In 2016, Creative Commons launched a small grant program called “The Awesome Fund.” In total, 19 grants funded a wide range of creative projects led by members of the CC network.
The Long Road to the Hall of Fame
One of the grant recipients was Réda Zine, an author, director, and producer based in Italy. Zine used the grant to help complete his feature length documentary, The Long Road to the Hall of Fame, which tells the story of Tony King (a.k.a. Malik Farrakhan).
Tony King is a former National Football League player, model, and actor—he appeared in films such as Shaft and Gordon’s War. In the 1980s, however, King transitioned from actor to political activist by joining the Nation of Islam and changing his name to Malik Farrakhan. Eventually, he became chief of security for the hip-hop group Public Enemy.
By documenting the life and work of Tony King (a.k.a. Malik Farrakhan), the film explores how King’s life “is a parable spanning the last 40 years of African-American history.”
Good news for people and groups working on ways to empower creators:Today, Coil announced Grant for the Web, a new $100 million fund to benefit creators and promote the open Web Monetization standard.
Grant for the Web is funded and led by Coil, in collaboration with Creative Commons and Mozilla. The fund hopes to address some of the most serious problems facing the Web, including privacy abuses related to ads and unethical sponsored content, by fixing web monetization and disrupting content subscription services.
The program will fund individuals, projects, and global communities that contribute to a privacy-centric, open, and accessible web monetization ecosystem. Specifically, the Grant for the Web program encourages content creators and software developers to develop and test new business models using Web Monetization, an open web standard that has been proposed to the W3C Web Incubator Community Group.
Grant for the Web is committed to awarding at least 50% of all grant dollars to proposed software projects and content projects that will be openly licensed. Special consideration will be given to projects that reflect the values of the global commons, such as:
Increasing users’ autonomy, privacy, and control over their own data
Promoting diversity and inclusion on the internet
Increasing access to the full capacity of the internet, both for content consumption and content creation, for historically marginalized or disadvantaged communities and individuals
Representatives from Coil, Creative Commons, and Mozilla will make up the initial Grant for the Web Advisory Council, which governs the fund’s activities. Additionally, Coil, Creative Commons, and Mozilla will each designate an advisor to serve on a Technical Advisory Group. The purpose of this group will be to guide the direction of the program, and to review grant applications from a technical perspective and in turn provide recommendations to the Advisory Council.
As collaborators on this project, we’re excited to help foster new and innovative business models that will address issues facing the Web today. For more information and updates about Grant for the Web, including upcoming calls for proposals, visit http://grantfortheweb.org/.
Creative Commons is delighted to welcome Cable Green as the organization’s interim Chief Executive Officer. As we recently announced, Ryan Merkley has stepped down after five years of service as CEO to start a new position at Wikimedia. We are thankful to Ryan for his leadership at CC and excited for him and the Commons that he will continue as a leader in the open knowledge community.
Interim CEO Cable Green has been a key member of the Creative Commons staff for the past eight and a half years. As CC’s Director of Open Education, he has been one of the world’s most effective advocates for open licensing policies, and has worked extensively with the global open education community to improve access to effective open educational resources. Cable will continue to spearhead our efforts to advance open education as he takes on this new interim leadership role at CC.
The rest of the Creative Commons board of directors and I are very grateful to Cable for stepping into this new role. He is the perfect person to lead CC during this crucial transition period. He knows and understands the organization, the community, and the important work we do better than anyone. We couldn’t be more confident in him and the rest of the CC staff.
We are also excited to announce that we have launched a CEO search process to identify our next permanent CEO. This process will include outreach to the global Creative Commons community for insights about the future of CC and its leadership.
The Commons is ever-changing and resilient. It is my great honor to cultivate it along with Creative Commons staff, our global network, and supporters.
Creative Commons gets letters and phone calls and emails from all around the world. People write to share their work, call to get advice on how to use the licenses, and email to complain and to say thank you. Recently, we got a series of hand-written letters from a number of students in a US-based 5th-grade class, including this one:
We get letters. “I want to congratulate you on the drastic changes you’ve made to The People’s Republic of Copyright. As a 5th grader, what can I do to help?”
“I want to congratulate you on the drastic changes you’ve made to The People’s Republic of Copyright. As a 5th grader, what can I do to help?”
The Wikipedia article on “Republic” says, “A republic (Latin: res publica, meaning “public affair”) is a form of government in which the country is considered a “public matter”, not the private concern or property of the rulers.”
The commons is definitely a “public matter,” and we thought the idea deserved a little creative expression. As some of you may know, today is my last day as CEO at CC, and as a bit of a parting gift, CC’s Creative Director Eric Steuer and I collaborated with Toronto designer Cat Wood to turn the letter into a t-shirt. Available in grey, blue, and red.
Former CEO, Creative Commons
Citizen, The People’s Republic of Copyright
Over the past year, we’ve expanded our tech team at CC, welcoming four new staff members to help support the global commons through CC’s licenses and tools. Timid Robot Zehta joined us in October of 2018 as CC’s Core Systems Manager; Hugo Solar signed on in January as CC’s Web Developer; Bruno Ferreira also began in January as CC’s Front End Engineer; and our newest member, Anna Tumadóttir joined us this week as CC’s Director of Product. We’re very excited to be able to work with these incredible individuals!
Timid Robot Zehta, Core Systems Manager
Timid Robot brings 15 years of professional experience empowering others’ use of technology and digital infrastructure. Timid Robot loves cats, open source, systems and giving back to the communities around them. They have a BA in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College.
Hugo Solar, Web Developer
Hugo brings more than 10 years of experience as a web developer. He spent the last four years as a full stack developer and interface designer, working with local NGOs and institutions supporting social movements and labor unions. He lives in a quiet and small town in Chile with his lovely son; cooking, drinking coffee, and taking care of his orchard. In his free time, he likes to achieve a zen-like state by practicing Karate and Kickboxing.
Bruno Ferreira, Front End Engineer
Breno has 10 years of experience in software development working in various industries, from investment banking to oil engineering, to payment systems. Outside work, Breno spends his time in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he enjoys running, eating açaí, and paying an occasional visit to the beach. Breno can sometimes be spotted in other corners of the globe on his travels.
Anna Tumadóttir, Director of Product
Anna spent a decade building out all aspects of the operations of three distributed performance marketing start-ups. She is constantly considering opportunities for expansion and improvement. Anna grew up in Iceland, Scotland, and Malawi, and now calls Austin, Texas her home. Sharing information and resources is central to how Anna operates, as she is convinced it leads to a better existence for everyone.
Please join us in welcoming the newest members of our tech team!
Jeffrey Epstein used his position of power, influence, and wealth to abuse young women and girls. The brief message that follows relates to matters that are inconsequential in comparison to the pain of the survivors, although it connects to broader issues about the society in which that pain was inflicted and persisted.
Like many members of the Creative Commons community, I learned about MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito’s fundraising from Jeffrey Epstein when Ito posted his public apology on August 15. Since then, Ito has resigned from MIT, from several boards, and also from the Creative Commons advisory council. In light of Ito’s history with CC, members of our community may have questions about his role and about our own fundraising practices. The FAQ below aims to answer those questions.
Did CC raise money from Jeffrey Epstein?
No. We have reviewed our donor database and can confirm, based on that review, that CC never received any funding from Epstein or his foundations or companies. Nor did CC ever identify Epstein as a possible donor. In addition, Ito has informed us that he had no contact whatsoever with Epstein on behalf of CC, which is consistent with our internal investigation.
What was Ito’s involvement with CC, past and current?
Ito was a CC board member from 2003-2014, CC’s board chair from 2006-2008 and from 2010-2012, CEO (part-time, unpaid) from 2008-2011, and on CC’s advisory council from 2014-2019. He resigned his advisory council position on September 7, 2019, effective immediately. The council is an ad-hoc group of individuals who provide advice to the organization on an as-needed basis. It is customary for directors who term off the board of directors to join our advisory council.
How do CC’s values shape its fundraising and what more could be done?
CC identifies and evaluates potential major donors using philanthropy databases and publicly available information. We also follow a gift acceptance policy that articulates the principles that constrain our fundraising efforts.
This episode provides a sobering opportunity for all groups who rely on donations to reflect on good practices for responsible fundraising. We are evaluating our policies and considering whether there is more we can do to ensure that we do not pursue or accept donations from sources that do not reflect our values.
This episode also raises bigger and more profound issues about who is included in and excluded from institutions that shape knowledge production and dissemination in our society. I won’t try to do justice to those issues of equity and inclusion here. But I do want to acknowledge their centrality to the mission of Creative Commons, an organization dedicated to empowering shared creativity and knowledge to build a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world. I look forward to engaging with our community as we reflect together on how we achieve those goals.
We’ve added two new awesome staff members to the Creative Commons team. Whitney Valentine-Wafer joined us earlier this year as CC’s Director of Finance and Treasurer. And just this past week, Victoria Heath began her new role as CC’s Communications Manager. We’re very excited to be able to work with these two very fine folks.
Whitney Valentine-Wafer, Director of Finance and Treasurer
Whitney brings 17 years of finance and accounting experience to CC, having worked extensively in both the nonprofit and private sectors. Prior to joining us, Whitney was the CFO for 4505 Meats. Whitney currently lives Alameda, CA with her husband, children, and cats. In her spare time, she enjoys preparing recipes from her sizeable cookbook collection.
Victoria Heath, Communications Manager
Victoria brings experience in knowledge translation and content creation—using effective communication tools and techniques to increase accessibility to global issues and policies. Before joining CC, Victoria was the Digital Communications Officer for the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto. Victoria can usually be found wandering around Toronto with her Nikon in one hand and a mocha in the other, listening to BBC radio and talking to strangers.
Over the last several months, Creative Commons has collaborated with theAmerican Library Association (ALA) on the first-ever print complement to the CC Certificate program—and we are thrilled to announce that the book will be available in November!
The CC Certificate program is Creative Commons’ official training in open licensing. It targets copyright law, CC legal tools, and the recommended practices of working in our global, shared commons. The CC Certificate is currently offered as a 10-week online course, or as a 1-week in-person training (bootcamp) to educators and academic librarians.
After training hundreds of academics, technologists, lawyers, instructional designers, and non-government organizations, we’ve received many requests to make the Certificate accessible to more people. Addressing that demand, we:
Implemented a training program for facilitators, so we can host more classes at once;
Launched a scholarship program to make the Certificate program more affordable to colleagues in the Global South;
Collaborated with colleagues around the world on translations in multiple languages as well as Certificates for different audiences (ex: GLAM);
Posted all of our course content freely accessible in downloadable file formats online;
And now, we’ve collaborated with the American Library Association to create the print companion to our online course! Titled Creative Commons for Educators and Librarians, this publication is licensed CC BY, and offers an additional way to access the open-licensed Certificate content. Pre-order this book in print at the ALA bookstore, ahead of its official release in November 2019.
The Fellowship supports outstanding individuals developing free culture projects in their communities under adverse circumstances, honoring the legacy of beloved artist, open source technology innovator, free culture advocate Bassel Khartabil.
Bassel was Creative Commons’ Syrian project lead, the cofounder of Syria’s first hackerspace, and a prolific open source contributor to projects like Firefox and Wikipedia. Bassel’s final project, relaunched as #NEWPALMYRA, entailed building free and open 3D models of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. In his work as a computer engineer, educator, artist, musician, cultural heritage researcher, and thought leader, Bassel modeled a more open world, impacting lives globally.
Bassel was taken from the streets in March of 2012 in a military arrest and interrogated and tortured in secret in a facility controlled by Syria’s General Intelligence Directorate. Despite international outrage at his treatment and calls for his release, in October of 2015 he was moved to an undisclosed location and executed shortly thereafter.
“Bassel was not only a dear friend, but also a fearless advocate for free culture who showed us all what a true commitment to the betterment of humanity looked like,” said Barry Threw, Executive Director of Fabricatorz Foundation. “His work could not have succeeded without the friendship of a global community. With supporters like Mozilla Foundation and Creative Commons, we can make sure the next generation can advance the values core to Bassel’s life.”
Fellows are expected to lead projects or initiatives that will catalyze free culture, particularly in societies vulnerable to attacks on freedom of expression and free access to knowledge.
Special consideration will be given to applicants operating within closed societies and in developing economies where other forms of support are scarce, but all interested applicants are encouraged to apply.
The Fellowship is organized by Fabricatorz Foundation with support from Creative Commons and Mozilla Foundation, along with partnership from Khartabil’s final projects: Nophotozone and #NEWPALMYRA.
The Fellow will be selected by a jury of free culture community luminaries, and presented at the 10th anniversary Mozilla Festival, from October 21-27 in London. Throughout their one-year term, the chosen Fellow will receive a stipend of $50,000 USD, mentorship from affiliate organizations, skill development, project promotion, and fundraising support from the partner network, as well as other benefits.
We’re excited to release our latest Teespring campaign that features the artwork created by João Pombeiro for the 2019 CC Global Summit!
When we asked Portuguese artist and filmmaker, João Pombeiro to design a logo for the 2019 CC Global Summit, we were confident he would create something that would capture the global movement for the commons. He didn’t disappoint.
By using only the CC search tool, the public domain and CC0 licensed images, João crafted a unique piece of art (licensed under CC BY) that resonated with our community.