Last month was the Creative Commons Global Summit, a chance for the whole Creative Commons movement and wider community to gather and share knowledge and create strategy for the future. CC-UK affiliate mem Prodromos Tsiavos and myself went over to represent the CC-UK team. More materials relating to the presentations can be found on the summit wiki.
Copyright reform mini-conference
A pre-conference summit was organised on the topic of copyright reform activities. Many CC affiliates and members of the wider community have been involved in national and international copyright debates, so this was a chance to consider how this work relates to CC in particular. Engaging in advocacy has not so far been part of CC’s activity, with the focus being on providing the suite of licenses, and tools to use them. We gathered into groups to discuss how individual affiliate teams engage in copyright reform activity (or not), and how this might affect their role as representatives of CC. Many spoke of the difficulties of wearing different ‘hats’, as representatives of multiple organisations.
Consensus in my group was that affiliate teams should be permitted but not required to engage in copyright reform processes, with one exception; in jurisdictions where current copyright law prevents the use of CC licenses altogether, reform should be the primary aim of the local affiliate team. After feeding back the findings to each other, CC headquarters resolved to issue a statement on the role of Creative Commons in copyright reform, which was released last week
The first full day of the main conference was kicked off by a keynote from CEO Cathy Casserly, who outlined CC’s current five-point strategy:
- Steward the commons: by developing the Open Policy Network, engaging in Open Policy Advocacy, and developing baseline metrics to assess the state of the commons.
- Develop innovative products: this means considering which end users we have in mind, finding ‘market fit’ and avenues for monetisation, asking what can we build on top of new and existing products, and making CC license metadata out there (with e.g. schema.org).
- Strengthen the affiliate network: by fostering a culture of knowledge sharing, providing support for re-use, developing a 10 year movement strategy, re-igniting old teams and starting new ones, and getting the science affiliate network going.
- Increase community uptake: key priorities here include encouraging MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to adopt appropriate CC licenses, continuing work on open textbooks, and making inroads into openness in science and scientific data. In recent years we have seen several major web platforms adopt CC-licenses for their core material (like Autodesk, 500, and unglue.it). We need to develop training materials for new platform adopters who are considering this option.
- Diversify and Increase Organizational Funding: As the fraction of funding from restricted grants decrease, CC will in future rely on corporate donors and alternative revenue streams.
A later panel session featured the CC board, and was a chance for the board to reflect on CC development, and talk directly with the affiliates and answer their questions. They recalled the initial discussions they had 10 years ago about whether to expand internationally, and whether there should be affiliate teams. Mike Carrol and Larry Lessig talked about the need for new technology to support the licenses, noting that we may be at stage 4.0 with the licenses, but the technology is still at 1.0. Martin from CC Netherlands spoke about CC Rel, and the need to make all the CC content on the web visible and findable.
I attended a talk on CC technology from Dan Mills, the new head of product development (Dan has moved over from Mozilla where he worked on some great projects like Persona). He described the ‘product’ approach, which starts with a ‘brutal focus on specific user communities’, to focus designers on the question ‘Who are you designing for?’ You then have learn their problems, and find ways to measure their key values. The process is iterative – learn, build, measure, then repeat.
The product team are applying this method in a new project focusing on k-12 teachers. They discovered that alot of teachers preparation time is spent remixing content for lessons. Most institutions don’t know this is happening, but the reality is that most teachers don’t want to teach the same thing every year. The tool that has been developed to help them with this is ‘Pasteboard’. Teachers collect ‘clippings’ around a topic, which they drag into their document. At bottom of the document, there is a references section – ‘attribution block’ – this shows where the material comes from.
The idea here is that teachers don’t care about copyright per se – but they do care about plagiarism. So event though they don’t necessarily see the value in CC itself, they do care about attribution – especially with other teachers. Pasteboard means they don’t have to maintain a set of bookmarks seperately for attributing their sources, instead, this is embedded with the document.
This project is not just being developed in-house – it’s all open to contribution by anyone who’s interested, following the ‘module’ system they use to develop new products at Mozilla. Each project has an ‘owner’ who ‘owns’ something – whether that be code, documents or something else. Then there are ‘peers’ who help the owner move the module forward, and finally, ‘volunteers’ who contribute. But how are modules managed, and who selects the owner? Quite simply, there is a ‘Governance’ module, that sets the rules for other modules. Dan mentioned a number of potential modules to get the CC module portfolio started, including;
- The CC website
- The Governance module
- Back-end technology, e.g. CC Rel
But anyone is free to propose a new module!
I went along to the ‘Mythbusting OER’ session, run by Kamil Śliwowski from CC-Poland. This was all about responding to criticisms (and genuine barriers) to the adoption of open textbooks and other open educational resources. We were tasked with developing a list of common criticisms and potential responses. The group I was in considered the kinds of objections raised by publishers, which ranged from concerns about the quality of open resources, the threat to existing business models, to losing control over content. One response we came up with was to argue that textbook publishers should consider themselves to be ‘platform facilitators’ rather than ‘content owners’. There is still money to be made in printing OER – printed books are still the primary way educational content is consumed, especially in developing countries where digital devices are not as accessible. Publishers can also save money if they print OER works, because author fees may be smaller or non-existent.
However, we also recognised a need to develop OER more in order to answer some genuine concerns of publishers. One problem is that we don’t have good enough examples of beneficial re-use of OER. In order to make the case to publishers and others, we need to show where modifications are even better than the original. One place to look for such examples is in translations of open textbooks – bringing the best open textbooks from one language into another.
Finally, CC’s head of education, Cable Green, ran a session on CC’s strategy for education. We were going through the current draft of the education strategy. There was also an interesting debate about MOOC platforms. Many of these platforms are not using open licenses, and therefore may not be
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This was the first ccSalon in the UK for several years and it was even more special as we had Cathy Casserly, the CEO of Creative Commons with us to take part in the panel on open education.
ccSalon London Panel: Victor Henning, Amber Thomas, Cathy Casserly, Patrick McAndrew, Joscelyn Upendran. Photo by David Percy Read More…No Comments »