WordPress Saves Creative Commons Search Engine From Shutting Down

“Creative Commons Search is joining WordPress.org, which will help keep the search engine of free-to-use images running for the foreseeable future.

Matt Mullenweg, CEO of WordPress parent company Automattic, says he decided to bring CC Search on board after hearing it was in danger of shutting down….”

Our Response To Canada’s Copyright Term Extension Consultation

On 29 January 2020, the Canadian federal government introduced Bill C-4, “An Act to Implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States” (CUSMA).1 The bill includes a proposal to extend copyright’s term of protection2 by 20 years, moving it from “life of the author + 50 years” (the international minimum standard as per the Berne Convention and TRIPS Agreement) to “life + 70 years.” An open consultation process is open until 12 March 2021 and Creative Commons, together with Creative Commons Canada, submitted comments to remind the Government of Canada of the imperative to preserve the public domain and safeguard the public interest in access to copyright works despite an inevitable term extension. 

Extending copyright’s term harms the public domain

At Creative Commons, we believe that copyright policy should encourage creativity, not hamper it. In a balanced copyright system, the rights and interests granted to both creators and the general public are necessary to stimulate vibrant creativity and foster the sharing of knowledge. We’ve previously made it clear that excessive copyright terms inhibit our ability to build upon and rework creative content. A 20-year extension effectively keeps creative works out of the public domain for two extra decades. This is an incredible loss given the role of the public domain as the trove of materials on which contemporary creativity depends. 

There is no reason for copyright protection to last as long as it already does—let alone be further extended. In fact, we argue for the term of protection to be significantly reduced. A brief filed by leading economists in the 2002 Eldred v. Ashcroft case demonstrated how the costs of a term extension outweigh the benefits. In a 2009 paper, economist Rufus Pollock estimated the optimal copyright term to be about 15 years. Adding 20 years is a huge step in the wrong direction.

An extension is also going to negatively impact the sectors hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, namely the education, academic and GLAM3/cultural sectors, as pointed out by Canadian copyright academic Michael Geist who called the copyright term extension “bad policy.” With copyright erecting so many unnecessary barriers preventing the free flow of knowledge and culture, extending its length flies in the face of policy efforts made to increase access to knowledge in times of crisis and of community efforts to reduce the effects of the pandemic.

Canada must uphold the public domain

As stated in the Industry Committee’s 2019 recommendations — which we praised upon their release — there is no way around Canada’s obligation to extend the term under the CUSMA  trade agreement. Despite the inevitable term extension, Canada’s copyright policy should still strive to promote a robust and universally accessible public domain. In fact, Canadian ministers have indicated in the past some support of the public domain, stating that copyright law “should ensure […] that users benefit from a public domain.” Accompanying mitigation measures must include a registration obligation (as generally recommended by the COMMUNIA Association) or other types of formalities for creators wishing to benefit from the extra 20 years of protection. 

Despite the inevitable term extension, Canada’s copyright policy should still strive to promote a robust and universally accessible public domain.

In line with our 2021-2025 strategy, we encourage collaboration among open advocates defending the public interest in Canada to push for a balanced copyright regime that truly rewards creators and upholds the rights of users to access, reuse, and further contribute to the public domain.

We will also continue to make available to creators a simple tool to enable them to waive their copyright using CC0 and share their creations under open CC licenses to recalibrate a copyright system that is too tilted against sharing and collaboration. Around the world, we will also continue to hold our strong stance against any copyright term extension to ensure better sharing and uphold the public domain as our shining light in times of darkness


1. The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement CUSMA (or USMCA) is a trade agreement between the three North American countries that entered into force on July 1, 2020.

2. The copyright term is the period of time during which creators can enjoy exclusive rights over how their works are used.

3. GLAM refers to galleries, libraries, archives and museums. 

The post Our Response To Canada’s Copyright Term Extension Consultation appeared first on Creative Commons.

Public Domain Day: Looking Ahead To 2021 Tickets, Thu, Dec 17, 2020 at 3:00 PM | Eventbrite

“Please join us on December 17, 2020, for a celebration of the public domain!

Presented by Internet Archive, Center for the Study of the Public Domain, Creative Commons, and SPARC, this event will bring together a diverse group of organizations, musicians, artists, activists, and thinkers to highlight the new works entering the public domain in 2021 and discuss those elements of knowledge and creativity that are too important to a healthy society to lock down with copyright law….”

The Linked Commons 2.0: What’s New?

This is part of a series of posts introducing the projects built by open source contributors mentored by Creative Commons during Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2020 and Outreachy. Subham Sahu was one of those contributors and we are grateful for his work on this project.

The CC Catalog data visualization—the Linked Commons 2.0—is a web application which aims to showcase and establish a relationship between the millions of data points of CC-licensed content using graphs. In this blog, I’ll discuss the motivation for this visualization and explore the latest features of the newest edition of the Linked Commons.


The number of websites using CC-licensed content is enormous, and snowballing. The CC Catalog collects and stores these millions of data points, and each node (a unit in a data structure) contains information about the URL of the websites and the licenses used. It’s possible to do rigorous data analysis in order to understand fully how these are interconnected and to identify trends, but this would be exclusive to those with a technical background. However, by visualizing the data, it becomes easier to identify broad patterns and trends.

For example, by identifying other websites that are linking to your content, you can try to have a specific outreach program or collaborate with them. In this way out of billions of webpages out there on the web, you can very efficiently focus on the webpages where you are more likely to see an increase in growth.

Latest Features

Let’s look at some of the new features in the Linked Commons 2.0.

  • Filtering based on the node name

The Linked Commons 2.0 allows users to search for their favorite node and then explore all of that node’s neighbors across the thousands present in the database. We have color-coded the links connecting the neighbors to the root node, as well as the neighbors which are connected to the root node differently. This makes it immaculately easy for users to classify the neighbors into two categories.

  • A sleek and revamped design

The Linked Commons 2.0 has a sleek design, with a clean and refreshing look along with both a light and dark theme.

The Linked Commons new design

  • Tools for smooth interaction with the canvas

The Linked Commons 2.0 ships with a few tools that allow the user to zoom in, zoom out, and reset zoom with just one tap. It is especially useful to users who are on touch devices or using a trackpad.

The Linked Commons toolbox

  • Autocomplete feature

The current database of the Linked Commons 2.0 contains around 240 thousand nodes and 4.14 million links. Unfortunately, some of the node names are uncommon and lengthy. To prevent users from the exhausting work of typing complete node names, this version ships with an autocomplete feature: for every keystroke, node names will appear that correspond with what the user might be looking for.

The Linked Commons autocomplete

What’s next for the Linked Commons?

In the current version, there are some nodes which are very densely connected. For example, the node “Wikipedia” has around 89k nodes and 102k links as neighbours. This number is too big for web browsers to render. Therefore, we need to configure a way to reduce this to a more reasonable number.

During the preprocessing, we dropped a lot of the nodes and removed more than 3 million nodes which didn’t have CC license information. In general, the current version shows only those nodes which are soundly linked with other domains and their licenses information is available. However, to provide a more complete picture of the CC Catalog, the Linked Commons needs additional filtering methods and other tools. These potentially include:

  • filtering based on Top-Level domain
  • filtering based on the number of web links associated with a node 


We plan to continue working on the Linked Commons. You can follow the project development by visiting our GitHub repo. We encourage you to contribute to the Linked Commons, by reporting bugs, suggesting features or by helping us write code. The new Linked Commons makes it easy for anyone to set up the development environment.

The project consists of a dedicated server which powers the filtering by node name and query autocompletion. The frontend is built using ReactJS, for smooth rendering performance. So, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a frontend developer, a backend developer, or a designer: there is some part of the Linked Commons that you can work on and improve. We look forward to seeing you on board with sparkling ideas!

We are extremely proud and grateful for the work done by Subham Sahu throughout his 2020 Google Summer of Code internship. We look forward to his continued contributions to the Linked Commons as a project core committer in the CC Open Source Community! 

Please consider supporting Creative Commons’ open source work on GitHub Sponsors.

The post The Linked Commons 2.0: What’s New? appeared first on Creative Commons.

Creative Commons Virtual Global Summit: Visions for the Next 20 Years: Reflectio…

“Panel discussion and Q&A session on the big picture of open education, featured select members of the Open 2020 Working Group and invited guests. This Open 2020 Working Group – educators, innovators, thought leaders, activist practitioners, and funders – began meeting in May 2019 with a goal to put forward new, ambitious, and practical recommendations for the future of open learning. We asked: what are key opportunities for open resources and technologies to further support and enhance an equitable, accessible knowledge ecosystem? The educational and social disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic have only added momentum and urgency to our original charge….”

Executive Summary: Research findings and recommendations for developing a Declaration on Open Access to Cultural Heritage

“Cultural heritage institutions face a number of obstacles to digitizing and making collections available online. Many are beyond their control. But there is one important area that these institutions do have control over: the access and reuse parameters applied to a breadth of media generated during the reproduction of public domain works.

Whether to claim intellectual property rights (IPR) or release the reproduction media of public domain works via open access parameters is a contentious topic among the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums). Evidence shows GLAMs take a range of approaches to open access and encounter various obstacles that can hamper the release of cultural materials to the public domain. One of these obstacles is the lack of coordinated and sustainable support for GLAMs with open access ambitions.

Earlier this year, Wikimedia Foundation and Creative Commons came together to assist the OpenGLAM initiative and bridge this gap. The Wikimedia Foundation provided funding for an exploratory research paper on open access to cultural heritage. With the Wikimedia Foundation’s support, Creative Commons is now leading an initiative to develop a Declaration on Open Access to Cultural Heritage, along with a public consultation process to refine and generate consensus on what the Declaration might achieve.

This resource is meant to kick off that process. It brings together valuable insight from practice with wider societal questions to reflect on the trajectory of the open GLAM movement to date and its future needs. The research to support this work sought to:

To take stock of and reflect on open GLAM practices and the intellectual property rights (IPR) management of digital collections; and within this

Identify areas of uncertainty presenting barriers to open GLAM participation;

Identify new areas of focus emerging from open GLAM practice; and

Produce an open access resource to inform the development of a Declaration on Open Access for Cultural Heritage….”

CC Open Education Platform Activities Fund: Six Winners!

Creative Commons is proud to announce six winning project proposals from the inaugural round of the CC Open Education Platform Activities Fund!

Openness and Collaboration by Paul Downey (CC BY 2.0)Credit: “Openness and Collaboration” by Paul Downey (CC BY 2.0).

The CC Open Education Platform is a vibrant, international network of over 1120 open education advocates, educators, librarians, lawmakers, graduate students, and more, spanning 79 countries. This year, CC launched an activities fund to support Platform members’ good work to further open education in their countries. The activities fund offered up to $5,000 USD to community members who proposed efforts that: 1) Build and sustain community; 2) Increase educational access and equity; and/or 3) Use policy to open education opportunities for all. Accepted proposals focus on work supporting these goals in Brazil, Chile, Francophone Africa, India, Ireland, and globally. 

While we would have liked to fund nearly all of the projects, we are delighted to announce the following proposal winners: 

  • “Teaching materials introducing copyright to 9 to 15-year-olds in French-speaking Africa.”

Proposed by Isla Haddow-Flood and Florence Devouard (at Wiki In Africa), this project will create and pilot introductory materials and assignment models to support teachers instructing 9-15-year-old students in French-speaking Africa about CC licenses and their use. Across Africa, teachers do not have access to online materials to explain Copyright or CC licenses to their students, and especially not in French. The materials created will begin to fill the gap. The materials will be initially piloted in Benin as part of the WikiChallenge Bénin competition. The project will integrate feedback initial testing before distributing teaching materials among the Wikimedia and CC communities across Francophone Africa. 

  • “Inventory and evaluation of existing social-emotional learning resources for the transition to open digital learning.”

Shivi Chandra proposed this project recognizing that a global mandate for “twenty-first century skills” has pushed social-emotional learning (SEL) materials–those which promote “well-being, connectedness, and success” (OECD)–to the forefront of many national educational strategies working to help students make sense of recent global crises, social movements, and COVID-19. These materials could be anything from public health guidance to conversation starters on domestic violence to current events news articles for kids.This project from Learning Equality will develop and share a gap analysis and preliminary audit of existing SEL resources either open or accessible on the internet. This work supports any organization looking to improve their general understanding of SEL resources, understand those available, advocate for openness in the SEL community, and develop such resources during and post COVID-19.

  • “Oficinas Wikimedia & Educação: a educação livre no Brasil e as plataformas Wikimedia (EN: Wikimedia & Education Workshops: free education in Brazil and the Wikimedia platforms).

Giovanna Fontenelle proposed this project to help Brazilian educators and institutions searching for new formats and teaching alternatives. The Wiki Movimento Brasil User Group will organize a series of online workshops and develop accompanying resources such as an audio description for an educational brochure, open-licensed videos of the workshops, reference materials for educators, participant lists for networking, and Outreach Dashboard metrics.

  • “Open Reading Lists @UCD: Phase One.”

Proposed by Susan Reilly, this project will offer a training and mobilisation workshop for librarians supporting a shift to OER, an awareness-raising campaign targeted at faculty and course coordinators, and a video tutorial on finding and assessing OER. The rapid shift to online and blended learning necessitated by COVID-19 demonstrated the need for more open and participatory engagement online and more sustainable access to diverse learning materials. This project aims to increase OER as a percentage of material on reading lists in University College Dublin, Ireland. 

  • “Offline OER to enhance K-12 math in Chile.”

Werner Westermann proposed this project to help deliver customized OER content, responsive and aligned to the official Chilean “prioritized” curriculum, a core group of learning outcomes for math, highlighted during school disruption during COVID-19. Ideally, this curriculum will be used to support learners using Kolibri, meeting the needs of learners with limited or no Internet connectivity during COVID-19 and beyond.

  • “Open Pathology Education Project.”

Netha Hussain proposed this project focused on curating and annotating pathology images from Wikimedia Commons. Drawing from India’s Calicut Medical College and Dr. Yale Rosen’s collections, this project will use Wikidata as a tool to organize and categorize images for medical students to use as educational resources. As Wikidata doesn’t yet have robust pathology related information, images and descriptions from Wikimedia Commons will be first linked with Wikidata, and then used for the Open Pathology Project. The final resource will serve medical students from around the world.

We are delighted to fund projects that range from work with off-line open math and developing OER for medical education to fueling additional work with sister communities such as Wikimedia. 

We also want to recognize our decision committee (listed alphabetically), members of the CC Open Education Platform who dedicated hours to application review—difficult job considering they read, scored, and deliberated over 20 amazing proposals from platform members.

  • Cindy Domaika
  • Geoff Cain
  • John Okewole
  • Jonathan Poritz
  • Mohammed Galib Hasan
  • Neil Butcher
  • Paola Corti
  • Paul West
  • Rachel Wexelbaum
  • Shanna Hollich

To our decision committee, platform colleagues who submitted inspiring proposals, and the fantastic CC Open Education Platform community—thank you! We look forward to seeing project results in December 2020, and we expect these projects to fuel more open education advancements in 2021 and beyond. 

Learn more about the CC Open Education Platform and how to get involved! 

The post CC Open Education Platform Activities Fund: Six Winners! appeared first on Creative Commons.

Creative Commons Is Now Leading the Open COVID Pledge—Here’s What That Means

We’re pleased to announce today that Creative Commons is taking on leadership and stewardship of the Open COVID Pledge.

Earlier this year, CC joined forces with an international group of researchers, scientists, academics, and lawyers seeking to accelerate the development of diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, medical equipment, and software solutions that might be used to assist in the fight against COVID-19. The result was the Open COVID Pledge, a project that offers a simple way for universities, companies, and others to make their patents and copyrights available to the public to be utilized in the current public health crisis.

Users of Creative Commons licenses will be familiar with the Open COVID Pledge’s approach. Like CC licenses, the Open COVID Pledge offers free, standard, public licenses that anyone can use to remove unnecessary obstacles to the dissemination of knowledge.

Amazon, Facebook, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NASA JPL, Sandia National Laboratories, and Uber are among the dozens of companies and institutions that have used the Open COVID Pledge to make their patents and copyrights open to the public in support of solving the COVID-19 pandemic. As Creative Commons takes on this new leadership role in the project, we’re energized by the potential to expand its international scope, reach, and impact.

We’ll continue working with large companies to unlock their intellectual property (IP) rights in the pursuit of saving lives. But we also aim to team up with smaller startups, universities, and even individual innovators—especially in parts of the world that aren’t well-represented by the project’s current list of pledgors and supporters and that hold patents and other IP critical to the fight against  COVID-19. We’ll achieve this goal by collaborating with members of our worldwide community, including leading organizations in the international arena working on copyright and IP policy, such as the WHO and other UN bodies. We will also leverage the expertise and our deep relationships with the Creative Commons Global Network. Stay tuned for more information on these internationalization efforts, including ways to get involved in expanding the project in your country and region.

We believe this initiative will have a profound impact beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The common set of values, tools, and principles for the responsible use of IP in the public’s interest formed during this particular crisis can and should be used as a necessary model for addressing other crises, such as climate change. We hope to carry this conversation and model forward.

As CC takes on leadership and stewardship of the Open COVID Pledge, we are mindful of the many who contributed to its beginnings. In particular, we thank our co-collaborators for their expertise and collaboration in forging this project and helping it come to life. They have provided and will continue to provide critical strategic input into the future of this project and its growth. 

You can support the effort by encouraging your company, university, or research team to make the Open COVID Pledge. Visit opencovidpledge.org or contact us at ocpinfo@creativecommons.org for more information.

The post Creative Commons Is Now Leading the Open COVID Pledge—Here’s What That Means appeared first on Creative Commons.

Creative Commons: Das Städel Museum stellt mehr als 22.000 Kunstwerke zur freien Verfügung | Städel Museum

From Google’s English:  “The Städel Museum makes more than 22,000 works of art freely available in its digital collection with the Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0. This enables a broad public interested in art to reproduce and share the public domain images of the works, naming the Städel Museum, and to use and edit them for any purpose. Popular works of art by the Städel, such as Sandro Botticelli’s Ideal Feminine Portrait (Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as a Nymph) (approx. 1480), Franz Marc’s Lying Dog in the Snow (approx. 1911), Paula Modersohn-Becker’s Lying Man under a Blooming Tree (1903), Rembrandts Self-portrait leaning against a stone wall (1639) or Johannes Vermeer’s The Geographer(1669) are thus made available for free download via the digital collection. The aim is – in line with the founding idea – to make the Städel collection accessible to the public and, furthermore, to strengthen participation in the collective cultural property.”

From CC’s New CEO: Working Towards Our Shared Future

It is an honor to be joining the Creative Commons team on the eve of its 20th anniversary year.

For nearly two decades, this organization has worked to make the world a more open and equitable place.

When CC first launched in 2001, I was a recently-elected Member of the European Parliament at a time when copyright and access issues were beginning to receive attention.

But throughout my 20 years as a legislator, directly representing over five million people in Scotland and delivering change for over 500 million Europeans, I took on the task of championing digital policy issues including copyright reform, citizen privacy and data protection, and improving public access to digital tools.

As I reflect, we today find ourselves in a very different world. And as I look to the future, I know the work of CC has never been more important.

We have the opportunity to play a leading role in the global fight to remove obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity.

This matters because of the pressing challenges facing us, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak human and economic devastation across the globe.

Inequality is on the rise, and injustices have been exposed.

The tragic killing of George Floyd sparked the global Black Lives Matter movement, while there have been pro-democracy protests in several countries, including in Belarus only last week.

CC stands with those grieving and protesting against injustices, and with those fighting for justice, representation, and equality around the world.

The challenges and the crises we have witnessed during this extraordinary year have raised legitimate questions about power and privilege.

Who has access to knowledge in our unequal society?

We know that too often it is the hands of the few, not the many, and access is often denied to women, people of color, LGBTQI communities and people from the global South.

We have a role to challenge power and privilege, and the solution to that is to open up access and share knowledge.

During the coronavirus crisis, we saw some progress being made.

Paywalls came down, and research was shared. The race to find a vaccine for COVID-19 demonstrates why rapid and unrestricted access to scientific research and educational materials is so vital.

It’s a shame that it took a global pandemic to realize this, but I hope the lesson has now been learned.

Yet for every step forward there is also a step backwards.

Some nations have imposed restrictions on the right to information and not all have reinstated them.

And too much knowledge remains out of reach, with museum and library doors still shut in many countries, and digital access not available for so many.

Breaking down barriers is not easy.

Take the example of the National Emergency Library, designed by the Internet Archive to make over 1.3 million e-books available for checkout, free of charge during the pandemic.

A consortium of four publishers filed suit and the library was forced to close. This demonstrates the challenges that remain.

But there is also hope.

I have been a longstanding champion of the need to unlock digital access to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity for everyone in society.

I’m excited by the opportunity to make a difference.

The work of CC has already proved crucial during this devastating pandemic. The Open COVID Pledge has made it easier for universities, companies, and other holders of intellectual property rights to support the development of medicines, test kits, vaccines, and other scientific discoveries.

And we have worked to make publicly funded educational resources openly licensed to help the public access reliable, practical information.

There is much more to do.

Our world faces an uncertain future and it is vital that open access policies are adopted by organizations and governments.

Technological advances have brought many people closer together, and yet also pushed too many apart.

Our mission is to build a shared future for all, and I can’t wait to get started.

The post From CC’s New CEO: Working Towards Our Shared Future appeared first on Creative Commons.