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AMA Preview: The Physician “Brain Drain” from Sub-Saharan Africa to the US: Reasons, Consequences, Potential Solutions

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A recent PLOS One research article, “Monitoring Sub-Saharan African Physician Migration and Recruitment Post-Adoption of the WHO Code of Practice: Temporal and Geographic Patterns in the United States,” examined how the migration of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa to the United States for work has led to a dire health worker shortage in the region.

While this “brain drain” has been ongoing for decades, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa demonstrated its highly damaging impact, as affected nations struggled to respond to the epidemic with weakened health systems and a limited health workforce.

To discuss context and  scope, as well as potential solutions to this crisis, Authors Akhenaten Benjamin Siankam Tankwanchi and Dr. Sten Vermund will be participating in this week’s ‘PLOS Science Wednesday’ redditscience ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA). They will be taking your questions about physician migration, brain drain, and its global health impacts on RedditScience at 1pm ET (10am PT) on Wed, July 29, 2015. You can register on redditscience in preparation for this upcoming AMA (or on the day of), so you’ll be able to add your questions and comments to the live conversation.

From the research article… Introduction:

  • The WHO database [83] indicates that there were a total of 103 physicians in Liberia in 2004, but only 51 physicians in 2008, a 50.5% total physician loss within four years. We do not have the most current counts of physicians available in Liberia because they have not been updated in the WHO database since 2008. But, we do know that the current Ebola epidemic has further depleted Liberia’s meager health workforce. The Ebola Situation Report of March 18, 2015 indicates that 180 out 372 health workers infected in Liberia have died from the Ebola virus disease [86].
  • We sought to monitor the post-WHO CoP [Global Code of Practice; 2010] migration of physicians originating from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the region of greatest need, and recruited into the physician workforce of the US. We chose the US as the country with the largest global stock of IMGs in its workforce [4445]. We captured all SSA immigrant physicians in residency or licensed practice in the US three years post-adoption of the CoP. We then described their growth rates, location patterns, and projected numbers in 2015.
  •  Those monitored included 11,787 active and semi-retired SSA-origin physicians.

From the research article… Discussion:

  • Although comprising only 1.3% of the US physician workforce, SSA migrant physicians found in the December 2013 AMA Masterfile represent a significant loss for the health systems in the SSA region.
  • Compared to SSA countries, populous source countries with a tradition of medical migration like India, Pakistan, and the Philippines have much larger numbers of émigré physicians in doctor-receiving countries like the US, the UK, Canada, or Australia [44]. But, relative to the number of physicians remaining in the source countries, the SSA region as a whole has a much higher migration proportion, losing between 13.9% [44] and 28% [6] of its physicians.”

Why young SSA doctors leave or stay (from the research article):

  • The  primary motivations for young doctors to leave their home countries include: family reunifications (meeting/re-uniting with significant others in the United States); moving to the US to seek treatment for one’s child; better conditions of service and standards of living; cultural trends and ease of international travel; i.e. emigrating because one can.
  • As for reasons to remain in one’s home country the authors identified: place attachment, professional stability and relative comfort (e.g., “It is not all rosy here in Nigeria, but one cannot go on complaining that things are terrible”); risk aversion; and, inability to obtain travel visa.

Selected Q&A with lead author “Benjamin” Tankwanchi

(Asked by Sara Kassabian, PLOS Social Media Coordinator)

Akhenaten Benjamin Siankam Tankwanchi

PLOS: For a previous article, you interviewed fraternal twin brothers from Ghana who are both physicians, but chose to practice medicine in different settings. What were the factors that motivated one brother to stay in Ghana and practice medicine? What were the factors that motivated the other brother to come to the United States? Are some of their motivations to practice medicine at home or in another country generalizable to the broader group of physicians born in sub-Saharan Africa that make these choices?

AT: Yes, I interviewed two fraternal twins who are both Ghanaian-born and trained physicians with over 20 years of experience each. It must be said that these twins were raised together and accomplished almost everything together, including a mutual decision to turn down a highly selective scholarship to pursue engineering training in the UK. They instead sought admission into the medical school of their local university, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana.

They graduated in the early 1990’s and practiced in Accra (Ghana’s capital) until the late 1990’s when one of twins moved to Canada to re-unite with his family (wife and first child). He now lives in an affluent suburb of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area and works as a medical faculty at one of the medical schools in the region.  Interestingly, the other twin has decided to stay and practice in Ghana despite encouragements from his US-based twin brother to follow him to the US. What he explained to me was that he didn’t want to become “second-class citizen” in the United States and had no desire to go through the hassles of US residency admissions. When I asked if, at times, he didn’t have any regrets for his decision to stay in Ghana while his brother is practicing in much better conditions in the US and earning much more money, he observed:

“It’s a dilemma for most doctors when they have to choose to leave. As I speak to you now, there are chances I’ve received calls [voice messages] from many of my colleagues abroad begging me to go and take care of their relatives [here in Ghana]… A lot of people are running into me and wonder why I’m still here, especially when my brother is out there [in the US]. They just can’t understand.”

This story challenges both societal expectations and prominent migration theories. It is not because this Ghanaian physician is unaware of the income differential between his US-based twin brother and him that he decided to practice in Ghana. It is certainly not because he lacked opportunity to emigrate or did not possess a network or migration channel to the US that he decided to stay put in Ghana. In essence, he seemed fully aware of the potential financial benefits of migration, but also of the costs. Having graduated from medical school 20 years ago, and having completed specialization training in internal medicine locally, he saw no benefits of moving to the US. He appeared quite content about his decision to stay in Ghana despite the challenging conditions of service and inadequate remuneration. “There is no place like home,” he told me repeatedly.

While this was the only pair of twins I interviewed, they were not the only twins within my sample. I interviewed two additional twins, and they both reported that their twins have also migrated. Thus, I don’t think that the case study of this pair of fraternal twins is generalizable. However, the main migration and non-migration factors they cited fall within one of the following categories of factors/reasons reported by participating physicians of my sample.

PLOS: Ebola was a major focus of programming at the 68th World Health Assembly in May. How much did the global health community focus on the mass exodus of physicians born in West Africa who move to the United States to practice medicine? Has the discussion about health systems weakened by Ebola led to any substantial action to improve training and retaining health workers in country?

AT: Indeed, Ebola was a dominant topic at the 68th WHA, [although I did not attend] I am unaware of any discussions focusing exclusively on the physician brain drain from West Africa to the United States.

From my reading of WHO Strategic Response Plan to the Ebola outbreak, the priority with regard to workforce has been given to the rebuilding of short-term health workforce via emergency hiring, in-service workforce training, and timely payment of health workers.

Although the United States may be the main destination for migrant skilled health workers from developing countries, it is not the only or even the main destination for many West African migrant physicians. Most countries in West Africa, including Ebola-stricken Guinea, are French-speaking. So, many of their skilled health workers practicing abroad are likely found in France and other French-speaking Western nations like Belgium.

The focus cannot be on the United States alone, although it is the big ‘culprit.’

PLOS: Since the publication of your paper, has the detrimental role of the United States and other physician-receiving countries been acknowledged by global political leadership/WHO?

AT: The detrimental role of the United States and other major doctor-receiving countries has been recognized by WHO well before the publication of my papers. The strongest critique to date of the health workforce brain drain may be found in the seminal World Health Report 2006:

“When large numbers of doctors and nurses leave, the countries that financed their education lose a return on their investment and end up unwillingly providing the wealthy countries to which their health personnel have migrated with a kind of ‘perverse subsidy’. Financial loss is not the most damaging outcome, however. When a country has a fragile health system, the loss of its workforce can bring the whole system close to collapse and the consequences can be measured in lives lost. In these circumstances, the calculus of international migration shifts from brain drain or gain to ‘fatal flows’.”


Do you have more questions about the African brain drain? “Benjamin” Tankwanchi and his colleague, Dr. Sten Vermund, will be taking your questions about physician migration, brain drain, and its global health impacts, on RedditScience July 29th at 1pm ET (10am PT) on redditscience!

Sign up on redditscience ( in preparation for this upcoming AMA. Go to this page on July 28th to participate in the live AMA!





The post AMA Preview: The Physician “Brain Drain” from Sub-Saharan Africa to the US: Reasons, Consequences, Potential Solutions appeared first on The Official PLOS Blog.

Happy 150th, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! -

Alice’s Abenteuer im Wunderland / Public Domain

This year is the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In celebration, Medium and the Public Domain Review have teamed up to host A Mad Hatter’s Mashup Party, complete with the original text, illustrations, animated GIFs, and silent film adaptations in the public domain and under CC licenses.

This is a great opportunity to creatively engage with the Commons and put Medium’s CC licensing feature to work. A dozen Lewis Carroll experts will also be participating by annotating a special version of the text one chapter a week. 

The party starts today, July 28, and continues for as long as anyone wants to join. We’ll be recommending our favorite pieces on Medium.

It’s time to #MoveFASTR: support public access to publicly-funded research -

Shinkansen Tokyo by Parag.naik, available under the CC BY-SA license.

Tomorrow the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will markup S. 779, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (called FASTR for short). The bill–if enacted–would increase access to federally funded research. It was introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives on March 18, 2015.

FASTR requires federal agencies with annual external research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to the research articles stemming from that funding no later than 6 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. FASTR would extend the current NIH Public Access Policy to several federal agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and others.

We’ve supported policies aligned with the practice of making taxpayer funded research available free online, ideally under an open license that communicates broad downstream use rights, such as CC BY. In addition to making articles free to access and read, FASTR ensures that the research generated from federal tax dollars is made available and useful for new research techniques such as text and data mining. FASTR includes a provision to study the possible impact of requiring open licensing for federally funded research articles. The text calls for agencies to examine:

“whether such research papers should include a royalty-free copyright license that is available to the public and that permits the reuse of those research papers, on the condition that attribution is given to the author or authors of the research and any others designated by the copyright owner;”

FASTR would solidify the February 2013 White House directive aimed to increase access to the results of federally funded scientific research. That memorandum is similar in scope to FASTR, but since it is a directive and not a law, a subsequent administration could rescind that order.

It’s time to #MoveFASTR, and you can help! Check out the SPARC action page for ways to support FASTR. For example, you can:

  1. Call your Members of Congress and express your support for FASTR. You can reach them by calling the US Capitol’s switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking for your Senators.
  2. Engage your Senators on social media by tweeting at your elected officials about FASTR using the hashtag #MoveFASTR, or post about the bill on Facebook. You can find a list of all the twitter accounts for Congress here.
  3. Write a letter of support for this legislation and send it to your Senators. You can find a draft letter of support here. You can find your Senators’ contact information to submit the letter here.

Publishing Initiatives at PLOS: A Look Back and a Look Ahead

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In January 2015, we wrote about exciting developments at PLOS specifically designed to improve the author and community experience.   The changes begun at the end of 2014 included a redesign of our PDF layout into a clean, single column design, reconstructing many of our workflows, implementing continuous publication, and transitioning to a new composition vendor to convert accepted author manuscripts into XML and PDF formats used for online publication.  Now, six months later, we want to provide a status update on those projects and also let you know of still more initiatives planned for 2015-2016.

Single Column PDF Design

At the end of 2014 we introduced a new single column PDF design that enabled a more efficient composition process, while simultaneously improving readability on the variety of devices used by the research community.  From November to January PLOS rolled out the design across all seven of the PLOS journals.  During this time we received excellent feedback from our author and reader community that greatly helped fine tune the formatting rules used to automate the creation of the PDFs; many thanks to our community for the input.

New Workflows, New Vendors

While rolling out the PDF design, we simultaneously changed a number of workflows and vendors behind the scenes, including a successful transition to a new composition vendor, Apex CoVantage.  We firmly believed these actions would improve our quality assurance and typesetting processes, increase overall publishing efficiency across all seven of our journals, decrease time to publication, and ultimately provide a better experience for authors publishing in a PLOS journal.  After six months, we are seeing very clear signs of progress.  But progress did not come easily – or quickly.

Transition Performance

In January we noted that all of these changes – each one time sensitive and critical to improving the publication process – would affect our speed to publication and publication volumes in the short term. They did.  As we started publishing in 2015,  we saw the overall number of published items decrease in January and February (average per month of about 1,400) as compared to our normal monthly publication volume (2014 average per month of about 2,800).  By the end of June, however, we had published a total of 17,044 items, bringing our average per month back up to a bit more more than 2,800.

We predicted readers and authors might notice a slowdown.  They did. We sincerely apologize to those authors who experienced delays during this transition.  We gratefully acknowledge the patience of our community, and particularly our authors, during this period. We learned some important lessons which will help us minimize these kinds of problems in the future as we continue to improve our systems and processes.

Promising Preliminary Results

We also owe thanks to all our vendors for their patience and hard work.  The results we have started to see from this combined effort are quite exciting.  The predicted gains in speed, efficiency, and quality are now being realized. The backlogs that were created as we transitioned early in the year are all gone.  While it’s still early days, our preliminary data show a reduction in the time from acceptance to publication of 40-50% for three of our four community journals as compared to 2014 (April through June comparison).  The fourth journal, PLOS Computational Biology had a major workflow change, wherein we added a step for author proofs.  That initially resulted in some delays, but that timing has now recovered to 2014 levels.  PLOS ONE, because of its volume, has improved more slowly, but we are seeing steady progress.

Initial quality indications are also quite strong.  While it’s still a bit too soon for a full analysis, preliminary data indicate that the number of author requests for corrections coming in post-publication have dropped off by about 50%.

Throughout this time submissions from authors have remained strong across all seven of our journals.

Additional Changes to Come

We promised authors a tool to provide feedback and help with figure preparation, and currently that tool is actively being tested and refined and should be available sometime later this year.  Additional workflow changes are in the works that will help pave the way for author proofs for PLOS Pathogens, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, and PLOS Genetics in the coming months.

In addition, we continue to work on many improvements to our internal workflows and processes that will make them even more efficient. While many of these improvements are not visible to authors, they are helping us achieve a path to publication that’s as smooth and swift as possible.

Looking Farther Ahead

The PLOS mission is to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. One area of publishing in desperate need of transformation involves the systems used for submission and peer review.  PLOS is currently hard at work designing and building a new manuscript authoring and submission system called ApertaTM. At its core this new PLOS editorial environment brings simplicity to the submission and peer review process by providing advanced task-management technology and a vastly improved user interface, which will enhance the publishing experience for our community of​authors, editors, and reviewers. Stay tuned for more information on Aperta in the coming months.

PLOS remains committed to transparency in the publishing process, and we will continue to provide progress updates on our many exciting developments.  Thanks for your continued support of PLOS journals and the Open Access movement.

The post Publishing Initiatives at PLOS: A Look Back and a Look Ahead appeared first on The Official PLOS Blog.

The case of the witch and her cat: crowdfunding free culture -

The guest post below was written by Erik Moeller from Passionate Voices, in support of our campaign “Made with Creative Commons: A book on open business models” which will present in-depth profiles of Creative Commons use.

The dragoncow is chewing on an uprooted tree, its bulging eyes staring vacantly into the distance as the orange cat hanging off its udder extracts a large drop of milk into a wooden bucket held by a young witch balanced precariously on her broomstick. The scene is from David Revoy’s Pepper & Carrot, a much-loved comic strip about a witch and her cat.

Unlike most webcomics, which release new strips a few times per week, there’s typically one episode of Pepper & Carrot every month. Each episode is several pages long, crafted with an attention to detail rarely seen outside more commercial work. Slowly but surely, David is building Pepper’s identity and the world she inhabits. “So much heart in each and every piece you do”, writes one admirer in the comments.

Volunteers translate each episode to a dozen or so languages, on the basis of the source files which can be downloaded freely. David uses a GitHub repository to collaborate with the community and to share assets.

All this is possible because the entire comic strip is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Other than CC0, this is the most permissive licensing option Creative Commons offers. Works under these terms can not only be copied, but also remixed and built upon, including for commercial uses. Re-users just have to attribute David Revoy as the author.
David is no stranger to Creative Commons. He was art director for Sintel, a crowdfunded CC-BY licensed 3D animated movie produced by the Blender Foundation. His love for open source goes back even further, as he explained in a recent interview with Passionate Voices: “Even when I was using Windows and proprietary software, I always kept an eye on the Linux distributions. I always kept an eye on GIMP. It was one of my first digital painting tools. And I always really appreciated the whole movement.” Today, David uses Krita, an open source digital painting application which has been supported by two Kickstarter fundraisers.

User Manual by David Revoy, available under the CC-BY license.

David’s work on Pepper & Carrot is funded by a Patreon campaign. As of this writing, for every episode he produces, his supporters donate $1200, which is inching ever closer to the amount David needs to focus fully on creating the webcomic as his “dream job”. As such, he is not concerned about others building on his work as long as they attribute him for it: “I’m really happy if Pepper & Carrot can bring more money for external people.”  David is disappointed when people fail to meet the simple requirement to credit him as the author: “It’s easier to respect something that was given for free, in my opinion.”

Back in May, a Kickstarter campaign launched without David Revoy’s involvement to create a printed version of Pepper & Carrot. The initial version of the campaign suffered from attribution issues: “The author of the Kickstarter, in the description of his crowdfunding page, was acting like he was the creator. He was quoting my name but he was acting like it was my Kickstarter page, and it was really not visible inside the page.“ After David contacted the campaign creator, the attribution issues were fixed, and David tweeted in support of the campaign. In the end, $6,837 were raised towards a print edition which otherwise would not have happened.

Although David recognizes the power of the CC-BY license, there are circumstances where he uses more restrictive licensing. The Yin and Yang of World Hunger, a powerful painting which depicts the disparity between rich and poor, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial No-Derivatives license, because David doesn’t want to see it used for commercial or political purposes without his approval. The license doesn’t preclude him from selectively granting those permissions:  “There are plenty of associations about hunger that use this illustration, and I’m really happy to give them the illustration for free.”

David’s long term vision is to create an animation studio which only produces works under a free license. With his growing base of supporters, his vision is audacious but not outlandish. Today, many creators of webcomics and YouTube channels are funding their work through their fanbase, whether it’s through one-off campaigns or ongoing Patreon-style support. But relatively few use a Creative Commons license, and fewer still the very permissive CC-BY license alongside an open source toolchain.

When confronted with commercial use and unwanted derivatives, creators may be tempted to to default to a license that places limits on re-use, and as David’s story demonstrates, this can be a good answer, especially when dealing with sensitive works. And yet, there’s always the tantalizing question: What if? What if you let go, what if you set your work truly free? What if you push the limits of what’s possible with open source software?

Artists like David are experimenting with permissive licensing options and open source production methods to create a free culture with no strings attached. Fan support through crowdfunding platforms gives them the ability to do so without fearing loss of income.  You can find my full interview with David Revoy (and with other pioneers) on Passionate Voices, and of course you can read Pepper & Carrot online and join David’s community of supporters.

With your help, Creative Commons will be able to showcase many other examples of CC use and re-use. Please consider supporting the Creative Commons campaign, “Made with Creative Commons: A book on open business models”.

Global Summit Call for Participation – Extension -

The deadline for submissions to the CC Global Summit’s Call for Participation is fast approaching. But for those still getting their proposals together, there’s a reprieve – we’ve decided to extend the deadline until Wednesday 22 July.

The extension is in response to a technical glitch we’ve become aware of, which meant that multiple submissions from the same email address may not have registered properly. If you registered more than one submission from your email address, please contact to confirm they were all received.

The issue is now fixed, and we encourage everyone to add as many submissions as they can – the more, the better! We hope the extended deadline will also give the opportunity for people who are still sorting through ideas to submit – you can’t succeed unless you try.

We’re sorry again about glitch, and can’t wait to see the final submissions.

CC’s first-ever Kickstarter campaign — join us! -

CC Summit 2011 Warsaw by Kristina Alexanderson, available on Flickr, licensed CC BY 2.0.

Today we’re launching CC’s first-ever Kickstarter campaign. We’re raising money to write a book about open business models that incorporate CC licensing. We hope you’ll join our Kickstarter campaign and help us empower creators around the globe to pursue businesses built on open content.

This is an ambitious project. Over the course of the year, our plan is to find answers to the question we are so often asked — how can creators make money to sustain what they do when they are letting the world reuse their work for free?

To do this, we will find and profile 24 businesses, creators, and organizations that are successfully using Creative Commons. We will tell their success stories, but we also want to go a step further to reveal strategies that other creators can use for their own endeavors. Ultimately, we will put our findings together in an ebook, and we will publish an interactive tool that people can use to develop and evaluate their own open business models.

Along the way, we’re going to conduct an experiment in working in the open. We’ll be publishing regularly on one of our favorite storytelling platforms – Medium (who also happens to use CC licenses, and is one of the businesses we will profile in the book). We’re thinking of our Medium publication, Made with Creative Commons, as a digital whiteboard. There, we’ll share insights as we go, try out new ideas, and we’ll openly discuss obstacles we face, questions we have, and issues we are mulling. Our hope is that the process of researching, analyzing, and writing the book will be truly collaborative and open.

In fact, this Kickstarter campaign is itself a case study of an open business model. Crowdfunding has become a tried-and-true method to fund creative works in the digital age. In many ways, it’s an ideal open business model because it requires creators to think about building community from the start, rather than letting it be an after-thought. We see this Kickstarter as a great chance to get people interested and involved in our work.

We have set a realistic but ambitious goal to fund the whole project, but like all Kickstarters, if we don’t hit the target, we don’t get any of the funds. It’s all or nothing, so we need your help.

Momentum really matters with crowdfunding. Help us start strong by supporting the CC Kickstarter now and by spreading the word among your networks. Help us show the world how Creative Commons can be good for business — and maybe even start one of your own.

Hjælp Creative Commons med at skabe bog om åbne forretningsmodeller

CC Danmark -

Creative Commons vil igang med at skrive en bog om åbne forretningsmodeller baseret på CC-licenserne: Så flere kan lære om hvordan man kan dele, men samtidig skabe en bæredygtig platform for kunstnere og indholdsskabere.

Giv en hjælpende hånd på Kickstarter, så vi kan producere dette inspirerende værktøj! Læs mere her eller i det følgende:

“Open” = the digital commons, collaboration, transparency, community.

Some people want you to believe there is a conflict between Open and Business. We’re out to shatter that illusion. 

Creative Commons (“CC”) is a nonprofit dedicated to Open. CC licenses are free copyright licenses creators apply to their own works, enabling the public to reuse the work under certain conditions. Sometimes CC licensing is core to a business strategy, and sometimes it is simply a way to increase the number of eyeballs on a work. In all cases, CC brings an element of social good to the table. 

We want to show the world the full spectrum of open business models made using Creative Commons. Our goal is to begin to answer what we consider one of the most important questions of the digital age: how do creators make money to sustain what they do when they are letting the world reuse their work? 

We are starting this work by trying out our own open business model here on Kickstarter. We want you to both support us, and help steer this project. Ready? Read on…

The post Hjælp Creative Commons med at skabe bog om åbne forretningsmodeller appeared first on Creative Commons Danmark.

New Translations: CC 4.0 licences now available in te reo Māori and Japanese -

Today CC is proud to launch two new translations of the latest version of the CC licences: Japanese and te reo Māori. These are particularly significant, as they are the first official translations of 4.0 into Asia-Pacific languages. Perhaps even more exciting, te reo Māori, the language of the Indigenous people of New Zealand, is the first indigenous language into which the CC licences have been translated.

Translation is an essential part of our licensing process — our licenses aren’t finished until everyone who wants to share and reuse CC-licensed works has the ability to understand the license in the language they know best. That means all populations, large, medium, and small. These two translations provide great examples of how our affiliates are achieving that goal – the ambitious and eager te reo Māori team, and the Japanese team.

The te reo Māori translation was completed by Ian Cormack, Director of Taumatua Māori Language Services and a licensed Māori Translator, and provided a number of interesting challenges – such as how to translate ‘Sui Generis Database Rights’ (eventually translated as Motika Pātengi Raraunga Momo Takitahi). Karaitiana Taiuru, prominent indigenous philosopher and governance practitioner and a leading figure in the online Māori renaissance of the internet, feels that the translation “is an important step for te reo Māori resources being able to utilise the power and flexibility of Creative Commons…The translated licences will promote taonga and matauranga to be created, shared and published with the legal protection of the Creative Commons licences while recognising iwi, hapū and whānau, as well as whakapapa of the material.”

The Japanese translation will also help significantly with the adoption of CC in that country. Japan still sees ongoing discussion on open data licensing, both at national and local levels, and this Japanese translation will add important choice for those interested in this issue. The process was started on Feb. 2014 and led by Tasuku Mizuno. Other contributors include Mitsuru Maekawa, Maki Higashikubo, Yuuri Nakao, who developed initial draft, as well as Naoki Kanehisa, Yuko Noguchi and Tomoaki Watanabe who joined the review process. Big thanks go to Der Spiegel im Spiegel, Butameron, Mr. Kawanishi, and others who publicly or directly provided CC Japan team valuable inputs.

We are looking forward to seeing what new uses of the licences come from these translations. We also have some more great translations coming up, so watch out for more info.

Help Outernet and Creative Commons build a #LibraryFromSpace -

Hubble Space Telescope and Earth Limb / NASA on The Commons / No known copyright restrictions

If you could send a folder with 50 MB of content to every human on Earth, what would you include? This weekend Creative Commons volunteers and Outernet are hosting a CC Content Edit-a-thon to populate the first Outernet library to be broadcast from space. The edit-a-thon will take place at Mozilla Festival East Africa (MozFestEA) in a weekend-long track that will be kicked off Saturday morning by Outernet and CC volunteers from Uganda and Kenya. During the first hour, Outernet will introduce the initiative and set guidelines, and CC volunteers will provide basic knowledge and training about how and where to find open content. This first hour will be recorded and posted to the Outernet wiki and Outernet’s YouTube channel so that anyone in the world may participate.

Remote participation from anywhere in the world is encouraged! Here’s how you, your friends and colleagues can participate:

  • Tell people about it! Send them to this blog post, or this one by Outernet, or and tweet using #LibraryFromSpace.
  • Re-post this on your own blog – this blog post is public domain (CC0).
  • Register (free) to help Outernet anticipate the number of participants.
  • Come to a physical edit-a-thon. In addition to the MozFestEA session in Kampala, Uganda, CC volunteers in Guatemala will host their own satellite edit-a-thon to start building a CC library in Spanish for Latin America. CC volunteers in Nigeria will participate remotely as well.
  • On 18-19 July, head over to the Outernet wiki: Video, guidelines, directions, and the links to where you’ll be curating, creating, and editing open content will all be here. There will also be an open chatroom to communicate directly with MozFestEA participants and CC volunteers in Guatemala, Nigeria, and anywhere.

We hope to find and curate the best content for each country that is openly licensed or in the public domain. All new content created as part of this event will be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

In addition, Outernet is working on its CC platform integration to provide options for individuals who want to release their content into the public domain (via CC0) or under CC licenses.

Outernet and CC volunteers are building a library that everyone can enjoy, even without an Internet connection. Be one of the first to put content on its shelves!

More about Outernet

Outernet is Humanity’s Public Library, a free data signal broadcast from space that eludes censorship and is publicly editable. To receive the Outernet signal, a user can build their own receiver or purchase one from Outernet. Once an Outernet receiver is active, a user can browse the content they have received using any Wi-Fi enabled device.

More about MozFestEA

MozFestEA brings together different groups of people to build open innovative solutions and to brainstorm ideas and solutions to the current challenges in East Africa with the help of the web as a platform and web literacy. This years MozFestEA will take place at Victoria University in Kampala, Uganda on 17-19, July 2015.

Reminder: submit your proposals for the 2015 Global Summit in Seoul -

The 2015 Creative Commons Global Summit is taking place in Seoul, South Korea 14-17 October 2015. CC hosts this gathering every two years, bringing together our affiliate network along with partners, activists, and collaborators in the open movement to celebrate and advance the Commons. The last CC Summit took place in Buenos Aires in 2013.

You can submit proposals for talks, workshops, hackathons, panels, presentations, performances, showcases and other activities are welcome. The deadline for proposals is Friday, 17 July.


EFF: Fighting for your digital rights for 25 years -

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an absolutely essential organization that defends civil liberties on the Internet. It fights for users by promoting free speech and access to technology, championing privacy, and advocating for progressive solutions to intellectual property challenges in the digital age. EFF tackles these issues with some of the smartest and most committed lawyers, technology experts, and activists on the planet.

EFF is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month.

The work of EFF and Creative Commons overlaps on a variety of issues, including promoting the use of open licenses for publicly funded research and educational materials, protecting the public domain, and ensuring limitations and exceptions to copyright in support of users and the public interest.

For those of you around the San Francisco bay area, check out the EFF anniversary party on July 16. And even if you can’t make it there, consider becoming a member and supporting EFF with a financial contribution. Congratulations to EFF and the incredible accomplishments they’ve achieved over the last 25 years. Here’s to another quarter century!

Will the European Parliament criminalize street photography? -

Tower Bridge view at dawn, by Colin, CC BY-SA

Tower Bridge view at dawn. Modified to censor buildings that require Freedom of Panorama, by Colin, CC BY-SA

Over the last several months, Creative Commons has been following the review of the European Union copyright directive. One issue that has remained contentious is freedom of panorama. Freedom of panorama permits taking and publishing photographs and video of buildings, landmarks, and artworks permanently located in a public public place, without infringing on any copyright that might rest in the underlying work. For example, anyone may take and publish a photograph of the Torre Agbar in Barcelona without having to get permission from the rightsholder of the physical building. While some countries such as Spain, Poland, and the Netherlands enjoy freedom of panorama, others such as Italy, France, and Greece require that a photographer get permission for taking and sharing images of works in public spaces.

German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda has been tasked with developing a report that will make recommendations for potential legislative changes to EU copyright law. Reda’s report has been discussed widely, and last month the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament voted on amendments to her report, which resulted in a compromise text. On July 9, this report (and any amendments to it) will be voted on in the full EU Parliament.

The outcome of the legal affairs committee vote produced some positive actions for copyright reform in support of users and the public interest. For example, the compromise text introduced exceptions to copyright in the EU for libraries to digitize collections and lend ebooks, and for scientists and others to conduct text and data mining without needing an extra license to do so. The report also called on the European Commission to protect the public domain by clarifying that “once a work is in the public domain, any digitisation of the work which does not constitute a new, transformative work, stays in the public domain.”

Reda’s original proposal contained a provision that would have granted freedom of panorama throughout the EU. But an amendment passed by the legal affairs committee says that anyone who wants to take and share photography or video of public buildings and landmarks can only do so for non-commercial purposes. Reda calls the rule “absurd”:

This would restrict existing rights in many EU member states, introduce new legal uncertainty for many creators and even call the legality of many photos shared on commercial photo sharing platforms like Instagram and Flickr into question. Documentary filmmakers, for example, would have to research the copyright protection status of every building, statue or even graffiti on a public wall depicted in their movie – and seek the permission of each rightholder.

The consequences of adopting copyright rules that limit freedom of panorama to only non-commercial uses could make every vacationing photographer a criminal in the eyes of the law. The change would also be damaging to the commons, especially for a community like Wikipedia, which requires that photos and videos uploaded for use on the site be made available under free licenses that permit commercial use. As the Wikimedia Foundation notes, “the version of freedom of panorama now under consideration is not compatible with Wikimedia’s goal to broadly share knowledge. If this amendment became law, it would be more difficult for users to freely share photos of public spaces. It would be a step backwards in revamping the EU’s copyright rules for the digital age.” If this provision goes into effect, thousands of photos on Wikimedia Commons likely would have to be removed.

But you can help! Sign the petition to bring bring the freedom of panorama to all member states of the EU. Citizens of the EU can also contact their MEPs to let them know how you would like them to vote. Owen Blacker says there are two things to ask of MEPs:

1) Please support amendment A8–0209/3 by Marietje Schaake, to restore the meaning of the original text which extends liberal freedom of panorama to all EU member states;

2) Should Schaake’s amendment fail, then please vote to remove paragraph 46 from the report altogether.

The public should have the right to use photographs, video footage and other images of works permanently located in public spaces. Let’s support, extend, and protect the freedom of panorama across the European Union.

Colombian student Diego Gomez is going to trial for sharing a research article online -

Last year several organizations highlighted the situation of Colombian graduate student Diego Gomez, who had a criminal complaint filed against him for sharing a research article online. Gomez is a student in conservation and wildlife management, and for the most part has poor access to many of the resources and databases that would help him conduct his research. He shared an academic paper on Scribd so that he and others could access it for their work. If convicted, Diego could face a prison term of 4-8 years. Gomez will appear in court on June 30.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sums up Diego’s situation well:

He posted the paper online because he was excited that he found it, because he wanted to share that knowledge with others who shared his passion. Copyright should not turn students like Gomez into criminals for reveling in their quest for knowledge nor for helping others to do the same.

As Gomez goes to trial this week, we must ask again: why are we prosecuting students for sharing knowledge? We know that this type of draconian leveraging of copyright law is not uncommon. From suing a student for downloading scholarly journal articles to issuing a takedown of a dancing baby video to pushing through secret international trade agreements that will extend the term of copyright and harm the public and the commons, large rights holders organizations continue to wield copyright law to punish those who attempt to do what comes naturally for them–sharing.

At the same time, with the dedicated work of individuals and organizations advocating for a sensible balance to copyright, there is hope that laws, regulations, and norms can be changed to support users and the public interest. For example, universities are adopting open access policies that preserve and make accessible the research of their faculty. The copyright reform debate in Europe has finally dropped a potentially dangerous provision that would have permitted rights holders to control how linking operates on the web. And WIPO adopted a treaty to increase global access to copyright-protected materials for the blind and visually impaired.

You can read what Diego has to say about his upcoming trial at Fundación Karisma. Fundación Karisma is the Colombian digital rights advocacy organization that is providing legal support to Gomez. And you can take action now to support Diego by signing the global declaration promoting open access to research.

Image by EFF / CC BY.

Research Matters

Plos -

Research Matters is a new article series in which active scientists speak directly about why basic research in their field matters. It bridges the gap between academic research and the public by explaining how diverse fundamental research assures real and compelling impact on public health, human knowledge and life.

The editorial and first articles in this series are from PLOS Pathogens Editors-in-Chief Kasturi Haldar and Grant McFadden, scientists whose basic research led them in unexpected directions. They provide vignettes of their respective careers, which they hope will encourage their colleagues to speak out in similar ways.

Grant McFadden with his grandson

In The Curious Road from Basic Pathogen Research to Clinical Translation, Grant McFadden comments, the “take-home message is that the results of true fundamental research still remain virtually impossible to predict, despite what pundits or politicians might have you believe. . . To me, the single most important justification for fundamental research in biology remains this: Mother Nature is mysterious and magnificent but some of her secrets can still be revealed if we only allow curious minds to ask the right questions.”

Kasturi Haldar

In From Cell and Organismal Biology to Drugs, Kasturi Haldar argues that “investment in a broad range of basic research (because it is important to query scientific problems in many ways) enables collective preparedness for new translational challenges that defy political agendas and fearmongering for partisan gain”. She warns that “failure to do this will jeopardize future employment, training, and education at the university, college, and high school levels.”

Both urge that, with the growing din of anti-science sentiments, those who have been lucky enough to pursue fundamental research as a career now more than ever need to speak up. If the next generation of scientists is to lead the way to the transformative discoveries of the future, we all need to articulate more clearly to nonscientists why, in our modern world, basic research matters more than ever.

Follow the series as it evolves.

Image credit: University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, Flickr

The post Research Matters appeared first on The Official PLOS Blog.

Ukrainian translation of : CC 4.0 -

Congratulations to Creative Commons Ukraine on the completion of the Ukrainian translation of the CC 4.0 license suite!
After a draft stage and a public consultation phase, involving legal practitioners and IP experts, the licenses are published today, on June 23.

The availability of the license suite in Ukrainian is of great significance for the visibility and use of Creative Commons licenses in the region. More than 30 million people are native speakers of the Ukrainian language, and we are pleased to welcome them to our CC community. We are very grateful to the CC Ukraine affiliate team for achieving this important accomplishment: Andriy Bichuk, Maksym Naumko, Iryna Kuchma and Sergey Tokar.

CC Ukraine would like to acknowledge the additional help that was provided during the public consultation process: Oleksii Ardanov and Iryna Didushko (State Service of Intellectual Property of Ukraine), Mykyta Polatayko (Sayenko Kharenko law firm), Oleksii Stolyarenko (Baker & McKenzie LLP) and Valentyna Trots’ka (Intellectual Property Research Institute of the National Academy of Law Sciences of Ukraine). Their contributions are highly valued and have helped making the Ukrainian CC 4.0 licenses a robust legal tool, broadly supported and universally acknowledged in the language area.

CC continues to work on translating the text of the 4.0 licenses into myriad languages. Our goal is to ensure that everyone around the globe has full access to the CC licenses in their language of choice.

Please join us in our translation efforts!


Global Summit Call for Participation and Proposals – Now Open -

The Creative Commons Global Summit takes place every two years bringing together our global affiliate network along with partners, activists, and collaborators in the open movement to celebrate and advance the Commons.

We’re pleased to announce the Call for Participation and Proposals for this year’s Global Summit in Seoul, South Korea, October 15-17 2015, is now open.

Seoul, South Korea by Doug Sun Beams CC BY

Proposals for talks, workshops, hackathons, panels, presentations, performances, showcases and other activities are welcome.

A logo competition for the Global Summit is also underway.
Registration is open and opportunities for scholarships to cover travel and accomodation costs available.

Submit your proposal now and join us in celebrating, working on, and building the future of the Commons.

PLOS Appoints Veronique Kiermer as Executive Editor for PLOS Journals

Plos -

PLOS announced today that after an extensive search, Dr. Veronique Kiermer has been appointed Executive Editor. Kiermer will be responsible for the editorial and content direction and vision for PLOS’ journals. Her appointment is effective July 20, 2015.

“The depth and breadth of Veronique’s global publishing experience will be a critically valued asset to our editorial and executive team,” said Elizabeth Marincola, Chief Executive Officer of PLOS. “PLOS is entering a new phase of innovation and we are grateful to have a leader of Veronique’s caliber join our organization at this exciting juncture in our history.”

“I am delighted to be joining PLOS. I have long admired PLOS for its leadership in transforming research communication,” said Kiermer. “The editorial group is well respected in the industry and I look forward to the opportunity to make a central contribution to PLOS’ continued transformation of scientific communication.”

Prior to joining PLOS, Kiermer was Director of Author and Reviewer Services for Nature Publishing Group (NPG), where she oversaw the Nature journals research integrity and editorial policies. She also focused on the author and reviewer experience across the publishing portfolio of NPG. She was the founding Chief Editor of Nature Methods and subsequently took on publishing responsibility for the title and other online products. In 2010, she became Executive Editor, NPG, overseeing editorial policies and editorial quality assurance for Nature and the Nature journals.

Kiermer obtained her PhD in molecular biology from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and performed her postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco. She will be based at PLOS’ San Francisco office.

The post PLOS Appoints Veronique Kiermer as Executive Editor for PLOS Journals appeared first on The Official PLOS Blog.

Creative Commons Danmark til Folkemødet 2015

CC Danmark -

Creative Commons Danmark deltager i disse dage i Folkemødet på Bornholm, hvor mere end 25.000 mennesker henover weekenden diskuterer politik, kultur, erhverv og meget andet. Kom og mød os!

Generelt er deling og deleøkonomi et stort tema i mange af de mere end 2.600 foredrag, workshops, paneldiskussioner og andre events som er i Folkemødets imponerende omfangsrige program. Creative Commons Denmark er i programmet til én af dem, nemlig Bibzonen (Statsbibliotekets) session “Sharing Is Caring” lørdag kl. 13. Her vil CC Danmark’s Christian Villum sidde i et panel der skal diskutere kulturarv og kulturformidling for biblioteker og andre såkaldt “GLAM”-institutioner (GLAM er international forkortelse for “galleries, libraries, archives and museums”). I panelet sidder også Berit Anne Larsen fra Statens Museum for Kunst, Jeppe Bjørn fra Lyngby-Taarsbæk Bibliotekerne – og panelet modereres af Michel Steen-Hansen, der er direktør for Danmarks Bibliotekstforening.

Læs mere om arrangementet her – og kig forbi hvis du er på Bornholm i disse dage.



The post Creative Commons Danmark til Folkemødet 2015 appeared first on Creative Commons Danmark.

Why CC is making a mobile app -

Today we’re pushing the latest beta release of our mobile app, The List powered by Creative Commons. It’s a mobile photography app that invites users to create a list of images they want, or submit photos to help a person or group who created a list. Every image is uploaded to the archive with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence, allowing anyone to use the images so long as they give proper credit to the author.

Our initial build was supported with a prototype grant from the Knight Foundation, which gave us the resources we needed to build a proof of concept. We built a team – from Creative Commons, our technical lead Matt Lee and senior counsel, Sarah Pearson – and Alexandra Bain and the team at Toronto agency Playground. We learned a lot in that process, and have shipped regular releases since then. It’s really starting to look great. We are now working to scope a consumer MVP (minimum viable product – the simplest version of the app that still meets all the core user needs) and to raise funds to bring the app to everyday users as well.

As Clive Thompson wrote in Wired, “only you can overthrow the tyranny of stock photos”. The commons is a collective creation, and we see the opportunity to create a dynamic and vibrant pool of available images from people who want to share – and to directly connect photographers and those who want images they can build upon. In the article, Thompson encouraged us to share our images with CC licenses. That will get us part of the way – but we need to be able to ask for what we want, and help users submit what’s needed. And the process needs to be engaging, fun, and rewarding.

When I read Thompson’s article, I was inspired to create The List. We see opportunities to use The List to enhance the content on platforms like Wikipedia, to share images for open journalism, to collaborate to build open textbooks, or to document observations in citizen science. And we know that users will come up with many more ideas of their own.

Why should CC build a mobile app? There are a few answers to that question:

  1. Most importantly, we believe there’s a need for the app, and that it will give value to those who use it, and those who use the images.
  2. Making it easier to contribute to the commons is one of our strategic goals, not only because it creates a better archive of resources to use and re-use, but also because each contribution deepens the investment and value of the commons. It grows the movement.
  3. We see an opportunity to pilot new approaches to CC, including one-click attribution, embedded licensing, content analytics, and more.
  4. The web is going mobile, and CC has to understand how that will impact what we do. Building on the platform is one great way to work through the issues and challenges, while supporting our partner platforms who are asking us for advice on issues they’re facing, like attribution on mobile.

We’re very grateful for the early support we received from Knight, and we’re optimistic that we can raise the funds necessary to develop the app and bring it to a mainstream audience. For now, I encourage you to try the latest build on your Android phone or tablet, give us your feedback ideas and suggestions, or even contribute some code.


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