Death of an Internet Freedom Fighter

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Bassel Khartabil was executed by the Syrian government some time after his disappearance in October 2015 in Damascus, Syria.

“Bassel Khartabil, also known as Bassel Safadi, was born in Damascus, Syria on May 22, 1981. He grew up to pursue an education and career in computer engineering. He was the co-founder of the collaborative research company Aiki Lab, and the CTO of the publisher Al-Aous. He served as the first project lead and public affiliate for Creative Commons Syria, and contributed to numerous Internet projects, such as Mozilla Firefox and Wikipedia.

“On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil was arrested in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. For more than three years he was detained by the Syrian government at Adra Prison in Damascus. On October 3, 2015, Bassel was removed from his prison cell, and was sentenced to death by a Military Tribunal. We know now for a fact that Bassel Khartabil was executed by the Syrian government some time in October 2015, and we are demanding to know the exact date he was tried and then executed. No information at all was provided to his family until July 2017. The details of his sentencing and execution, and the whereabouts of his remains, are unknown at this time.

“Bassel Khartabil is survived by his wife, Noura Ghazi Safadi, as well as his mother and father.

The Free Bassel Campaign: STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF BASSEL KHARTABIL

Creative Commons Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund

“At the request of Bassel’s family, Creative Commons is announcing today that it has established the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund to support projects in the spirit of Bassel’s work. Creative Commons is accepting donations, and has seeded the fund with $10,000. Bassel was our friend and colleague, and CC invites the public to celebrate Bassel’s legacy and support the continuation of his powerful work and open values in a global community.

Contributions to the fund will go towards projects, programs, and grants to support individuals advancing collaboration, community building, and leadership development in the open communities of the Arab world. The fund will also support the digital preservation, sharing, and remix of creative works and historical artifacts. All of these projects are deeply intertwined with CC’s core mission and values, and those of other communities to which Bassel contributed.

Visit the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund page for more on how to get involved. Learn more about Bassel and his work at Wikipedia, FreeBassel.org, EFF, BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera.”

— Announcing the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund

Here in the “free world,” extraordinary efforts to silence and shut down free software and free culture by large corporations are ongoing.  If software freedom was the unquestioned norm I have to wonder: would Bassel even have been arrested?

Today the EFF released these letters Bassel wrote from jail before he disappeared.

What an extraordinary young man.  My heart goes out to his family.

“Around the world, activists and advocates seek the sharing of culture, and open knowledge.

Creative Commons, and the global commons of art, history, and knowledge, are stronger because of Bassel’s contributions, and our community is better because of his work and his friendship.  His death is a terrible reminder of what many individuals and families risk in order to make a better society.”

— Creative Commons Statement on the death of CC friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil


Image Credit: Bassel Safadi by Joi Ito is released under a Creative Commons Attribution License

Holiday Free Culture Fun

Merry Christmas

Looking for something to fill your down time (or keep the kids occupied) on the holidays?

After you’ve watched all your favourite Christmas movies, you will probably be in the mood for a change.  That’s when I’d break out some awesome free culture cartoons.  I love the Dave Fleisher Superman shorts; fortunately for us, they fell into the public domain, this emancipation makes them free to watch, share, copy.  Woo hoo!

[download all the Fleisher Superman films here for better quality]

There are many more, and many more free culture animated shorts to be found in the Internet Archive… like this Roger Ramjet flashback to my childhood:

 

This one was the cause of a lawsuit by the Fleischer Studios because shirts, coffee mugs and other materials had Betty Boop’s likeness on them. This film is still public domain and the studio lost in court.

Betty Boop: “Let Me Call You Sweetheart:”

As Nina Paley reminds us:

If you haven’t seen Nina’s Sita Sings the Blues, make sure to carve out an hour and a half to watch the most awesome breakup movie ever told:

Find these and more on the pages of Internet Archive’s Animation Shorts
They’ve got a pretty decent collection of Feature Films, too.

Merry Christmas!   Joyeux Noël!   Rõõmsaid Jõulupühi!   Geseënde Kersfees!   عيد ميلاد مجيد  
Frohe Weihnachten!   Gleðileg jól!   Mitho Makosi Kesikansi!  Sretan Božić  
Niibaa’ Anami’egiizhigad & Aabita Biboo
Prettige Feestdagen

 

Tis the Season for Gift Anxiety

gplusbannerWe’ve been told the economy is in an upturn, but I’m afraid that only means the rich are making profits again. Seems this is largely based on underpaying most people, as so many good jobs with benefits are gone, obliging people to hold down multiple part time jobs instead with raises and bonuses now the stiff of myth. As a result, the retail market is again tanking, since many are not getting gifts at all, while others are reduced to shopping at s is at the dollar store.

mamabearsmallI’ve been making gifts for most of my life, not just because they are economical, but because if I make them myself they aren’t going to fall apart immediately.  If you can sew or knit, you can male personalized gifts like this Teddy Bear I made for my neice decades ago (that her children play with today).

It is late to start making your own, but here are a couple ideas of gifts you can make in a relatively short period of time.

Eatables

Bake cookies, cakes and Christmas treats etc. and package them in tins, mason jars, whatever you have (note: especially if it is a reuse tin or plastic container, be sure to line with waxed paper)

Multimedia

Burn DVDs of free culture movies (or make a gift card with a link to downloads or places to watch online) like Sita Sings The Blues
or
Blender Animation
or any of the wonderful old movies are in the public domain available at the Internet Archive movie section.

clay-painted_8217

In Canada blank burnable CDs are more expensive than blank burnable DVDs (thank copyright law for that bit of foolishness), but for the music lover’s in your life that may be just the ticket. One of my absolute favourite musicians is Josh Woodward, who releases all of his music CC by, again, making it easy and legal to download and burn a CD.

Find more free culture music through the Creative Commons search tool here,  at the Free Music Archive, or Internet Archive.

There are lots of free culture books as well that can be found in digital formats at Project Gutenberg, Project Gutenberg Canada, and Project Gutenberg Australia

Tangibles

Great gifties for grandparents: plaster of paris toddler hand or footprints. Best to use a disposable container for the plaster placque.

1. mix the plaster
2. pour plaster into container
3. Press a pencil or straw into the plaster at the top so the plaque can be hung on the wall
4. cover your child’s hand or foot in vaseline before pressing it into the plaster.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT submerge. The top of the hand or foot needs to be able to lift out cleanly.
5. Paint (or not)

Dead Lightbulb GrinchMake decorations out of bits and pieces around the house. Broken bits of costume jewellery and toys can often be refurbished, or you can paint a Grinch on an old lightbulb.

You can find many “blanks” (plain wood boxes, christmas ornament cutouts, picture frames, clocks) at craft or dollar stores.  You can decoupage pretty pictures cut from magazines, or pictures of your kids on these (modge podge) or you and/or the kids can paint or decorate them.  You can get water based Tempra paint (like they use in elementary school) if your small kids are doing the decorating, more durable (and still water based) is acryllic craft paint available from art, craft, hardware or dollar stores.  A few bottles of primary colours will go a long way.  Crayons or markers can be used as well.

Make your own bakers’s clay ornaments etc. with the recipe at a maker’s space.

You can also make a lot of decorations by hand– paper snowflakes, paper chains, and my absolute favourite: popcorn garland!  Use old colour comics or magazine pages for wrapping.

Hope this helps make the holidays happy!

 

Stop Bill C-51

STOP BILL C-51
Sauron Says Stop Bill C-51
Yesterday I reblogged 33 other bloggers posts here, even though they are probably not free culture.  Although I try to keep Canadian politics in the  Whoa! Canada blog, limiting political articles on this blog to issues around copyright and free culture, Bill C-51 has crossed the line.  This law the Harper Government is planning to pass, (maybe today, probably this week) in the face of strong opposition from a clear majority of Canadians, will certainly have a devastating effect on Canadian Culture.  The removal of free speech protections will cause a massive chilling effect ~ self censorship ~ on all Canadian culture.

Some brave souls will continue to publish their art, just as the stubborn ones did in the early days of the Third Reich.  I realize many of you will think this hyperbole, but the parallels between then and now are striking.  I can tell you that I am not a brave soul, that’s why I am doing everything I can to stop this now.  I don’t want to see Canadian civil rights undermined to the point of meaninglessness, not just for myself, but for my family, and all the generations that will come after.

But if my little voice, in concert with all the other Canadian voices goes unheeded, although it will surely break my heart, I will continue to do as I always have; I will continue to follow the law.

But it isn’t law yet, so today I will share and reshare as much as I can manage.   Because I care.  Because it matters.

canadaflagbannerstopbillc51

 

Happy Easter from Albrecht Dürer and Me

Albrecht Durer's Rabbit

I grew up in a creative family, and although I never formally studied art, it was a staple of my public school education* and so I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know who Leonardo da Vinci was. But Albrecht Dürer? Well, I had seen some of his work, but I had no idea who he was until I stumbled on his work on the Internet.

Albrecht Dürer was a “Renaissance Man” from Nuremberg, Germany. A few decades younger than Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer’s interests and work was nearly as eclectic. Albrecht Dürer created some wonderful paintings, scientific studies of the natural world (like the “Young Hare” I’m sharing here), designed architecture and fortifications, dabbled in type face creation, and worked out a lot of the mathematics of art, writing books about measurement, human proportions and geometry. But I think he’s most known for his incredible black and white drawings, elaborate etchings printed from copper engravings or woodcuts, which spread his name and fame throughout the known world.

Although all of Albrecht Dürer’s work is well into the public domain, you’ll find it all over the Internet. While some of it has been marked with proprietary watermarks by people and organizations seeking to claim copyright on it (a shady practise known as “copyfraud”) you can just bypass these things, since there are plenty of excellent quality reproductions of Dürer’s  work in reputable places like Wikimedia Commons, the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Metropolitan Museum of Art and WikiArt.

I’ve taken the liberty of digitally restoring Young Hare to what I think it would have looked like when it was new.


*public school education in Canada that means the universally available state funded public education stretching from Kindergarden through the 12th grade.

Happy Public Domain Day!

Happy New Year from the Public Domain

In the beginning, everything was in the Public Domain. But that all changed when the English Queen Anne put an end to public ownership of our shared culture by passing the first Copyright Law in 1710. The idea was that this would encourage creators to create. Initially this Intellectual Property monopoly applied exclusively to the printed word. The term was limited to a few years to ensure creative works would return to the Public Domain.

As time went by, however, the scope of copyright has expanded to include most of the creative realms, and what were once limited terms (ostensibly intended to encourage creators to create) now extends decades past the death of the author. (So far no one has explained how this can possibly encourage dead creators to create new art.)

Because copyright terms have been extended so long, and sometimes even retroactively, works going into the Public Domain have flowed to a trickle, and in some cases to a halt. Those works that are emancipated from copyright bondage are scheduled to enter the Public Domain on January 1st every year, so on this day we celebrate the expiry of the monopoly over the works that return to the Public Domain.

Happy Public Domain Day!

Happy Public Domain Day!

Wishing You a Very Merry Saturnalia


My lovely Rudolph card would not have been possible without Per Harald Olsen’s gorgeous Svalbardrein pho which he has released on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

“Happy Holidays” by Laurel L. Russwurm is likewise released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.