New license for this blog (now CC by licensed)


Creative CommonsI just watched RIP – A Remix Manifesto at a screening at NYU and was stoked, and more importantly, realized once more how important it is to share your stuff as freely as possible. So I decided to put this blog (so far under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license) under the even less restrictive Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license (CC by). That means you can do with it whatever you want – no matter if it’s non-commercial or commercial – as long as the source is made clear.

Not that I produce anything as cool (or remixable) as the music shown in the film, or think that what I’m writing here is overly valuable. But if there’s anybody out there who wants to use it for anything, be my guest. As long as you reference my work, go for it.

Also, if you haven’t watched RIP, do it right now. Here’s the trailer:

A Second Layer for Commercial Use of Creative Commons Content?


Update: In her comment, Nicole pointed me to CCPlus, which seems to solve most of the problems laid out in this post. Thanks!

An open question: Would it make sense to add a layer of licensing (or rather: meta-licensing) to Creative Commons that would allow easier (speak: quicker) use of CC-licensed content for commercial use?

As this may seem kind of odd out of context (particular coming from a person who’s very much against overhead of any kind usually), please allow me to explain what I mean, and an example. What I’m talking about here is the commercial use of content licensed under the non-commercial license. (Yes, that’s right. Stay with me, I’ll explain.)

Also, please note that this is an absolutely open question, I am not sure myself which side I stand on here. If you know any pros or cons, please share.

Image by Flickr user PinkDispatcher released under CC by sa 2.0 On the right, Berlin Congress Center (BCC) where Web 2.0 Expo Europe 08 took place, and where we briefly discussed the issue after a Creative Commons presentation. Image by PinkDispatcher released under CC by sa 2.0.


The problem: Professionals can’t use CC non-commercial content

A lot of content that is licensed under CC is under the non-commercial clause, i.e. it’s allowed to use it for personal or other non-commercial uses, but not to make any money off of it.

How much content is released under CC non-commercial and how much under CC attribution (that allows for commercial use) I couldn’t find any info about, but a quick Flickr search for “Berlin” turned up these results: CC-licensed images: 2,153,590; out of those allowed for commercial use: 85,662.

(By the way, it’s not always easy to determine what’s non-commercial use, but that’s being discussed.)

So as a first step that’s good for all involved as more people can use those contents as long as they do so for personal or non-profit reasons. However, part of the charm of Creative Commons is that it allows amateurs as well as professionals to get more exposure while retaining some control over their contents and at the same time contributing to an ever-growing pool of accessible content that’s available for cultural production of all sorts. (Which is way cool, by the way.)

More exposure, to get to an example, could be having your photo printed in a newspaper.

The example: A journalist would like to use a CC-licensed photo

A journalist would like to use a photo licensed under CC. He favors free culture, but more importantly it’s much cheaper than running a photo from the wire and choice is much bigger. But the image is licensed under CC non-commercial, so the journalist needs to get the photographer’s permission to use it legally.

And here’s the problem – working under a tight deadline, it’s basically impossible to wait for the photographer’s consent.

The photographer, though, might love to see his photo in the newspaper. She wouldn’t mind making a few bucks with it, but it’s not her primary motivation to put the photo up. She just put it under the “non-commercial” license so that she’d get some control over who used it commercially. (She’d rather not have a large multi-national corporation run it on their ads.)

So what was intended to protect her photo from abuse turned against both her intentions and against the journalist.

Would another opt-in commercial layer help?

Maybe – just maybe! – another lay of meta-licensing would help. The option to say: I allow non-commercial use of my works for anyone. But I also wouldn’t mind commercial use as long as I can veto it in case the wrong folks want to use it. (“The wrong folks” here, of course, just meaning anyone the creator doesn’t want to be associated with.)

Creative Commons isn’t primarily about commercial success, but it sure helps the cause of CC to encourage commercial use. (The CC Casestudies Project collects CC success stories, also commercial ones.)

So how could this look like? Very naively, I imagine it implemented as a tickbox: Yes, in theory I allow commercial use of this photo, but only after I get notified first. As soon as someone wants to use it and clicks the corresponding button, please do send me a text message/email/whatever alert. This is a channel that I can guarantee to check with top priority, so that if I don’t veto the action within 30 minutes I agree to this photos use.

Of course there’s plenty of loose ends here and aspects not thought through to the end, and there’s plenty of arguments against this model. (Simplicity for one, and a more fundamental push for more open sharing.)

So the question is: Would this make sense for Flickr & Co to implement, and what speaks for and against it?

Changing to German ported version of CC (by-nc-sa) 3.0


Since I don’t believe in restricting the flow of information, or in DRM, this blog has been published under a Creative Commons license all along. And I’ve been absolutely happy with the way it went. The web is built on sharing and remixing, and that’s exactly what Creative Commons licenses allow for, easily:

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute your work just like the by-nc-nd license, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new stories based on your work. All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.

Licenses aren’t fixed, they change and evolve over time, and a while ago Creative Commons launched a version 3 of their license. So far, so good, but you may note that this license was the unported version.

I’ve been using the unported version until now for several reasons even though a German ported version has been around since July. (More on internationalization of CC licenses here – it’s more interesting, and way more complex than I ever expected.) The thinking was this: I’m based in Germany, but I blog in English and the vast majority of my readers is U.S.-based.

So now I’ve taken the step to use the German version of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Sharealike 3.0 license. Everything else stays exactly as it always has been: Feel free to use, remix and play with my content, as long as you link back to me. Also, if you’re planning on using my work commercially, you’ll need my agreement. (Get in touch.)

So here’s the code the Creative Commons license code generator provided:

Creative Commons License
The Waving Cat. Peter Bihr on Social Media, Web 2.0 & Digital Life by Peter Bihr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License.

A Swarm of Angels: Worlds Will Shatter


Ground-breaking collaborative film project A Swarm of Angels just released the first video trailer, and boy, I can’t wait to see more:

Worlds Will Shatter – The Unfold trailer from Nine Orders on Vimeo.

I’ve been a proud member of the Swarm for a while. And while it’s not always easy to find a good way to actively get involved in the process of shooting this massive collaborative open-source movie, it’s amazing to be part of something as grand as this could be. It is, seriously, what I think could be a glimpse at the future of movie production.

As of now, it’s again possible to join as a member. For quite a while registration had been closed while things were prepared to proceed. Click here to join for a donation of $47/€37.

Free licenses hold up in (U.S.) court


It’s official: Free licenses like Creative Commons (CC) hold up in court. Larry Lessig, founder of Creative Commons has the (obviously biased, but good) background:

So for non-lawgeeks, this won’t seem important. But trust me, this is huge. I am very proud to report today that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (THE “IP” court in the US) has upheld a free (ok, they call them “open source”) copyright license, explicitly pointing to the work of Creative Commons and others. […] In non-technical terms, the Court has held that free licenses such as the CC licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on the use of copyrighted work. When you violate the condition, the license disappears, meaning you’re simply a copyright infringer. This is the theory of the GPL and all CC licenses. Put precisely, whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license.

Neat. (Here’s the court’s full judgement.)

LegalTorrents gives you… legal torrents


Filesharing – legal or illegal – is here to stay. While many users are confused about the legality of filesharing platforms and protocols like BitTorrent, here’s an alternative that only serves legal content. LegalTorrents features movies, music, games, books, audio books, whatever you’re looking for. Obviously not the same range as less restrictive platforms, but everything you see is approved and legal.

Contributors have to be approved to be able to upload, the contents are either self-produced, public domain or (in most cases, I assume) Creative Commons licensed.

So far, there’s not too much content, but I expect the catalogue to quickly. For content owners, this platform may be a great way to get better exposure and keep distribution costs to a minimum. As peer-to-peer filesharing networks go, the more people participate, the more efficient the network gets. The basics are explained in the FAQ.

(via MAKE)