The Second Lives of CC’s Interns July 20

Hey everyone. Thanks for joining us. As usual, we’ll be posting a transcript. Please let me know if you would like to be omitted from the talk. Also please try to be aware of side chatter getting into the public chat.

So, I’m going to let our 4 summer interns lead this discussion. We have 2 legal interns, 1 free culture, and 1 tech all sharing our SF office: Katy “Kavka” Frankel (legal), Margot “Kavka” Kaminski (Free Culture), Amy “Blackflag” Rose (legal), and Asheesh "Paulproteus Pyle" Laroia (tech).


Katy: Architects are reluctant to engage in humanitarian design initiatives (for example, refugee housing and tsunami/Gulf Coast reconstruction), based partly on the fear of loosing their intellectual property. The Developing Nations license grants the freedoms to copy, distribute, display, make derivatives of and perform the work in nations not categorized as a “high income economy” according to the World Bank so long as attribution is paid to the original author creator.

1) Frank Gehry – functionalism and copyright for architectural works (attribution: dolma’s photos on flickr, attribution-sharealike)

Architecture has been protected under copyright since the Architectural Works Copyright Protection in 1990. However, the law says that functional components of architectural designs cannot be copyrighted. While this ensures that dissemination of works that are functional will not be withheld from the public domain, it also discriminates against more simplistic and modern architectural styles.

2) Hurricane Katrina – Biloxi, MS (Deep Fried Kudzu’s photostream on flickr, attribution-noncommercial-share alike)

But architecture can do more than just high design with the aid of collaboration and sharing. Humanitarian design aids in disaster response, reconstruction and sustainable development. However, architects are hesitant to help out in these situations for fear of loosing their Intellectual Property rights. As a result, humanitarian design is not as efficient as is possible. For example, a newly designed UNHCR refugee tent was recently rolled out. The design innovation is a circulation flap, the design took 20 years to implement. The question is, can architecture be used in a similarly collaborative way that music and video are now to encourage designers to help out in these situations?

3) Rural Studio - The firestation in Newbern, nearing completion by the Rural Studio (hanaloftus’ photostream on flickr, attribution-noncommerical-no derivatives)

This is an image of a firestation in Alabama designed by students at the Rural Studio, a design studio at Auburn University, completely sustainable and low coast utilizing community input and alternative, sustainable materials. Similarly built structures – schools, homes and public spaces are being built all over the world, especially in developing countries where need is great. The Developing Nations License permits a work to be used in developing nations and encourages authors to contribute to development. Architecture for Humanity is currently developing an open source humanitarian design network. By using CC licensing for the designs on the network, the network will encourage collaboration and sharing in a formerly isolated and static industry.

Questions: 1) What do you, the SL community, see as the pros and cons to the Developing Nations license? 2) What kinds of challenges do you as creators face when trying contribute to sustainable development and can some rights reserved copyright be an effective mechanism to contributing to development? 3) What are other ways to incentivise creators to use their work in developing nations/disaster relief situations/sustainable development initiatives?


Margot: Hi. I came to Creative Commons from a background in print publishing, and decided that my project for the summer would be to research the viability of Creative Commons licensing for professional authors.

I'd like to describe some successful trends we’ve seen with CC-licensed written work, and then follow them with other possible models for effectively combining CC licensing with a commercial writing career. If you’d like to see examples, please feel free to ask or e-mail me. 1) It is still possible to publish commercially if you release your work under CC. 2) CC-licensing creates buzz for an author. 3) CC-licensing can widen distribution of a work. 4) CC-licensing allows niche authors to better find their niche audiences. 5) CC-licensing gives an author more control over making sure his/her work remains in circulation, even if it has gone out of print commercially. 6) CC-licensing creates a community for the mutual exchange of research and creative ideas. Other possible models for effectively using flexible licensing include the following: -Authors could CC-license short teasers from a longer piece. -Authors could use time-lapse to their advantage, and sell first publication rights to magazines before releasing the work under a flexible license. -Authors could make their digital work available under flexible licenses, and rely on the print format for income. New self-publishing setups such as lulu allow authors to make copies of their work available under flexible licenses—while still charging for print copies. -Authors could set up a good will donation system in exchange for electronic copies of the text. Now that I've told you what I think—that CC-licensing can improve the reputation of an author, increase circulation of a work, keep a work available even when it's technically out of print, and supports a mutual research community—I'd very much like to hear your reactions. I also have some questions to get things rolling. -Do you currently read print publications? Or do you get your information online? -Are your purchasing and reading habits for fiction the same as your purchasing/reading habits for nonfiction? -Would you purchase a book or article that is available online for free (honestly)? If so, for what reasons? -Help me brainstorm, and flip to the author's side, for a moment: why would you choose to publish your written work under a CC license?


Amy: I am currently researching the Creative Commons sampling licenses and how they interact with current copyright law, specifically the fair use defense. You might have heard about one of the most recent sampling cases, Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films. In this case, the court held that if an artist admits to copying a sample from another artists work, or if the copying is evident, the sampling artist will be held liable for copyright infringement. They can’t claim that the sample was too small to be recognizable (called the de minimis defense) and they likely can’t claim that their sample is a fair use. The court summed up its position with this now infamous line, “get a license or do not sample.” Of course, it’s more complicated than that. It is often complicated and expensive to clear a sample. There is no compulsory licensing for samples, which would require artists to allow others to sample their work under specified terms. Hoping to combat these scary legal trends, the CC sampling licenses let artists and authors invite other people to use a part of their work and make it new.

1) The fair use defense to copyright infringement allows limited uses of copyrighted material without permission from the rights holder for scholarship, criticism, and review. Do you think sampling should also be defensible as a fair use, or would another defense be appropriate? 2) If you are an artist, have recent copyrighted decisions affected the way you make or think about art? How have the CC sampling licenses affected your art? 3) Do you see any downsides to the sampling licenses?


Asheesh: As a technology intern, my projects have been building a survey to help people better-understand the non-commercial licenses and a statistics engine to discover how CC licenses are being used.

I came to Creative Commons through the FreeCulture.org student movement and my experience with Free Software. FreeCulture.org's slogan is, "To build upon."

The great thing about interning at CC is being able to use modern technologies and Python, my favorite language, in a Free Software-friendly environment.

The work I do is hosted in a repository hosted by SourceForge and made available to the public, and it is licensed under the GPL. We welcome others to reuse the work we're putting in. It's also exciting that (soon!) the tools I'm building will be seen by the general public.

(Show screenshot of nc thing.)

As many of you know, Creative Commons offers a non-commercial option you can choose when selecting a license for your work. There have been a lot of questions over the years about what "non-commercial" means.

Mia Garlick, our General Counsel, wrote some draft guidelines that are non-binding. My role is to put those guidelines up on the web in an easy-to-use form and gather feedback. This is the welcome page to that (as yet published!) questionnaire.

(Show "exact license" pie chart)

The other project I've had is building upon the work of a past summer intern, Will Frank, in tracking CC license usage across the Web. Since you don't have to register with us to use our licenses, we have no formal way of tracking the licenses.

Luckily, Google and Yahoo and other search engines offer a way to search for links to a page. So we're searching for linkbacks to our licenses on search engines to compare the popularity of the licenses and other features.

You can see most of the licensed works use a non-commercial license. There's also another report that looks at license properties rather than licenses themselves. All the charts you'll see were created by me Wednesday morning.

(Show "property bar chart")

That's what we're showing here.

Creative Commons works with lawyers across the world to port the licenses to different countries' legal codes. I'm also working on graphing legal jurisdictions, as you can see here.

(Show "Jurisdiction data" pie chart)

The vast majority of licensed works use licenses for the generic jurisdiction; in the upcoming version 3.0 license, we may have a US jurisdiction also.

(Show Yahoo screenshot)

The next step will probably involve querying the Creative Commons searches that Yahoo and Google have built. Pictured here is Yahoo's CC search interface. Our licenses are written for three audiences: lawyers, regular people, and computers. These engines is take advantage of the machine-readable form.

Any questions?