Bassel Khartabil is a computer engineer who, through his innovations in social media, digital education, and open-source web software, played a huge role in opening the internet in Syria and bringing online access and knowledge to the Syrian people. Many people reading this blog know Bassel through his work as lead for CC Syria.
Coinciding with the 4th Arab Bloggers Meeting (at which Bassel was sorely missed) and the Geneva II Peace Conference, the #freebassel Campaign is announcing the call for pledges for Free Bassel Day 2014.
The second Free Bassel Day will be held globally on March 15, marking the second anniversary of his imprisonment and the third anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian civil war. We encourage you to join the CC and #freebassel communities and get involved.
For more information or to share your pledge for Free Bassel Day, contact the #freebassel campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Projects already in the works:
- Bassel Junto: This week, Disquiet Junto is running a music project to honor Bassel (See our previous post).
- #freebassel album: Fabricatorz will release an album on #FREEBASSELDAY. Contact email@example.com for more information.
- #freebassel cookbook: The Big Conversation Space is collecting recipes from Bassel’s family, friends, and supporters, to be released as a digital cookbook on Free Bassel Day. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Letters for Bassel – Niki Korth is leading an effort to collect handwritten and typewritten letters to Bassel from friends, family, and supporters (See our previous post).
- Join the global Thunderclap on March 15.
For more information or to submit your Free Bassel Day event or project, visit freebasselday.org.
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Last November, a bunch of us from Wikimedia, Mozilla, P2PU, OKFN, Creative Commons, School of Open, and other communities got together for a session at Mozfest called “Collaborations across the Open Space.” That session not only laid the groundwork for better communication among open organizations, but also resulted in the momentum to draft a job description for a project coordinator who will “support the development of a stronger network of organizations working in the areas of open knowledge and open access.”
The part-time position is being funded by Wikimedia UK with the hope that another organization will pick up it up after the initial 6 month term. The full description is at https://wikimedia.org.uk/wiki/Open_Coalition_Project_Co-ordinator – but here are the highlights of what we envision the person to be doing:
- Have a thorough understanding of issues relating to open knowledge, open access, open source, and open content licences
- Lead on the development of a small event for organisations working in this space, including Wikimedia UK, Open Knowledge Foundation, Creative Commons, Mozilla, Open Rights Group, and OpenStreetMap, among others
- Act as a conduit for organisations acting in the open space, facilitating discussion and collaboration
- Lead on the creation of a website and booklet explaining what it means to be an open organisation, what the “open sector” is and the benefits it brings
- Build a relationship of trust with the group and the wider open community
- Develop and deliver sessions about the open coalition at Wikimania in London, August 2014
The position is based in London, but will be working with open community members from around the world. Have a look at the position and also at the notes from the original Mozfest session for reference.No Comments »
We’re big fans of Disquiet Junto, a group of Creative Commons musicians who create original works and remixes each week around a different theme.
This week, Disquiet Junto is honoring Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian CC community leader who’s been in prison in Syria since March 2012, with a music project dedicated to Bassel.
From Disquiet Junto:
On Thursday, January 23, a special collaborative sound and music project will help raise awareness about Palestinian Syrian programmer and Creative Commons advocate Bassel Khartabil, who has been detained in Syria since March 15, 2012. As the two-year anniversary of Bassel’s incarceration approaches, the Disquiet Junto music community on SoundCloud.com will spend four days developing original sound works in Bassel’s honor. This week’s project will invite musicians to flesh out a work-in-progress that Bassel has, naturally, not been able to complete due to his imprisonment.
Late in the day each Thursday, a new compositional prompt goes out to members of the Disquiet Junto, who then have until 11:59pm the following Monday to submit a piece of music. The Bassel project will be the 108th weekly Disquiet Junto project. As of this date, over 3,000 original pieces of music have been uploaded to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud by over 400 musicians from around the world. The Disquiet Junto began the first week of January 2012, and has continued weekly ever since. Past Disquiet Junto projects include the interpretation of polling data as a graphically notated score, the use of wind chimes as a percussive instrument, the creation of “goodbye music” for the Voyager 1 space probe made from the sounds of interstellar space, and numerous Creative Commons–inspired remixes of music originally published on netlabels.
The Disquiet Junto was created and is moderated by Marc Weidenbaum, the San Francisco–based author of the book Selected Ambient Works Volume II, based on the Aphex Twin album of that name. Subscribe to the Disquiet Junto email announcement list.
Update (January 24): The challenge has now launched. Submit your project by Monday!
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A few years ago, a major copyright reform in Brazil seemed imminent. What happened? On the Creative Commons Brazil blog, Mariana Giorgetti Valente and Pedro Nicoletti Mizukami have an excellent post on the complicated history of copyright reform in Brazil:
In December 2007, the Brazilian Ministry of Culture — then under Minister Gilberto Gil’s administration — started the National Copyright Law Forum, a series of seminars across the country with the participation of lawyers, researchers, artists and industry representatives, with the goal of gathering information and pave the way for a copyright reform process. Based on these events, and other closed and open meetings with different stakeholders, the Ministry of Justice prepared a draft copyright reform bill, which was submitted to public consultation in 2010.
The consultation took place in an online platform similar to that used for the Marco Civil consultation on Internet regulation. Comments could be submitted on an article by article basis, and the analysis of almost 8,000 contributions resulted in a project that was considerable superior to current law, with greater attention to public interest issues, an expanded list of copyright exceptions — including a general clause, the permission to circumvent DRM/TPMs in certain conditions, checks on the collective management of copyright (a serious problem in Brazil), and the explicit recognition that copyright may be limited by consumer protection law, antitrust law, as well as human rights.
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When Dilma Rousseff was elected the 36th President of Brazil, however, the copyright reform process suffered its first major setback. To succeed Juca Ferreira as her Minister of Culture, Rousseff chose Ana de Hollanda, a singer with close ties to the recording industry and ECAD — the central office for collecting societies in Brazil, one of the greatest adversaries of the draft bill. Indicative of how different her approach to copyright policy would be, one of the first measures de Hollanda took as Minister was to remove Creative Commons licensing from the Ministry of Culture’s website. Soon after, de Hollanda replaced most of the staff of the Ministry’s Intellectual Rights Directorship (Diretoria de Direitos Intelectuais), and mostly stalled the reform process, despite concluding a revision of the text.
Update: The bill was signed by President Obama January 17, 2014.
Both the U.S. House of Representative and Senate have passed the 2014 omnibus appropriations legislation (2.9 MB PDF). President Obama is expected to sign the bill shortly.
What’s so special about this legislation? Federal agencies with research budgets of at least $100 million per year will be required provide the public with free online access to scholarly articles generated with federal funds no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The agencies affected by the public access provision of the appropriations bill include the Department of Labor, Department of Education, and Department of Health and Human Services (which includes research-intensive sub-agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
According to SPARC, the bill “ensure[s] that $31 billion of the total $60 billion annual U.S. investment in taxpayer-funded research is now openly accessible.”
The inclusion of the public access provision builds upon existing initiatives, such as the NIH Public Access Policy. And it echoes the more recent push for public access to publicly funded research advocated through the introduction of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) and the White House directive. But with FASTR tabled in Congress last year and the federal agencies dragging their feet on complying with Obama’s public access directive (plans were due in August 2013), the passage of the 2014 spending legislation is a welcome measure for increasing access to publicly funded research.
SPARC thinks the language in the bill could be strengthened by adopting a shorter embargo period (e.g. six months), which would benefit the public without harming journal publishers. In addition, they suggest that research articles be shared via a central repository similar to PubMed Central and incorporate provisions to ensure the ability to conduct text and data mining on the entire corpus of federally-funded articles. Creative Commons and other groups have also communicated the need for not only free public access, but also access whereby publicly funded research is made available under open licenses.
Open Access icon was created by Duke Innovation Co-Lab and in the public domain.
U.S. Department of Education seal is in the public domain.
U.S. Department of Labor seal is in the public domain.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seal is in the public domain.
As of yesterday (January 15, 2014), the Group on Earth Observations approved Creative Commons as now a Participating Organization (PO) at its GEO-X Plenary in Geneva.
GEO was launched in response to calls for action by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and by the G8 (Group of Eight) leading industrialized countries to exploit the growing potential of Earth observations to support decision making in an increasingly complex and environmentally stressed world. GEO is coordinating efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).
GEOSS provides decision-support tools to a wide variety of users via a global and flexible network of content providers. GEOSS lets decision makers access a range of information by linking together existing and planned observing systems around the world and support the development of new systems where gaps exist. GEOSS promotes common technical standards so that data from the thousands of different instruments can be combined into coherent data sets. The GEOPortal offers a single Internet access point for users seeking data, imagery, and analytical software packages relevant to all parts of the globe. For users with limited or no access to the internet, similar information is available via the GEONETCast network of telecommunication satellites.
GEO is a voluntary partnership of governments and international organizations providing a framework to develop new projects and coordinate their strategies and investments. As of 2013, GEO’s Members include 89 Governments and the European Commission. In addition, 67 intergovernmental, international, and regional organizations with a mandate in Earth observation or related issues have been recognized as Participating Organizations (PO).
Dr. Robert Chen, CC’s Science Advisory Board member, was at the Plenary, and he had the following comment, “The GEO Executive Director, Barbara Ryan, pointed out in plenary that there was an extensive discussion in the GEO Executive Committee about making sure that new POs are active contributors to GEO activities. She noted that all of the proposed POs in today’s slate met this criterion.”
Creative Commons has been contributing to the GEO Data Sharing Task Force’s Legal Interoperability Sub-Group and its draft white paper on “Legal Options for the Exchange of Data through the GEOSS Data-CORE (PDF).” (I was a part of the Sub-Group as a Science Fellow, and our Senior Counsel, Sarah Pearson, reviewed the paper). We intend to continue to be active contributors by guiding GEO and its members on the legal aspects of data sharing.
Thanks to Paul Uhlir of the Board on Research Data and Information, National Academies for making the right introductions; and to John Wilbanks, another Science Advisory Board member, for initially encouraging CC to get involved with GEO.No Comments »
The following is a guest post by LIUPing and SUN Beibei, members of the CC China Mainland Affiliate team and the School of Open community. Below, they describe CC China Mainland’s experience with running a two-week open educational resources (OER) summer camp for the children of Luxi Island, a remote island off the coast of China. The CC China Mainland OER Summer Camp was included in the 2013 round-up of School of Open activities.
ZHU Renkai / CC BY
The idea of a real world open educational resources (OER) activity has long been on the agenda of CC China Mainland volunteers. As one of the CC global community’s OER advocates, CC China Mainland has in the past put more effort into promoting the use of CC licenses in OER instead of co-hosting multi-party activities in remote China. This past summer, however, CC China Mainland co-organized a real world OER activity in rural China which taught us how powerful collaboration across organizations could be.
Where did it happen?
Luxi, a small, remote island (1600km from Beijing) in Northeast Dongtou County, Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province. The island depends on ferry for transportation to surrounding areas twice a day.
Because of the inconvenient transportation, there are very limited educational materials available for primary and middle school students from the island. In addition, many of the students’ parents work in big cities to make a living. These “left behind” children have to stay with their grandparents for most of their childhood. However, they have the same dreams like kids in urban cities.
Who made it happen?
For 5 successive years, students from Renji School of Wenzhou Medical University have served as volunteer teachers for Luxi children of various grades during their summer vacations. In summer 2013, LI Lujing, a member of CC China Mainland team and teacher in Wenzhou Medical University, led a group of 30 volunteer students to Luxi for another summer session.
After initial communications, CC China Mainland decided to turn the Luxi project into the first OER summer camp by inviting some OER providers to join the lessons. Guokr.com responded to CC’s initiative first based on past cooperation.
ZHU Renkai / CC BY
How did it happen?
After several rounds of online discussion, CC China Mainland OER camp took place:
What did the partners think?
Here is some feedback both from Guokr.com and Renji School.
Guokr.com (the most popular online platform for science and knowledge sharing in China) contacted a couple of active users who used to put their own video lessons online. All of them were very interested in helping but none could make the travel because of time or distance. Based in Beijing, with members all around the country, Guokr thought that it would be difficult to send members to Luxi Island, due to both finance and timing.
But it turned out that distance doesn’t matter.
At this point, Guokr.com’s MOOC initiative inspired us. Guokr has been dedicated to popularizing MOOCs and its MOOCs online community has become the largest in China. We decided to support the program by designing a MOOC.
Deyi is a student majoring in agricultural science who happened to run a Guokr-sponsored project named “box of making plant specimens – a teaching guide.” The box contains materials for producing plant specimens as well as teaching guidance. To facilitate teaching, Deyi recorded 4 videos to show viewers how to use the box. A quiz is displayed in the middle of the videos as well.
Before the formal classes, Deyi delivered 4 boxes to the school and contacted a local volunteer as the teaching assistant. He trained the volunteer on how to play the videos and guide students to use the box.
That’s how a MOOC-like class goes into a school on a small island and that’s how a class happens without the teacher standing in the front of a classroom.
The content below is provided by Renli School of Wenzhou University.
Every summer, 30 volunteer students go to Luxi Island to give some courses to Luxi Children. The free teaching activity has lasted for 6 years and is warmly welcomed by the parents of the island, because most of the children were “left behind” and needed to be cared for.
Last year, a kid told us his dream of being a scientist. At that time, we realized that they want more than what the island can offer. But most of the volunteers are medical students, lacking the professional knowledge of other fields. At that time, we thought about cooperation. CC was our first choice and with their help, we got connected with Guokr.com.
In the local classroom, one of our volunteer students played the role of teaching assistant to guide the children to learn better, because the children were too young to understand the video alone. After the class, every student got to focus on their own work. They were really happy to be involved and asked us to bring more courses next year.
ZHENG Haotian / CC BY
In addition to the OER Summer Camp, CC China Mainland has run engineering and design challenge workshops incorporating open source and CC licensing education for university students in China. Called the eXtreme Learning Process (XLP) at Tsinghua University in collaboration with Toyhouse, it is also a School of Open project and was highlighted in the Wall Street Journal last year.
About the School of Open
The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, research, and more. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community and platform for developing and running free online courses.1 Comment »
We’ve written several times on this blog about Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian Creative Commons community leader who’s been imprisoned since March 2012 without having had any charges brought against him.
European Parliament members Charles Tannock and Ana Gomes recently submitted an official question to the Parliament leadership concerning Bassel’s imprisonment:
- Is the VP/HR aware of the ongoing imprisonment of Bassel Safadi Khartabil? If so, has she issued any public statement on the matter?
- Does she agree that this represents a further abuse by the Assad regime in its attempts to block the free spread of information?
- Will the VP/HR use the leverage available to her to press for his release, insisting upon his status as a non-combatant whose only crime has been to oppose censorship and promote the freedom of information?
Our friend Niki Korth recently created Letters for Bassel, a blog that collects letters to Bassel from friends or people who’ve been inspired by his story. She recently published this heartbreaking letter that Bassel wrote to his wife Noura on their first anniversary:
As Cathy wrote in her piece on Bassel for Huffington Post, “For Bassel and others around the world who fight for open, a free internet is not a theoretical matter. Real lives hang in the balance.” Creative Commons’ wish for 2014 is for Bassel to be freed and rejoin our community.No Comments »
I promise to keep this short. I wanted to share a note we received from CC donor Dorothea Salo:
When I was a librarian hired to run an institutional repository, CC licenses helped me cut through copyright thickets with worried-but-interested faculty. CC’s unwavering support for free culture, and promotion of its benefits, demonstrated every day to often-skeptical, occasionally-hostile workplaces that I was not alone in working for openness.
Dorothea, you’re not alone. The Creative Commons community fights for open because we’ve seen its impact in the worlds of culture, education, science, and more. We choose open because open works.
As some of you know, I will be leaving my role as CEO of Creative Commons at the end of February. My greatest CC experiences have been meeting members of the community and learning about the countless innovative ways you use CC licenses. You give our tools meaning by using them to change the world.
Alas, before I go, I have a final request. The Brin Wojcicki Foundation is matching every donation CC receives in January. That means now is the perfect time to make a donation to Creative Commons. We have some fun gifts for donors (people are really loving the Team Open trading cards), but much more importantly, we will use your investment to fight harder and more strategically than ever for a more open world.
While the CEO is changing, our vision of universal access to knowledge and culture is as rock solid as ever. Realizing that vision is more important today than it’s ever been.
With warmest regards,
Today is the third day of Copyright Week, and today, we’re focusing on open access. As EFF put it in the Copyright Week principles:
The results of publicly funded research should be made freely available to the public online, to be fully used by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
This is a principle that Creative Commons has always upheld. It’s crucial that the public has free online access to the research it pays for. It’s important, too, not to forget the second part of the principle: “…to be fully used by anyone.” In CC’s opinion, simply giving the public access isn’t enough. It’s impossible to enable full use without communicating the legal rights available to downstream users of those works. The definition in the seminal Budapest Open Access Initiative makes this point clear:
By “open access” … we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.
The open license attached to open access publications has enabled innovations that would have been impossible without it. For example, Daniel Mietchen (co-winner of the Accelerating Science Award Program), developed a software tool to crawl and export multimedia files from openly licensed science articles in PubMed Central. The tool has uploaded over 13,000 files to Wikimedia Commons, where they’ve been subsequently used in more than 135 English Wikipedia articles.
In some ways, 2013 was a great year for open access. In the United States, the White House issued a groundbreaking directive requiring that most publicly funded research be made available to the public, and Congress introduced the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), a bill that would require those federal agencies with yearly external research budgets exceeding $100 million to provide the public with online access to research articles stemming from such funding within 6 months of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. And several states are considering public access policies of their own. In Europe, Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, helped launch a pilot to open up publicly funded research data.
But the march toward open access is long and slow. Open licensing requirements for publicly funded research should really go hand in hand with those for other publicly funded materials, including educational resources and cultural works. Creative Commons recently formed the Open Policy Network and the Institute for Open Leadership to equip advocates for open policy across disciplines.
A few months ago, we published these infographics to help make the economic case for open access to publicly funded research:
The point is obvious: the fewer restrictions are put on the public’s use of materials, the more swiftly scientific progress, the more efficiently those research grants can achieve their purpose of advancing knowledge.
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