC uses Common Crawl data to find all domains that contain CC-licensed content. This dataset contains information about the URL of the websites and the licenses used.
Using the Linked Commons
In order to draw conclusions and insights from this dataset, we created the Linked Commons: a visualization that shows how the Commons is digitally connected.
In the Linked Commons, nodes (units in a data structure) represent websites of an organization, person, academic institution, etc. A link between nodes exists if one website hosts CC-licensed content that belongs to or is hosted by another website (as indicated by a URL link). A community represents a group of websites that are closely related to each other because they produce and/or share CC-licensed content between them.
Vast quantities of data make any web browser render elements slowly and may eventually freeze. Due to the 100k nodes included in the Linked Commons, the visualization initially took a long time to render and had a clustered appearance—this was a major concern.
That’s why we decided to use data from only a single month and chose the top 500 websites containing links to CC-licensed material, as well as all of the other domains those 500 nodes are connected to. In addition to lessening the loading time, we found that this was also more user-friendly because navigating the entire dataset’s graph would be dizzying. Even with this smaller dataset, we were able to gather valuable insights from the graph, including discovering subcommunities of CC license hosts and users. One such subcommunity is shown in the image below.
The subcommunity above is an “educational” community; made up of libraries, universities, and schools.
Visualizations like these are valuable for CC because they can help guide our outreach efforts and targeted communications. The CC Search team can also use this data to choose which domains to prioritize indexing in the CC Catalog.
The visualization is interactive; users can pan, zoom in and out, hover over a node to see its neighbors, and click on a node to display a pie chart, like the one below. We encourage users to test out the Linked Commons and see what insights they can gather from this information!
We plan to continue working on the Linked Commons. Here are some features we hope to add:
Live updates—The graph is currently static because it uses a single month’s data file that has already been processed. We would like to automatically update the graph as soon as new data is processed.
Filtering domains by country—Some domains have suffixes that represent countries, such as domain.au which corresponds to a domain from Australia. We plan to use these suffixes to filter nodes in the visualization by country.
Filtering domains by name—A user might want to check if a specific domain has CC-licensed content and how that content is used. We plan to add a search bar and provide the user with the ability to search for a specific node given a domain name and/or URL.
The Linked Commons is an open source project. The project’s source code is available in theGithub repo. Contributions are welcome! For the technical details of how this project was developed, please read this series of posts on the CC Open Source blog.
The CC Global Summit gathers those in the open community under the umbrella of learning, sharing, and creating; united by a passion for growing a vibrant, usable commons powered by collaboration and gratitude.
Call for Proposals, Art Submissions, and Research Posters
This year, we invite proposals that address the topics and issues outlined in the tracks below with a focus on actionable insights and outcomes, from case studies to workshops and storytelling sessions.
Creators of the Commons—The faces, work, and stories of those building the Commons
Powering the Commons—Exploring the tools, technology, and communities that power the Commons
Open Education and Open Scholarship—Supporting communities that practice open access to education and scholarship
Open Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums—Improving and expanding open access to cultural heritage
Policy and Advocacy Promoting the Commons—Strategies for legal action and copyright reform
We’re also pleased to announce that we’ve added two new ways for you to engage with the CC Summit, these include art submissions and digital research posters! Before submitting a proposal, art submission, or digital research poster idea, please read through the submission guidelines!
CC Summit Scholarship Fund
Finally, in order to reach the largest number of community members possible, we invest a significant amount of resources into our CC Summit Scholarship Fund and invite community members from around the world to submit an application for a scholarship. Learn more about our scholarship program!
In order to celebrate the public domain and highlight the work of artists around the world who contribute to the global commons, we are excited to showcase the creative works of six artists during the PDD celebration in Washington, D.C. Following the event, these works will be made available under a CC License or released into the public domain.
Meet the artists below!
Darnell Gardner is a photographer from Detroit. He explores how our senses of self form, fall, and form again.
David Amoroso shows his admiration for Latin culture through his artwork. Although the majority of his work is dedicated to painting portraits of everyday people, he also represents Mexican pop culture through his work. David has exhibited and worked in the D.C. Metro Area, New York, California, Arizona, North Carolina, and Mexico, as well as Central and South America.
Laci Jordan is a multidisciplinary designer, illustrator, Creative Director, and the true definition of a modern-day renaissance woman. Laci’s work concentrates on color, pop culture, the representation of marginalized people, and the intersectionality that exists amongst all of these spheres.
Naturel is a celebrated artist and leader in the creative community and we are excited that he will be showcasing some of his works during our event. Naturel’s influence in the art world and pop culture demonstrates the power creators of color have to shift culture once they are given direct access to their audiences and the power to build their own platforms.
Rikasso’s work is best described as a collage of various components that work in tandem to create one cohesive picture. Viewing the various components becomes an engaging game of look-and-find. By using various relatable references, Rikasso gives viewers a sense of themselves in the work.
Tenbeete Solomon, aka Trap Bob, is a visual artist, illustrator, and animator based in the D.C. Metro Area. She is known for her use of bold colors and gestures to convey both the humor and struggles of everyday life. Her work is socially conscious and frequently inspired by activism and community issues, with an aim to bridge the gap between her audience and her message. As the founder of Trap Bob World, LLC, a freelance design and product company, Tenbeete has worked with leading corporations, brands, and organizations—including Giphy, Pabst Blue Ribbon, the Elizabeth Warren Campaign, Apple, and Refinery 29.
The program includes lightning talks on a variety of topics, such as bias in algorithms, shared cultural resources, and technological innovation. There will also be a panel discussion on “how the freedom to build upon creative works can inspire and move culture” and live performances by the Bob Schwartz Quartet!
January 30, 2020 | 5:30-9:00pm
American University Washington College of Law, Grossman Hall
4300 Nebraska Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20016
5:15 – Registration Opens
5:30 – Facets of the Public Domain – Public Interest Organization Showcase and Reception (featuring the Bob Schwartz Quartet)
6:30 – Realizing Access to the Public Domain
6:50 – Remixing the Public Domain
7:15 – Too Important to be Protected: Limits on Copyright for a Healthy Society – Presentation by former MEP Julia Reda, followed by Lighting Talks
8:30 – Reception: featuring the Bob Schwartz Quartet
This post was co-authored by Diane Peters (CC’s General Counsel) and Alexis Muscat (CC’s 2019 legal intern)
For the past year or so, CC has been tracking and thinking about strict, less than-amicable enforcement activities involving CC licenses. These activities present a complex situation for our organization. CC licenses must be enforceable; they are designed to allow sharing while protecting a creator’s rights. At the same time, they are meant to be flexible in what attribution is required, which only need be “reasonable” based on the means, medium, and context of the re-sharing. Further, CC has always strongly encouraged amicable resolution of attribution disputes, an important value within the CC community, and one that has been dominant for quite some time.
Not all licensors support the ideal of amicable resolution. Some feel that strict enforcement is important. Others view license infringement as an opportunity to “catch” a failure to earn compensation for work that is otherwise being shared for free. Complicating this dynamic is that in some countries such as the United States, statutory damages exist that impose minimum amounts for violations. This is a function of copyright law and creates opportunity for what some may think is inequitable enforcement, a problem that goes far beyond CC licenses.
With a growth in online services offering reverse image search technology to quickly locate re-uses of a photographer’s image, it is becoming easier and more streamlined for licensors to pursue enforcement when they suspect infringement. In most cases, the service will pursue enforcement on the photographer’s behalf. While many people find value in these services, we think it is important to acknowledge that by using them the licensor seems to forgo the opportunity to resolve the dispute amicably through direct engagement with the licensee.
Oftentimes, when a license infringement is innocent, the mistake can be easily rectified and the relationship between licensor and licensee can be repaired. Relying on a third party service fractures the opportunity for connection between the creator and the re-user that allows this reparation to occur. This fracture can result in a missed opportunity for both licensor and licensee, most especially when those are both individuals as opposed to large institutions, to connect and learn how works are being used and re-shared. It makes the licensing under a CC license strictly a transaction, precluding what some feel can also be a community experience. As an organization that values openness and generosity, we think it is important for users and re-users to have the opportunity to build direct relationships and work together when possible.
Ultimately, CC does not take a position on these types of enforcement activities. We steward the licenses. We do not police them, nor are we a party to them. When a creator decides to license their work under a CC license they are entitled to enforce its terms. That said, strict enforcement may be contrary to norms that have developed and will continue to develop within communities that view licensing as an opportunity to openly share their creativity and contribute to the commons.
Creative Commons is committed to investigating options that allow us to further encourage amicable resolution while at the same time ensuring that the licenses are enforceable. These options include continued education efforts and technological solutions that make compliance easier. If users of CC licenses can easily and clearly understand the terms connected to their use, then infringement can be avoided and consequently so can resolution efforts—be them amicable or otherwise. At the end of the day, we value the relationship between creator and re-user; a relationship that is open, direct, and amicable allows productive problem resolution and an opportunity to express gratitude.
This complex situation provides us with a valuable opportunity to share suggestions for how to avoid infringement and resolve disputes amicably:
Always remember to provide attribution when you reuse a CC work. This is the source of most disputes between a creator and re-users. While flexible and easy to comply with, many re-users mistakenly think that attribution is optional. It isn’t unless the licensor tells you otherwise.
You may always reach out to the licensor to attempt to resolve the dispute amicably. Most of the time, problems with attribution can be quickly remedied without the dispute being elevated to legal action.
CC licenses do not limit fair use or other exceptions or limitations to copyright. So, if your use falls within one of those exceptions, you do not need permission under the license and are, therefore, not liable for a license violation.
CC licenses are flexible and require “reasonable” attribution in the circumstances. When an individual is using someone else’s content under a CC license, it is important to understand the license terms and follow them carefully. This is especially important considering the rise in online services that make it extremely easy for a licensor to locate reuses and possible infringements. Information about how to properly provide attribution can be found here.
In the future, look for CC licensed works under a 4.0 license. While incorrect attribution may still be a violation of the license, after being informed of it there is a 30 day period in which to correct the violation. While a re-user may remain liable for damages prior to fixing the violation, if cured the damages are cut off. Plus, the attribution requirements in 4.0 are even more flexible than in previous versions. You can find content under 4.0 licenses through CC Search.
EFF is working to provide resources to individuals who are on the receiving end of strict enforcement actions. You can reach out to email@example.com for more information about the legal services it provides.
Creative Commons regularly works with governments, foundations, and other institutions worldwide to help them create, adopt, and implement open licensing policies. These policies typically require grant recipients to openly license and freely share the work they create with grant funds. We do this to ensure publicly (and privately) funded works are openly licensed and freely available to be accessed, used, and remixed by the public.
Over the past two years, we’ve been working with USAID, the Global Book Alliance, the Global Digital Library, and the Global Reading Network on early childhood reading programs, with a focus on helping these programs to recognize the potential of open licensing to increase the reach and efficacy of resources that promote youth literacy. In the course of doing that work, we all realized that additional materials needed to be created for grantees of the programs to not only understand the open license grant requirements, but to undertake the practical steps of implementing open licenses. To respond to that need, we collaborated with USAID and the Global Reading Network to write and co-publish Open Licensing of Primary Grade Reading Materials: Considerations and Recommendations, a guide to open licenses that includes an introduction to the basics of copyright, an overview of the benefits of open licensing, and suggestions for choosing and implementing open licenses.
The document is licensed under CC BY 4.0, meaning that it can be freely used by the public, including government agencies, policy makers, and grant making institutions looking to educate their constituencies about the benefits of openness and best practices in implementing open licensing.
Collaborations like this are some of the most important and rewarding work CC is involved with. If you’re affiliated with a government or institution that could use our help in making the case for open licensing, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Paris Musées’ recently released more than 100,000 works under Creative Commons Zero (CCØ), putting the works into the public domain. They also released their collections’ Application Programming Interface (API), allowing users to “recover, in high definition, several royalty-free images and their records from cross-searches on the works.”
Users can scroll through the collection via the museum’s portal, discovering hidden gems like this photograph of French feminist Caroline Rémy and this beautiful illustration from an early edition of Les Misérables. This collection is a unique treasure trove for anyone interested in French history, art, and culture.
This announcement by the Paris Musées is a cause for celebration as it marks the continuation of a growing trend among GLAM institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art, that are recognizing the importance of open access to artistic and cultural artifacts.
We applaud the Paris Musées for this great contribution to the public domain, and we encourage other GLAM institutions to follow suit!
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reaffirmed Creative Commons’ interpretation of activities that are permissible under the NonCommercial (NC) licenses, which allow bona fide noncommercial reusers to hire out the making of copies of NC-licensed content, even to profit-making businesses such as Office Depot and FedEx Office. Below is an excerpt from the decision:
“Under the License, a non-commercial licensee may hire a third-party contractor including those working for commercial gain, to help implement the License at the direction of the licensee and in furtherance of the licensee’s own licensed rights. The License extends to all employees of the schools and school districts and shelters Office Depot’s commercial copying of Eureka Math on their behalf.”
This is the second time a federal appellate court in the United States has adopted CC’s interpretation of NC. The first decision was published by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit last year (summarized here) and involved copying by FedEx Office at the behest of school districts admittedly using the works for noncommercial purposes.
CC’s position has been clear in both of these cases: so long as commercial actors are not acting independently for their own commercial gain but solely on behalf of noncommercial actors, they are protected by the license granted to the noncommercial actors.
After all, entities must act through employees, contractors, and agents as a necessity. To require every teacher, employee (including part-time student employees), and third-party contractor making copies of NC licensed works to forego payment for their services would make it impossible for those types of licensees to use the works and facilitate sharing for noncommercial purposes.
This is a huge win for educators, school districts and, most importantly, students.
All students deserve access to effective open education resources (OER) and meaningful, inclusive learning opportunities. These NC-licensed OER will help ensure students have access to the effective learning resources they need by allowing schools to seek assistance in making copies when they do not have sufficient resources to do so on their own. Further, because these resources were created using public funds received by the New York State Education Department from the U.S. Department of Education, it’s important that they remain openly licensed.
In October, Creative Commons requested permission to file an amicus and participate in oral argument. Our requests were granted, and our amicus brief (friend of the court brief) with the 9th Circuit became part of the record. Andrew Gass of Latham & Watkins argued the case on behalf of CC (video).
A very special thanks to Latham & Watkins for their hard work and diligence over the course of both the 2nd Circuit and 9th Circuit cases.