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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:

@PLOSONE

@PLOSMedicine

@PLOSBiology

@PLOSPathogens

@PLOSNTDs

@PLOSCompbiol

@PLOSGenetics

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

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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.


http://teespring.com/creativecommons

 

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
press@creativecommons.org

Noun Project
info@thenounproject.com

Teespring
press@teespring.com

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

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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

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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.

Reboot: Creative Commons in Australia and New Zealand

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3d Globe at Seattle Central Library / J Brew / CC BY-SA

CC is very pleased to announce the reboot of two of our longest running and most prolific teams – Creative Commons Australia and Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.

The new CC Australia team was launched at the recent Australian Digital Alliance‘s Copyright Forum 2015. Those who have followed CC for a while are no doubt familiar with CC Australia. Since 2006, the team has been operating out of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) initially under the direction of Brian Fitzgerald and Tom Cochrane, and more recently under Professor Cochrane, Nic Suzor and Nerida Quatermass. Over its tenure at QUT CC Australia has achieved some amazing things, from launching the CC Case Studies project to having CC BY adopted as the default licensing policy for the Australian Federal government.

The new CC Australia team keeps QUT as its Creative Sector, GLAM, Private Sector and Legal Lead but adds two new groups to expand its expertise:

  • the National Copyright Unit (NCU) lead by Delia Browne, who will be the new Education Lead
  • AusGOAL lead by Baden Appleyard, who will be the Publicly Funded Information Lead.

Both these organisations are already extremely prominent in the open community locally and internationally, and have been two of the strongest advocates for CC in Australia for many years. They have both already undertaken collaborative projects with Creative Commons, from the NCU’s Smartcopying website (updated to celebrate the launch) to an exciting IT project soon to be released by AusGOAL. It’s long overdue that they are recognised by welcoming them into the CC family officially. Together the new team of QUT, NCU and AusGOAL combines years of experience and expertise.

In a similar vein, a few months ago CC New Zealand changed its official host organisation from the Royal Society of New Zealand to the Open Education Resources Foundation. While hosted by the Royal Society of New Zealand, CC Aotearoa New Zealand has consistently been one of CC’s strongest and most impactful affiliates, a great example to our whole community. It has particularly excelled in the education and cultural sectors, and New Zealand remains a world leader in the take up of CC by educational and GLAM institutions. At the same time we welcome the Open Education Resources Foundation to CC, and can’t wait to see where they lead us. We expect great things.

Welcome to CC!

This is not a protest! Edit for #FreeBassel

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In support of the #FreeBassel Day Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at the EFF, the Creative Commons Arab World will organize a virtual Arabic Wikipedia Edit-a-thon to translate and expand pages that cover topics of interest to him.

The virtual Edit-a-thon will take place on Sunday the 15th of March from 5pm to 8pm GMT. The list of topics can be viewed in Arabic on this Google Doc

The activity will be coordinated through the @ccArabWorld twitter

باسل الصفدي مهندس حاسوب، وناشط في مجال برمجيات المصادر المفتوحة والثقافة المفتوحة، ورئيس مبادرة المشاع الإبداعي في سوريا. أختير من قبل مجلة فورين بوليسي الأمريكية ضمن قائمة أهم المفكرين في العالم لعام ٢٠١٢م، وهو الآن معتقل في سوريا منذ ١٥ مارس ٢٠١٢م. بمناسبة الذكرى الثالثة لاعتقاله، وكمشاركة ضمن فعاليات اليوم العالمي للمطالبة بتحرير باسل، سوف تتظم مبادرة المشاع الإبداعي في العالم العربي فعالية على الإنترنت بهذه المناسبة وذلك من خلال تحرير صفحات جديدة على ويكيبيديا تتعلق بالمواضيع التي يهتم بها باسل والمرتبطة بالثقافة المفتوحة والتقنية، وذلك يوم الأحد ١٥ مارس من الساعة ٥ مساء إلى ٨ مساء بتوقيت جرينيتش. يمكنكم الاطلاع على المواضيع المقترح كتابة مقالات ويكيبيديا بشأنها عبر جوجل دوكس سوف يتم تنسيق الفعالية من خلال حساب المشاع الإبداعي في العالم العربي على تويتر

TAACCCT Standout Vignettes

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Starting with the first round of grants in 2011 Creative Commons and a team of partners have been actively supporting US Department of Labor (DOL), Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grantees. This multi-year, nearly $2 billion grant program provides funds to US community colleges who in partnership with industry, employers, and public workforce systems create stackable/latticed credentials that can be completed in two years or less. The goal of TAACCCT is to expand targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade and to move unemployed workers into high wage, high skill jobs in high growth industry sectors.

There are many unique aspects to the TAACCCT program. Creative Commons involvement stems from the DOL requirement that grantees allow broad access for others to use and enhance project products and offerings by licensing newly developed materials produced with grant funds with a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). DOL is the first US department to require this in such a large grant program. Its size makes TAACCCT the largest Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative in the world.

There is a high interest in seeing curricula and course materials coming out of TAACCCT. This is partly due to the high level of investment but also due to the high growth industry sectors for which curricula is being created including health, IT, energy, transportation, and advanced manufacturing – areas where little prior OER exists. However, grantees get 3-4 years for development so examples of work are only now emerging.

In Oct-2014 at the TAACCCT-ON convening in Topeka Kansas, Creative Commons hosted a round 1 TAACCCT grantee showcase fair. All round 1 grantees were invited to showcase, share, and describe some of the best work coming out of their projects.

Using a participatory process all the other grantees attending were invited to visit round 1 TAACCCT grantees at their showcase table to see and learn more about the work they are doing. To make it interactive and fun we asked grantees to put stickers on round 1 TAACCCT projects that were standouts for them. We sought standouts noteworthy for the way they fulfill TAACCCT grant priorities and standouts by industry sector.

From that process, based on grantee selection, nine round one TAACCT grantee projects emerged as standouts. For each of the nine standouts we created a vignette with a video interview, a written story, and a graphic visualization of the project.

We’re pleased to share the results with all of you – see TAACCCT Standout Profiles. These nine round 1 TAACCCT vignettes are a small, early sampling of the work coming out of the TAACCCT program. All TAACCCT grant projects are standouts in their own way. We hope these early examples satisfy some of the interest around seeing TAACCCT work and wet your appetite for seeing even more.

Special thanks to all the grantees for agreeing to be interviewed and profiled in this way. Special thanks to Giulia Forsythe for the visuals she created to graphically illustrate each project, to Hal Plotkin for writing the stories, and to Billy Meinke for managing the whole production process. And most of all special thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for funding our support of TAACCCT grantees.

We hope to see similar vignettes for rounds 2, 3 and 4.

More information on the support Creative Commons and its team of partners provide to TAACCCT can be found at Open4us.org.

Open Education Week: 9-13 March 2015

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Banner by Open Education Consortium / CC BY

Open Education Week is an annual convening of the global Open Education Movement to share ideas, new open education projects and to raise awareness about open education and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. Open education encompasses resources, tools and practices that employ a framework of open sharing to improve education access, affordability and effectiveness. Participation in all events and use of all resources are free and open to everyone.

There are many ways to participate:

While all of the events are worthy of your attendance, here is a quick preview of events to be hosted by Creative Commons affiliates and staff:

We look forward to seeing you online!

Special thanks and congratulations to the Open Education Consortium for coordinating Open Education Week!

Open Business Models – Call For Participation

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Creative Commons has long celebrated everyone who uses our licenses. TeamOpen profiles give a good sense of the diversity of use and purpose. The creative ways individuals, not-for-profits, governments, and businesses use our licenses is inspiring.

For every TeamOpen example there are many others who want to move in that direction but don’t know how. The question we frequently hear is, “How do I earn a living, pay the bills, and keep the lights on if I openly license my work and give it away for free?” This question is asked not just by entrepreneurs but by people in non-profits and government too.

We are pleased to announce, through gracious funding from the Hewlett Foundation, that we’re launching a Creative Commons open business models initiative aiming squarely at showing how our licenses can, and are, used by businesses, non-profits, and governments.


Building an open source business by Libby Levi licensed CC BY-SA

We aim to help businesses see how to use and contribute to the commons in a way that aligns with the norms and values of the commons, while at the same time operating as a business. We want to show what sustainability models look like. We’re planning to generate designs for how to move from closed to open. We want to provide models for businesses whose aim is to provide products and services that have both economic and social value. We aim to make visible how open business models work and provide tools and strategies for designing and developing your own.

We want to do this work in a community-based way with all of you. So this blog post is an open call for participation.

The Creative Commons open business models initiative provides you with a set of interactive tools which you can use to design your own open business models. You can use the tools to model anything from a new startup open business to an existing open business, or something in between.

The Creative Commons open business models initiative asks you to share the models you come up with including your analysis of your own models and provide suggestions for improvement of the open business model tools themselves.

Creative Commons invites you to participate in these open business model activities:

  1. Join us in designing, developing, and iterating a set of interactive Creative Commons open business model tools that anyone can use to design an open business model.
  2. Use these open business model tools yourself to generate your own open business model(s).
  3. Share the results of your participation including the open business models you generate.
  4. Provide feedback and recommendations for improving the Creative Commons open business model tools and process.
  5. Partner directly with Creative Commons on developing an open business model for your specific initiative.
  6. Participate in a Creative Commons workshop on generating open business models.
  7. Contribute to a Creative Commons open business models report.

See our Creative Commons Open Business Models Participation Activities document for further details on each of these activities, including specifics for participation, and links to the tools.

We’re excited about doing this work with all of you and growing the commons through open business models.

#FreeBassel Day 2015: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at EFF

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Bassel / Joi Ito / CC BY

Bassel Khartabil (also known as Bassel Safadi) is a computer engineer who, through his innovations in social media, digital education, and open-source web software, played a huge role in opening the Internet in Syria and bringing online access and knowledge to the Syrian people. Many people reading this blog know Bassel through his work as lead for CC Syria.

Sunday, March 15, 2015 marks the third anniversary of Bassel’s arrest and imprisonment in Syria, as well as the fourth anniversary of the Syrian uprising.

In San Francisco, #FreeBassel supporters, artists, and members of the open community are gathering at the Electronic Frontier Foundation for a community-building event organized around a Wikipedia edit-a-thon in Bassel’s honor. We’ll be working to improve and add articles and media content related to Bassel and articles of interest to him. We’ll also be discussing his case and brainstorming about new projects and ideas to help bring awareness to his case. Here are the details:

March 15, 2015
2:00pm — 6:00pm
EFF HQ: 815 Eddy St., San Francisco

No prior Wikipedia editing experience is necessary, we’ll have experienced editors present to help you get set up and make your first edit. Artists and activists interested in freedom of expression are encouraged to come contribute to the discussion. Experienced Wikipedians also welcome to come learn more about Bassel, contribute to Wikipedia, and help others to become involved.

For more details on the #FreeBassel Day event, click here.

This entry is remixed from Wikipedia:Meetup/San Francisco/FreeBassel Day 2015, available under CC BY-SA.

Creative Commons logo acquired by MoMA and featured in new exhibit

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The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) announced today its acquisition* of the Creative Commons logo and license icons into its permanent collection, currently featured as part of a new exhibit called, “This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good.” The Creative Commons logo (double C in a circle) and license icons for Attribution, ShareAlike, Noncommercial, and NoDerivatives are featured alongside universal designs such as the @ symbol and the International Symbol for Recycling.

From the MoMA blog,

“The exhibition takes its title from British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, who lit up the stadium at the 2012 London Summer Olympics opening ceremony with a simple tweet: “This Is for Everyone.” His buoyant message highlighted how the Internet—perhaps the most radical social design experiment of the last quarter century—has created seemingly limitless possibilities for discovering, sharing, and expanding knowledge and information.

The Creative Commons logos, and the organization and movement for the commons they represent, fit solidly within this narrative of imagining a better world through design — and Creative Commons is honored to be featured in this new exhibit and acquired as part of MoMA’s permanent collection. We’d especially like to highlight the designers: Ryan Junell of the original and now standardized CC logos, Alex Roberts of the re-conceived Attribution icon.

Read more about the acquisition at the MoMA blog and Wired’s coverage of the exhibit. Also stay tuned for a more detailed post on the origin story of the CC logos.

* Different museums have different criteria for acquiring objects into their collection. Here’s MoMA’s criteria in context of its @ symbol acquisition. To acquire doesn’t mean to own, but to obtain permission for reproducing the work as a matter of copyright. Our logos are still our trademarks!

CC Malaysia, where are we now? A mixtape, open data and more

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CC Malaysia Mixtape 2015 by Muid Latif under CC BY NC ND

A guest post by CC Malaysia Lead, Muid Latif.

In the recent years, Malaysia has been more active in adopting open culture. Local mainstream media has provided a continuous platform for Creative Commons Malaysia to reach out to Malaysians in promoting CC, and both government and the community have been proactive in spearheading interesting online projects for everyone’s benefit.

For example, last December I had the chance to approach several local musicians and producers who are familiar with Creative Commons licenses on SoundCloud to find out if they were keen to have their music under a CC license. It was great to see that local musicians are very supportive of CC and how it empowers their works. This resulted in the release of CC Malaysia’s very own Creative Commons Malaysia Mixtape 2015. Inspired by this year’s World CC Mixtape, the Malaysia collection features 12 tracks from eight artists: the notable DJ Rezabudculture, Space Gambus Experiment, Metahingaq, NERO ONE, Z-1, Zam Nayan, Ugendran and Mohammad Yazid. The tracks are mostly uptempo or experimental. Listen to it here.

Our community also wants to play a greater role in open data. One of the biggest outcomes from this is Sinar Project, a mainly volunteer-run organisation which uses open technology and applications to make government information–such as budget expenditure and assets of those holding political office and parliamentary bills–public and more accessible to the Malaysian people. The Sinar project won a 2014 Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF Asia) Award, under the “Rights” category (see more here). The Malaysian government has also taken the initiative to progress open data by setting up www.data.gov.my as well as adopting Big Data Analytics (BDA) mandates to the Ministry of Communication, the Multimedia, Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) and Multimedia Development Corporate (MDeC).

In this context, I have recently had the chance to contact the founder of the Big Data Malaysia network, Tirath Ramdas, about his view on open data here in Malaysia and concerns about citizen engagement. He thinks that open data is not a one way street. Any investment into open data from government will be a waste of taxpayer funds if the Malaysians do not make productive use of the data released. Raising general awareness of open data is therefore be highly important at this point in time. With this in mind, MDeC and Tentspark, an IT solutions provider, recently launched the National Big App Challenge to stress the importance of big data analytics in solving Malaysia’s challenges related to national issues and societal well-being.

In the near future, we would love to see Malaysia join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), following the Big Data Analytics Framework goal to have the framework ready by the end of this year and in line with the Digital Malaysia 354 Roadmap (DM354 Roadmap). With increased focus on sharing by both the government and private citizens, there seems to be a good chance for this to happen.

Creative Commons celebrates Fair Use Week

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“Niagara” by Jeff Koons, famously held to be a fair use of a photograph in Allure magazine. (Screenshot of image used under fair use.)

Today we commemorate Fair Use Week, a week-long celebration of the doctrines of fair use and fair dealing.

Creative Commons is proud of how its licenses respect fair use and other exceptions and limitations to copyright. CC licenses end where copyright ends, which means you don’t need to comply with a CC license if you don’t need permission under copyright. You will hear us repeat this fundamental design principle about our licenses often because it is important in practice, but even more so as policy. Anything that claims to grant “permission” to do things allowed under fair use is problematic because it promotes “permission culture” and increases FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about fair use. This maxim goes for open licensing just as it does anything else, which is what makes the treatment of fair use in our licenses so important.

Even so, there remains some potential tension between open licensing and fair use. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that relying on fair use to include content in an otherwise openly-licensed work can make it difficult for people around the globe to reuse your work. While most countries have some form of fair-use-like rights, those rights are not harmonized internationally. That means it is possible that the portion of your work used under fair use would have to be carved out before it is reused in some jurisdictions. Proper marking of what content falls outside the scope of the license can help minimize this problem.

The other potential tension results from the gray area around where fair use begins and ends. Thanks in no small part to the work of Peter Jaszi and Patricia Aufderheide, the public has a much better idea of how fair use plays out in practice than it used to. But inevitably, some challenging fair use questions remain. When reusers are faced with those close cases, some opt to use CC-licensed work instead of relying on fair use of an all rights reserved work. By providing a licensed alternative, CC licenses provide a nice cushion for fair use in those situations. But in other contexts, reusers have to decide whether to rely on fair use when reusing a CC-licensed work. While it is common practice to give attribution when using something under fair use, complying with other CC license restrictions is often impossible when relying on fair use. This is exactly how it should be. As we know, using a work under fair use means the CC license is irrelevant and the license terms do not apply.

Creative Commons never discourages reusers from relying on fair use or other exceptions or limitations to copyright, even when that means not complying with a CC license. Respect for fair use was written into the code of our licenses from the start, and that has not changed. We recognize that fair use is a muscle, and it needs to be exercised. Now go workout.

Why Creative Commons uses CC0

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Creative Commons dedicates the text of our licenses and other legal tools, as well as the text of our Commons deeds, to the public domain using the CC0 Public Domain Dedication. While that doesn’t mean that anything and everything is allowed by those choosing to reuse these materials (as explained below), we believe that copyright isn’t a good fit for every creative work, and we don’t think it is right to leverage it as a stick in these instances.

CC has never asserted copyright in the text of our licenses or other legal tools. We made our policy clearer a few years ago by specifically declaring they are released under CC0. The text of the licenses, public domain tools, and license deeds we publish are all unrestricted by copyright worldwide, and we recently added a sentence to that effect in the notice at the bottom of our licenses and CC0.

No copyright ≠ no rules

Although these materials are public domain as a matter of copyright, the Creative Commons name and logo are our trademarks and can only be used according to our trademark policy.

This can be a difficult concept to communicate: while we want people to freely reuse the texts of our legal tools and deeds, we don’t want to give people the wrong idea about what we enable and what we do not: the difference between copyright and trademark can be complicated.

We’ve had a long-standing policy against use of our trademarks or name in connection with modified versions of our legal tools and other products (like our deeds). We’ve tried to make this policy simple and understandable, and just updated it for added clarity, though substantively nothing has changed from when CC published the first licenses in 2002. In a nutshell, we need to be sure the public is not confused about what comes from and is supported by Creative Commons, and what isn’t. We need to be sure the public doesn’t associate CC with other content and materials. While we hope this is simple enough to need no further explanation, if you want to reuse CC materials in a way that uses or associates our name or logos, please see our trademark policy to be sure you’re in the clear or contact CC.

Credit where credit is due

We appreciate and want credit for our work! We just don’t require it as a condition of exercising rights that we control under copyright.

Even though CC0 imposes no legal obligation to provide attribution, courtesy, good practice, norms, and community expectations often mean that you should give credit anyway. (For example, we recommend CC0 for scientific data, but many reusers include source information, both to acknowledge others’ work and to establish the data’s provenance.) Giving proper credit helps others understand the origin of the text so they can learn more and identify any changes that have been made. That may not always be reasonable or possible, but in any case we won’t be using copyright as a means to enforce our request for credit.

For more information, you might find our guidelines for using public domain material instructive.

(Trade)mark our words…

We strongly recommend against any modifications of our licenses and other legal tools. However, if you choose to change the text of our legal tools either directly through edits or indirectly through additional terms, such as terms of use on your website, you may not claim that your offering(s) are under Creative Commons, and you may not call the modified result a CC legal tool. You are free to link to us, talk about us, cite us, and yes, criticize us by name without infringing our copyright or trademark rights. However, you may not use or associate our name or brand with a license or any other legal tool of your own.

What about license proliferation?

Creative Commons provides a standard set of licenses suitable for a wide variety of uses and situations. Our licenses reduce the need for custom licenses that create separate pools of material under incompatible terms (i.e. “license proliferation”). By choosing not to use copyright to restrict modifications of CC license text, we recognize we may be encouraging license proliferation, because people will feel free to remix the content and publish their own, new custom license.

This is a fair criticism, but it fails to account for the reality that those wanting different terms will make that happen with or without repurposing our text. We believe our efforts are better focused on explaining the rationale for standard licensing, and helping creators understand that as much as they may think they need specialized terms, that those sometimes (if not often) work against their sharing goals and inflict more harm than provide benefit. This includes additional transaction costs for them and their reusers, who are forced to understand specialized terms unique to the custom license.

Withholding permissions and exercising copyright in legal tools are hardly effective tools in this campaign against license proliferation—those who want their own licenses will make that happen whether or not we impose some rights reserved (or even all rights reserved) on the text of our legal code. We will, however, continue to strongly encourage would-be custom license creators to use our standard licenses, which have a long history and a thriving user base as well as robustness internationally, rather than creating new custom and incompatible licenses and legal tools.

Let’s share!

We believe in creating a vibrant commons, that maximizes the ability of others to build upon our works with the least restrictions possible. We hope you will consider joining us by using CC0 for your own materials!

Dutch translation of 4.0 published

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With the Dutch translation of the 4.0 licenses published today, we now have a second translation of the complete set of current CC legal tools, and the first one by a cross-jurisdiction team! CC Netherlands and CC Belgium worked together on this translation, as well as Kennisland and the Institute for Information Law (part of the University of Amsterdam).

Our thanks and congratulations to the translation team of Maarten Zeinstra (CC-NL, translation coordinator), Lucie Guibault (CC-NL, legal lead), Yannick H’Madoun (CC-BE), Lisette Kalshoven (CC-NL), Tamara Mangelaars (Kennisland, editor), Tiara Roquas (CC-NL intern), and Tessa Askamp (CC-NL, technical interpreter). Additional help was provided by law students from the Institute of Information Law (Rutger de Beer, Sarah Johanna Eskens, Sam van Velze, Marco Caspers, and Alexander de Leeuw), and CC’s own regional coordinator (and native Dutch speaker) Gwen Franck.

2014: By the Numbers

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PLOS enters its 12th year poised to deliver innovations that will make science publishing easier, faster and more satisfying. Thanks to everyone involved, we draw on a robust peer review community, high author satisfaction and global reach to be a leading Open Access publisher. At the core, though, it’s the articles that matter. In 2014 PLOS published more than 33,000.

In 2014, readers worldwide viewed approximately 11.6 million PLOS articles each month. These articles were published by authors from more than 200 countries with the assistance of nearly 7,000 academic editors and 90,000 reviewers.

Quality reporting by our authors in their research articles, deep dives into key topics by authors and editors in collections, thought-provoking perspectives by the community and discipline-specific channels for discussion bring readers to the more than 140,000 papers published since 2003.

Let the numbers speak for themselves as you peruse the PLOS 2014 infographic and consider yourself part of this global community dedicated to quality science.

Click on the image at right to see the full infographic.

The post 2014: By the Numbers appeared first on The Official PLOS Blog.

Report back: Institute for Open Leadership meeting

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Creative Commons and the Open Policy Network hosted the first Institute for Open Leadership meeting in San Francisco 12-16 January 2015. The Institute for Open Leadership (IOL for short) is a training program to identify and cultivate new leaders in open education, science, public policy, research, data and other fields on the values and implementation of openness in licensing, policies and practices. The rationale for the IOL is to educate and empower potential open advocates within existing institutional structures in order to expand and promote the values and practices of the idea that publicly funded resources should be openly licensed.


IOL group shot by Cable Green under CC BY

There was significant interest in the first iteration of the IOL program: we received over 95 applications and selected 14 fellows for the first Institute. The fellows came from around the world (Bangladesh, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Greece, Nepal, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Somalia, United States ), and reflect a wide range of institutions–from community colleges to government sector to public radio.

The central component of the IOL program requires fellows to develop, refine, and implement a capstone open policy project within their home institution. Creative Commons staff and other selected mentors provided guidance throughout this process.

Week’s activities
The week was deliberately structured with the fellows at the center of the conversation, with a specific focus on providing them with the information and tools to develop and successfully implement their open policy project in their institution. We constructed the week’s activities to cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Overview of Creative Commons and open licensing, as this is a key aspect to all open policies.
  • Deep dive into open policy, including identifying existing real world examples, sharing lessons learned, discussing the value proposition, sharing typical opposition arguments.
  • Discussion of practical development of policy roadmaps and roll-out strategies across different sectors/institutions.
  • Campaign planning and advice/best practices about how to communicate with decision makers about open policy.
  • Identification of resources in support of open policy development and implementation, including presentations, reports, videos, informational and promotional materials.
  • Sharing of best methods for educating and informing decision makers about open policy, including workshops, courses, hackathons.
  • Testing fellow’s open policy knowledge and expected challenges through an open policy “shark tank.”
  • Hewlett Foundation communication team interviewed multiple IOL fellows for a Hewlett story on the power of CC licensing.

Mentors included Cable Green, Paul Stacey, Timothy Vollmer and Puneet Kishor from Creative Commons and Nicole Allen and Nick Shockey from SPARC. Each of these persons had specific subject-area expertise and acted as a “mentor” for two or more of the fellows. We grouped the fellows based on their project ideas with a mentor in the following categories: Open Educational Resources, Open Access, Open Data, Open GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums), and Open Business Models. During the week, we provided time for fellows to work individually, with other fellows, and with their mentors.


IOL session by txtbks under CC BY

On the final day of the in-person Institute we asked each fellow to report back on their progress from during the week, and asked each to answer common questions, such as talking about their open policy project objectives, planned activities to meet those objectives, identification of challenges they expect to face, partners they plan on working with, and metrics for success.

In addition to the whole group discussions, mentor breakouts, and individual work, we included informational and motivational speakers to talk with the fellows over our lunch breaks. These talks were given by individuals with experience working in open policy across a variety of sectors, including Hal Plotkin (former Senior Policy Advisor within the U.S. Department of Education), Abel Caine (OER Program Specialist at UNESCO), Heather Joseph (Executive Director at SPARC), Laura Manley (Project Manager at Open Data 500) and Romain Lacombe (Plume).

Next steps
With the successful completion of the in-person portion of the IOL, the fellows have now returned to their home countries and will begin the process of implementing their open policies. The mentors are committed to continue working with their respective fellows, including providing advice and assistance. Fellows and mentors will meet to discuss progress over webinars planned for the following months. The goal is for the fellows to have implemented their open policy at the institution within a year. The fellows will be able to share more information about the implementation of their capstone policy projects in the coming months.

We’ve already solicited feedback from fellows and are currently evaluating the activities and structure of the just-completed IOL. There are already several improvements we’d like to see as we begin to develop the second round of the IOL, to be held outside of North America in January 2016. We plan to open the application process for round two in mid-2015. The demand for IOL is large and additional funding is being sought to support additional ones beyond the first two.


Yoda Fountain by Nasir Khan under CC BY-SA
Note: Lucasfilm has offices inside The Presidio, where the IOL took place. Thus, Yoda.

One of the aims of the Institute For Open Leadership is to link participants together into a global network. Participants from this inaugural Institute for Open Leadership, and all future ones, become part of a peer-to-peer network providing support for each other, asking and answering questions, and getting ongoing help with open policy development and implementation. This network helps participants overcome barriers and ensure open policy opportunities come to fruition.

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