Recent Changes to the PLOS Journal Web Sites

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PLOS has recently updated the navigation and layout of our guidelines and policy pages across all seven of our journal web sites. These changes were made to enhance user experience and make sure our content is as helpful as possible for our users.

Here is an example of the expanded menu structure showing a mockup from PLOS ONE with placeholder text:









Here is an example of the updated page layout with a new side navigation menu and callout boxes showing a mockup from PLOS ONE with placeholder text:











If you are already familiar with the sites, you may notice that some pages appear in different places, so please take a look around and get in touch with us if you have any feedback or need any assistance.
Thank you for your support of PLOS and Open Access.

The post Recent Changes to the PLOS Journal Web Sites appeared first on The Official PLOS Blog.

Medium embraces CC licenses

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Today Creative Commons is excited to announce that blogging and storytelling platform Medium now offers the entire suite of Creative Commons licenses and public domain tools. You can read more about this great news over at Medium, naturally, in stories by both Creative Commons and Medium.

In just a few years Medium has grown a thriving community of highly engaged authors and storytellers, and it’s been home to some incredible pieces of journalism covering a wide range of interests. It’s no surprise that we heard from folks in the CC and Medium community asking for the licenses to be made available. The Medium community, and the folks behind Medium, really understand the power of CC and the opportunity for their stories to reach even more people.

Medium users can now share their stories under any of the CC licenses or CC0, and they can also import other CC-licensed or public domain work. Medium leverages the power of photography like few other platforms, making it an ideal way to showcase and share CC licensed images, illustrations, and other media.

We want to thank the team at Medium for their amazing work and dedication in making CC available to their users. From our kick-off conversations it was clear that Medium understood the importance of this decision, and it was a pleasure to help them bring it to life.

Please read more about this exciting news over at Medium!

Medium joins CC’s new Platform Initiative, which works to create easy, clear, and enjoyable ways for users to contribute to the commons on community-driven content platforms. If you are a platform that would like to join this movement for the commons, please get in touch!

Don’t mess with the right to link: Savethelink.org

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(Hyper)links are the fundamental building blocks of the web, but the practice of linking has come under attack over the last few years. If copyright holders are able to censor or control links to legitimate content, it could disrupt the free flow of information online and hurt access to crucial news and resources on the web.

In the U.S. and Canada we may take for granted that no one requires permission or is forced to pay a fee to link to another place online. But this isn’t the case everywhere. Copyrighted content holders (including news organizations, media, and entertainment sites) around the world are working to remove the right to free and open linking, and the threat is more present than you may think.

Today a coalition of over 50 organizations (including Creative Commons) from 21 countries are launching Savethelink.org. The campaign aims to raise awareness about the issue and prompt action to urge decision makers to protect the practice of free and open linking online.

Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons, said, “At its core, the Internet is a network of links — connectivity is at the heart of the Web we love. Breaking that structure by giving some the ability to decide what links should work and what links should not undermines free expression, access to information, and the public commons.”

An example of how restricting access to links is already in place in Spain, where the Spanish government passed a law that “requires services which post links and excerpts of news articles to pay a fee to the organisation representing Spanish newspapers.” This type of pseudo-copyright law was intended to protect the revenue flows of Spanish media publishers. However, you have to question whether such a practice might have backfired for publishers who wanted to use the new rule as a means to monetize access to their content. It’s quite tell that Google News–which funnels significant traffic to media websites–shut down in Spain shortly after the law was passed, citing concerns that allowing rights holders to charge for access to links would have been an unworkable practice for them.

Last year’s public consultation on the review of European copyright rules also  contained a question on the right to link:

Should the provision of a hyperlink leading to a work or other subject matter protected under copyright, either in general or under specific circumstances, be subject to the authorisation of the rightholder?

Many groups, including Creative Commons, responded that allowing rights holders to control access to links would be a terrible idea.

Under no circumstance should hyperlinks be subject to protection under copyright. Sharing links without needing permission from the rightsholder is core to the operation of the internet. Changing this fundamental structural aspect of how the internet works would be detrimental to the free flow of information and commerce online.

You can check out the Savethelink.org website for examples from other areas around the world where the right to link is in danger. Read the press release here.

If links can be censored by rights holders, it would be detrimental to access to information, free expression, and economic activity. It could fracture the longstanding mechanism underlying the sharing of information on the web. Let’s not let that happen.

You can sign the petition at Savethelink.org. Organizations wishing to join the coalition can join here.

Hague Declaration calls for IP reform to support access to knowledge in the digital age

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Today Creative Commons joins over 50 organizations in releasing the Hague Declaration on Knowledge Discovery in the Digital Age. The declaration is a collaboratively-created set of principles that outlines core legal and technical freedoms that are necessary for researchers to be able to take advantage of new technologies and practices in the pursuit of scholarly research, including activities such as text and data mining. The drafting of the declaration was led by LIBER, the Association of European Research Libraries. It was developed through contributions from dozens of organizations and individuals, including several experts from the CC community. Creative Commons is an original signatory to the declaration.

One of the key principles recognized in the declaration is that intellectual property law does not regulate the flow of facts, data, and ideas–and that licenses and contract terms should not regulate or restrict how an individual may analyze or use data. It supports the notion that “the right to read is the right to mine”, and that facts, data, and ideas should never be considered to be under the protection of copyright. To realize the massive, positive potential for data and content analysis to help solve major scientific, medical, and environmental challenges, it’s important that intellectual property laws and private contracts–do not restrict practices such as text and data mining.



The Hague Declaration also lays out a roadmap for action in support of these principles. The roadmap suggests the development of policies that provide legal clarity that content mining is not an infringement of copyright or related rights. It’s important for advocates to champion this notion, especially as there have been increasing suggestions from rights holders who are attempting to develop new legal arrangements and licenses that require users to ask permission to engage in practices such as text and data mining.

In addition to supporting the notion that the right to read is the right to mine–free from additional copyright-like rights, license, or contractual arrangements–the declaration also suggests that if funding bodies are considering adopting open licensing mandates as a component of receiving grant funds, they should aim to adopt policies that champion a liberal licensing approach. Specifically the declaration states that research articles created with grant funds should be published in the global commons under a liberal license such as CC BY, and that research data should be shared in the worldwide public domain via the CC0 Public Domain Dedication.

The Hague Declaration is an important set of principles and recommended actions that can aid the speed and effectiveness of scholarly research and knowledge discovery today. You can read the LIBER press release here. To show your support, you can sign the declaration.

Japanese translation of CC0 published

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Congratulations to CC Japan for their tireless work on the official translation of CC0 into Japanese! This marks the first official translation of CC0 for the Asia-Pacific region, and the fourth official translation of CC0 overall.

CC0 is a tool that enables creators to dedicate work to the public domain. Its three-layer design includes a waiver of rights, a fallback license allowing use of the work for any purpose with no conditions, and an agreement not to assert rights in the work. Official language translations of CC0 are created in accordance with the CC Legal Code Translation Policy.

This translation is the result of years of hard work by many in the CC community. Special thanks goes to Maki Higashikubo, Naoki Kanehisa, Kokoro Kobayashi, Yosuke Koike, Tasuku Mizuno, Yuko Noguchi, Masafumi Masuda, Asako Miyoshi, and Tomoaki Watanabe.

We are thrilled for this team and for the global commons!

Next Generation Science Communicators

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Experience in presenting research findings and participating in the scientific dialogue are important aspects to the professional development of researchers early in their careers. Advancing scientific discovery relies on scientists at all career levels to clearly communicate their results, their rationale for working on a project and more.

To recognize their efforts and support their growth as science communicators, PLOS is offering up to ten travel awards to early career researchers to communicate their work at an upcoming conference. To be eligible researchers must have published with PLOS, be presenting work at a scientific conference, and currently be part of a graduate program or have received a graduate degree within the last five years.

If you are an early career researcher, we invite you to share your thoughts on what is the biggest hindrance for communicating science and what you or your peers can do to address this issue. Apply for a chance to win $500 to offset travel expenses associated with presenting work at a scientific conference taking place between August – December 2015.

The deadline for submission is June 30, 2015. For more information, visit the PLOS Early Career Travel Award Program Page or email us at travelawards@plos.org.

The post Next Generation Science Communicators appeared first on The Official PLOS Blog.

„Open Lesson”: Do-It-Yourself workshop on Open Education

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In Poland, training and education is an important part of our work on promoting open, and a necessary support for our policy work. But trainings are time and resource intensive. We realised at some point, that we cannot scale our activities if we continue to train about open on our own. We therefore decided to look for solutions to crowdsource such trainings and workshops.

The “Open Lesson” project is a result of this new approach. In early 2015, we invited a group of trainers with experience in teaching about open, teachers and educators to create a workshop scenario that could be used by teachers to conduct a self-teaching meeting for their peers, friends or collaborators. The “Open Lesson” scenario is a modular training resource, which provides the freedom to customize the workshop. Customization means that while the scenario was initially designed with teachers in mind, it can be used by anyone. We made it available, as an Open Educational Resource, on our „Free the Textbook” (Uwolnij podręcznik) webpage.

„Open Lesson” launched in Poland with 30 workshops

We launched the “Open Lesson” in March during the Open Education Week, with over 30 educators from around Poland committing to conducting such workshops.

Polish Virtual University of Łódź organized a meeting for 20 people involved in academic and remote education, who have drawn attention to the fact that open educational materials are an underrated resource among university staff. The group led by Mrs. Lidia Mirowska used our scenario as a pretext for a discussion on copyright and sharing and reuse of teaching materials in classes conducted on-line.

In one of elementary schools in Warsaw, open lesson was conducted for 6th graders. Strongest emotions arose after conducting the exercise, during which the children had to declare how much they want to protect an art of work that they just created. It turned out that it was only after a long discussion about what would happen if Leonardo da Vinci wanted to hide the Lady with an Ermine, the kids let it go a little bit and stopped being copyright extremist. What is more, the teacher used our scenario also to discuss how to protect one’s personal data on Facebook, and why this is so important.

In Cieszyn, Open Lesson served as an inspiration for the meeting for librarians interested in the licensing of educational materials. An exercise about searching for open content online led participants to the conclusion that there are more resources available if one does not limit their search to open resources. A heated debate on this topic ended when participants agreed that the more people spread the idea of Creative Commons and use these licenses, the more resources will be available and they will be of better quality (becoming a viable alternative for closed content).

The workshop participants in Włocławek, on the other hand, used the Open Lesson to create their own list of online open resources, which might be potentially useful for teachers working with different subjects.

„Open Lesson” goes global

In the next step, we are making the “Open lesson” scenario available for international use. We hope that the resource will prove useful also for activists and educators in other countries. We are publishing it today as an Open Educational Resource, available in English as a PDF file.


If you are interested in trying out and using our scenario – let us know! We’d like to know about your experiences with this workshop concept. And most importantly, we are interested in seeing how you would remix and improve this material.

The „Open Lesson” project is organised in co-operation with the Creative Commons School of Open.

Open business models, open data, and the public interest

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Less than one month ago, Creative Commons began a project designed to explore and develop business models built on CC licensing. Starting from the methods in the best-selling Business Model Generation handbook, Creative Commons is developing new tools specifically tailored for ventures that utilize CC-licensed or public domain content as a central component of their strategies. We are also working one-on-one with a handful of companies and organizations to brainstorm new business models and paths to sustainability.

In this short span of time, we have seen there is a real desire for this sort of work, and Creative Commons is uniquely-suited to lead it. And in just these first few weeks of this project, we have learned an incredible amount about all of the fascinating ways nonprofits, universities, and businesses are leveraging CC licensing in what they do. One immediate observation about these ventures is how the public interest plays a role in all of them. Whether for-profit or not, the social good furthered by the product or service is an important part of the value proposition.

Meet Openwords: A great example of that phenomenon is a young startup called Openwords, a company CC has been fortunate to work with in our business models initiative. Openwords is a foreign language learning app with a social mission – to provide free and open language learning technology for languages that currently have little or no options for mobile language learning. The small startup is able to do this at low cost thanks to open data. Openwords mines the vast pools of existing open data on sites like Wiktionary and Apertium and transforms the data into language learning tools for a wide range of languages, large and small. Openwords’ open data strategy has already been successful. Openwords has mined content for over 1000 languages.

While Openwords uses existing open data to fuel its product, it is also giving back new open data and content to the public. Everything Openwords creates — the modified data, software code, and educational content – is either dedicated to the public domain using CC0 or offered under an open license. This virtuous circle makes it possible for this for-profit venture to fulfill its social goals.

Infographic created by Zachary Rozycki.

In 2014, Openwords released a prototype of its mobile app. Now, it has launched a Kickstarter to fund the development of a beta version of the app, and to involve the community in the Openwords app design.

Crowdfunding is just one avenue Openwords is pursuing to raise money, but it can be an effective way to generate funds and buzz simultaneously. In our business models work, we will be researching crowdfunding as a potential revenue model for ventures built on CC licensing. We even plan on trying it out ourselves by running a Kickstarter campaign this summer to write a book about CC business models.

Building sustainable models around open is important work. We encourage you to check out what Openwords is doing. If you are trying to determine how you can operate in a financially-sound manner while generating social good through the use of CC licenses, we encourage you to contact us and participate in our Creative Commons open business models initiative.

Ask our authors anything: new PLOS ‘AMA’ series debuts on redditscience

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PLOS, in conjunction with reddit, is pleased to announce the April 22 launch of ‘PLOS Science Wednesday’ a weekly Ask Me Anything (AMA) series featuring PLOS authors in live chats on redditscience (/r/science), the popular online gathering place for researchers, students and others interested in science.

For each PLOS Science Wednesday an expected audience of 10,000 (usually many more) /r/science members have the opportunity to chat directly with the featured PLOS author (or team), while anyone with an Internet connection is free to read along. Authors are available on an AMA for a full hour (1 to 2 pm ET) to answer posted questions and explain the science behind a research article or editorial recently published by a PLOS journal. Transcripts of these completed AMAs are then available to anyone for later reading, re-mixing, or reuse from the /r/science AMA archive.

PLOS created PLOS Science Wednesday to showcase new research while providing our authors a place to communicate their science and interact directly with fellow researchers and readers. Here’s a schedule of who’s up first on PLOS Science Wednesday AMAs, along with their topics and the PLOS journal article/editorial they’ll be talking about.

April 22: Andrew Beck — Open Data exchange between cancer researchers; PLOS Medicine, Open Access to Large Scale Datasets is Needed to Translate Knowledge of Cancer Heterogenity into Better Patient Outcomes

April 29: Tom Baden and Andre Maia Chagas — 3-D Printing your own lab equipment; PLOS Biology, Open Labware: 3-D Printing Your Own Lab Equipment

May 6:  Andrew Farke Aquilops, the smallest, oldest horned dinosaur; PLOS ONE, A Ceratopsian Dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Western North America, and the Bigeography of Neoceratopsia; author’s blog posts introducing Aquilops and the team story behind this paper.

May 13: Jeff Clune, Kai Olav Ellefsen, Jean-Baptiste Mouret — Creating computational brain models for artificial intelligencePLOS Computational Biology, Neural Modularity Helps Organisms Evolve to Learn New Skills without Forgetting Old Skills. Here is a video summary of this work by the authors.

(Other PLOS Science Wednesday redditscience AMA dates & authors will be announced shortly. Check The Official PLOS Blog and watch for #PLOSredditAMA Twitter notices)

Important details:

  • Anyone discussing a PLOS Science Wednesday AMA on Twitter is asked to use the hashtag #PLOSredditAMA with the author’s Twitter handle(s).
  • reddit has a downloadable AMA app (for asking questions and leaving comments during the AMA) available here.
  • PLOS editors select authors and papers for this series; authors (or Academic Editors) who wish to nominate an author/paper for a PLOS Science Wednesday AMA should send an email to plosreddit@plos.org with author’s name, article title, the PLOS journal the article appeared in and a lay summary (50-100 words) describing what the research is about.

Who’s Who:

reddit is one of the web’s oldest and largest open source communities, where registered members post links, comment and rate posted items in a wide variety of subject areas. As of March 2015, reddit received more than 6.6 billion page views and 151 million unique visitors. /r/science is a lively 8 million member “subreddit” within reddit. Each subreddit is independent and moderated by a team of volunteers.

 As a nonprofit, Open Access publisher with a mission to lead a transformation in scientific communication, PLOS continuously seeks innovative ways to disseminate research and advance science. Initiatives such as PLOS Science Wednesday on redditscience reflect our commitment to expand the impact of research beyond publication, and enable broader community inclusion for commenting and review.

We encourage you to leave your thoughts on PLOS Science Wednesday AMAs and related issues in the comments section, below.

You may also be interested in…

  • Join the PLOS email list – get monthly updates with news of general interest to researchers and other PLOS readers.
  • About the PLOS journals – find out which journal is the right fit for your research.
  • ‘All good science deserves to be published’   how to submit to PLOS ONE.


The post Ask our authors anything: new PLOS ‘AMA’ series debuts on redditscience appeared first on The Official PLOS Blog.

591 Celebrate CC shirts sold in two weeks!

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Two weeks ago we kicked off a limited edition sale of a special t-shirt designed by our friends at Noun Project, and supported by the great folks at Teespring.com. Yesterday the campaign wrapped up, and we’re pleased to say we blew past our goal and sold 591 t-shirts. With all proceeds going right back to Creative Commons, that means we’ve raised almost $9,000 to help grow and protect the commons.

Most t-shirt purchasers should expect to have their orders completely fulfilled by the end of April. International orders may take another week. When you get your please take a pic and show your Creative Commons pride. Make sure to tag any posts #celebrateCC.

Our huge thanks to Noun Project for creating such an incredible design and to Teespring.com for providing the platform and making this campaign possible. And of course thanks to everyone who donated their hard-earned money and bought a shirt to show their support. I thank you for expressing your appreciation for great design and for such a worthy cause.

Welcome: Rob Myers!

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Please welcome the latest member of the Creative Commons Team, our new software developer Rob Myers.

Rob will be familiar to many of you as an active member of the CC Community. In 2004, Rob’s art was the first exhibition of CC-licensed art.

Rob has spent the last 8 years working in the free software community. He will be working closely with CC staff, partners, and the community on the myriad of technical solutions that the commons needs, but working especially closely with our education team on supporting the technical needs of the educational output of CC.

You’ll find Rob along with the rest of us in the usual places such as our IRC channel and in GitHub, where he is `robmyers`.

Welcome Rob!

Follow Rob and other CC staff on Twitter.

CC Global Summit 2015: Seoul, October 15-17

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After an exhaustive process, we’re proud to announce that the 2015 CC Global Summit will be in Seoul, South Korea. The CC Korea team put forward an exciting bid, and have proven their experience and skill at planning conferences. I have every confidence that they’ll be a great partner in producing the conference. In addition, this year marks their 10th anniversary, so we will be able to celebrate their accomplishments with our international community.

The conference will run from Thursday Oct. 15 to Saturday Oct. 17, 2015.

We will put out a public call for papers and workshops shortly. There will be more information soon, but for now, anyone interested can sign up for more information at https://summit.creativecommons.org.

This year, we hope to not only build a conference that allows the CC family to come together to work on important issues, but also to expand our invitation list to include organizations and individuals who want to work with us on shared projects that advance the cause of the Commons, free culture and open knowledge. I’m confident that a “bigger tent” strategy will help strengthen CC and grow our community globally.

So if you’re active and engaged in the worlds of open content and knowledge — free software and free culture advocates, Wikipedians, Open Knowledge, galleries, libraries, museums, archives, governments and foundations, lawyers, and activists — we hope you’ll consider joining us this year to build a stronger, more vibrant commons together.

I’m really excited for this year’s event, and hope to see you there.

Great news for the commons: Flickr now supports CC0 and the CC Public Domain Mark

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( CC0 and Public Domain Mark)

Today we’re extremely pleased to announce that Flickr now allows its users to share images under CC0, Creative Commons’ international public domain dedication. Flickr also announced they will allow users to share work in the public domain using our Public Domain Mark (PDM). Flickr is the largest repository of CC-licensed photos on the web, and CC0 and the Public Domain Mark will give creators even more ways to share their works and those in the public domain to expand the commons.

Why is this big news for Flickr and Creative Commons? CC0 maximizes the potential creative use of works by dedicating them, without restrictions, to the commons. By doing so, creators enable others to freely and without condition build upon those works in ways that advance science, education, scholarship, and literature, sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways.

Many Creative Commons photographers on Flickr have been asking for CC0. With this announcement Flickr users will be able to choose from among our six standard licenses, our public domain dedication, and they will also be able to mark others’ works that are in the public domain. Adding CC0 and PDM to Flickr is an unprecedented win for the commons and for free creativity and knowledge on the internet.

(CRS-5 Falcon 9 rocket / SpaceX / CC0)

The topic of awesome public domain and CC0 imagery was in the news about a week ago when SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk announced that all of SpaceX’s incredible photographs are dedicated to the worldwide public domain. SpaceX will be moving all of their images on Flickr to CC0. Wikimedians have also helped SpaceX to declare a gallery of images as CC0 on Wikimedia Commons.

For years, galleries, museums, and others to whom the the public has entrusted important cultural heritage works have leveraged CC0 as an internationally-recognized way to share digitized copies of works and the metadata that enables search. Europeana now boasts no fewer than 26,000 images under CC0, as well as more than 3.6 million works marked as public domain worldwide using our Public Domain Mark. The availability of CC0 as a means for digitizers of works in the public domain to eliminate any “thin” copyright on public domain works they digitize, or for individuals who wish to eliminate their own copyright, allows the global public to freely create and publish the next great thing. And the availability of the Public Domain Mark to signal a work is globally free of copyright restrictions further empowers creators to stand on the shoulders of those who created before them.

What’s the difference?
Using CC0, a creator enables the public to freely reuse and remix a work without limitation. This is because the author/creator waives all conditions including attribution (although citation is supported) and encourages others to reuse the work in any way, including commercially. We know that Creative Commons supporters, including many photographers in the Flickr community, have been seeking the ability to use CC0 on Flickr since it was was published almost exactly 6 years ago today. This also offers remixers clear and simple terms when seeking out a work to build upon. Many “no known copyright” images are too uncertain to build upon, while CC0 offers a clear dedication to free use and re-use. Once fully implemented, users will be able to move some or all of their works on Flickr to CC0.

The Public Domain Mark is used to denote works out of copyright or in the worldwide public domain. Developed with reference to “no known copyright” statements adopted by many leading cultural heritage institutions, including contributors to Flickr Commons, the PDM is the only mark of its kind, and the only widely-adopted and globally accepted mark that communicates a work’s public domain status worldwide.

Flickr’s leadership
We are very happy to recognize Flickr’s longstanding commitment to the Creative Commons licenses, their community of CC photographers/videographers, and to the public good that is our shared commons and heritage.

Incorporating CC0 and PDM into Flickr has been a long term wish of ours, and we’re happy to see it happen today. There were many who helped along the way, but special thanks to CC General Counsel Diane Peters and also to Jane Park, who now leads CC’s platform engagement team.

We anticipate that Flickr’s stewardship of CC-licensed content and public domain materials will continue to grow now that users can take advantage of the full breadth of our legal tools.

How Articles Get Noticed and Advance the Scientific Conversation

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By Victoria Costello, PLOS Senior Social Media & Community Editor

The good news is you’ve published your manuscript! The bad news? With two million other new research articles likely to be published this year, you face steep competition for readers, downloads, citations and media attention — even if only 10% of those two million papers are in your discipline.

So, how can you get your paper noticed and advance the scientific conversation? 

One word: Tweet.

A Tweet (n.) is an online communication of no more than 140 characters (often containing links), transmitted on the public “social network” known as Twitter. When you Tweet (v.), you enter a conversation of Twitter users.  

In a PLOS BLOGS guest post, Gozde Ozakinci (@gozde786), a lecturer in health psychology at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, offered an exemplary use of Twitter in a research workflow.

I dip in and out during the day and each time I have a nugget of information that I find useful. I feel that with Twitter, my academic world expanded to include many colleagues I wouldn’t otherwise meet. … The information shared on Twitter is so much more current than you would find on journals or conferences.

Of course, Ozakinci and her Twitter-savvy colleagues are still the minority among academic researchers.

An odd coupling, with baggage

To most scientists, for whom an initial meeting with Twitter is the opposite of love at first sight, this conversation may as well be happening on another planet. At first glance, they find Twitter facile, a time suck, beneath them — and go no farther. Missing from this dismissive view is an understanding of Twitter as a neutral medium for communication (280 mil monthly users) that is quickly gaining currency among a leading edge of researchers who are exchanging science news and information, data files, feedback on articles, methods, tools, jobs, grants and more — across continents and disciplines.

If you are among the uninitiated, and have a research article coming out soon, how might you join them? A priori, if your goals are to exploit this medium for your own ends and advance the larger scientific conversation, some conventional wisdom must be jettisoned.

The first thing to let go of is the quaint idea that your science should speak for itself. Second is the fear, still rife among scientists, that the act of communicating research beyond institutional walls puts your reputation at risk for the “Sagan Effect;” or, in more current pop culture terms, that you’ll become the science equivalent of Kim Kardashian. A recent Google+ Hangout from SciFund Challenge, titled Using Social Media without Blowing up Your Scientific Career, offers testimonials from some real life scientists to challenge this outdated view.

By joining the scientific conversation on social media you’re not exactly breaking new ground. A 2015 PEW poll of AAAS members (scientists and others) found that 47% had used social media  to follow or discuss science. Going deeper, in an August 2014 Nature survey, some 60% of 2500 research scientists polled regularly visit Google Scholar (~60%) and ResearchGate (~40%); and, to a lesser extent, Google+, Academia.edu and Linked-in to post CVs and papers — essentially engaging in a one-way form of scholarly communication; talking, not necessarily listening.

Farther ahead on the social media curve is a 13% subset of the Nature group who are involved a two-way conversation with their scientific peers. These scientists describe their use of Twitter, in particular, as a platform to comment on and discuss research that is relevant to their field. Another term for this practice is “micro-blogging.”

If the end game is impact, the way there is engagement

Engagement between authors and readers of research articles comes in many forms,  characterized by rising levels of interaction. A potential range is illustrated in this figure from a PLOS ONE study looking at reader responses to 16 articles in the pain sciences disseminated using social media. As the authors point out, the collection of metrics for more complex levels of reader engagement (impact) is still in a nascent stage. For example, a measurement of the number of readers who apply a newly published research finding to clinical practice is currently not available, although it seems likely that a self-interested tech sector will meet this challenge, and meet it soon.

A 2013 study in PLOS ONE tracked the impact of social media on the dissemination of research articles, with 6 levels of engagement identified between readers and the published research.

What about my paper?

As a researcher looking for readers, your imperative is more basic. With many more of your peers going to social media to push out their latest work, the status quo of one-way science communication will no longer suffice. Even if all you’re after is readers for your article, it behooves you to use these newly available tools to stand out in a crowded field.

This is where micro-blogging, and Twitter, in particular, come in. Here are five tips to help you join the growing number of scientists and students who are leading their peers to the likely future of scientific communication.

Tip 1. Get on Twitter and describe yourself in five words or less

To get started on Twitter you must choose a “handle” (user name) which sums you up — in 140 characters or less. This can actually be a very useful exercise. What makes your research contribution different from everyone else’s?

  • To create a pithy Twitter profile and find your peers, follow the model of cancer bioinformatics researcher, B.F. Francis Ouellette (@bffo), by coming up with three to five words to describe your work. Use key words; include methods, disciplines and related fields, institutions, journals, diseases or occupations that relate to your science.

  • Add a photo of yourself or an avatar but save the pic of you kissing your pit bull, like your passion for artisan beers, for your Facebook or Instagram page. (Most scientists wisely keep their personal and professional social media accounts separate).

A PLOS Biology perspective provides an overview of what social media can do for scientists, with a comprehensive primer on how best to get started, including on Twitter.

Tip 2. Tweet the way you talk, not the way you lecture or write your science

If, like most scientists, you’re a collaborator at heart, use Twitter as a place to share your knowledge; mentor and be mentored; discuss and debate the merits of research. Make your Twitter “voice” reflect your real personality. Keep it casual.

What should you tweet?

  • Recommend links to online content of interest. Say why you’ve singled out that research article or blog post for a mention.
  • Ask questions and flag concerns.
  • Offer deserved compliments and congratulations to your fellow researchers.

A word on word choices

To connect and thrive on Twitter, you must give up the jargon.

  • This tip also applies to the titles of your papers. Turn obtuse technical lingo into plain language, make it catchy, and many more of your peers will click through to read the paper – even those who would have perfectly understood the original title! Here, an author distilled the (not terrible, but terribly long) article title “The Shear Stress of Host Cell Invasion: Exploring the Role of Biomolecular Complexes,” into the tweet below. Got your attention faster, right?

  • If your article contains a striking image or figure by all means tweet it too – and not just the cute animals. Even a virus can be a beautiful, especially to your fellow scientists. And, hot off the press, Twitter now allows posting of video clips.

Remember, your immediate goal is to acquire attention for a newly published article. Longer term, you’re after relevance in the ongoing scientific conversation. To track how well you’re doing at both, check out Article Level Metrics (ALMs), which measure impact in terms of views, downloads, comments, citations and media coverage for each of your articles.

Tip 3. Optimize your Twitter time with advanced tools

After finding and interacting with an initial group of your peers by following them, being followed back, tweeting and retweeting items of interest, you’re ready to try some more advanced community and conversation-building tools, including Twitter “lists” and “tweet chats.”

  • A Twitter list is an option on your profile settings which allows you to group together colleagues in one easily accessed virtual file. Tweet to this list when you have something to share with everyone on it.
  • A tweet chat or tweet up is a live, regularly-scheduled Twitter conversation typically used to discuss a single topic or paper. For a good model, visit #PubHT, a biweekly Twitter discussion group on public health issues, described in detail in group member Atif Kukaswadia’s (@Mr_Epid) blog post.

The more ambitious social media-minded researcher can try online curation tools – among them Storify.com and ImpactStory.com — to assemble tweets, which they can then post in blogs as topical science stories, conference reports or on altmetrics-based CVs.

Tip 4. Go where the scientific conversation goes 

Most authors would probably prefer that readers of research articles say whatever they have to say about their work in the comments section immediately below the article on the publisher’s website. And yet, as discussed above, this train has already left the station; like it or not, the conversation has moved.

In the view of Jonathan Eisen (@phyogenomics), academic editor-in-chief of PLOS Biology and a prolific blogger and tweeter, formal comments sections will continue to lose any participation they once had.

“I guarantee there are more comments on Twitter about a PLOS paper,” he said.

To become a part of this fast-growing culture of decentralized assessment of scientific research, try using Twitter to share your (abbreviated ) feedback on new articles. Then add a link to the published article — which may or may not contain a longer version of your comment.

Hopefully, Professor Eisen’s prediction isn’t yet a done deal and publishers, including PLOS, will fully rise to the challenge of making continuous assessment of the research a “no brainer” both on and off journal sites.

For its part, PLOS is facilitating scientist-to-scientist communication in discipline-specific communities. These dedicated PLOS pages are run by Community Editors external to PLOS, who are supported by staff and academic editors from the PLOS journals. Community editors crowdsource researcher feedback on previously published articles contained in PLOS Collections, and new research published by PLOS and other non-PLOS journals. This program began in 2014 with PLOS Neuroscience and PLOS Synthetic Biology, with others to be added in 2015. Critiques (comments) on research articles are posted in a community blog featuring original and syndicated posts, with blog posts amplified by real-time micro-blogging from Twitter lists posted on these same pages.

Meanwhile, the Twitter part of this larger scientific conversation is here to stay, no matter where it “lives.” For a model of how Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in and WordPress blogging can be integrated into an academic science work flow, particularly that of early career researchers and students, read this blog post from Stewart Barker, a 1st year PhD student in microbiology at The University of Sheffield.

Tip 5. Use Twitter to crowdsource your science as an information provider and recipient

We start from the premise that the scientific community can reliably be counted on to “root out the rubbish.” Rubbish in this context usually refers to bad science, or misleading interpretations of good research.

In a similar vein, science-based Twitter networks are proving to be rich and reliable sources for rapidly offering and receiving highly specialized information – with questions and answers flowing from scientist to scientist and between scientists and science journalists. For an example of the latter,  journalist Seth Mnookin (@SethMnookin) describes crowdsourcing a complex genetics question while on a tight deadline, with help arriving just in time from UCLA geneticist Leonid Kruglayak (@leonidkruglayak).

SciComm ripple effects

The ongoing adoption of Twitter is having a measurable effect on individual scientists in terms of increased productivity and readership, even if the jury is still out on a correlation between Tweets and citations.

Beyond the individual benefits for scientists who incorporate Twitter into their research life cycles, altmetrics researcher (and coiner of the term) Jason Priem, writing in 2011, saw scientists interacting on Twitter as a “revolutionary form of scholarly communication,” one which could “transform centuries-old publishing practices into a much more efficient and organic vast registry of intellectual transactions.” 

“Registry” is an interesting choice of words in that it suggests a permanent record. Seemingly transient, the 140 characters you tweet today remain accessible far longer than you might think (Twitter has recognized the value customers place on the ability to recreate their tweeting histories and have made it possible to go back a full seven years – the entire lifetime of Twitter – to find up to 3200 tweets per user). There’s even talk of giving tweets their own Digital Object Identifiers or DOIs. Meanwhile, the Modern Language Association (MLA) provides a standard format for citing a single tweet in an academic manuscript.

Embrace the wider effects. Once you find your voice and engage with fellow scientists via online social networks, you will draw the attention of science journalists with direct access to an international online audience of readers you cannot reach on your own. Fortunately, your needs and theirs are symbiotic: science writers need research news and you can supply it. How likely they are to select your article, and how accurately they interpret the essence and significance of your findings, depend on how widely and clearly you communicate your science — after your research article is published.  This is where your institution’s Public Information Office (PIO) can play a pivotal role, especially if you stay involved by checking the press release for clarity and accuracy and by exploiting your own network for outreach.

In the view of many in the broad scientific community, your job doesn’t end there.

 In light of the recent PEW poll revealing large gaps between scientists’ and public views on critical scientific issues, many scientists are re-evaluating their individual responsibility to communicate directly with the general public. If, as UK Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Mark Walport recently told a meeting of climate scientists, “Science isn’t finished until it’s communicated,” it follows that scientists’ use of large public social media platforms such as Twitter to explain their science will be increasingly considered a vital part of a researcher’s work flow.

How might the wider adoption of social media impact the entire scientific enterprise? Join the conversation and you’ll be among the first to find out.

A PLOS invitation: no time like the present

If you have an article coming out any time soon, this just may be a Goldilocks moment for you and your research team to take the plunge into Twitter.

To celebrate our recently passed milestone of reaching 70,000 Twitter followers (200K if we include all PLOS journals), PLOS has an invitation for you. If you’ll take a moment now to create your own Twitter account, then follow us @PLOS, we will strive to be among the first to follow you back.

And, while you’re choosing who else to follow, please consider the PLOS journals:








Thank you and we’ll see you on Twitter!



The post How Articles Get Noticed and Advance the Scientific Conversation appeared first on The Official PLOS Blog.

A Masterwork in Simplicity: The Story of the CC Logo

Creativecommons.org -

This story was researched and written in collaboration with Creative Commons staff. You can also read the story on Medium.

On February 14, 2015 New York’s Museum of Modern Art welcomed the public to a new exhibit, “This is For Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good.” Inspired by a short tweet made by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, “This is For Everyone” includes an array of fascinating objects, concepts, designs, and artworks that were conceived to serve the global public in sometimes unexpected or serendipitous ways. Winding through the exhibit, viewers will find curious and ubiquitous objects and technology that speak to the empowerment of individual creativity. Displayed on the white walls next to the internationally embraced symbols for the on/off button, recycling, and the @ symbol, one will find a mark of equally great significance: the “double-C in a circle,” or simply, the “CC,” Creative Commons mark.

Creative Commons logo and installation view of “This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good” by Jim.Henderson
Copyright and related rights waived via CC0

This most visible icon of the free culture movement is on view in the exhibit, but the MoMA took even further steps to recognize the impact and importance of the “CC” logo and its accompanying ShareAlike, NonCommercial, Attribution, and NoDerivatives icons. On March 4, 2015 MoMA Senior Curator Paolo Antonelli announced that the Creative Commons logo had been formally acquired as part of the museum’s permanent collection. It is both a symbolic and very practical kind of acquisition. As part of the collection, the icons and their history will enjoy perpetual protection and recognition by MoMA. But their work is far from complete: like so many of the other instantly-recognizable icons in the MoMA collection, the “CC” logo will continue to be used and appreciated by millions of people in millions of situations, and for many years to come.

The logos have had an incredible influence on the Internet and global society, and far-reaching, future impacts are coalescing every day. The world knows a lot more about Creative Commons in 2015 than it did almost 14 years ago when the organization was founded, but few know how the logos came to be, who created them, and what informed their creation.

The Creative Commons logos are special and powerful symbols that speak to the origin and roots of the organization that created them. Creative Commons was founded in 2001 by law professor Lawrence Lessig, Hal Abelson, and Eric Eldred to address a problem created by antiquated copyright laws in the U.S. and around the world. In an era where it was becoming easier to share works via the Internet, copyright law seemed to be moving in the other direction by increasing term limits and restrictions on reuse. Amidst this tension, how could artists, researchers, and other creators share their works widely and freely online without infringing on each other’s copyright? At the time, there was no way for a creator to grant blanket permissions for reuse, other than to hire their own lawyer to write custom copyright terms. Creative Commons rose to tackle this challenge with its revolutionary, human- and machine-readable copyright licenses, which anyone could freely use. But with these powerful new licenses in hand, how would people be able to visibly indicate their preferences for reuse?

A designer and a roomful of lawyers get to work

Glenn Otis Brown joined as the second Executive Director of Creative Commons in 2002, taking over for Molly Shaffer Van Houweling to oversee the launch of the CC license suite. Along with Van Houweling, the organization’s founders, early staff and Board collaborators Neeru Paharia and Ben Adida, Brown played a key role in developing the first versions of the human- and machine-readable licenses, and would ultimately be presented with the challenge of building the visual identity system for Creative Commons.

It was a random encounter on a plane leaving SXSW in 2002 when Glenn bumped into designer/animator (and former classmate) Ryan Junell, that led to a graphic design and branding project which would ultimately bring about the Creative Commons logos. Ryan and Glenn were originally classmates at the University of Texas at Austin in the mid-90’s, sitting in on lectures that covered the early and optimistic days of the Internet, and gaining an advanced understanding of how the web would shift perspectives on sharing and copyright.

When Glenn and Ryan reconnected in 2001 Glenn had a big vision for Creative Commons and an amazing design problem to solve. Progress on the CC licenses was well underway. A legal team and the early staff, including Molly and Glenn, were working hard at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society (founded by Lawrence Lessig in 2001) to craft these new, freely reusable licenses that were intended to be understood by both legal professionals in the world of IP law, and everyday creators and users with minimal legal experience or knowledge.

That early team already understood the importance of visual systems that could be used to convey simple but important information to the user, particularly to enhance the planned roll-out of a simple, web-based license chooser system. Color coding of yellow and green was used to express the level of openness for each specific license, with a strong urging for creators to go green and make their work as open as possible to maximize their contribution to the commons. But the question kept coming up — how do we visualize these powerful, new licenses? How could the license deeds be complemented with some kind of visualization or mark? What could be conveyed through those symbols? In the words of Larry Lessig, the Creative Commons identity “needed to be distinctive, yet teach through its design.”

Molly, Glenn and the team knew they needed a strong mark to further convey what each unique license meant, as well as a grander identity to tie them altogether. An identity not unlike the prevailing symbol of copyright in the world, the unmistakable and seemingly indomitable ©. Ryan Junell, who had been working at a series of design leadership roles with startups and design firms in the San Francisco Bay Area, accepted the unusual and exciting offer to create the public face of Creative Commons.

Two very busy weeks

The original project didn’t come with a traditional and detailed design brief. Ryan was plunged into the process, working directly with legal staff to gain an understanding of the licenses and what they meant. The licenses were a quick study for Ryan, having been exposed to the transformative ideas of a young Internet in the late 90’s, in addition to previous gigs with branding and identity projects in silicon valley. He was already well-versed in the complex issues of sharing and copyright in the early days of the web, and understood the importance of a clear and simple way of conveying the spirit and detail of the licenses. He was also thrilled with the idea of working once again in a challenging, high-tempo academic setting.

Ryan and the CC team committed two weeks to the research and study of the new visual system, an ambitious schedule for any design project, much less one that would grow to have such a powerful and broad influence. Inherently, they knew the visuals needed to be simple and effective. They knew they needed a system of icons, and that this system would have to work as efficiently on the printed page as on a web page, video credit crawl, or signage. It should be possible to evoke the symbol with a keyboard [e.g. (CC)] or be easy to draw and recreate free-hand. Creative Commons was focused on global impact, so the system would also have to work across borders and cultures. It would also need to be bold and direct,not overly intricate or sophisticated.

Creative Commons logo development, 2002. courtesy Ryan Junell

“If you create a question, you create
a reason for people to try to listen.”

Ryan worked through dozens of prototypes, studying the prevalent icons and systems at work at the time, and experimenting with riffs on typography, geometry, and unique letterforms. He shared iterations of early concepts, but the team was immediately drawn to the simple and clear form of the double-c letterforms in a circle. That concept came to Ryan early in the process, and it was idea that felt natural appropriate. He knew it echoed the classic copyright symbol, but it also felt simple, direct, and because of its deviation from the copyright symbol, more welcoming. As Larry later stated, “the multiple meanings of (c) doubled was important. If you create a question, you create a reason for people to try to listen.”

The early concept went through two brisk rounds of improvements but there were minimal changes or diversions from that simple original idea.

With the final “CC” concept clear, it was only a few more steps to build out the rest of the system. Other relevant symbols – the stroked dollar sign, circle-arrow, and originally the letterforms “BY” were suspended in the same bold circle and used to indicate the variants of the licenses: NonCommercial, ShareAlike, and Attribution. As a layered system, these icons were meant to reflect a spectrum of permissions, and would grow to present themselves in their most recognizable, rectangular button forms, set against grey, white, and black.

Public Domain

Akzidenz-Grotesk, a modern marvel

It was a masterstroke of design simplicity, and a brilliant way to portray the sharing intent of the licenses. A playful but confident relationship with the traditional copyright logo gave the “CC” logo an instant recognizability, but also a truly unique identity.

Junell set the original “CC” and the subsequent, lowercase Creative Commons wordmark in Akzidenz-Grotesk, an elegant and bold typeface created in the 19th century by Günter Gerhard Lange. It is considered the first true sans-serif typeface, and became a precursor to hundreds, possibly thousands, of subsequent sans-serif typeface through the 20th century. Popular amongst design-thinking tech companies of the time, it also evokes a spirit of simple, clear, public-minded and modern typography. The typeface is instantly recognizable as a mainstay of environmental and way-finding graphics. It is the progenitor of its more recognizable sibling, Helvetica (created in the late 1950’s), and to this day it is still the official typeface of the International Red Cross and its global chapters.

Animating the logo

The Creative Commons team had the identity in place, but they also knew they wanted a more animated, multi-media approach to make a bigger splash. It was early days of internet video (and low bandwidths for average users) but Junell had experience as an animator and was able to develop an idea for a Flash-based video, the first of several videos Creative Commons would release to tell the story of Creative Commons, and to convince new users to take advantage of the new licenses and icons.

Get Creative” was the first video in this effort, and featured a case study inspired by a real-world creative reuse situation about the White Stripes. Written by Glenn Otis Brown and directed and animated by Junell, the video set the stage for a new and vibrant outreach effort with artists, writers, academics and researchers that continues today. Junell and others often credit this video with being as critical a part of defining the visual story as the logos themselves. In the spirit of the video, digital comic stories also appeared, illustrated by Junell, and written and designed by Neeru Paharia.

From “Spectrum of Rights” by Neeru Paharia, Matt Haughey, and Ryan Junell / CC BY

The initial reception to the release of the licenses and the new logos was incredibly positive. The story brought a breath of fresh air to the technology media, much of which was still reeling from the gloomy, post-bubble narrative. Early adopters of the CC licenses, including MIT, the Internet Archive, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sung the project’s praises and embraced the logos for their own CC licensed content. On t-shirts, stickers, pins and signs the logo grew and spread, quickly becoming one (if not ‘the’) prominent brand of the free culture movement. Evangelists, artists, coders and writers in the know proudly showed their support for CC by stickering their laptops, notebooks, and mobile phones. More zealous fans chiseled or dyed the logo into their hair during tech conferences, and more than a few CC tattoos found their way onto the most diehard supporters. The logo was well on its way to becoming the internationally recognizable symbol it is today.

The back of this man’s head has a Creative Commons license by George Kelly / CC BY-NC-ND

The logos grow and adapt

The Creative Commons logos found themselves in an increasingly vast and complex Internet by 2005. The system was still simple enough to work in a wide variety of settings, and new platforms like Flickr and eventually Wikipedia and others would be able to incorporate the licenses and the logos in effective and visible ways. But as the logos became more popular and more global, it was evident that the original concepts would need to be updated. The use of the dollar symbol and the reliance on the ‘BY’ text were the two most prominent challenges. Both were conventional for western, English-speaking audiences but were impractical for use internationally.

Alex Roberts, who began working with Creative Commons in 2005 as its Senior Designer, was tasked with the sensitive job of updating and expanding the logos and looking at a variety of new use cases and scenarios. He introduced the simple stick figure as a replacement for ‘BY’ in the Attribution icon, created the new CC Zero icon, and created two new currency icons with the euro and yen symbols to show variation and internationalization of the NonCommercial logos.

Additions to the logo family, by Alex Roberts

Roberts also produced the now-standard slim, rectangular license buttons that are in use on millions of websites today, and worked to improve the readability, layout, and clarity of individual license deeds. Roberts is recognized by the MoMA alongside Ryan Junell as a collaborator in the creation and enhancement of the overall design system.

The new logos appeared in an updated Creative Commons explainer video in 2006. “Wanna Work Together?” was again animated by Ryan Junell, and by then Creative Director Eric Steuer.

Today, Ryan Junell is a creative producer working in the greater NYC area. CC’s first Executive Director, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, is a current CC Board member and Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Glenn Otis Brown was Executive Director of Creative Commons from 2002 to 2005 and is now an executive with Twitter based in New York City. Alex Roberts was Senior Designer at Creative Commons from 2005 to 2011 and is now a Software Engineer at Eventbrite.

The CC logos today and beyond

Since 2006 the Creative Commons logos have gone through no significant changes, and the CC 4.0 licenses and their representative logos are poised to continue their march towards ever greater visibility and prominence on the web. Their state as acquired by MoMA earlier this month is likely how they will remain for decades or centuries to come, an indicator of the simple elegance and effectiveness of the visuals and the lasting importance of the power of sharing.

In 2014 Creative Commons’ State of the Commons report counted the number of CC works at well over 882 million (with some estimates suggesting that number is well over 1 billion), coming from more than 10 million sites on the web. The majority of those works are available under one of the three most free licenses, ensuring their maximum benefit to the commons. Wikipedia and its sister projects provide virtually all of their media and knowledge under one form or another of the CC licenses, in addition to public domain. Flickr hosts hundreds of millions of CC images and videos alone, and Creative Commons videos and media thrive on Vimeo, YouTube, the Internet Archive and other major media platforms. Millions of students around the world are learning through freely reusable, Creative Commons licensed textbooks, curricula, and other teaching tools.

Creative Commons looks forward to shepherding the logos through the coming decades and centuries as they continue to grow in impact and use. The Internet and the world around it changes more every single day, and we look forward to envisioning how these symbols and the knowledge and media they accompany will continue to flourish and impact the world in yet unknown ways.

Celebrating the CC logo with a specially designed t-shirt

Today we are also excited to announce the availability of an awesome new Creative Commons t-shirt. Thanks to our talented friends at the Noun Project and Teespring, we are inviting fans and supporters to purchase this limited edition t-shirt that proudly celebrates the CC logo. You can read more about the campaign at this blog post, or head over to Teespring to claim your shirt right now – this one-time campaign runs from March 24 to April 7, 2015.



Press release: Creative Commons Launches Special Edition Commemorative Tee

Creativecommons.org -

Partners with Noun Project and Teespring to design and sell exclusive t-shirt celebrating “CC” logo acquisition by MoMA; Proceeds to support Creative Commons

SAN FRANCISCO – MARCH 25, 2015 – Creative Commons has partnered with crowdsourced visual dictionary Noun Project and commerce platform Teespring to release a custom t-shirt celebrating the “CC” logo’s acquisition into the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. The special edition t-shirt will be available for a limited time only. Proceeds will benefit Creative Commons to further their work in growing and protecting the commons.

Designed by the Noun Project, the commemorative t-shirt celebrates the lasting impact and international recognition of the Creative Commons “double-c in a circle” or “CC” logo. The logo, originally designed for Creative Commons in 2002 by designer Ryan Junell, is recognized as the global standard for creative sharing, remixing, and reuse. Creators, educators, and remixers use the logo to indicate their adoption of one or more variants of the Creative Commons license.

In March 2015 MoMA recognized the ubiquity and significance of the Creative Commons logo by including it in their permanent design collection. The logo can be viewed alongside other imminently recognizably marks such as the @ and recycling symbols as part of the MoMA exhibit “This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good,” organized by senior curator, Paola Antonelli.

“On behalf of the global Creative Commons community I want to thank Teespring and Noun Project for launching this collaboration to celebrate our beloved CC logo,” said Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley. “This commemorative design is a beautiful remix that represents what Creative Commons is all about: Noun Project’s freely reusable iconography depicting a range of sharing and remixing activities within the Commons. We know fans of Creative Commons will wear it with pride.”

Noun Project, a long-time supporter and proponent of Creative Commons, designed the limited edition t-shirt to celebrate this milestone using pictograms uploaded by their community. Each pictogram in the design represents an industry or type of media influenced by Creative Commons, which encompasses fields as broad as the arts, science, medicine, and law.

“When opening our platform to submissions from creatives around the world, we knew we wanted to offer a clear and easy license that would enable anyone to share their work. Creative Commons was the perfect solution for helping us build and share the world’s visual language,” said Sofya Polyakov, CEO and Co-Founder of the Noun Project.

To bring this special edition t-shirt to life, Creative Commons and Noun Project have partnered with Teespring, the leading commerce platform for custom apparel. Launched in 2012, Teespring empowers entrepreneurs, creatives, influencers, and nonprofits to create and sell high­-quality products people love, with no cost or risk.

“At Teespring we strive to remove the barriers to bringing great ideas to market, which is why we have a unique respect and admiration for Creative Commons and the impact they’ve made for creators all over the world,” said Teespring Co-Founder and CEO, Walker Williams. “It’s an honor for us to partner with Creative Commons and Noun Project and help the community show their support for this meaningful cause and movement.”

This special edition Creative Commons tee will be available until April 8, 2015 at www.teespring.com/creativecommons.

You can read more about the history and origin of the Creative Commons logo at http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/45228.

Image assets can also be downloaded via zip file.

Press contacts

Creative Commons

Noun Project


About Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a globally-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier for people to share their creative works, and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Creative Commons provides free licenses and other legal tools to give individuals and organizations a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions for creative work, ensure proper attribution, and allow others to copy, distribute, and make use of those works. There are nearly 1 billion licensed works, hosted on some of the most popular content platforms in the world, and over 9 million individual websites.

About Noun Project
Noun Project is a crowdsourced visual dictionary of over 100,000 pictograms anyone can download and use. Their goal is to help people communicate ideas visually by building the world’s best resource for visual language.

About Teespring
Teespring is a commerce platform that enables anyone to create and sell products that people love, with no cost or risk. Teespring powers all aspects of bringing merchandise to life from production and manufacturing to supply chain, logistics, and customer service. By unlocking commerce for everyone, Teespring is creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs, influencers, community organizers, and anyone who rallies communities around specific causes or passions.

Celebrate Creative Commons with a limited edition tee

Creativecommons.org -

Today Creative Commons, the Noun Project, and Teespring.com are excited to announce an awesome, limited edition commemorative t-shirt celebrating our wonderful logo.

The shirt is available at Teespring.com/CreativeCommons, with all 100% of the proceeds going to support Creative Commons. It will be available until April 8, 2015 and sales start right now. Help us spread the word in all of your channels #celebrateCC

The shirt is comprised of dozens of unique, freely reusable and Creative Commons (or PD) licensed icons from the Noun Project (see a list of designers/artists below) as well as each of our primary sharing logos. Noun Project staff designers created this special edition of the logo, which was originally conceived by designer/animator Ryan Junell or Creative Commons in 2002.

You can read more about the history of the Creative Commons logos, and their recent acquisition by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, over here.

Our huge thanks to Noun Project and Teespring for helping us with this great initiative. We know Creative Commons supporters love apparel, and we think this is one of the best we’ve ever seen.

We also want to proudly recognize the work of the following Noun Project artists, illustrators, and designers whose icons and symbols make up the special edition, commemorative CC logo:

  • Edward Boatman
  • Stanislav Levin
  • Scott Lewis
  • Ryan Oksenhorn
  • Ethan Clark
  • Nathan Driskell
  • John Caserta
  • Thibault Geffroy
  • Jakub Ukrop
  • Travis Yunis
  • Hafizh
  • P.J. Onori
  • Alex Koplin
  • OCHA Visual Information Unit
  • Dmitry Baranovskiy
  • aartiraghu
  • Mateo Zlatar
  • Larissa Mancia
  • Megan Mitchell
  • Jardson Almeida
  • Lemon Liu
  • José Manuel de Laá
  • Iconathon
  • iconoci
  • Rémy Médard
  • Ricardo Moreira
  • Jeremy J Bristol
  • Sebastian Langer
  • Cole Townsend
  • Ken Messenger
  • Diego Naive
  • Clayton Meador
  • Weston Terrill
  • Martha Ormiston
  • Elves Sousa
  • Molly Bramlet
  • Joe Mortell
  • Hum
  • Stefan Parnarov
  • Brennan Novak
  • Dmitry Gennadyevich
  • Andrew Rockefeller
  • Natasha Fedorova
  • Icon Jungle
  • Roman J. Sokolov
  • Aimeê Ferreira
  • Duke Innovation Co-Lab
  • Eric Bird
  • Stephen Borengasser
  • Simple Icons
  • Ana Paula Tello
  • Alex Auda Samora
  • Cristiano Zoucas
  • Mister Pixel
  • Pham Thi Dieu Linh
  • SuperAtic LABS
  • useiconic.com
  • Björn Andersson
  • Guillermo Vera
  • Parker Foote
  • Andrew Nolte
  • Luis Prado
  • Cédric Villain
  • Digicoins Santiago
  • iconsmind.com
  • Mike Rowe
  • Haitham Almayman
  • Rohith M S
  • Alexander Romanov
  • Christopher T. Howlett
  • Nadir Balcikli
  • Eugen Belyakoff
  • Nico Tzogalis
  • Geovani Almeida
  • Mourad Mokrane
  • Greg Beck

Wikimedia adopts open licensing policy for foundation-funded research

Creativecommons.org -

Last week the Wikimedia Foundation announced it is adopting an open access policy for research works created using foundation funds. According to their blog post, the new open access policy “will ensure that all research the Wikimedia Foundation supports through grants, equipment, or research collaboration is made widely accessible and reusable. Research, data, and code developed through these collaborations will be made available in Open Access venues and under a free license, in keeping with the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission to support free knowledge.”

Logo of the Wikimedia Foundation
by User:Neolux
CC BY-SA 3.0

The details of the open access policy can be found on the Wikimedia Foundation website. There will be an expectation that researchers receiving funds from the foundation will provide “unrestricted access to and reuse of all their research output…”. Published materials, proposals, and supporting materials will be covered under the open access policy. The policy states that media files must be made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license (the version currently used by Wikipedia), or any other free license.  In addition, the policy requires that data be made available under an Open Definition-conformant license (with the CC0 Public Domain Dedication preferred), and that any source code be licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2.0 or any other Open Source Initiative-approved license.

The open access policy from the Wikimedia Foundation joins other institutions–including governments, philanthropic foundations, universities, and intergovernmental organizations who have adopted policies to increase access to important and useful information and data for the public good. Thanks to Wikimedia for their continued leadership in support of free knowledge for all.

Creative Commons seeks a new director of development

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Last year, Creative Commons posted a position for a Director of Development — someone to develop and lead our revenue strategy for 2015 and beyond. We knew it was urgent, but we weren’t ready. We had work to do on organizational strategy and budget before we could hire, so we pulled back. That work is now complete, and today, we’re re-posting this position with an updated job description.

The right person has a strong track record of fundraising strategy and implementation to lead our development programs, and build a more sustainable Creative Commons.Working directly with the CEO, the successful candidate will have experience in US fundraising, particularly major gifts, corporate donations and individual donors, with the numbers to back it up. We’re about a $3M global non-profit, with plans to grow in the coming years. In 2014, we had a strong year-end campaign that increased revenue by over 55 percent, and increased our retention rates by 10 percent. This is the right time for someone to join our team in a leadership role to author and grow our new revenue strategy.

A strong fundraiser can make all the difference in an organization like ours — making sure we have the funds we need to do our work: maintaining the licenses, advocating for open policies, advancing the cause of open education and more. If you’re the right candidate, or know someone who’s looking for an opportunity to shape the future of open content and knowledge around the world, please apply, or help spread the word.

Are commercial publishers wrongly selling access to openly licensed scholarly articles?

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Ross Mounce, a postdoc at the University of Bath, recently wrote about how Elsevier charged him $31.50 for an “open access” research article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (BY-NC-ND) license. Mounce was understandably upset, because the article was originally published by another publisher – John Wiley  – and was made available freely on their website. Elsevier’s act of charging for access initially appeared improper because of Wiley’s use of a noncommercial license.

 This situation has sparked a debate among supporters of Open Access about whether or not Elsevier violated the terms of the BY-NC-ND license, and whether articles that are intended to be distributed freely can end up locked behind paywalls. This isn’t the first time this has happened; Peter Murray-Rust documented another instance of it last year. This kind of situation can leave researchers questioning why they should invest in ensuring that their research is distributed for free if another publisher can simply turn around and sell it – especially if the article carries a Creative Commons license that is supposed to restrict commercial use. Mounce complained to Elsevier about the arrangement, and as of March 9, they’ve removed the pay from the article and promised Mounce a refund. A representative from Elsevier claimed “there was some missing metadata for some of the OA articles,” thus apparently allowing for users to be charged for access to those openly licensed articles. Elsevier said it will investigate and reimburse others who purchased access to those articles on the Elsevier site during the time that the paywall was up. At the same time, Elsevier has hinted that it has the right to sell access to BY-NC-ND articles it holds because of a separate license they get from the author.

So, what is really going on here?

A fundamental feature of copyright law is that authors hold the copyright in any work they create. Authors have control over the permissions they grant beyond “all rights reserved” copyright. For example, an author could grant certain permissions by offering the work under a Creative Commons license (some rights reserved), or even place the work in the public domain (no rights reserved) using the CC0 Public Domain Dedication. And since the CC licenses are non-exclusive, an author can both share a work with a CC license, and also enter into a separate agreement that would allow a publisher to sell it.

It is common for an author to sign a publication agreement with a publisher that may grant additional rights to the publisher independent of a CC license. And if an author agrees to a particular set of separate permissions for the publisher, then the publisher could offer the author’s article on those terms–for example, the ability to sell access to a work–even if the work was originally made available under a noncommercial open license. The authors of the article in question may have signed an agreement like this when the article was originally accepted for publication with Wiley. If this is the case, then Wiley would likely have been able to transfer or sell those rights to Elsevier when Elsevier acquired the article. However, there is no way to know for sure that this is what happened without seeing the publication agreement the authors signed with the publisher.

The question really boils down to: Who owns the copyright to the article? And did the copyright holder grant permission to Elsevier for commercial use?

According to the copyright notice in the article, the copyright belongs to the authors. Mounce contacted the lead author earlier this week. The author said he was not aware that Elsevier was selling the article, and had not granted Elsevier permission to do so. If Elsevier was relying solely on the BY-NC-ND license for its use of the article, it seems likely that their action would have violated the noncommercial restriction by charging for access to the work on the Elsevier site.

Elsevier’s own policies raise one additional question. For the majority of articles they publish, Elsevier retains “the exclusive right to publish and distribute an article, and to grant rights to others, including for commercial purposes.” But their copyright terms state that for open access articles, “Elsevier will apply the relevant third party user license where Elsevier publishes the article on its online platforms.” Since the Wiley article came to Elsevier already as “open access” (let’s set aside for a moment the fact that many do not consider BY-NC-ND to qualify as “open access”), you would think that Elsevier would retain the existing CC license from Wiley. Therefore, Elsevier would not be in a position to charge for access to the article because of the noncommercial condition in the CC license. But it’s not clear whether Elsevier applies this reasoning to articles they acquire versus articles originally published on their platform.

So where does all this leave us in understanding what is going on with how these sorts of publishing agreements intersect with open licenses? There still seems to be some outstanding questions that perhaps Elsevier could help answer. Elsevier should share publicly its author’s publishing agreement so that prospective authors and the public can better understand the terms of Elsevier’s license (and as Mounce suggests, publishers should “print the terms and conditions of the author-publisher contract within each publication itself…”). In addition, Elsevier should clarify its copyright policy with regard to when they hold an exclusive right to publish and distribute and when they will adhere to the open license provided with an article.


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