Share your work – Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org Join us in building a more vibrant and usable global commons! Wed, 01 Apr 2020 18:52:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5 https://creativecommons.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cc-site-icon-40x40.png Share your work – Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org 32 32 78836240 Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Updated Creative Commons License Chooser https://creativecommons.org/2020/01/27/the-new-cc-license-chooser/ Mon, 27 Jan 2020 20:16:52 +0000 https://creativecommons.org/?p=57302 This is part of a series of posts introducing the projects built by open source contributors mentored by Creative Commons during Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2019. Ari Madian was one of those contributors and we are grateful for his work on this project. The Creative Commons (CC) License Chooser was made nearly 15 years ago and … Read More "Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Updated Creative Commons License Chooser"

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This is part of a series of posts introducing the projects built by open source contributors mentored by Creative Commons during Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2019. Ari Madian was one of those contributors and we are grateful for his work on this project.

The Creative Commons (CC) License Chooser was made nearly 15 years ago and is long overdue for an update. The purpose of the CC Chooser is to help users choose which CC license is right for them and their needs. However, since its release, it has fallen short in a few respects. 

First, the user interface is quite cluttered, with no clear visual hierarchy. For example, elements on the page appear to be fighting for equal importance. Second, the lack of a clear call-to-action makes it difficult to get started using the tool. Third, it’s difficult to understand what the selected license means, as well as get an idea of what the full CC license suite has to offer due to a lack of information.

The New Chooser

Since May 2019, an updated version of the CC License Chooser has been in development as part of the 2019 Google Summer of Code (GSoC). The main goal of the original GSoC project, “Human-Centered Education of CC Licenses,” was to revamp the CC Chooser with a greater focus on usability and on the educational experience of the license suite. Today, the updated CC Chooser is still a work in progress, particularly with regards to the user interface design and internationalization.

A screenshot of the updated CC License Chooser, as of early 2019.

The screenshot above shows a small section of the new CC Chooser. At the top of the image is the updated CC license selection section. In terms of design and usability, this is already a huge improvement over the existing CC Chooser. However, we’re still making minor improvements based on user feedback. We’ve carried over the functionality of the HTML license mark generator from the original CC Chooser but added rich text generation, simplified it to be more usable, and brought a more contemporary look to the generated mark.

A new addition to the CC Chooser is what we call the “Help Section,” which can be seen at the bottom of the image. The purpose of this section is to help answer questions that users might have during the license selection process and to help users get a better idea of what the CC license suite has to offer, as well as how it works.

What’s Next?

The new CC Chooser still needs some work before it’s ready to become the CC Chooser. For example, we need to:

  • Make improvements to the CC Chooser’s UI and selection process. This includes making license selection easier, simplifying the UI, and integrating it with CC’s new web design system called Vocabulary.
  • Internationalize the CC Chooser (i.e. make it available in multiple languages)
  • Finish technical work related to the CC Chooser’s infrastructure

The UI improvements and internationalization work are core objectives of the Outreachy internship running from December 2019 to March 2020. Olga Bulat is the Outreachy intern currently working on the CC License Chooser. She’s experimenting with the introduction of a step-based system for CC license selection, which will help guide the user through the various licensing considerations. She’ll also be collaborating with CC’s legal counsel and communications team to provide updated text describing each license in a clear and succinct way. 

Tasks, issues, and discussions related to the release of the new CC Chooser are tracked with the Launch Milestone in the creativecommons/cc-chooser repository on GitHub.

How Can I Contribute?

Anyone can contribute by testing the beta deployment of the new CC License Chooser. At the top of the page, there is a link to a feedback form. Take a look at the new CC Chooser and let us know what you think! You can also join the #cc-dev-license-chooser channel on Creative Commons’ Slack and keep an eye out for calls for volunteers to test usability.

Those who are technically inclined can contribute by fixing code issues, as well as finding and reporting bugs. The GitHub repo for the new CC Chooser is called “cc-chooser,” and can be found here. Please remember to read the contributing section in the chooser repo’s README. Issues marked with the green “help wanted” tag are open to contributors, however issues marked with the yellow “in progress” tag are not open.

Quick Links

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Introducing the CC Search Browser Extension https://creativecommons.org/2020/01/06/cc-search-browser-extension/ Mon, 06 Jan 2020 15:03:27 +0000 https://creativecommons.org/?p=57111 This is part of a series of posts introducing the projects built by open source contributors mentored by Creative Commons during Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2019. Mayank Nader was one of those contributors and we are grateful for his work on this project. Creative Commons (CC) is working towards providing easy access to CC-licensed … Read More "Introducing the CC Search Browser Extension"

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This is part of a series of posts introducing the projects built by open source contributors mentored by Creative Commons during Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2019. Mayank Nader was one of those contributors and we are grateful for his work on this project.

Creative Commons (CC) is working towards providing easy access to CC-licensed and public domain works. One significant step towards achieving that goal was the release of CC Search in 2019. Through this search and indexing tool, we’re making a plethora of CC-licensed images accessible in one place. As CC Search expands to include more than just images, CC is also developing a suite of applications and interfaces to help users across the world interact, consume, and reuse open access content.

CC Search Extension (1)

The CC Search Browser Extension is one such application. This browser extension is an open-source, lightweight plugin that can be installed and used by anyone with an updated web browser.

Why did we create this browser extension?

Browsers are the gateway to the web, and users often install browser plugins to improve productivity and overall experience. With the CC Search Browser Extension, users can now search for CC-licensed images, download them, and attribute the owner/creator without needing to head over to Flickr, Behance, Rawpixel or any other source of CC-licensed content. The other great feature? The CC Search Browser Extension works across different browsers, providing a familiar and intuitive experience for all users.

Install the latest version of the extension via Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Opera!

Key features of the CC Search Browser Extension: 

  • Search and filter CC-licensed content

You can use the extension filters to filter the content by the source website, types of licenses, and/or use-case.

CC Search Extension (2)

  • One-click attribution

One condition of all CC licenses is attribution. Attributing the owner/creator of CC-licensed content found using the extension is easy with one-click attribution. Both the Rich-text and HTML versions of the attribution are available.

CC Search Extension (3)

  • Download images (and attribution)

Download the image to use it in your works through the extension itself. You can also download the attribution information as a text file along with the image; this can be helpful when downloading multiple images in a single session.

  • Bookmark images

Bookmarking the images will save them in the extension. You can view and remove your bookmarks from the bookmarks section.

CC Search Extension (4)

  • Export and import bookmarks

As a user, you can easily archive and/or transfer your bookmarks. This feature makes sure that the process of archiving and transferring bookmarks is uncomplicated and straightforward.

CC Search Extension (5)

  • User-interface (UI) options available for custom settings

The extension also allows for setting default filters, etc. The “Options” page helps declutter the main popup of the extension, ensuring that it shows only the most necessary information. In the future, this “Options” page will also host additional and updated features.

CC Search Extension (6)

  • Sync your custom settings and bookmarks across devices

Chrome and Firefox have a built-in feature that syncs browser settings and preferences across your logged-in devices. The extension leverages this feature to sync your custom settings and bookmarks. This will make your experience more pleasant and familiar. 

  • Dark Mode

The extension also has a dark mode that you can toggle “on” by clicking the icon in the header. This reduces screen glare and battery consumption. You can set the dark mode as default in the “Options” page.

Future plans and development

  • Find and fix bugs
  • Add a review and feedback tab on the “Options” page
  • Integrate Vocabulary into the extension
  • Develop usability enhancements
  • Remove infinite scrolling and replace it with pagination or voluntary loading
  • Add search syntax for better specificity of results and a search syntax guide
  • Make the code more modular and add more tests
  • Port the features of the CC Search web application that are relevant in the context of the browser plugin

Installation

The latest version of the extension is available for installation via Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Opera.

Join the community

Community contribution and feedback is an essential part of the development process, so we encourage you to contact us if you have feedback or a specific suggestion. This is an open-source project, you can contribute in the form of bug reports, feature requests, or code contributions.

To install the development version of the extension, read the installation guide on Github.

Finally, come and tell us about your experience on the Creative Commons Slack via the slack channel: #cc-dev-browser-extension.

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Our 4.0 License Suite Is Now Available in Simplified and Traditional Chinese https://creativecommons.org/2020/01/02/cc-licenses-in-simplified-traditional-chinese/ Thu, 02 Jan 2020 21:33:09 +0000 https://creativecommons.org/?p=57100 Creative Commons is doubly excited to announce the publication of two official Chinese language translations of version 4.0 of our license suite: Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. These translations will enable approximately 1.2 billion persons (more than 15% of the world’s population) to understand our licenses in their first language. We could not be more … Read More "Our 4.0 License Suite Is Now Available in Simplified and Traditional Chinese"

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Creative Commons is doubly excited to announce the publication of two official Chinese language translations of version 4.0 of our license suite: Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. These translations will enable approximately 1.2 billion persons (more than 15% of the world’s population) to understand our licenses in their first language. We could not be more pleased to see this effort reach a successful conclusion after more than five years of collaboration among experts and communities.

A screenshot of the CC BY traditional and simplified Chinese translations. Licensed CC BY

Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese are different in important respects, but also have many similarities and overlapping communities. Even within each language, variances occur depending on region and cultures. While all official translations are faithful linguistic translations of the original English language 4.0 licenses, CC and its community account for these variations and document the rationale for those differences on our website.

Uniquely, this effort spanned volunteer legal experts and community members across the following jurisdictions: China Mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Chunyan Wang led our efforts on the Simplified Chinese translation, and Tyng-Ruey Chuang led our efforts on the Traditional Chinese translation. They were assisted by a large group of volunteers, to whom CC extends its profound thanks, including the following individuals:

Xingzhi Xin
Yi Zheng
Beibei Sun
Ben Cheng
Li Yahong
Ying Chan
Benjamin Chow
Haggen So
Lucien C.H. Lin
Yi-Hsuan Lin
Shun-Ling Chen
Ally Wang

This accomplishment is a testimony to the strength of our community and our shared vision for supporting the growth of the global commons. A special thanks to the Ford Foundation for a grant through their Global Travel and Learning Fund to support a meeting of the 4.0 translation teams in 2015 and 2016, and to the Wikimedia Foundation for supporting the teams’ translations efforts in 2016.

Congratulations!

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Thank You for Translating “Made with Creative Commons” https://creativecommons.org/2019/12/18/translating-made-with-creative-commons/ Wed, 18 Dec 2019 17:11:43 +0000 https://creativecommons.org/?p=57054 In 2017, CC published Made with Creative Commons, a book examining 24 different business models built around CC licenses and CC-licensed content. Financially supported by more than 1600 backers on Kickstarter, the project itself is an example of how openly licensed work can be funded and how CC-licensed content can evolve over time.  After publishing … Read More "Thank You for Translating “Made with Creative Commons”"

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In 2017, CC published Made with Creative Commons, a book examining 24 different business models built around CC licenses and CC-licensed content. Financially supported by more than 1600 backers on Kickstarter, the project itself is an example of how openly licensed work can be funded and how CC-licensed content can evolve over time. 

Made with Creative Commons

After publishing the book and distributing copies around the world, we have proudly watched as the Made with Creative Commons project continued to germinate thanks to the energy and resourcefulness of the CC community.

Just recently, members of our community across Latin America—including Gunnar Wolf, Luis Enrique Amaya González, Leo “elopio” Arias, Andrés Delgado, and Evelin “scann” Heidelcollaborated to produce a Spanish translation of the book. Marisol Simón from the Economics Research Institute in Mexico edited the translation.

Earlier this year, Hilman Fathoni, Fitri Ayu, and the rest of the CC Indonesia team translated the book into Indonesian. They were also able to hold a public event and print copies of the translated book thanks to funding from the Indonesian Creative Economy Agency.

Finally, Soohyun Pae is currently leading a translation into Korean, and Petter Reinholdtsen is undertaking a translation into Norwegian.

These efforts by you, the CC community, are a testament to the vibrancy, resourcefulness, and ingenuity of the open movement—and your commitment to growing the global commons.

We would like to say thank you to each and every person who has had a hand in carrying this work forward over the last two years, and we look forward to receiving more translations in the future!

If you’re working on a new translation of Made with Creative Commons, let us know by emailing us at info@creativecommons.org or tagging us @creativecommons on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

 

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Introducing the Updated Creative Commons WordPress Plugin https://creativecommons.org/2019/11/22/updated-cc-wordpress-plugin/ Fri, 22 Nov 2019 18:33:04 +0000 https://creativecommons.org/?p=56845 This is part of a series of posts introducing the projects built by open source contributors mentored by Creative Commons during Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2019. Ahmad Bilal was one of those contributors and we are grateful for his work on this project. WordPress is one of the top platforms for creators on the … Read More "Introducing the Updated Creative Commons WordPress Plugin"

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This is part of a series of posts introducing the projects built by open source contributors mentored by Creative Commons during Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2019. Ahmad Bilal was one of those contributors and we are grateful for his work on this project.

WordPress is one of the top platforms for creators on the internet who both produce and consume CC-licensed content. Therefore, it’s important that we are able to integrate with WordPress as seamlessly as possible in order to promote the use of CC licenses. With that in mind, we recently added new features to our WordPress plugin—which are now live!

This plugin is an attribution and marking tool. It has multiple features that allow users to publish their content on WordPress under a CC license.

Previously, WordPress blog/site owners needed to manually type out instructions specifying to their readers what content they can share and how. But this plugin makes it simple to specify which CC license a single page, post, or even a whole site/network is published under.

Installation

You can install this plugin from the WordPress.org plugin marketplace. Once installed and activated, you can change the license settings from your WordPress (WP) dashboard.

The latest features added to our plugin:

  • Setting a default site license

The plugin allows a default site-wide license to avoid any confusion regarding the attribution of content. After activating the plugin, head to Settings > Creative Commons to set up the default license or to change it to one of the other CC licenses.

Wordpress Plugin Screenshot (1)

Wordpress Plugin Screenshot (2)

There are multiple options available for the license. You can add:

  • Additional attribution text for a custom note
  • Title and Title URL
  • Author and Author URL
  • Display options

Wordpress Plugin Screenshot (3)

This default license can be displayed either as a widget or in the footer. The widget can be pulled to any area and will display the default license.

Wordpress Plugin Screenshot (4)

  • License blocks

Our plugin also supports WordPress’ new editor, Gutenberg. The plugin adds blocks for each CC license. You will find these blocks under a separate category.

Wordpress Plugin Screenshot (5)

These blocks can be used to quickly mark or attribute any page/post/image or other media. Choosing a block will provide you with fields to add details. 

Wordpress Plugin Screenshot (6)

In the image below, you can see how the block will look in a post.

Wordpress Plugin Screenshot (7)

At a glance, with the WP CC Plugin you can:

  • License your site with a default license
  • Display the default license in the footer or as a widget
  • Display a license for the entire site, or for individual posts and pages
  • License your WordPress Network (WordPress Multisite install)
  • License some posts, pages, or images differently from your default license
  • License posts and pages by simply including CC Gutenberg blocks for each license required

What’s next for the CC WordPress plugin?

The CC WordPress plugin is an open source project aimed at simplifying the process of applying CC licenses to content on WordPress. A few upcoming milestones include internationalization, as well as the integration of CC Search and CC Vocabulary (coming soon)

Finally, this project is community-focused and we want your help. Do you have comments or suggestions? Maybe a few ideas for new features or thoughts about improving the user experience? Check out the plugin’s GitHub Repository and Contribution Guidelines to get started. You can also join the discussion on the #cc-dev-wordpress Slack channel or the GitHub repository

 

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We Created a CC Style Guide; It’s Yours to Remix https://creativecommons.org/2019/10/30/cc-style-guide/ Wed, 30 Oct 2019 17:13:15 +0000 https://creativecommons.org/?p=56669 Crafting and maintaining a consistent style is essential to establishing and promoting an organization’s brand.  As with any organization, Creative Commons’ (CC) brand should help CC build trust with its stakeholders and the broader open movement, as well as maintain and grow CC’s reputation, legitimacy, and leadership in the Global Commons. With that in mind, … Read More "We Created a CC Style Guide; It’s Yours to Remix"

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Cover page of the CC Style Guide 2019. “Young woman waiting in doctor’s office,” part of SELF Magazine’s “Vaccines Save Lives” campaign. Photographer: Heather Hazzan; Wardrobe: Ronald Burton; Props: Campbell Pearson; Hair: Hide Suzuki; Makeup: Deanna Melluso at See Management. Shot on location at One Medical. CC BY

Crafting and maintaining a consistent style is essential to establishing and promoting an organization’s brand. 

As with any organization, Creative Commons’ (CC) brand should help CC build trust with its stakeholders and the broader open movement, as well as maintain and grow CC’s reputation, legitimacy, and leadership in the Global Commons.

With that in mind, we decided to create a CC style guide for CC staff, affiliates, community members, and CC Chapters to use as a reference when creating content specifically for CC as an organization

In this guide, you’ll find information on CC’s: 

  • Mission and brand tagline
  • Mood board
  • Brand identity—including information on our logos, fonts, color palette, and visual elements
  • Publications style—including guidance on tone, specific language, abbreviations, acronyms, titles and capitalization, numbers, spelling, punctuation, referencing and licensing, and writing tips

Although important, this style guide shouldn’t feel restrictive or diminish creative expression. 

Instead, it should serve as a useful and inspirational guide for anyone creating content specifically for CC as an organization, such as CC staff and members of the CC Global Network. This style guide is also not final and/or comprehensive, it’s the beginning of a longer process to flesh out, define, and standardize CC’s style in order to portray our brand more clearly and consistently. 

Remix this guide for your own use!

We also decided to publish this guide under CC BY and share it externally so that it can be adapted by anyone for their own personal and/or organizational branding needs. If you’re just starting out as a freelance photographer or emerging as an industry thought leader, for example, we encourage you to adapt and remix this guide to build your own! 

We’d love to know how you use this style guide, so tag us on social media when you do!

Download the CC style guide here.

Please note: Our plan is to revisit this guide annually, with our first review taking place in early 2020. Be sure to send us your suggestions for potential changes and/or additions before December 31, 2019 by adding comments to this online document. (Although this is our preferred method for feedback, we will also accept direct emails to victoria@creativecommons.org.) 

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Is it possible to decolonize the Commons? An interview with Jane Anderson of Local Contexts https://creativecommons.org/2019/01/30/jane-anderson/ Wed, 30 Jan 2019 16:17:15 +0000 https://creativecommons.org/?p=55563 Joining us at the Creative Commons Global Summit in 2018, NYU professor and legal scholar Jane Anderson presented the collaborative project “Local Contexts,” “an initiative to support Native, First Nations, Aboriginal, Inuit, Metis and Indigenous communities in the management of their intellectual property and cultural heritage specifically within the digital environment.”

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tk-labels
Traditional Knowledge Labels

Joining us at the Creative Commons Global Summit in 2018, NYU professor and legal scholar Jane Anderson presented the collaborative project “Local Contexts,” “an initiative to support Native, First Nations, Aboriginal, Inuit, Metis and Indigenous communities in the management of their intellectual property and cultural heritage specifically within the digital environment.” The wide-ranging panel touched on the need for practical strategies for Indigenous communities to reclaim their rights and assert sovereignty over their own intellectual property.

Anderson’s work on Local Contexts is a collaboration with Kim Christen, creator of the Mukurtu content management system and Director of the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation at Washington State University. Local Contexts is both a legal and educational project that engages with the specific challenges and difficulties that copyright poses for Indigenous peoples seeking to access, use and control the circulation of cultural heritage. Inspired by the intervention of Creative Commons licenses at the level of metadata, the Traditional Knowledge Labels recast intellectual property as culturally determinant and dependent upon cultural consent to use of materials.

How can we have an open movement that works for everyone, not only the most powerful? How have power structures historically worked against Indigenous communities, and how can the Creative Commons community work to change this historic inequality?

Jane Anderson discussed these issues as well as some of her more recent work with the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Maine with Creative Commons.

Your project recasts the Creative Commons vision of “universal access to research and education and full participation in culture” through a local and culturally determinant lens. How is the vision of Local Contexts complementary to the CC vision, and how does it come into conflict?
The Local Contexts initiative began in 2010 when Kim Christen and I started to think more carefully about how to support Indigenous communities to address the immense and growing problems being experienced with copyright around Indigenous or traditional knowledge. We had both been working with Indigenous peoples, communities and organizations over a long period of time and had increasingly been engaged in a very specific way with the dilemmas of copyright that existed at the intersection of Indigenous collections in archives, libraries and museums. We were able to see more clearly the ways in which copyright has functioned as a key tool for dispossessing Indigenous peoples of their rights as holders, custodians, authorities and owners of their knowledge and culture.

Combining both legal and educational components, Local Contexts has two objectives. Firstly, to support Indigenous decision-making and governance frameworks for determining ownership, access to and culturally appropriate conditions for sharing historical and contemporary collections of Indigenous material and digital culture. Secondly, to trouble existing classificatory, curatorial and display paradigms for museums, libraries and archives that hold extensive Indigenous collections by finding new pathways for Indigenous names, perspectives, rules of circulation and the sharing culture to be included and expressed within public records.

Inspired by Creative Commons, we began trying to address the gap for Indigenous communities and copyright law by thinking about licenses as an option to support Indigenous communities.

Our initial impulse was to craft several new licenses in ways that incorporated local community protocols around the sharing of knowledge. Pretty quickly however we ran into a significant problem: with the majority of photographs, sound recordings, films, manuscripts, language materials that had been amassed and collected about Indigenous peoples, and that were now being digitized, Indigenous peoples were not the copyright holders. Instead, copyright was held by the researchers, missionaries or government officials who had done the documenting or by the institutions where these materials were now held. Or – at the other end of the spectrum, these materials were in the unique space that copyright makes – the public domain. This meant that not only did Indigenous peoples have no control over these materials and their circulatory futures, they also could not apply any licenses – either CC ones or ones that we were developing. This was a problem that we responded to by developing the TK Labels.

Why is it important to problematize the ways in which universal access can undermine cultural participation, particularly for traditionally marginalized groups?
Local Contexts is an effort to initiate questions about how ideas of the universal operate by pointing to sites of difference and locality, especially in how knowledge is shared, circulated and expanded. The vision of Local Contexts emphasizes specificity – that the circulation of knowledge and culture depends upon relationships and context – and if these relationships are formed unevenly, or privilege one cultural perspective above another, then that inequity continues to create a range of future problems.

One of the motivations behind Local Contexts, and this is an interesting question for Creative Commons to consider as well is: what would it look like if we invested time and support to Indigenous communities who have been disproportionately affected by colonial property laws – including copyright. How does access and openness perpetuate a colonial agenda of taking? And what can be done to change this direction? Where does the Creative Commons community come in to help think through these issues in conversation with Indigenous peoples and through Indigenous experiences? Is it possible to decolonize the commons? What would it look like to imagine a commons that is not totally open, but one that has an informed and engaged approach to openness; one that foregrounds the histories and exclusions embedded within calls for openness and open access. What would it mean to ask questions about the privilege that openness calls for and embeds?

We believe that Local Contexts is one of many efforts that are needed in order to take on this expansive problem. If you start thinking about what kind of information has been taken (through unethical and inappropriate research practices for instance) from Indigenous peoples, communities, lands and territories – and how this has been done without consent and permission, it is possible to start seeing the extent of the problem. For example, Indigenous names have been used for names of cars (Cherokee); for software (Apache); for varieties of strawberries (Sto:lo). For Indigenous peoples, names are not just words in common, they have embedded temporal and relational meanings including integral connections to place. For Indigenous peoples, names matter and are not open for others to use in ways that minimize and reduce them for commercial gain. How have settler-colonial laws and social frameworks created the conditions where no permissions are required to use Indigenous culture? What is the impetus to use Indigenous culture in these ways? Who benefits from using these exclusionary and extractionist logics?

Reciprocal Curation Workflow
Reciprocal Curation Workflow

How does information colonialism impact the communities where you work? How are you working to mitigate exploitation of cultural resources?
Information colonialism is an everyday problem for all the communities with whom we work and collaborate. It is not only the legacies of past research practices, but how these are continued into the present. There are more researchers working in Indigenous communities now than there were at the height of initial colonial documenting encounters from the 1850s onwards – and the same logics of extraction through research largely continue. This means that many of the same problems that we are trying to address in Local Contexts – namely the making of research derived from Indigenous knowledge and participation often conducted on Indigenous lands as owned by non-Indigenous peoples – continues.

There is an enormous need to support Indigenous communities as they build their own unique IP strategies and provide resources that assist in this project. At Local Contexts we are committed to this work and we provide as many resources as we can towards this end. Importantly we work directly with communities, and the resources we produce and offer come from these partnerships. We continue to develop tools and resources from direct engagement with communities. Partnering with the Penobscot Nation we just received an IMLS grant to run IP training and support workshops for US based tribes over the next two years. These trainings center Indigenous experiences with copyright law and the difficulties communities have negotiating with cultural institutions over incorporating cultural authority into how these Indigenous collections are to be circulated into the future.

The 6 CC licenses are designed to be simple and self-explanatory, but there are 17 Traditional Knowledge labels and four licenses, creating an intentionally local and culturally dependent information ecosystem. As a project both inspired by the Creative Commons licenses and in conversation with them, how do these labels better serve the contexts in which you work?
The 17 TK Labels that we have reflect partnerships that have identified these protocols as ones that that matter for communities in the diverse circulation routes for knowledge. What is important about the TK Labels part of the Local Contexts initiative is that they are deliberately not licenses. That is, we are not limited by the cultural (in)capacities of the law. Indigenous protocols around the use of knowledge are nuanced and complex and do not map easily onto current legal frameworks. For instance, some information should never be shared outside a community context, some information is culturally sensitive, some information is gendered, and some has specific familial responsibilities for how it is shared. Some information should only be heard at specific times of the year and still for other information, responsibility for use is shared across multiple communities.

The Labels embrace this epistemological complexity in a different kind of way – and they allow for flexibility as well as community specificity to be incorporated in ways that settler-colonial law cannot accommodate.

For instance, a central pivot of the TK Labels project from CC is that the TK Label icon remains static, but the text that accompanies each Label can be uniquely customized by each community and they maintain the control and the authority over the text. This is the sovereign right that every community has to determine and express their unique cultural protocols. Alongside this, the TK Labels also expand the meaning of certain kinds of legal terms, which have been historically treated as normative – for instance, attribution. With the TK Labels – attribution is usually the first label that a community identifies and adapts for their own purposes. This is because it has been Indigenous names – community, individual, familial that have been left out of the catalogue and the metadata. For example, the Sq’ewlets, a band of Sto:lo in Canada translated attribution as skwix qas te téméxw, which literally means name and place. (See how they use their labels.) For the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Maine, attribution is Elihatsik translated “to fix it properly”. The intention in the Passamaquoddy meaning of attribution is a specific call out for addressing mistakes in an institutional and therefore also in settler cultural memory.

What is one interesting outcome of your recent work?
One of our most important recent projects has been working with the Passamaquoddy Tribe to digitally repatriate and correct the cultural authority that the Passamaquoddy people continue to assert over the first Native American ethnographic sound recordings ever made in the US in 1890. When these recordings were made by a young researcher who visited the community for three days, they functioned as a sound experiment allowing for greater documentation of Indigenous peoples languages and cultures. The recordings were never made for the Passamaquoddy community but for researchers in institutions. This is evidenced by the fact that these recordings were not returned to the community until the 1980s – some 90 years after they were made. When this initial return, on cassette tapes, happened in the 1980s, the quality of the sound was poor. For community members thrilled to hear ancestors again after so long it was simultaneously heartbreaking not being able to hear what was being said.

From Passamaquoddy People Website

In 2015, the Library of Congress’ National Audiovisual Conservation Center (NAVCC) included these cylinders in their digital preservation program for American and Native American heritage. At the same time as this preservation work was initiated, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Local Contexts and Mukurtu CMS joined together for the Ancestral Voices Project funded by the Arcadia Foundation. This project involved working with Passamaquoddy Elders and language speakers to listen, translate and retitle the recordings in English and, for the first time in the historical record in Passamaquoddy; explaining and updating institutional knowledge about the legal and cultural rights in these recordings; adding missing and incomplete information and metadata; fixing mistakes in the Federal Cylinder Project record and implementing three Passamaquoddy TK Labels. These add additional cultural information to the rights field of the digital record – in both the MARC record and in Dublin core – and provide ongoing support for how these recordings will circulate digitally into the future.

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Library of Congress record with TK labels

Changing how these recordings are understood in the Library of Congress and in the metadata into the future was only one part of this project. A complimentary part was working with the Passamaquoddy community to create their own digital platform for the cylinders, embedding them and relating them to other Passamaquoddy cultural heritage. The Passamaquoddy site utilizes the Mukurtu CMS platform and allows for differentiated access at a community level and for various other publics. It does not assume that everything created by Passamaquoddy people is for everyone, including non-Passamaquoddy people. It embeds Passamaquoddy cultural protocols as the primary means for managing access according to Passamaquoddy laws. This is then what is also translated into the Library of Congress through the TK Labels.

Working with Passamaquoddy Elders and language speakers to decipher the cylinders and for tribal members to now be singing these songs and teaching them to their children was what the work within this project required. When the Passamaquoddy recordings with community determined metadata and TK Labels were launched at the Library of Congress in May 2018, Dwayne Tomah called on the strength of his ancestors, and sang a song that had not been sung for 128 years. The ongoing strength of Passamaquoddy culture, language and Passamaquoddy survivance was felt by everyone who was in the room that day. The TK Labels were an important piece of this project as they functioned as a tool to support the correcting of a significant mistake in the historical record: namely that the Passamaquoddy people unreservedly retain authority over their culture which had been literally taken and authored by a white researcher from 1890 until 2018. (Read more in the New Yorker.)

What are you working on now?
At an international and national level, the TK Labels are an intervention directed at the level of metadata—the same intervention that propelled CC licenses to the reach they have today. Our current work at Local Contexts is threefold. We are finalizing the TK Label Hub. This will allow for a more widespread implementation of the TK Labels. It will be the place where communities can customize their Labels and safely deliver them to the institutions that request them and are committed to implementing them within their own institutional infrastructures and public displays. Our current work with the Abbe Museum in Maine will see the TK Labels integrated into the Past Perfect software as well, allowing for implementation across a wide museum sector. We continue to expand our education work on IP law and Indigenous collections for communities as well as institutions. More generally we believe that any education on copyright must have the history and consequences of excluding Indigenous peoples from this body of law incorporated into how it is taught and understood.

new-tk-labels

Finally we just developed 2 specific labels for cultural institutions. The Cultural Institution (CI) Labels are specifically for archives, museums, libraries and universities who are engaging in processes of collaboration and trust building with Indigenous and other marginalized communities who have been excluded and written out of the record through colonial processes of documentation and record keeping.

These CI Labels, alongside the TK Labels for communities and our education/training initiatives help close the circle, so that the future circulation of these cultural heritage materials, that have been held outside of communities, can be informed through relationships of care, responsibility and authority that reside within the local contexts where this material continues to have extensive cultural meaning.

Read more about the role that CC licenses play in the dissemination of traditional knowledge from our research fellow Mehtab Khan and listen to Jane Anderson speak about her work with the Passamaquoddy archives on the podcast “Artist in the Archive.”

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All the news that’s fit to share: Melody Kramer on CC and the power of media https://creativecommons.org/2018/07/13/melody-kramer/ Fri, 13 Jul 2018 19:27:22 +0000 https://creativecommons.org/?p=54959 Melody Kramer is a news and public media expert with a special gift for uplifting open knowledge and demonstrating the power of the Commons.

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By ZMcCune (WMF) [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons
Melody Kramer is a media expert with a special gift for uplifting open knowledge and demonstrating the power of the Commons. Previously, she held roles in public media and government and currently works as the Senior Audience Development Manager at Wikimedia. A prolific content producer and media mover and shaker, Kramer is also the Reese News Lab Fellow at the UNC School of Media and Journalism, where she’s completing research to better understand the needs of journalists across North Carolina. She writes a weekly column on the future of news for the Poynter Institute and devoted that column to CC and its necessary role in journalism in 2016.

Melody also runs an email newsletter about creative and magical projects and tweets brilliantly @mkramer.

You wrote in Poynter in March 2016 that “it’s time for news organizations to embrace Creative Commons.” With the events of the past few years and the increasing awareness of so-called “fake” news, do you still feel that way? What’s changed since you wrote that article? What can newsrooms do to leverage the power of Open?
I point to ProPublica as an organization that leverages Creative Commons licensing in an incredibly strategic and smart way. ProPublica is an organization that deeply cares about the impact of their journalism, and they want their journalism to reach the widest audience possible — even if that means that other organizations publish their material under the CC license. But ProPublica also requires organizations to add a snippet of Javascript so that they can track metrics, and also has a list of requirements (none particularly taxing) that ensure reprints are on the up-and-up. In short, this helps fulfill ProPublica’s mission, gives them audiences they might otherwise not have, and does all of this leveraging the power of free and open licensing.

I do not think Creative Commons licensing is right for every news organization or every story published – there are different revenue strategies for every news organization. But for enterprise stories that will deliver a large impact, I think it makes sense to examine whether following ProPublica’s lead makes sense — particularly if showing greater impact can lead to greater funding. (And the uptick in misinformation and disinformation makes getting good, enterprise journalism out to audiences all the more important.)

Publishers should be allowed to determine their own revenue strategy and the way in which others can use their work. Josh Stearns once outlined 52 different revenue strategies for news organizations and many of them (but not all) benefit from having their content freely available to the public.

In your role as Senior Audience Development Manager at Wikimedia, you work to better communicate free and open access to knowledge around the world. How can open movements better communicate our message? How can we leverage our collective power?
It’s a tricky message to convey, and I’m grateful that we’re part of a larger ecosystem of organizations that think deeply about how to talk about this stuff. I really like tools like Choose a License which basically give people the information that they need in a really easy-to-understand way. I’m a big believer in thinking through:

What does someone need to know?
When do they need to know it?
Why?
What’s too much information?

I also look outside of the open ecosystem for really good examples of explaining tough concepts. For example, Khan Academy takes tough academic concepts and creates very easy-to-understand, short videos. I think about their videos a lot.

The hidden labor (particularly by women) in Open is a major issue for the movement. You have a prolific output as a writer and culture maker on the web. How do you balance your personal projects and interests with the work you do for Wikimedia? How do you value your labor in the Commons and make the choice to share? Not to put too fine a point on it, but where do you find the time?
It’s really, really hard. I really love writing and it’s both a passion and a discipline for me — so it is relaxing and enjoyable for me. But I’m also a relatively new mom, and have cut back a bit recently because I don’t always want to be in front of a screen; I want to focus my full attention on my son when I’m not working. In my writing, I try to abide by the philosophy of “good enough.” It would take me a very, very long time to write something perfect that I would be perfectly content and happy about, so I don’t do that. I write “good enough” which gets the point across, but maybe isn’t the most eloquent way of putting something (for the writing I do in my personal time.) And I’ve also started saying no more. I may Skype into something that I previously would attend in person. I might do a phone call or a Hangout instead of something more taxing. Balance is something I’m constantly striving towards (which doesn’t sound very balanced.) It helps that I live in a small town in the South, where a lot of people get off screens to make music and enjoy each other’s company.

What are some CC things you love? What gets you psyched about working on the web these days?
I really find myself missing the old days of the web, when you would stumble down a random rabbit hole and learn about topics like bicycle repair or cheesemaking or advanced math. There were so many syllabi online in those days, and they really helped me with my own coursework (and with just learning material on my own.) I’m always happy to see when professors still put their syllabi online with a CC license. (Example.) It really helps spread knowledge and make it accessible.

What’s psyching me about working on the web these days is how many people seem to be returning to the wild quirky 90s days of the web. I love blogs. I love single purpose sites. They’re increasingly hard to find due to search engines – but I return again and again to sites like Metafilter which surface all sorts of links I wouldn’t otherwise see.

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Van Gogh, Monet, and… Mackinac Island? How CC Searchers are searching the commons https://creativecommons.org/2017/07/07/van-gogh-monet-mackinac-island-cc-searchers-searching-commons/ Fri, 07 Jul 2017 18:40:59 +0000 https://creativecommons.org/?p=53250 We launched our new CC Search tool in February with an amazing release from the Met Museum. Since then, over a million people have visited the site, searching for a wide variety of terms – many of which are related to the Met's collection.

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This photo of fudge on Mackinac Island is one of the most popular photos on CC Search. “Book Club on Mackinac Island” by Kate Ter Haar is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

We launched our new CC Search tool in February with an amazing release from the Met Museum. Since then, over a million people have visited the site, searching for a wide variety of terms – many of which are related to the Met’s collection. Surprisingly popular searches include “Mackinac Island,” a 3.8 square mile island off the coast of Michigan. (Vacation on the mind, anyone?)

The tool is still in beta, but we’re making improvements to it every day, improving usability in the commons and providing a “front door” to help people access over 1.2 billion works, 9,994,327 of which are currently in CC Search.

Below, find some highlights from the last few months of searches. Be sure to sign up for our email list for more content like this.

Searchin’ Safari

  • On average, people spend 4 minutes and 30 seconds on the search page.
  • The most traffic was on February 7, the day of the launch, with more than 120,000 visits to the site.
  • People have visited CC Search 1,780,000 times since launch.
  • CC Search most recently added the Europeana Collection of 430,000 digital objects, bringing the total number of objects to almost 10,000,000.

CC Searchers <3 art:

  • Met searches make up 66.42% of total searches and Van Gogh, Monet, Botticelli, and Picasso are the most searched terms overall (irrespective of institution), followed by cat and dog.
  • The impressionism and post-impressionism list is the most popular institutional list followed by the masterpiece paintings list, but /list/mine is the most popular list overall. (duh!)
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“Wheat Field with Cypresses” by Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

Top ten museum objects, 2/1-7/7:

1. “Wheat Field with Cypresses” by Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

2. “Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (obverse: The Potato Peeler)” by Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

3. “Coronation of the Virgin” by Paris, France (?), France, probably Paris via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

4. “291 – Picasso-Braque Exhibition” by Alfred Stieglitz (American, Hoboken, New Jersey 1864–1946 New York) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

5. “France” by Utagawa Yoshikazu (Japanese, active ca. 1850–1870), Japan via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

6. “Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies” by Claude Monet (French, Paris 1840–1926 Giverny) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

7. “Cypresses” by Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise)via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

8. “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze (American, Schwäbisch Gmünd 1816–1868 Washington, D.C.) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

9. “Camille Monet (1847–1879) on a Garden Bench” by Claude Monet (French, Paris 1840–1926 Giverny) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

10. “Young Woman with a Water Pitcher” by Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, Delft 1632–1675 Delft) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

stieglitz
“291 – Picasso-Braque Exhibition” by Alfred Stieglitz (American, Hoboken, New Jersey 1864–1946 New York) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

Top ten search keywords:

  • Monet
  • Van Gogh
  • Picasso
  • Botticelli (Spelled Botticeli)
  • Cat
  • Dog
  • Mackinac Island
  • Degas
  • Painting
  • Art
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“Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze (American, Schwäbisch Gmünd 1816–1868 Washington, D.C.) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

Like Washington Crossing the Delaware (the eighth most popular image), CC Search has the potential to lead you into unchartered waters. Keep searching, commoners!

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In conversation with Jessamyn West, famous librarian https://creativecommons.org/2017/06/23/jessamyn-west-2/ Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:30:52 +0000 https://creativecommons.org/?p=53114 Jessamyn West is a famous librarian, a former Metafilter admin, and a Vermont information technologist with a passion for open knowledge.

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Jessamyn West at Desk, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jessamyn West is a famous librarian, a former Metafilter admin, and a Vermont information technologist with a passion for open knowledge.

West has been blogging about library technology since 1999 at librarian.net and on her blog jessamyn.com since 1999. She also has a prolific Medium presence and an entertaining and informative newsletter about libraries and information access, called TILT. In addition to moderating the online Metafilter community, West has worked with Open Library, Harvard University, and the Rutland Free Library. An inspiring library activist, she designed the library “warrant canary,” and last year, she spearheaded the Librarian of Progress campaign, which encouraged the Library of Congress to modernize for the 21st Century.

You made a website during the nomination process of the Librarian of Congress called “The Librarian of Progress.” Can you talk about Carla Hayden’s nomination and then appointment as the Librarian of Congress? What do you think is going to happen with the new LOC and how do you think it’s going to affect copyright in the future?

I think there’s a couple things that pile in together, right? Number one, I feel like the Library of Congress has been a little bit of a ghost ship for the last five, maybe even 10 years. James Billington, who’s this eminent historian, headed the institution as if it were like a history center. But not quite a library and certainly not a public institution that is the world’s largest library. I think when a lot of us were looking at “Gosh, he’s retiring. Thank God. Who’s going to come in?” We were just hoping there would be somebody who was from this century, number one, and number two, somebody who was friendly, progressive, and forward-thinking. A lot of people don’t really know that the copyright office sits within the Library of Congress. The Librarian of Congress is nominally in charge of the copyright office.

She’s said copyright reform needs to happen – she’s definitely a sharing advocate, and a true public librarian who understands that culture is advanced when people are allowed to be creative with things. Hayden believes that libraries can be an institution that can help people do that—safely is maybe not the right word, but fairly.

Librarians don’t want copyright to go out the window. They just want it to be fair, they want it to be something that people can understand, and they want it to be something that people can use.

We hope that Dr. Hayden is really going to be the first Librarian of Congress who maybe gets that and can create an institution that can work with that.

Do you think that library values can be particularly important when it comes to the challenges facing the copyright office in the Library of Congress?

I think so. Libraries work for everyone, they don’t necessarily just work for their customers, they don’t necessarily just work for the people with money, and they don’t necessarily just work for the people in charge. There’s a democratizing factor with what they do. You realize that certain things about the way copyright works, the way copyright protection extends way, way back into history, some things seems to never enter the public domain, especially lately. Authors write that things can get locked up forever, things could be in an orphan work state where you have no idea who owns it and it’s just presumed that it’s not available to be used, unless you can prove it’s available to be used. I feel like libraries can have a mitigating factor on that because they can accept some of the risk. They can say, “We feel it’s probably okay to share this.”
 
The MPAA and RIAA work for the rights holders—who maybe be different than the actual creators—but in general the behavior of industry organizations is understandable. It’s not necessarily in their best interest to be crystal clear about what the law does and doesn’t allow. It’s a lot more in their interest to be slightly scary and to make you afraid so that if you’re making a video in your kid’s house, and your kids appear in a video, and you know the music in the background is an artist that’s notoriously litigious, maybe you’re not going to do that. As far as the RIAA is concerned, that’s fine with them. Don’t play Metallica in the background. Don’t paint Mickey Mouse on the wall of your daycare. All the rights holders want you to worry and second guess your use of their content, and what the library would like you to do is share legally as much as you can. They can help people and I think their values of working for everybody push forward that goal.

How do you feel about the concept of the commons and knowledge of licensing, like Creative Commons? Do you feel that CC can help in these kinds of situations?

I feel like it’s a great tool for cultural heritage organizations. Not just libraries, but museums and archives too, because then they also use it for sharing their own resources—to a certain extent. I use Creative Commons to license the content that I put online. I like it because it essentially says, “Look, I’m making this freely available, but I don’t want other people making money for it.” I can dial in how I want people to be able to use my work. Maybe someone else just want to give away all the rights and they can dial that in too. I think the only thing really standing in the way of Creative Commons is that some people aren’t clear what the enforcement mechanisms are.

I think we’ve seen people who share their content as freely as possible, but then other people sell it and they say, “What? That’s not in the spirit of it.” We’re not talking about the spirit. We’re talking about an actual license, which means you have to read the fine print and everything else. I think we’re seeing a ton of libraries using tools like Flickr, for instance, online photo archiving, and it’s awesome for them to be able to assign Creative Commons licensing to it to expand their options beyond either only public domain or only all rights reserved.

CC gives them options that are more true to their values, and I think that act facilitates sharing and reusing, repurposing, remixing, and all that wonderful stuff that helps culture move along. It’s joyful, honestly.

I really am happy that CC exists, but I’m always surprised how many people I talk to who either don’t quite understand it or they don’t see that it’s actually a tool of facilitation, not a tool of restriction.

It sounds like a lot of the different examples we’ve been talking about have to do with fear and confusion. This culture of fear around people using and sharing material and using and sharing licenses. I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about how that has influenced your work, both as a librarian and also as a MetaFilter moderator, and the other work that you’ve done over your career as an advocate for free and open information.

I spend a lot of time trying to talk people through some worst case scenarios, because I think one of the problems is chilling effects of unclear rules. People aren’t sure what the rules are, and so they over-censor themselves or over-restrict, or they try to shame other people into doing that. For 10 years, I ran MetaFilter, which is a big online community. There are lot of people interacting and talking to one another. You would occasionally get someone who would write, “There’s this scientific paper that I think is super interesting,” and they would link to an abstract or a news article about the paper. Then in the comments, someone would tell them, “Here is a PDF, or contact me to get a PDF of that paper.” Maybe the PDF is available, but it’s only in a commercial journal, you have to pay 50 bucks to get it. They’d share it out. Then other people would say, “That’s so illegal,” and freak out.

As a moderator on the site, we have to be a mitigating influence and tell people, “Look, it’s up to the rights holder to determine if there’s a problem. Sharing a PDF among 30 people is maybe technically a copyright infringement, but it’s probably not going put you in jail.” I think the MPAA and the RIAA really like to blur that line. I don’t think it’s nice to pirate all music because it’s no good for struggling artists, but I don’t think sharing a Metallica song is really the same thing as stealing the records from somebody’s house. I think the entertainment industry tries to obscure that boundary because their revenue stream depends on it.

In terms of sharing information in online communities, the risk is so low and the value of people having better information about medicine, for example, is so valuable that it’s worth approaching the outlines of that envelope and trying to figure out how you can maximize sharing. I think for some libraries, they worry a lot about risk assessment because they’re government institutions. Not so much “We’re the government,” but if the library gets sued by the MPAA, that’s a town getting sued by the MPAA, and it’s expensive. I like it when non-profit institutions are willing to go to bat for better interpretations of copyright laws. We saw the Hathi Trust lawsuit and the Google Books lawsuit. The Internet Archive is always willing to stand up for sharing as much as possible. These public interest institutions can really help model appropriate risk assessment.

For example, the Internet Archive shares thousands of video games from the 1990s that nobody was playing anymore and the original companies have probably abandoned, but if someone comes along and says, “Hey, that belongs to me and I own the rights, will you take it down?” they will. In the meantime, the Archive provides access to games that people can play and share and talk about, and it surfaces culture in a way that if they were concerned only about chilling effects and “maybe this isn’t technically legal,” they never would. I’m happy that those organizations are out there, and I’m always advocating for libraries to join in the sharing as much as is possible. And I think for libraries this type of sharing is usually practical because they can shoulder a little bit more risk than one individual patron might be able to.

You work and live in Vermont, and in your library, the internet and having access to cultural works online can open up the world to a lot of people. I’m wondering while the culture of commoning can open up new frontiers for students and educators, how are you and your organization branching that digital divide? Are you or how are you using tools such as Creative Commons to help cultural heritage organizations bridge that gap?

One of the things I try to do all the time when I’m educating users about Creative Commons and the other things is just showing people where these deep archives of content are already available to them. One of the aspects of the digital divide is that people only have ideas about content, archives, and information that they read about in the paper. If you ask somebody what they know about Wikipedia when all they have is access to a newspaper and don’t use the internet that much, they’ll ask me “That’s that place where everybody yells at each other and people vandalize it all the time,” and they have all these weird ideas. I was like, “Okay, that happens, but did you know that every picture you see on Wikipedia you can have for free?” A lot of them don’t know that.

Part of how Wikipedia works is the content that’s available is freely licensed so that people can have it and use it. Somebody wants to make a YouTube video or maybe they got in trouble because they put up a YouTube video of something and it had a copyrighted song on in the background, and I let them know, “You know the Creative Commons has a search engine where you can search for music that you can use as a background to your video and it’s all licensed for you to use, reuse, mix, and share.” A lot of times they don’t. A lot of times what I’m talking to people about is ways to help transplant things maybe they want, but they can’t have, with things that they can have that are equivalent.

Our public library is digitally divided enough that it’s actually fairly difficult to even have a program about Wikipedia and have people show up, because people say, “I don’t understand why that would work.” If you hang out in a library with a scanner and help people take their photographs and put them online, or even show them other people’s photographs and then put them on the internet, you have to find what makes this stuff a genuine option for people. You have to figure out what the hook is that’s going to bring them in and be like, “That’s also a problem for me and I’d like to solve it.” In this region, a lot of it is family history books that are freely searchable via the internet archives. Or music that you can find through the Creative Commons searches that you can use on YouTube videos. Or historical photos on Wikipedia that you might use to illustrate a book report.

What kinds of random things do people want to go look up? YouTube videos about tractor engines running. Never would’ve known that’s a thing, but apparently there’s a ton of them, and a lot of them are available, shareable, embeddable, because even Youtube licensing strictly, videos can often can at least be shared around. I encourage people when they’re using the internet to think about the benefits of having that be shareable for everyone, and try to educate them appropriately about the downsides to it as well. I think a lot of people are under the misapprehension that if you share a picture on the internet then everybody just steals it, or takes it and draws a mustache on your baby’s face, or worse. Realistically, there’s so much information out there, most of the time people aren’t going to focus on harassing individual users, but if you do find the right user who can use that tractor engine video, of all the things, that’s really made a connection, and that’s, again, helped cultural progress, which is really I think what we’re all about in a library.

I think maybe some of this is the about first taste of recognition. I was having a conversation with someone at the bank and they saw who I worked for, and they said, “You know that my photo is the photo for challah on Wikipedia? It’s the best. I just love it.”

My mom is a huge sharer of photos using Flickr. She does some of them public domain and some of them not. She has a ton of those stories and she is a 70-ish-year-old lady living in rural Massachusetts, and she’s connected with a ton of people like that. She takes pictures of cats at the cat shelter to help cats get adopted. It’s enriched her life just doing her own things that she would basically be doing normally, but she sticks a sharing license on them and I think part of that also, she sticks a sharing license on them, and Flickr has mechanisms where you can search for stuff that’s shareable. It’s not just the power of Creative Commons, which I’m already jazzed about, but the fact that that’s built in now to search engines.

Have you seen a significant change in your own community in the last few years with smartphones really becoming a much more viable option for a larger group of people?

A little bit. I think smartphones are a lot more about instant connectivity, Instagram and Snapchat, and to look stuff up on the internet. We haven’t seen, at least in my community, too many people using smartphones to be creators of content. I taught an HTML class last fall at the local community college, and we spent a day talking about alternative licensing, we talked about Creative Commons licensing. I got to test and quiz kids on what does BY-NC mean and stuff. They didn’t quite see it as totally relevant to themselves because they didn’t see themselves as content creators. The couple kids who were musicians or web designers, they believed that this served them. Out of about 30 kids, I probably had four or five who really viewed themselves as creators. The makerspace communities that have taken root in bigger cities is only slowly getting here. These may be kids who build their own tractors, build their own cars. Literally building physically out of things, but the digital maker way hasn’t quite hit here yet.

Do you think that there’s anything that apps or that the people who are making apps, particularly people who are making apps for the cultural heritage sphere for libraries could do to make to help people feel more like makers on the web?

I think about Wikipedia, right, and Wikipedia really, really wants people to upload and share images. All sorts of content, but images especially because it’s easy.

I think the missing sharing point is unless you’re a cultural heritage institution who can bulk upload a bunch of stuff because you’ve been in touch with the Wikipedia organization and you know how to do it, it’s not going work very well. The average person doesn’t know they can get free storage for their content on Wikipedia. I feel like we still could have sharing tools that work better than the ones we have now that facilitated accurate licensing, but for people affected by the digital divide, the fact that they don’t have access to computers or the web means they don’t have access to a lot of other tools.
 
Can you talk a little bit about how you teach the ethos of sharing within your community, particularly with social networks, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, when a lot of folks are coming online and that’s the first world that they’re encountering?

A lot of what I do is teach people how to use things. I teach people what some of the normative expectations of the space are, which can be challenging because there’s a lot of ways to be “normal” on Facebook. You can use it in a million different ways and nothing’s totally correct, but there are normative ways to use it. If you take a picture of someone else’s kids, for example, maybe you don’t make that picture public or maybe you don’t use that kid’s name. Maybe you do, depending on your community. That’s the thing that people need to put some thought into.

If I’m looking at Twitter, there are accounts like the History in Pics account, and it posts all these really interesting historical photos, but sometimes with semi-questionable captions. There’s whole other accounts dedicated to telling them, “Hey, I don’t actually think that caption is what that picture is really about. I actually did five minutes of research and realized that that thing that you pulled from that other random site wasn’t the thing you said it was.” I show people what the back and forth is that if there’s questions about where something came from, there are actually ways to figure it out. It’s not like, “It’s the internet. Nobody can figure anything out.” I teach them about research. I teach them about Google’s reverse image search. I teach them about how you can ask any librarian anywhere on the internet if you have a question. I think people think they can only talk to their own librarian.

I don’t think people know that the library system is there for them, and if I have a question about Colorado College, I can go ask the librarian at Colorado College and they will help me. They don’t do a ton of in depth research for me, but they can definitely help me. I try to teach people how there are humans you can talk to who can help you figure out some of this stuff, even though Facebook themselves doesn’t really have tech support, but you may have a buddy who understands it. The most powerful thing I teach people is that if you have a problem with a thing that you’re using, you’re not the first one.

It’s hard because the meta message is that you’re not special, but a lot of times if you Google an error message you’re seeing on your computer, you can find people discussing the exact problem that you also have. The thing I hear again and again from people is why doesn’t ‘X’ have a manual. The thing I have to keep telling people is the collective group of people on the internet are your manual. It’s not awesome because a lot of times people feel like that doesn’t work for them, they don’t understand it, they feel out of their element. It feels weird, but realistically, when you try it, it does work. Part of what I try to do is model good behavior with my own social media behavior.

Also I try to model not being frustrated. When people say, “Their pictures are stupid. They upload too many pictures. I don’t care about that person’s baby. Too much Trump.” I’m like, “Okay. Let me show you how to limit pictures of that person’s baby or ban the word ‘Trump’ from your front page of your Facebook.” There’s a lot of tools that we can use to empower us, but I think a lot of people presume the default role of technology is to be disempowered, which is not how I see it, but I can see how they see it that way. I try to get them turn that around and show them that there are tools that can help them. I’m part of the help manual for this system basically.

Just walk the talk. If you’re interested enough in Creative Commons to be reading this, share your stuff, put your content online, help other people do it, and spread the word. I think that’s the most important thing that super fans can be doing at this point.

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