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iCommons iSummit08 starting on Tuesday

If you live in Japan, maybe you still have time to plan to go. :) It’s in Sapporo.

My presentation picks:

Wikimedians represent! There is Philip Schmidt talking about the user survey and… d’oh, that’s kind of it. (Jimmy is talking about Wikia.)

There is some Second Life thing happening, but if you don’t use Second Life, the next best bet looks to be waiting for the promised daily podcasts and newsletters.

26 July, 2008 •

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Fundraisers a-go-go; a new license on the block

Card-carrying free culture proponents, here’s what’s hot at all hip water coolers this week:

It’s fundraiser time


A school in Zambia:
© Florence Devouard CC-BY-SA-3.0

The WMF fundraiser continues, with some interesting comments from Board chair Florence Devouard in an interview with the Wikipedia Signpost this week, about the success so far and whether or not there will be matching donations.

Wikipedia is many things to many people. While to some it’s nothing more than status or a game, imagine what it could be for the students of this school.

Also happening is the iCommons Auction. Thirty items have been donated by free culture leaders, and they range from the limited edition to the slightly weird. (I can’t say I have a hankering for the lead item, Lawrence Lessig’s coat. What would you do with it, sniff it? Wear it? About the only place you would get bragging rights for it is at the iSummit.)

More interesting, to me at least, are prints of our very own Joi Ito’s photography:


You can join the iCommons mailing list to be notified when particular items become available for bidding.

A new license: Affero GPL

No beta for this baby, straight to version 3!

The Free Software Foundation, the folks behind the mighty GPL and the less-championed GFDL, have announced the release of GNU Affero General Public License (so file this acronym away: AGPL).

The idea behind it is thus: The GPL came about because RMS wanted the right to view and modify source code of programs on his machine. You can make a web app available using GPL code without releasing the code, and that is OK, because the code doesn’t go onto users’ machines and you’re offering a service (use of a program) rather than a product (the software itself). I think that’s the story.

So, some people in the FLOSS movement find this dodgy and feel that such developers should be obligated to release their code, while others feel that that would be a radical and unwelcome interpretation of the GPL. Hence, new license. Soon you’ll be saying “Is it Affero GPL?” quicker than you can mouth Open Social.

Well, maybe. In this age of APIs where users can be grateful to have the very data that they contributed released back to them in an accessible format, is it too late for AGPL to have an impact?

Mako has some thoughts on it worth reading.

Free culture/free software symbiosis

Mako has also published a short piece Free Culture Advanced which describes how the nascent free content movement has drawn inspiration from the free software movement. As one of the authors of the Definition of Free Cultural Works he is hardly an impartial observer but it is a useful primer. As an even more basic guide I suggest the Ideology and philosophy section on the Wikimedia Commons “Choosing a license” guide, which, um, I mostly wrote. (Lately even that is overkill, given you can learn who to namedrop via xkcd.)

I have a vague memory of a CC-authored “free content definition”-style document being mentioned on one of the CC mailing lists, but I can’t find it now. Anyone else recall this?

Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader

Ebooks are great except for one nagging problem… The Future of Reading has some sobering quotes to contemplate.

Cool toy: GunnMap

Enough Serious Biz. Say hello to GunnMap (Flash, sorry). No more handcoding coloured maps! Just tick, tick, write, click, “Save SVG”, upload as CC-BY-SA, done! (Confession: I haven’t actually used it. I’m not a map creator by trade. But it looks pretty awesome and I hope it works as well as it looks.)

PS: For Facebook addicts, RSVP to the Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year 2007 event so you won’t forget to vote! :)

20 November, 2007 • , , , ,

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News and notes from Creative Commons land

CC-BY Flickr user foolstopzanet' Ian Wilson
© CC-BY Flickr’s Ian Wilson – another ad from the campaign.

Virgin Australia has been hit with a lawsuit for its use of a photograph from Flickr in an ad campaign. The girl in the photo is underage and her-friend-the-photographer naturally didn’t get any kind of model release before licensing the photo CC-BY on Flickr.

Lawrence Lessig has a copy of the lawsuit on his blog which explains why Creative Commons has been named as a party in the lawsuit. It basically amounts to “they didn’t explicitly warn me something like this could happen”.

My thoughts are that I’m glad Virgin is being sued over this. They were jerks to use this photo in the first place. I understand that stupid multinational corporations can use works I license under CC licenses, but I’m happy they’re being pulled into line. I think CC being named in the suit is just misguided, but maybe it won’t hurt for the licenses to be tested in court. :) Is a URL without a username sufficient attribution?

Second thought. This confirms my belief that conscientious photographers should avoid CC licensing photographs of people. I would never CC license a photo of my friends. Famous people are fair game.

Third thought. I hope this inspires CC users to read up what they’re actually agreeing to. Like something interesting I discovered: the version 1.0 licenses have this clause:

By offering the Work for public release under this License, Licensor represents and warrants that, to the best of Licensor’s knowledge after reasonable inquiry:

1. Licensor has secured all rights in the Work necessary to grant the license rights hereunder and to permit the lawful exercise of the rights granted hereunder without You having any obligation to pay any royalties, compulsory license fees, residuals or any other payments;

2. The Work does not infringe the copyright, trademark, publicity rights, common law rights or any other right of any third party or constitute defamation, invasion of privacy or other tortious injury to any third party.

Hm, well that makes all my CC-BY-SA-1.0 releases invalid, because I sure as hell never checked those things. And I sure as hell don’t intend to. Happily, CC seems to agree that those things don’t in fact belong in copyright licenses.

On the cc-community mailing list, there has been a killer thread about what “NC” (non-commercial, as in “this photo can be used for non-commercial purposes”) means (entitled “What does NC means?”). Many people are confused about this, and CC doesn’t seem in any rush to clear up the confusion. They seem happy with the poorly defined but vaguely comforting terms. Terry Hancock writes eloquently here about how NC and ND licenses betray the tradition that the “commons” part of the Creative Commons name lays claim to.

There seem to be plenty of people within CC culture who are pissed about this, but CC doesn’t seem willing to act to even encourage people towards freer license terms. They emphasise the clarity of “choice” to the individual licensor at the expense of benefit to the commons they purport to help create. It is kinda annoying.

I am starting to think we need a http://www.NCandNDarenotfree.org/ with arguments and polite form letters that people can send to probably-misguided NC and ND license users. Especially people who set site-wide licenses, like wiki administrators: these people need a clip around the ear if they choose a NC or ND license. Well, first they need a persuasive argument, then if they persist, the clip. It could be like GNU’s campaign to end Word attachments, Although they appear to have lost the war, but small individual battles are won each day.

And the last mention must go to the recent iCommons iHeritage event, celebrating South African Heritage day. They were uploading media to Wikimedia Commons and Flickr. There is probably still a bit to go as they were recording audio as well. I helped out a bit by creating some help files on Wikimedia Commons.

I’m sure there is much more content on Flickr. I can’t really blame anyone who chose to upload there instead of Commons. I suppose the good thing is our Flickr transfer service making copying them over nice and easy. :)

24 September, 2007 • , , , , , ,

Spotlight on Wikimedia Commons

Screenshot of the Wikimedia Commons story on the iCommons front page.

I wrote an article for the iCommons newsletter, which is probably due to come out soon, and in the meantime it’s been published on the iCommons front page. (I don’t quite know how the voting works but I suspect it got some behind-the-scenes tweaking to push it through…) In the meantime I thought it might be useful for the Wikimedia Foundation wiki , hopefully as a decent introduction for people who’ve never heard of the project.

I am nothing if not a diligent recycler!

03 September, 2007 • ,

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