Today the European Commission released licensing recommendations to support the reuse of public sector information in Europe. In addition to providing guidance on baseline license principles for public sector content and data, the guidelines suggest that Member States should adopt standardized open licenses – such as Creative Commons licenses:
Several licences that comply with the principles of ‘openness’ described by the Open Knowledge Foundation to promote unrestricted re-use of online content, are available on the web. They have been translated into many languages, centrally updated and already used extensively worldwide. Open standard licences, for example the most recent Creative Commons (CC) licences (version 4.0), could allow the re-use of PSI without the need to develop and update custom-made licences at national or sub-national level. Of these, the CC0 public domain dedication is of particular interest. As a legal tool that allows waiving copyright and database rights on PSI, it ensures full flexibility for re-users and reduces the complications associated with handling numerous licences, with possibly conflicting provisions.
The Commission’s recommendations warn against the the development of customized licenses, which could break interoperability of public sector information across the EU. The guidelines clearly state that license conditions should be standardized and contain minimal requirements (such as attribution-only).
In order to proactively promote the re-use of the licenced material, it is advisable that the licensor grants worldwide (to the extent allowed under national law), perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable (to the extent allowed under national law) and non-exclusive rights to use the information covered by the licence… it is advisable that [licenses] cover attribution requirements only, as any other obligations may limit licensees’ creativity or economic activity, thereby affecting the re-use potential of the documents in question.
This is a welcome outcome that will hopefully provide a clear path for data providers and re-users. It’s great to see this endorsement after our efforts alongside our affiliate network to advocate for clear best practices in sharing of content and data. The recommendation benefits from CC’s free international 4.0 licenses, saving governments time and money, and maximizing compatibility and reuse.
This week, Creative Commons US lead and CC board member Michael Carroll addressed the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. In his address, he emphasized that the success of Creative Commons tools doesn’t eliminate the need for copyright reform; it underscores it. He also laid out the case for why Congress should not extend copyright terms again.
Congress, copyrights have to expire. The constitution says so.
Congress’ power to grant the exclusive right to authors in their writings is for a limited time. That limited time currently lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. From an economic perspective, to promote the progress of science means to provide a sufficient incentive for both the creator and the investors in the creative process to make a fair return on that investment. Life plus 70 is far longer than necessary to achieve that goal.
Professor Carroll’s testimony begins at 1:30:
Professor Carroll asked Congress to consider a move to the way copyright law in the US functioned prior to the Copyright Act of 1976, which went into effect in 1978. The pre-1978 system offered creators an initial term of 28 years and an option to opt in to a second 28-year term. You can read Professor Carroll’s written testimony on the Creative Commons US blog.
Correction: This post previously referred to the Copyright Act of 1976 as the Copyright Act of 1978. The Act passed in 1976 and went into effect on January 1, 1978.
WikiProject Open is an online School of Open training program for new and seasoned Wikipedia volunteers to collaborate on improving Wikipedia articles related to openness. The aim of the project is two-fold: in addition to improving Wikipedia articles related to openness (such as open access publishing and open educational resources), volunteers seek to improve Wikimedia content generally with the aid of openly licensed materials.
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-54440-0001 / CC BY-SA
This Saturday, WikiProject Open’s Pete Forsyth and Sara Frank Bristow invite you to join their Barn Raising event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time, at the Oakland Impact Hub on 2323 Broadway, Oakland, California. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. You can also join the event online. Sara says:
“At the Barn Raising, we will focus on high priority Wikipedia articles: articles that are widely read, but that — despite ongoing efforts — remain poorly sourced, incomplete, or out of date. (In the wiki world, we often borrow the term “Barn Raising” to evoke the idea of a community coming together to build something substantial in a short time. It’s been described as a way to “make the impossible possible.”)
This event is open to all! Our goal is to make significant improvements to OER related articles; so those who are brand new to Wikipedia and/or open education might want to take a little time to prepare. We will send out helpful resources for beginners as the date gets closer.”
And read more about School of Open training programs here!About the School of Open
The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community for developing and running free online courses.
It is well known that the rules that allow for certain educational uses of copyrighted works under certain conditions without permission of the rights’ owners vary greatly between countries. But how different are those rules? And how difficult is to access those differences? Can a teacher with no legal background determine alone whether a certain use is allowed or not in his/her country?
We are answering these questions in a new working paper titled „Educational Resources Development: Mapping Copyright Exceptions and Limitations in Europe”, prepared by Teresa Nobre (Legal Lead of Creative Commons Portugal). The study is an investigation of the fragmented European landscape of copyright exceptions and limitations for educational purposes, across 49 European states.
We intend to understand the obstacles faced by teachers in each of the countries analyzed The shape of L&Es translates into limits to the free usage of content in education – and the more complicated the rules are, the more difficult they are for educators to follow.
The Open Educational Resources model has been traditionally seen as avoiding altogether the standard copyright regulations, by relying on a voluntary, free licensing model that establishes broad user rights for educators. The fragmentation of L&Es further proves the importance of open licenses for the development and dissemination of educational resources.
Yet it is impossible for educators and learners to rely just on OERs. As Creative Commons already stated, no matter how well crafted a public licensing model is, it can never fully achieve what a full set of open-ended and flexible statutory exceptions and limitations for educational purposes can. Only with a legal reform in place can we see an end to this balkanization of legal solutions and treat education as it deserves to be treated – as an exception to copyright and related rights.
We hope that the results of the study will provide evidence, within the current debate on copyright reform in Europe, for the need to further harmonize and strengthen user rights in education.
CC is supporting the Bouchout Declration for Open Biodiversity Knowledge Management by becoming a signatory. The Declaration’s objective is to help make biodiversity data openly available to everyone around the world. It offers the biodiversity community a way to demonstrate their commitment to open science, one of the fundamental components of CC’s vision for an open and participatory internet.
In April 2013 CC participated in a workshop on Names attribution, rights, and licensing convened by the Global Names Project which led to a report titled Scientific names of organisms: attribution, rights, and licensing that concluded:
“There are no copyright impediments to the sharing of names and related data. The system must reward those who make the contributions upon which we rely. Building an attribution system remains one of the more urgent challenges that we need to address together.”
Many of the attendees of the workshop and of the report cited above are among those who met in June in Meise, Belgium and released the Bouchout Declaration.
The declaration calls for free and open use of digital resources about biodiversity and associated access services and exhorts the use of licenses or waivers that grant or allow all users a free, irrevocable, world-wide, right to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly as well as to build on the work and to make derivative works, subject to proper attribution consistent with community practices, while recognizing that providers may develop commercial products with more restrictive licensing. This is not only aligned with the vision of CC itself, CC is also the creator and steward of the legal and technical infrastructure that allows open licensing of content.
The declaration also promotes Tracking the use of identifiers in links and citations to ensure that sources and suppliers of data are assigned credit for their contributions and Persistent identifiers for data objects and physical objects such as specimens, images and taxonomic treatments with standard mechanisms to take users directly to content and data. CC has participated from the beginning in the activities that led to the Joint Declaration of the Data Citation Principles and that promotes the use of persistent identifiers to allow discovery and attribution of resources.
Finally, the declaration calls for Policy developments that will foster free and open access to biodiversity data. CC works assiduously on creating, fostering, nurturing and assisting in the promulgation of open policies and practices that advance the public good by supporting open policy advocates, organizations and policy makers.
We have a few concerns: most copyright laws around the world treat data as not protected by copyright, thus would not require licensing. We are also aware that some cultures wish to preserve and protect traditional knowledge, so we want to make sure information is released by only those who have the right to do so without impinging on the rights of such segments that might otherwise be negatively affected by its release. However, overall we believe that open biodiversity information is crucial for science and society. Be it heralding the Seeds of Change, participating in the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), or assisting the Paleobiology Database to move to CC BY license, CC is playing a vital role in the progress of open science in the areas of biodiversity and natural resources. CC has committed to assisting organizations joining Google in the White House Climate Data Initiative. On a personal front I have released the entire codebase of Earth-Base under the CC0 Public Domain Dedication making possible applications such as Mancos on the iOS App Store.
Most of the world’s biodiversity is in developing countries, and ironically, most of biodiversity information and collections are in developed countries. Agosti calls this, “Biopiracy: taking biodiversity material from the developing world for profit, without sharing benefit or providing the people who live there with access to this crucial information.” (Agosti, D. 2006. Biodiversity data are out of local taxonomists’ reach. Nature 439, 392) Opening up the data will benefit the developing counties by giving them free and easy access to information about their own biological riches. Friction-free access to and reuse of data, software and APIs is essential to answering pressing questions about biodiversity and furthering the move to better understanding and stewarding our planet and its resources. Signing the Bouchout Declaration strengthens this movement.
CC is very proud to announce three additions to its Asia-Pacific community – two new affiliate teams in Mongolia and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and a revitalised team in the Republic of India. This boosts our Asia-Pacific community to 16 members and adds a great deal of valuable expertise to our affiliate network.
The first of these new groups to join us was CC India, which had its re-launch in November 2013. CC has had affiliate representation in India previously; however, the new team represents a substantial expansion of our Indian community following many years of networking and outreach by key people locally and internationally. It brings together three groups each of whom are already lead advocates for open culture and its benefits in India – the Centre for Internet and Society, based in Bangalore, will be be providing legal expertise; Acharya Narendra Dev College, who will take the lead in Open Education Resources; and Wikimedia India, who will focus on social outreach and community development. Each group contributes its own lead to help manage the governance of the team – Dr. Savithri Singh (Public Lead, Acharya Narendra Dev College), Sowmyan Tirumurti (Public Lead, Wikimedia India), Pranav Curumsey (Public Lead, Wikimedia India), Pranesh Prakash (Legal Lead, The Centre for Internet & Society). This new team has achieved a great deal over the past year, including workshops, translations and a collaborative competition for their own logo.
The next to arrive on the scene was CC Mongolia. Based out of the New Policy Institute’s DREAM IT and the Open Network for Education, ONE Mongolia, this team began to self-organise through a series of seminars designed to spur open culture in Mongolia, including a workshop lead by CC’s then Regional Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific, Chiaki Hayashi. Spurred by the energy from these events, as well as the success of the 2012 UNESCO OER Declaration, a team formalised late last year with leads drawn from across several organisations: Mr.Z.Batbold (Executive Director, New Policy Institute), Dr.D.Enkhbat (Public Lead), Ms.D.Nergui (Legal Lead), Ms.Baasansuren Burmaa (Technology Lead), and Dr. N.Norjhorloo (Community building in civil society). Following on from the founding workshops, they have begun their first project releasing open material through ONE Academy.
Last but not least, the very newest members of the CC family are CC Bangladesh. Once again, this team grew out of an enthusiastic group of people who were already working to encourage the adoption of open principles in Bangladesh, in this case the Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN), which has been operating locally since 2005. The team will be led by Nasir Khan Saikat (Public Lead) and Munir Hasan (Lead, (BdOSN). Their goal is to create a broad organization where the open source and open content communities can exchange ideas and embark on new initiatives designed to raise awareness and encourage people to share information and resources.
Both CC Mongolia and CC Bangladesh plan to hold formal launch events later this year.
We welcome these new members of our community, and will seek to assist them in any way we can to achieve their goals. We look forward to great things from these already very active and experienced teams. Welcome to the family!
Today, Creative Commons and over 35 other organizations published an open letter urging negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to rescind a proposal to extend copyright terms by another 20 years beyond its current, mandatory term.
This week, 12 Pacific rim countries are meeting in Ottawa, Canada, to continue secret negotiations of the widely criticized TPP trade agreement. Under the current TRIPS agreement, signatories are required to enact legislation granting copyright protection to individuals for the life of the author plus another 50 years. TPP negotiators, under the influence of large rights-holding companies, want to add another 20 years to the minimum copyright term.
If adopted, this extension would work to keep creative works out of the public domain for decades beyond the current term. It’s essentially a double-life sentence for all new works. This would be an incredible loss for the commons.
All creativity and knowledge owes something to what came before it – every creator builds on the ideas of their predecessors. Copyright is a limited right that is given to creators, but it also has a term limit to ensure we all benefit from culture and knowledge. Both the rights granted to creators and rights afforded to the public are necessary for a vibrant culture and the proliferation of knowledge. And the “Commons” in Creative Commons starts with the public domain. It’s the original corpus for remix. It’s why we’ve developed tools to better mark and dedicate content to the public domain. Together with hundreds of millions of works whose creators have chosen to share under generous terms of reuse with CC licenses, the commons is growing richer everyday.
Extending the term of copyright will undermine the potential of the public commons and needlessly limit the potential for new creativity. There is no logical reason to increase the term of copyright – an extension would create a tiny private benefit at a great cost to all of us. Most people agree that the existing term already lasts far past the amount of time required to incentivize creation (the original purpose of copyright) by granting creators a limited monopoly over a creative work. Copyright should strike a balance, giving an incentive to create while also giving the public permission to use and build on that creativity. In 2002, CC co-founder Lawrence Lessig argued against an additional 20 years of copyright protection in Eldred v. Ashcroft. Even Milton Friedman opposed the copyright term extension, calling it a “no-brainer.” Nearly all contemporary economists agree.
Increasing the term of copyright protection harms the commons. Any public policy that will further delay their entry into the public domain is contrary to the values we support – realizing the full potential of the Internet through universal access to the creativity that promotes active participation in culture and society.
Participating countries should should reject any measure in the Trans-Pacific Partnership introduced to increase the term of copyright protection. And TPP negotiations should be held in public and with the input of a broad set of stakeholders that include civil society and public interest representatives.
Although the letter has been presented to TPP negotiators today, they will remain open for further signatories to express their support. Interested organizations can endorse the letter here. Everyone can speak out by signing the petition at ourfairdeal.org.
As part of the Open Knowledge Festival, taking place next week in Berlin, we are organizing a session on OER policies. If you’re in Berlin for the festival and have an interest in open policies – please join us!
The session is titled Open Educational Resources and Policy: Overview and Synergies with Fellow Open Movements. The goal of the session is to present policies in support of open education. While policies have been an important matter during Open Knowledge Festivals in the past, educational issues have until recently not been at the heart of the Open Knowledge movement. This has changed last year with the founding of the Open Education Working Group – nevertheless, we hope to demonstrate the significance of OER policies and also demonstrate synergies with policies for open data or open access and more broadly open science.
I am happy that I will be joined at the session by a great team of open educational policy experts, including Nicole Allen from SPARC, Delia Browne from the Australian Schools’ National Copyright Unit, Melissa Hagemann from Open Society Foundations and Tim Vollmer from Creative Commons. If you’re interested in OER policies, or are doing policy work in other fields and are interested in talking about synergies, please join us on Wednesday, July 15th at noon.
The open education theme will continue at 14.00 with the Open Education Smörgåsbord. The session is co-organized by members of the OKFN Open Education Working Group, led by Marieke Guy. The session is meant as an opportunity to do some hands-on work around open education issues. At one of the five tables, we will be „Making OER policy crystal clear” – in a quick sprint, we’ll make an infographic explaining what OER policies are about. Other tables will work on best practices kits for teachers, open data for education, Q&A section for the Open Education Handbook and open courseware tools. You can read more about the session here and here. And since we’d like to have a real Smörgåsbord – please consider bringing some snacks with you (at best traditional / local ones from your country). The session will take place on Wednesday, July 15th at 14.00.