Where are we?

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Over the next few days, I’m going to share a series of posts about Creative Commons’ 2016-2020 strategy. Let me skip to the end: CC is going to refocus our work to build a vibrant, usable commons, powered by collaboration and gratitude. Over the course of these next few posts, I’ll explain what that means, and how we plan to achieve it.

The Creative Commons 2016-2020 Organizational Strategy reflects over a year of intensive consultation, discussion, brainstorming, analysis, and testing throughout CC’s global community, including staff, board, affiliates, partners, supporters, and donors. The insights and approaches contained within it have been influenced by hundreds of valuable discussions with creators, non-profits, foundations, government officials, advocacy organizations, content platforms, lawyers, librarians, museums, archivists, industry advocates, and open community leaders.

These essential discussions have taken place on mailing lists, in chat rooms, in boardrooms and coffee shops, in large groups and in one-on-one discussions. Prompted and unprompted, time and time again, the need for a more vibrant, usable, collaborative commons has been an issue of concern. This is a critical moment for the commons, for the open Web, and for Creative Commons. I am incredibly enthusiastic about this new direction for the organization, and we are all deeply motivated to bring it to life. I’m grateful to everyone who has given their time and energy to help shape this strategy.

We need to talk about sharing

Collaboration, sharing, and co-operation are in our nature — building community, co-operating towards common goods, and creating shared benefits are at the heart of who we are. In fact, these values live even closer to us than our beating hearts, operating at the level of our DNA. Martin Nowak, a Harvard professor who studies the underpinnings of evolution, argued in Scientific American that humanity’s story is one of both competition and cooperation. According to Nowak, it is not just a struggle for survival, but also an essential “snuggle for survival.”

An extreme take on Darwin’s theory of evolution might suggest we should never help our fellow humans. We are expected to exploit our creative works to the greatest extent possible, to extract the maximum benefit, to the exclusion of all others. To accept anything less is foolish. And yet the leading thinkers, and the data, suggest the exact opposite.

Nowak’s research shows that co-operators — even those who share at their own expense — often win out over time. Elinor Ostrom’s research on the power of shared economies and the collaborative management of common resources won her the Nobel Prize in Economics. In Adam Grant’s book, “Give and Take”, he goes beyond the idea that givers are purely altruistic, and argues that those who “give first are often best positioned for success later.” And giving doesn’t just help the giver, it also begets more giving. According to Grant, when researchers studied giving across social networks, they found that when one person gave at their own personal cost over a series of rounds, others were more likely to contribute in subsequent rounds, even with people who were not in the original group. “The presence of a single giver was enough to establish a norm of giving,” wrote Grant.

Sharing is not a purely selfless act — while thinking beyond one’s own personal benefit is at the core of why we share, it also pays itself forward in reputation, and rewards us with good feelings and personal gratification. Sharing contributes to our individual identity — how we want to see ourselves, and be seen, in the world. Nowak calls this kind of earned reputation “indirect reciprocity” — common in large, complex communities, where direct reciprocity is nearly impossible. Complex communities like the ones we created together with the Web. Individuals who share in these communities establish and accumulate reputation. To be known, and to be valued — that’s reputation — and it is essential to vibrant, open communities, from Wikipedia, to open science, to open source software. We accumulate benefits from others who give freely because of the norms created in those groups. These acts are not entirely altruistic, and the motivations behind them are real and powerful.

This is the real power of sharing: concurrent and lasting benefits, multiplied for the giver, the receiver, and society. If Grant’s research is right, then a global movement built around sharing and collaboration will be infectious — converting not only those who give and receive, but establishing and reinforcing new norms in online communities. Every share can inspire others — eventually, over the long run — to “share alike”.

The Internet is real life

The line between these online communities and real life is blurring, or in many cases, altogether irrelevant. The Internet is real life. It’s where we go to work. It’s how we connect to the people we love. It’s where we tell our stories. This is the society we’re building together. If it is going to be fair, equal, diverse, vibrant, serendipitous, and safe for everyone, it will only be because we choose to make it that way. If it is going to be accessible, equitable, and full of innovation and opportunity, it will require our leadership to build the foundations that support these ideals.

This is how Creative Commons can be successful: by ensuring that the legal, technical, and policy infrastructure we create is designed to foster cooperation and sharing. The tools and services we create are important, but equally or perhaps even more important is how we create them: by supporting and fostering open, collaborative communities and driving engagement across the spectrum of open knowledge and free culture. Our open values are at the heart of what we do, but also how we do it. If we are successful in this endeavour, we will be much closer to realizing our vision: unlocking the full potential of the Internet to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.

Next: Towards a vibrant, usable commons.

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When Analytics Are Not Enough: PLOS Launches ‘PLOS BLOGS Reader Survey’ So Readers Can Be Heard

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Today PLOS launches its first-ever poll of the more than 2 million regular readers of its PLOS BLOGS Network of 26 staff and independent science blogs. Read on to find out why, when and how you can participate in this PLOS BLOGS Reader Survey.

What will happen to the data collected? Working with science communication researcher Dr. Paige Jarreau, PLOS intends to use this data to shape the future of PLOS BLOGS, one of the most read and influential science blog networks, and one of few written primarily by researchers for other researchers. Survey responses will also collectively provide insights for research being conducted by Dr. Jarreau on science communication habits in the broad scientific community.


Since its inception, PLOS has worked to make science more open and accessible to diverse authors and readers of the scientific literature. It has done this in traditional and nontraditional ways, beginning with PLOS Biology as an Open Access journal; then, reshaping the literature itself with the creation of PLOS ONE, a multidisciplinary journal that welcomes all ‘sound science.’

PLOS has also worked to make science more open and accessible in informal ways, most notably through The PLOS Blogs Network with its central mission to provide explanatory science within a venue for community discussion. As recently shared in a year-end roundup highlighting the most read (of more than 600) posts on PLOS BLOGS in 2015, the number of blogs on the network and their readerships have grown exponentially.  In the decade since launching The Official PLOS Blog, and in the five years since PLOS began hosting select independent blogs, PLOS BLOGS has expanded to include six staff-written blogs (including Speaking of Medicine, PLOS Biologue, EveryONE), four PLOS Community-affiliated blogs (PLOS Neuro, PLOS Synbio, PLOS Paleo, PLOS Ecology), and 16 active independent blogs – together receiving more than 2.3 million visits per year.

As a trusted source for formal and informal science communication, PLOS would like to enlist the help of its regular readers to go beyond bare-bones Google Analytics in shaping the future of PLOS’ science blogs. This means tapping your knowledge and hearing your preferences about what and how PLOS should approach the science and medicine covered on PLOS BLOGS. We’d also like to get your input on how to engage better with you, our authors and readers, using social media. To do so, PLOS is working with independent science communication researcher and survey consultant Paige Brown Jarreau to administer a first-ever PLOS BLOGS Reader Survey. This survey will launch on January 11, 2015 with announcements and links to be placed on all PLOS journals and blogs and PLOS social media channels. It will run approximately four weeks, closing Feb 15.

In addition to your content preferences, with this survey PLOS also wants to discover more about YOU as individual readers. Answers to demographic questions will help PLOS BLOGS better meet your needs as research authors, early, mid or later career researchers, clinicians, patients, undergraduate students, science writers, patients, popular science readers – or possibly identify a new category of reader not yet known to us.

Take 10 minutes to answer 10 questions. Help us improve PLOS BLOGS. Contribute to the science of science communication. And, be eligible to win a classic PLOS T-shirt.

Survey questions are applicable to any and all PLOS BLOGS Network readers, including visitors to staff, community and independent blogs, and the whole survey requires no more than 10-15 minutes to take. As an incentive, PLOS T-shirts will be awarded to 100 randomly selected people who take this survey! Keep in mind: the more of you who participate, the better PLOS will be able to serve all our readers. So, ‘Be Heard’ — take the survey yourself, and then share the announcement/link with your colleagues!

Thank you for taking the time to help PLOS serve you better.

Share this link with your friends and colleagues: http://plos.io/PLOSblogs16

How to combine the Hollywood blockbuster The Hobbit and creative commons content in the same OER

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Can you combine Copyright and Creative Commons? Yes you can!

After a meeting at the EU parlament on Copyright and IP related issues in October 2015 I have received several questions regarding copyright versus creative commons and more specifically how we at Norwegian digital learning arena(NDLA) combine the use of Copyright and CC license.

The main strategy at NDLA is to release content under Creative Commons BY SA but we also use NC on pictures and Copyright in some cases.

To explain this it is best to show an example from NDLA where we do this with a combination of text from our own staff, a picture from NTB Scanpix and the Hollywood blockbuster film made by Peter Jackson called The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug.


These different parts all are released under different licenses:

  1. The text by Tina Andersson Jensen is released under Creative Commons BY SA
  2. The picture of Peter Jackson(top right) by Hannibal Hanschke is released under Creative Commons BY SA NC
  3. The full length movie is released with Copyright and with the limitation that it can only be accessed from IP adresses in Norway.

When combining resources like this it is important to be accurate in marking the different parts with the correct license. In the screenshot under the three different licenses are defined. When a user puts the cursor over the icon the license and relevant information shows in the black frame. (Norwegian text)

What license to chose?

My personal opinion is that it is best to use Creative Commons BY or BY SA. When using NC(non-commercial) there are some problems in terms of “what is non-commercial” and how this term is to be interpreted.

Photo: NTB Scanpix, HANNIBAL/dpa – Creative commons by-nc-sa 2.0



This post will come in a new version soon. The Hobbit has be replaced with The King’s Speech on ndla.no


Author Credit: PLOS & ORCID Update

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Receiving credit for your work on a research article is important for academic recognition.  Scientific research and collaboration is now a global endeavor and while exciting, consistently identifying who has worked on what, and to what degree, is challenging. Given the current research environment, attributing appropriate credit to authors is complicated.  In an effort to help disambiguate author identity and to recognize authors for their contributions, PLOS is excited to share with you an update on our efforts to help all authors receive credit for their research.


For more than two years, PLOS has made it possible for authors, editors and reviewers to register  and log into our manuscript submission system with an ORCID.  Starting this month, we will send those iDs associated with authors of newly-published papers through to Crossref in our metadata deposits.  Crossref, in turn, will communicate that information to ORCID, where if the author has agreed to allow for updates, their ORCID profile will be enhanced to include their new publication. This auto-update function makes it possible for authors to maintain their records going forward without touching them!

Registering for an ORCID iD is simple to do – thousands of PLOS authors have already signed up!

ORCID Open Letter

This week, PLOS, in collaboration with eLife, the Royal Society and other major publishers, signed an Open Letter that commits publishers to following best practices when collecting, processing, and displaying ORCID iDs. An ORCID iD distinguishes authors from others with similar names by providing a unique identifier that permanently links all research published by that author to his or her ORCID iD —even if their name has changed over time or has been spelled differently in various contexts.  We worked with ORCID and other publishers to establish best practices that ensure we maintain the integrity of the ORCID record and best serve our authors. By signing this letter, our CEO, Elizabeth Marincola, has committed PLOS to begin requiring all corresponding authors to associate their name with an ORCID iD during 2016 – the exact date for implementation is still to be determined.

While our plan for the future is to require an ORCID iD for corresponding authors, we strongly encourage all contributors (authors, reviewers, editors, etc) to register for an ORCID iD and use it consistently for all their content.

Looking Ahead

PLOS is committed to providing new tools and services that help accelerate the pace and transparency of scientific research. We plan to continue collaborating with publishers, institutions and others that are practicing or want to establish ways to make publishing science faster, improve the author experience, and advance standards for reporting and reproducing research. As we move forward, we will continue to update our authors, contributors and community on our progress. Thank you for your continued support as we work on improving how authors and contributors receive credit for their research.

Helen Atkins

Director of Publishing Services


Open Education Week: 7-11 March, 2016: Call for Participation

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Open Education Week 2016: Call for Participation, by: Open Education Consortium, CC BY 4.0

The Open Education Week planning committee invites your contributions to and participation in the 2016 Open Education Week (#openeducationwk), featuring online and in-person events around the world. There are many ways to participate – including but not limited to:

  • host an event
  • help someone find and reuse open education resources (OER)
  • run a webinar
  • commit to openly license your educational resources
  • submit a video
  • make a commitment to advance OER
  • use the week to highlight the benefits of open education in your institution

Open Education Week is a celebration of the global Open Education movement. The purpose of the week is to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide, and there is always a need for the Creative Commons (CC) community to highlight how CC licensing makes OER “open.” Moreover, the CC community continues to innovate in open education and this is an opportunity to share your amazing work with the world. Participation in all events and use of all resources is free and open to the public.

Please submit your ideas on how you will contribute to Open Education Week by 12 February, 2016. You are welcome to submit multiple resources or events. Please fill out one form for each contribution.

Submitting your event / resources through this form will show the strength of commitment to openness around the world – all languages and time zones are most welcome!

Your event will be featured in the Open Education Week schedule, on the world map of events, and will be promoted through Open Education Week social media channels. You’ll also receive the official Open Education Week badge to display on your webpage or event promotional materials.

Kudos to our friends at the Open Education Consortium for organizing Open Education Week 2016!

The post Open Education Week: 7-11 March, 2016: Call for Participation appeared first on Creative Commons.

A Proactive Approach to Reproducibility with Evidence-Based Research on Research

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Discovery and reproducibility are cornerstones of the scientific enterprise. Without one, the other is hindered; new work is built on the foundation of previous results, for both breakthroughs and smaller advances, and the ability to reproduce published results expedites discovery.

Scientific research is increasingly technical, multidisciplinary and collaborative, bringing additional challenges to reproducibility and reliability. It is not new that there have been instances when published results were irreproducible, what is relevant in recent years – aided by Open Access – is the ability of motivated scientists to analyze not only data consolidated from multiple studies, in meta-analysis, but also to analyze the design, methods, reporting and evaluation of research, in meta-research studies.

Meta-research is the study of how science is conducted and reported. In recognition of the importance of this emerging field to bolstering public confidence in science and reducing unnecessary costs and efforts, PLOS Biology is taking a proactive approach to encourage reproducibility efforts with a new Meta-Research Section devoted to evidence-based research on research.

In expanding its scope to include this branch of scientific research, the journal aims “to provide a high-visibility home for research on research practices in the life sciences,” says PLOS Biology Senior Editor Stavroula Kousta. “By recognizing the importance of meta-research as a field, we hope to help reduce waste and restore the public’s trust in science,” she adds. In elevating the importance of data-driven meta-research, PLOS Biology ultimately aims to improve research practices.

Launch of this new section in PLOS Biology is accompanied by an editorial further detailing the motivation behind this addition (together with cited evidence) and the description of types of research to be considered for inclusion. In conjunction with the section launch is a new Meta-Research Collection containing curated PLOS meta-research classics and recently published meta-research articles across the PLOS journals. The interactive PLOS Science Wednesday redditscience Ask Me Anything on January 13 will cover bias in preclinical research with a focus for improvement.

The new Meta-Research Section in PLOS Biology is not the only example of how PLOS strives to improve the scientific endeavor through innovative communication efforts. PLOS has always recognized that publication of studies that reproduce published work or null results, either confirming or refuting the original result, is essential for progress in research. In fact, the largest journal at PLOS, PLOS ONE, is one of only a handful of publications that actively encourage these types of submissions with The Missing Pieces Collection.

As part of ongoing efforts to improve the quality and communication of scientific work and enhance trust in the scientific endeavor for all stakeholders – including the public, policymakers, educators and scientists – PLOS welcomes submissions in meta-research.

Thank you and Happy New Year!

Creativecommons.org -

Cheers to an incredible 2015. With your support, creators around the world have now shared over 1.1 billion, including NASA’s iconic images, educational materials in every subject, scientific research, government open data, 3D models, and more. Thank you!

And as we head into 2016 and beyond, there is much more to do. We’re thrilled to have you among our community as we continue to advocate for the widespread adoption of CC licenses, open policy, and the growth of the commons. And what’s more, we’ll be working hard to build an even more vibrant, usable, and collaborative commons. We look forward to sharing all our big wins with you.

The post Thank you and Happy New Year! appeared first on Creative Commons.

Keep the commons thriving

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You’ve heard about the incredible 1.1 billion CC licensed works available to be reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed in infinite ways. You’ve heard about huge gains in OER and Open Policy. You’ve heard about the threats to our shared global commons, and that we now find ourselves in one of the most restrictive eras of copyright in recent history.

Creative Commons needs you right now to stand with us. We are a small team, working to solve global challenges. We have ambitious year end fundraising goals, and we’re not there yet. We rely on you, our Creative Commons community, to help support our work.

Our year end fundraising deadline is in 48 hours. Please take a moment to donate $10, $25, $50, or more to Creative Commons right now to join the movement and help us build a creative, free, and more connected global commons.

With thanks,

Ryan Merkley
CEO, Creative Commons

The post Keep the commons thriving appeared first on Creative Commons.

Special request from Esther Wojcicki, Creative Commons Advisory Council

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Below is a guest post by Esther Wojcicki from the Creative Commons Advisory Council.

As a lifelong educator and recent author of Moonshots in Education, I’m proud to serve on Creative Commons’ Advisory Council and to have served as Chair of the CC Board. CC is at the very heart of the open education movement — our licenses put the “open” in Open Educational Resources (OER).

I’m writing to ask you to support CC’s high impact work in open education. Will you make a contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more today?

At a time when the cost of higher education is skyrocketing, OER has delivered $174M in textbook savings to students to date. At a time when people around the world are demanding equitable access to education, CC and our open education partners make it easy for educators and students everywhere to freely share curriculum, textbooks, and research at near zero cost.

What’s more, our advocacy has helped direct a shift at the government level. The United States Department of Education just outlined a major open licensing policy, and today over 19 countries around the world have legislation supporting OER.

I’m proud of our work in OER, but there are too many more students around the world waiting for easy access to education. We need your support. Make your contribution to Creative Commons today. Thank you!


The post Special request from Esther Wojcicki, Creative Commons Advisory Council appeared first on Creative Commons.

Happy Birthday CC license suite!

Creativecommons.org -

It’s hard to believe that it was 13 years ago today that we shipped the very first version of the CC license suite.

Before then, without the CC licenses, the barriers to collaborating in a global commons were too high. The benefits of shared educational content or scientific research, or paving the way for creators who could easily innovate as artists have throughout the ages, were hampered by complexity and confusion.

I never would have imagined the global commons as it stands today: over 1 billion CC licensed works, and millions of public domain materials. It’s incredible, and it’s because of all of us. We chose to build this together. And we need to remember that this has been the first step. We need to do more.

To help steward the continued growth, vibrancy, and usability of the commons, will you make a contribution of $10, $25, $50 or more today?

Join us as we continue to advocate for the widespread adoption of CC licenses, open policy, and the growth of the commons. And join us for the work ahead that will ensure that the very best content in the commons is easy to find, engaging to use, and that its data is accessible to both the contributor and the user.

We need to light up the content and creators of our shared commons.

Tonight is the night. Tonight you can help us soar past our first year-end campaign benchmark and kick off our next ambitious goal. In celebration of the 13th birthday of the CC license suite, will you help us raise $45,000 by next Tuesday to keep us on track toward our year-end goal?

Make your contribution to Creative Commons right now.

The Future of Science Communication

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As a participant in OpenCon 2015, a conference geared towards Early Career Researchers in all disciplines, PLOS had the opportunity to hear what the next generation of open science innovators are thinking and doing, and to share a few of the initiatives at PLOS aimed at serving and supporting this community.

In a video address, PLOS Executive Editor Veronique Kiermer highlights The Student Blog and the PLOS Early Career Researcher Travel Award Program, two opportunities for young researchers to engage with PLOS. Kiermer also addresses additional concerns of young researchers related to publishing in Open Access journals and outlined resources PLOS has developed to tackle these issues.

The brief video is an introduction to an OpenCon community webcast and will provide a glimpse of where PLOS believes the future of science communication is headed. That future is no longer only about Open Access – it is about Open Data and Open Science.

A warm welcome to our incoming Board members

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Creative Commons is delighted to announce two new appointments to our Board of Directors, Johnathan Nightingale and Katherine C. Spelman.

Johnathan Nightingale is the Chief Product Officer at Hubba, and was formerly the head of Firefox for Mozilla. In his role at Mozilla he was responsible for the engineering, product management, marketing, and design of the Firefox web browser on desktop and mobile platforms; a suite of products developed by a global community, used by over 400 million people worldwide, and localized into more than 80 languages. He has been an invited expert to the UK’s House of Lords on issues of surveillance and tracking, sat for 3 years on the W3C’s usable security working group, and has spoken often at industry conferences on issues of technology and security. He was among the first to graduate from the University of Toronto’s Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence program in 2001. He is an avid photographer, a Wikipedian, author of the ubiquitous Linux command line tool, “beep”, and a proud parent.

Kate Spelman, partner at K&L Gates, represents many of the players in the content distribution ecosystem: author, university, nonprofit, publisher, and technology developer both nationally and internationally. She serves on several copyright task forces and advisory committees, among them the American Bar Association Intellectual Property Section Task Force on Copyright Reform; American Law Institute Restatement of Copyright; and the American Intellectual Property Law Association Amicus Committee.  A graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison and the University of Michigan, Kate also has further education in technology and engineering from the University of California Berkeley.

Kate and Jonathan were formally elected to the Board on Sunday, December 6 and will serve a 4 year term through 2019. We look forward to their many valuable contributions to the Creative Commons community.

Our deepest thanks and a very bittersweet farewell

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It is with our deepest gratitude that all of us at Creative Commons offer a bittersweet sendoff to Board members Hal Abelson, Michael W. Carroll, Laurie Racine, Eric F. Saltzman, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, and Esther Wojcicki whose Board terms will come to a close at the end of this year. It is impossible to overstate the tremendous leadership and dedication that these Directors have contributed to Creative Commons, and we remain proud to carry on the important work that they so tirelessly stewarded.

CC has benefited greatly from the exceptional commitments from these Board members to help support a smooth transition. All have graciously accepted our invitation to join CC’s esteemed Advisory Council or other CC affiliate organizations in order to remain engaged in the guidance and stewardship of the organization in the years to come. We are grateful for an extended year of leadership service from Board Chair Paul Brest who will remain as Chair throughout 2016.

With our deepest gratitude, we wish Hal Abelson, Michael W. Carroll, Laurie Racine, Eric F. Saltzman, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, and Esther Wojcicki our warmest farewell.  We look forward to keeping them all very close, and look forward to their ongoing contributions to Creative Commons in their roles on CC’s Advisory Council and CC Affiliate teams.

CC BY Licensing Shows Momentum

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Today PLOS celebrates Creative Commons and its positive impact on the distribution of creative works of all media types, clearly demonstrated in its State of the Commons report for 2015. The report, released today, shows continued global Open Access adoption with more than one billion CC licenses now in use across 9 million websites—making it easier for anyone to use, reuse and remix content.

Since its inception PLOS has used the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) for all articles that it publishes. A founding belief of PLOS is that scientific and medical publications must be fully and freely available for society to reap the maximum benefit of both private and public investment in research.

The CC BY license maximizes the potential for both economic and scholarly impact, protects the rights of authors while allowing others to build on their work and strengthens the long-standing tradition of appropriate attribution and credit for scholarship.

The great advantage of publishing in Open Access journals is the increase in exposure, reach and influence an article can have as interested readers, educators, policy makers and other researchers share, reuse, integrate and build upon that Open Access content without restriction.

Note: The reports details the number of articles published by PLOS. That total is through December 31, 2014.

State of the Commons Report Highlights Milestone of Over 1 Billion Creative Commons Works Shared Online

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Annual State of the Commons Report highlights global cultural and policy impact of free and open content

Creative Commons, the global nonprofit that makes it easier for creators to share their work under simple copyright terms, announced a major milestone in the release of its 2015 State of the Commons Report today: over 1 billion works have been licensed using Creative Commons since the organization was founded.

This milestone was announced along with other significant data points in its State of the Commons report, which covers the growth of CC content on platforms, the globalization of CC tools, and cultural trends in the digitization of creative works. The State of the Commons report can be viewed at stateof.creativecommons.org/2015.

“We started the State of the Commons in 2014 to quantify the impact of creators everywhere who are making the conscious decision to share their content,” said Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley. “Our focus now is to create a vibrant, usable commons powered by collaboration and gratitude. Empowering the world to share free and open content and data results in more equity, access and innovation for everyone. We’re thrilled to see the impact fostering this climate is having on the Internet and society.”

Creative Commons works in over 85 countries to lead this expanding global movement. A major factor in its growth are official translations of the Creative Commons Version 4.0 license suite. To date, the 4.0 license suite has been translated into 7 languages, with 3 more languages to be published before the new year. In 2015, people viewed content under Creative Commons more than 136 billion times.

More than 50 cultural institutions have made their permanent collections or records available for liberal use around the world under CC licenses or public domain tools. Forms of content shared include photos, videos, research articles, audio tracks, training materials, and other educational resources. Major platform partners including Flickr, Wikipedia, 500px, Medium, Vimeo, and YouTube among others have helped to grow the number of CC licensed works, participating in a worldwide effort to expand the commons, along with millions of individual websites.

“Wikipedia relies on Creative Commons to make vast amounts of material available for the world to discover,” says Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “Freely licensed images and works of the world illustrate and enrich the articles Wikimedia’s volunteer editors write each day, making it possible for people everywhere to share in knowledge.”

There has also been a shift towards sharing in government. The recent #GoOpen initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Education with support from CC and technology giants Amazon and Microsoft signals a strong business case for open education. To date, the open education movement has delivered $174 million in savings to students using open textbooks with an additional $53 million projected through the next academic year — savings that can be used to improve access and equity for all students.

Highlights from this year’s State of the Commons report include the following:
  1. CC licenses continue to be the global standard for sharing: CC-licensed works passed the 1 billion mark this year, and have nearly tripled in the last 5 years, signaling an exciting increase in the number of people choosing to share content.
  2. Velocity of change: The CC-marked public domain is growing rapidly and has nearly doubled in size over the last 12 months.
  3. Openness is far reaching: People are using CC licenses to share in as many as 34 different languages. Creative Commons now has affiliate institutions located in 85 countries.
  4. Advances in Foundation policies: In 2015 a significant number of foundations switched their granting default from “closed” to open, including the Ford Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, Vancouver Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These open funding policies ensure maximum impact of and access to Foundation-funded resources.
  5. Momentum in the digitization of culture: The realization that there is a business and societal case for online sharing around culture–even in the presence of extremely divergent points of view–has resulted in museums opening their collections to share with the world under Creative Commons licenses and public domain tools. The Netherlands’ Rijksmuseum is leading the charge by digitizing collections.
  6. A shift towards sharing in government: The proposed U.S. Department of Education open licensing policy will ensure government funded educational materials are openly licensed and freely available to the public that paid for them. Access to these materials will be open by default rather than require people to pay twice (or more) for access.
  7. Open education movement goes mainstream: To date, the open education movement has delivered $174 million in savings to students through open textbooks.
  8. Platforms as partners: Support and growth of openly-licensed content continues on platforms such as Wikipedia, Europeana, and Flickr, with new platform partners like Medium and edX.

The State of the Commons report can be found online in various formats for sharing at stateof.creativecommons.org/2015. The report has been translated into 17 languages by Creative Commons affiliates, with at least 5 more translations to come.

About Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization at the center of a high-profile, international movement to promote sharing of creativity and knowledge. Our goal is to help realize the full potential of the Internet—universal access to research and education, full participation in culture—to drive a new era of development growth, and productivity. CC provides the well-known suite of licenses and public domain tools that have become the global standard used by leading companies, institutions and individuals across culture, education, government, science, and more to promote digital collaboration and innovation.

The CC licenses are everywhere—1 billion CC licenses in use across 9 million websites—making it easy for anyone to use and reuse content. For example, CC licenses give the world access to NASA’s most iconic images from space, help educators create curriculum that reduce the cost of college for everyone, and allow scientists to freely share their work with medical professionals and researchers around the world. CC also works with foundations and governments to ensure that publicly-funded content, including research and educational materials, are made available for everyone to freely use, share, and improve.

Creative Commons, Report Contact:


Press Contact:

Marci Hotsenpiller: marci@zincpr.com

The post State of the Commons Report Highlights Milestone of Over 1 Billion Creative Commons Works Shared Online appeared first on Creative Commons.

State of the Commons: 1 Billion Creative Commons Works

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I’m proud to share with you Creative Commons’ 2015 State of the Commons report, our best effort to measure the immeasurable scope of the commons by looking at the CC licensed content, along with content marked as public domain, that comprise the slice of the commons powered by CC tools.

Creative Commoners have known all along that collaboration, sharing, and cooperation are a driving force for human evolution. And so for many it will come as no surprise that in 2015 we achieved a tremendous milestone: over 1.1 billion CC licensed photos, videos, audio tracks, educational materials, research articles, and more have now been contributed to the shared global commons.

Our small team continues to work to grow and improve the commons for everyone. We’re proud of our accomplishments, but there’s more to do and we need your help. Our goal is to raise $30,000 over the next week to celebrate the release and accomplishments of our 2015 State of the Commons report. Will you make a contribution of $10, $25, $50 or more today?

As we grow the size and scope of the commons, we are working hard to ensure that it becomes a vibrant, usable commons — full of collaboration and gratitude. We need our contributors to be able to talk to each other, find new content, give feedback, offer their thanks and encouragement, get analytics, and build networks and communities around the content they are creating. We want to light up the commons, and we need you to join us.

CC is a global charity that relies on our generous community of supporters like you. Kick off our year-end campaign strong by helping us meet our first benchmark: $30,000 over the next week to celebrate the release and accomplishments of our 2015 State of the Commons report.

Make your contribution to Creative Commons today.

Thank you for being a part of this.

With thanks,

Ryan Merkley
CEO, Creative Commons

Read the full report: stateof.creativecommons.org/2015.
Read the press release.

Tell the Department of Education ‘YES’ on open licensing

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In October we wrote that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is considering an open licensing requirement for direct competitive grant programs. If adopted, educational resources created with ED grant funds will be openly licensed for the public to freely use, share, and build upon.

The Department of Education has been running a comment period in which interested parties can provide feedback on the proposed policy. Creative Commons has drafted a response, which discusses the open licensing policy and other questions proposed by ED. You too can share your thoughts with ED–here’s a guide about how to do it. The deadline is December 18.

We think the adoption of an open licensing requirement is useful because it clarifies the rights of the public in how we may all access, use, and adapt ED-funded resources.

The license must be worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, and irrevocable, and must grant the public permission to access, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, adapt, distribute, and otherwise use, for any purposes, copyrightable intellectual property created with direct competitive grant funds, provided that the licensee gives attribution to the designated authors of the intellectual property.

We think ED should include a specific mention that the open license definition they provide most closely aligns with the permissions and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 license (CC BY). This way, it will be clear to grantees which open license ED requires them to use.

It’s good to see the Department of Education proposing a similar rule that the Department of Labor introduced several years ago with their community college and career training grant program. That $2 billion grant pool required that educational resources created with Department of Labor grant funds be licensed under the CC BY license. By doing so, the Department of Labor made sure that the resources created with its grant funds can be easily discovered and legally reused and revised by the public.

Creative Commons draft response to Department of Education open licensing policy

How to submit a comment

New fellows for 2016 Institute for Open Leadership

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cape point (panorama) by André van Rooyen, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In September we announced that Creative Commons and the Open Policy Network are hosting a second Institute for Open Leadership. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number and diversity of policies that require that publicly funded resources should be widely shared under liberal open licenses so that the public can access and reuse the materials. These resources range from scientific research to digital textbooks to workforce training curricula, and more. Philanthropic foundations have been stepping up too–requiring their grant-funded works to be made freely available under Creative Commons licenses. We want to see more of these open licensing policies flourish, which will feed the commons, promote cross-discipline collaboration, and even increase the transparency of government and philanthropic investments.

The Institute brings together mentors who work with the fellows to develop a open licensing policy for their government, university, or project. We received many applications, and our review committee has invited the following group to join us in Cape Town in March 2016.

  • Jane-Frances Agbu – National Open University of Nigeria – Lagos, Nigeria
  • Rim Azib – British Council, Tunis – Bizerta, Tunisia
  • Steve Cairns – Greenpeace International – Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Amanda Coolidge – BCcampus – Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Daniel DeMarte – Tidewater Community College – Norfolk, VA, United States
  • Paula Eskett – CORE Education – Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Mostafa Azad Kamal – Bangladesh Open University – Gazipur, Bangladesh
  • Roshan Kumar Karn – Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital – Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Vincent Kizza – Open Learning Exchange Uganda – Kampala, Uganda
  • Fiona MacAllister – University of the Witwatersrand – Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Katja Mayer – University of Vienna – Vienna, Austria
  • Caroline Mbogo – The World Agroforestry Centre – Nairobi, Kenya
  • Niall McNulty – Cambridge University Press – Cape Town, South Africa
  • Juliana Monteiro – Museu da Imigração do Estado de São Paulo – São Paulo, Brazil
  • Jacques Murinda – Great Lakes School of Open – Kigali, Rwanda
  • Alessandro Sarretta – Institute of Marine Sciences – Venezia, Italy

None of this would be possible without the assistance of the Open Policy Network and ongoing support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Open Society Foundations. Thank you.

OER: A Catalyst for Innovation

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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its latest Open Educational Resources (OER) report yesterday: Open Educational Resources: A Catalyst for Innovation, Educational Research and Innovation. (PDF)

The report covers the following topics:

  1. OER in educational policy and practice
  2. OER as a catalyst for innovation
  3. Fostering new forms of learning for the 21st century
  4. Fostering teachers’ professional development
  5. Containing educational costs
  6. Improving the quality of educational resources
  7. Widening the distribution of high quality educational resources
  8. Reducing barriers to learning opportunities
  9. Research on OER and the challenge of the extended lifecycle
  10. Securing the sustainability of OER initiatives
  11. Public policy interventions to improve teaching and learning through OER

Authors Dominic Orr, Michele Rimini and Dirk Van Damme describe the report as:

[following on] earlier work by CERI on OER, which resulted in the publication Giving Knowledge for Free in 2007, and an OECD country questionnaire on OER-related policy and activities in 2012. It seeks to provide a state of the art review of evidence on OER practice and impacts, and evaluate the remaining challenges for OER entering the mainstream of educational practice.

Creative Commons is also pleased to see OECD using a CC license on its report. We look forward to seeing more OECD reports openly licensed in the near future.

This report is a welcome contribution to overall OER strategy and open licensing policy recommendations to governments; and will be helpful in educating national governments, policy markers and educators about the benefits of OER specifically and open education more generally.

See also: OECD’s blog post.

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation adopts open licensing policy

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The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) is a UK-based charity that “seeks to transform the lives of poor and vulnerable children in developing countries.” Yesterday the foundation announced its first Transparency Policy, which requires its grantees and consultants to widely disseminate resources they create under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY).

We aim to make as much content as possible freely available through open licensing, such as a Creative Commons license. This includes development work, research and data funded by CIFF. For instance, CIFF-funded peer-reviewed research articles which would have gone behind a publication’s pay-wall will now be freely available.

In addition to requiring open licensing for grant-funded materials like presentations and reports, CIFF has taken a progressive approach to data sharing.

CIFF believes that providing access to research plans and research data permits healthy scrutiny of evidence, reduces duplication of effort, and enables secondary uses of data, which improves efficiency of resourcing.

The foundation “expects that all data created using grant funds should be released into the public domain” using the CC0 Public Domain Dedication.

Like other foundations, CIFF realizes that there may be cases where exceptions to the default open license may be warranted.

The organization has also developed an implementation guide to help staff and grantees understand the open policy requirements. This guide is licensed under CC BY, and was a remix based on the Hewlett Foundation’s Open Licensing Toolkit for Staff (also licensed under CC BY).

Creative Commons is happy to have been able to work with CIFF as they developed their open licensing policy over the last year. Congratulations to the foundation for this important policy adoption! It’s fantastic to see philanthropic organizations from around the world working together to populate the commons and increase the global impact of their charitable giving.


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