Tagcreative commons

Share your instagrams / defaults matter


by David R. Politi, licensed under Creative Commons by-nc license

I love the idea of i-am-cc.org, a tool to license your Instagram photos under a Creative Commons license. It’s a simple way to share your photos, not as in over-share your personal live but as in allow others to build on (and with) your creative works.

Defaults matter: Since most services don’t allow for easy CC-licensing (Flickr being one of the few services that implemented that a long time ago), most photos uploaded aren’t shared under licenses that allow for example bloggers to post a photo on their personal blogs to illustrate their articles. Like the wonderfully gross one you see above, courtesy of David R. Politi, who licensed it as Creative Commons by-nc via i-am-cc.org.

More startups should think about the long play and the role they play in the larger ecosystem. Implementing a tool to license content under more permissive licenses than the get out of my backyard model that is “all rights reserved” (which the law defaults to, if the author doesn’t state a different intent) might bring some extra work with it, but it also allows for easy, massive contributions to the shared commons that we all on the web profit from.

Until then, I’m glad that simple tools like i-am-cc.org help us with a workaround. My personal workaround so far is, by the way, via the fantastic IFTTT: IFTTT checks for new uploads in my Instagram stream, then uploads them to my Flickr account. There, as mentioned above, my default license is Creative Commons (by-nc-sa), so you can use my photos for non-commercial uses like your personal blog. Plus, unlike at Instagram that is built primarily to make instantaneous sharing easy, it’s easier to search Flickr streams and embed photos. Admittedly, it takes some effort to pipe your photos across the web like that.

So I’m quite happy about tools that make sharing easier, and that hopefully get more companies to build sharing into their products, in responsible, user-controlled, non-creepy ways.

Quantified Self on dradio – now in CC


A little while ago, Christian Grasse did a radio feature for dradio on the Quantified Self. There, he included interviews with Johannes Kleske and me.

That was really neat. What’s even neater, though, is this.

This morning, Christian emailed everybody included in his Quantified Self feature to let us know that he had also cut a version of his piece that is fit to release under Creative Commons (“CC by” to be specific), and uploaded it on Soundcloud. His reasoning was that sharing is good, and that dradio is publicly funded, and as such as much of its content should be available to share and remix.

This is awesome. Dradio is excellent with sharing their stuff online, pretty barrier-free, anyway. But this allows for remixing, too. So here it is, the new, CC-licensed version of Christian’s QS feature:

I wish more journalists thought and acted that way. It’s really a best practice scenario. Thanks, Chris!

Support Creative Commons (Campaign)


As you might know, I’m a big fan of Creative Commons (CC), a very easy way to share your content online and thus contribute to an ever-growing pool of freely available body of text, picture, videos and music to work with. It’s not a replacement to copyright, but an addition that gives the content creators (that’s you) more rights to share their works and others more rights to use them. Creative Commons is a building block for a free culture.

A few days ago, the annual fundraiser campaign has kicked off. As you can imagine, like many industries, non-profits like Creative Commons have also been hit hard by the economic crisis as they have to rely on donations both by institutions and individuals.

Before getting into the details, though, a quick intro video for those of you not familiar with Creative Commons. A good place to start is the video “A Shared Culture” by filmmaker Jesse Dylan, known for the “Yes We Can” Barack Obama campaign video:

A few brief examples how Creative Commons is relevant to my work:

  • Practically all the images used in this blog are licensed under CC. The blog itself is licensed under CC – with one of the most liberal licenses (CC Attribution). Anybody can use all the content that I created here as long as they point out who it’s from (that’s the “attribution” part), no matter if for non-commercial or commercial uses.
  • My photos on Flickr are all licensed under a slightly more restrictive license (CC Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike), which means anyone can use them as long as they point to me as the creator, but they may only use them in a non-commercial context (because I wouldn’t want a friend of mine ending up in some kind of commercial or anything along those lines), and as long as they share the work based on my photos under similar conditions (thus also contributing to the growing pool of available works).
  • In practically every client project I argue for sharing as much as possible on the web, and usually a Creative Commons license is the easiest, most reliable (and most legally sound) way of doing so.

For different kinds of uses and content, Creative Commons offers me the chance to pick just the right license and keep the rights I want to keep while giving up the ones that aren’t important to me. That’s the main difference between the old model you know from old-school copyright aka “all rights reserved”. With Creative Commons, it’s “some rights reserved”.

The official fundraiser kick-off post has the details on the campaign (and a neat CC shirt motif), Joi Ito has some more background.

So what can you do to support a free culture? You can spread the word, share your content (thus enabling others to build on it while also building your reputation), or donate cash, which helps fund the (small) organization behind the scenes:

Here’s more ways and hands-on tipps on how to support Creative Commons and spread the word. Thanks for your contribution.

Arduino and Makers at atoms&bits


Help! Geekend!

Today I made an LED blink by pushing a button.

You might ask youself: Err, what? Why are you blogging this?

No, I haven’t turned crazy or bored, so no worries. What happened is that I eventually got around to getting out my Arduino:

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

I feel like I’m somewhat late to the game, and to unpacking the little Arduino starter kit (kind of like this one) I had sitting on my desk ever since I got it at a recent Art+Arduino workshop organized by Artuino and Tinkersoup in Berlin where a bunch of folks tinkered with low and high tech ranging from little fans to bubble machines to hacked music instruments. (Thanks a lot, Arnon & Anton for putting that together, as well as Alex for pointing me that way! Plenty of photos in this Flickr pool.)

But late or not, eventually I hooked up the Arduino to my computer and wrote the first few lines of code that first made a LED blink, then blink faster, then blink when I pushed a button. Three iterations within a few minutes, that’s enough to feel good.

More importantly though, it was one of these small things that nonetheless felt somehow significant. Like the first steps into something new tend to do. So however late to the game I am, I’m psyched to eventually start my tinkering.

“For the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things.”

The quote above is Cory Doctorow’s dedicated to in his new serialized novel Makers. And my little Arduino session reminded me very much of this story (parts of which were published a few years earlier on Salon.com, where I first read them). Makers is a declaration of love to tinkering, as well as a glimpse into an aspect of the near future that could very well change the world by quite a bit: How decentralized, open-sourced production of hardware – made possible by the net as well as 3d printing and related technologies – will lead to real innovation, and how the sharing economy will fuel all that.

Just like the Arduino hardware is open source and maybe produced and hacked by anyone, the novel Makers is released under Creative Commons license so that it maybe spread and remixed freely. Starting 27 October you can also buy the bound book (amazon.com, amazon.de).

To cut a long story short: There is plenty of fun in this kind of tinkering. “Do Epic Shit” is what it says on a sticker on my laptop. It’s a quote I found in some places on the web, origin unknown to me. This is where I first noticed it. (Feel free to google the real source here.) “Do Epic Shit” is also part of what motivated me to start (along with all these nice folks) atoms&bits Festival: If you want to attend awesome events, why not start one? (Obvious though that might be, it’s one of many things that became obvious to me when I attended reboot11, one of the most inspiring conferences I’ve ever been to.) Not coincidentally, there’ll be plenty of hands-on Arduino and tinker action, too, over at atoms&bits – particularly the weekend of 26/27 September in Berlin.

Today I made an LED blink by pushing a button. Who knows what’s next.

ps. Michelle is putting together a reading of Makers at our coworking space Studio70 for atoms&bits Festival. If you happen to be in town, make sure to drop by: 22 Sept, 8pm (official event link).

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.