Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Posts Tagged ‘creative commons

LibreTea and Free Culture

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When I began blogging in 2009, this was my very first blog. It was the place I established as my home base to get my bearings as I tried to figure out what’s what — and what I was doing here.

Yueh Tung Chinese Restaurant - Libre TeaAlthough I’ve been known to refer to this as my “personal blog,” it has never been what most people would consider “personal,” because although I share my personal opinions and ideas, I try to be mindful of the privacy rights of others, so very little in the way of personal information finds its way in.

Early in my blogging career I began learning about copyright, and as the implications began to sink in, this blog began to morph into a Free Culture blog, although I’ve only just now definitively identified it as such by renaming it.

Last weekend I attended the first ever Libre Tea in Toronto. You might be wondering what a #LibreTea might be, and the best explanation I can offer is that a Libre Tea is a social gathering for people who work for and support the idea of freedom.

(And who am I to resist such a brilliantly apt pun?)

This LibreTea was a joint gathering for Ontario LibrePlanet, Ubuntu and CryptoParty folk — three groups of who share an interest in freedom.

Some of the freedom fighters who attended the gathering are pictured below;

LibreTea Toronto

FREE CULTURE FILM FESTIVAL

And this weekend I presented a Free Culture Film Festival as part of the local Software Freedom Day Celebrations put on by KWLUG and The Working Centre.

The films screened at The Free Culture Film Festival qualify as free culture either because:

  • they are in the Public Domain or
  • they have been licensed to share.

This means you can legally watch and share them as you wish. Each film title is the link that will take you to a page where you can watch and/or download the movie online:

Charade (1963) Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn ~ Public Domain
Never Weaken (1921) Harold Lloyd & Mildred Davis ~ Public Domain
His Girl Friday (1940) Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell ~ Public Domain
Fleischer Studios animated “Superman” (1941) and “The Billion Dollar Limited” (1942)
Warner graciously made high definition copies of all of the the Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios Superman shorts online.
The Durian Movie Project: Sintel (2010) Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
Sita Sings The Blues (2008) originally released as Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike; now CC0

[It is not unheard of for media to be knocked off the Internet via specious DMCA Takedown notices. After all, such takedowns don’t require any pesky evidence and there are zero consequences to the DMCA applicant if peoves to be incorrect. If any of these links doesn’t work for you Drop me a line at laurel.l@russwurm.org]

FREE CULTURE FILM FESTIVAL poster - Charade (1963), Never Weaken (1921), His Girl Friday (1940), Fleischer Superman (1941, 1942)m Sintel (2010) and Sita Sings The Blues (2008)

Free Culture Film Festival #SFD

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Never_WeakenBANNER

cover2I’ve been asked to put together a Free Culture Film Festival as part of Waterloo Region’s Software Freedom Day Celebration this Saturday.  This year Software Freedom Day is brought to you by the KWLUG in co-operation with The Working Centre.
Approved for Free Cultural Works symbol
I wasn’t sure what I would be able to find, and as it turns out, my biggest problem wasn’t how little was available, but how much.

I wanted to present a varied selection of films that qualify as Free Culture for different reasons.

 

Rama drops Sita ~ from Nina Paley's brilliant "Sita Sings The Blues"amaSaturday, 20 September 2014 (iCal)
10am-4pm
The Working Centre
43 Queen Street South and 58 Queen Street South (Map)
Kitchener

For information about the #SFD Presentations, Workshops and Installfest visit the KWLUG Software Freedom Day page.
All activities are free of charge unless you are purchasing computer equipment during the Installfest.

 

 

FREE CULTURE FILM FESTIVAL

10:00am “Charade” (1963) ~ Copyright Never Happened

Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn (113 min)
In 1963 American copyright required registration. One of the requirements was that any work to be protected by copyright had to be properly identified as such. What should have been the copyright notice included in the opening credits of the movie Charade failed to include the word “copyright” or the abbreviation “copr” or the © symbol, which meant Charade was inadvertently published directly into the public domain the moment it was released.
But although the film itself is in the Public Domain, any artwork and publicity material may or may not be, so for the purposes if this screening, it was safer for not to use an official movie poster, but to instead cobble together my own with images taken directly from the film. I have in turn released my poster directly into the Public Domain with the Creative Commons CC0 license.
My DVD copy of Charade was a bonus feature included with one of the the Charade remakes, The Truth About Charlie. Since Charade is in the public domain, no royalties would be required for a film that choses to do this. In fact, when I bought the DVD I had no idea if I would like the remake, but it was worth risking because to replace my Charade VHS with a DVD.

12:00pm Harold Lloyd: “Never Weaken” ~ Copyright Expired

Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis ~ running time: 29 minutes
Silent screen film maker and movie star Harold Lloyd co-starring with his leading lady (and later wife) Mildred Davis in Never Weaken. This was the last short film he ever – all his subsequent films were feature films.
Harold Lloyd continued making films even when they started talking, and he retained copyright to his work. Lloyd’s films enjoyed only very limited re-release due to his stringent demands: he insisted his silent movies had to be accompanied by organ, not piano; he demanded $300,000 for 2 showings of his films on television. This had the effect of pulling his work out of the public eye, with the result his work is largely forgotten today.
American films released prior to 1923 have expired which is why all his early works are in the Public Domain. Lloyd was careful to keep all his work under copyright, so his subsequent work is protected by copyright for 95 years due to the Sonny Bono copyright extension.

12:30pm “His Girl Friday” ~ Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell (92 min) Copyright Expired

Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell ~ running time: 92 min
His Girl Friday is a derivative work; this is one of many remakes of the successful stage play, “The Front Page.” The original story was about two men; this version made Hildie and Walter an ex-wife and husband. Although it failed to be a huge hit, apparently because audiences thought Cary Grant too much of a light weight for the part, for me, this is the version I like best.

As a result, the studio couldn’t be bothered to renew its copyright. I think at least part of His Girl Friday’s later success on television, video and now DVD formats may well be due to urs Public Domain status. Judging by images on the Internet, it has also enjoyed no small success as a live theatre production. In many ways, this version resonates better with modern audiences.

2:00pm The Fleischer Animated “Superman” ~ Copyright Expired

Fleischer Studios animated Superman short ~ running time: 11 minutes
To my mind, the best film animation of the early part of the 20th Century was produced by the Fleischer Studios Inc., who were also responsible for technical innovations like the rotoscope and sync sound animation. Although Betty Boop and Popeye are their most famous creations, Brothers Max (producer) and Dave (director) Fleischer produced 9 Superman shorts in 1941 and 1942. Unfortunately there was a huge personal falling out between the brothers (ostensibly begun over Dave’s adulterous affair with a secretary) which resulted in their distributor Paramount taking over their business. With Dave Fleischer out of the picture, the remaining Superman films in the series were directed by Dan Gordon, I. Sparber and Max Fleisher’s son-in-law Seymour Kneitel and produced by the re-branded Famous Studios.

2:15pm Sintel ~ Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

The Durian Open Movie Project ~ running time: 14 min
Blender began as 3D animation proprietary software, but a few years ago the corporation that developed it decided to free the software, and they haven’t looked back since. Sintel is the third Blender film made to demonstrate the capabilities of the software. This one is my personal favorite, both because it’ gorgeous and I like dragons. Since the Blender software has benefited from emancipation, it is hardly surprising to find these films were released with a Free Culture license (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0) right from the start.

2:30pm “Sita Sings The Blues“~ emancipated by Nina Paley

Nina Paley‘s classical animation feature film ~ running time: 82 min
Nina Paley’s original vision for Sita Sings The Blues included the public domain recordings by Annette Hanshaw to form the musical score. As it turned out, big media driven “copyright reforms” retroactively extended the copyright term for the sync rights (the particular rights necessary when using recorded music in a film). The long and the short of it is that Nina Paley had to pay gigantic sums to acquire these rights to release her film.

“Having paid these extortionate fees, I could have gone with conventional distribution, and was invited to. I chose to free the film because I could see that would be most beneficial to me, my film, and culture at large. A CC-SA license does not absolve a creator of compliance with copyright law. The law could have sent me to prison for non-commercial copyright infringement. I was forced to borrow $70,000 to decriminalize my film, regardless of how I chose to release it.”
~ Nina Paley, “Correction

As Nina continued to question copyright, she decided to take it to the next level, and so she has since released this wonderful film into the Public Domain.

3:50pm Superman:“The Billion Dollar Limited” ~ Copyright Expired


Why we need Free Culture (in case you didn’t know…)

In the beginning human beings lived in a Free Culture world. If a writer published a play, or an author a novel, this new creative work left his private domain (his mind, home or working space) and entered the Public Domain. Anyone who saw the play performed was free to be inspired to remake it as a new creative work, or to mount their own production of it as is. Anyone who read a book could quote from it or copy it and even sell their own copies if they wanted to.

The grandmother of copyright law was the “Statute of Anne” enacted by Queen Anne in 1710. In spite of the name, “copyright” is a state imposed monopoly, not a “right.” In exchange for limiting the public’s right to copy, learn and share our culture, the copyright monopoly was supposed to encourage good creators to create works to benefit our culture. And maybe it worked that way once. Although originally limited to books, the scope of copyright has spread like cancer to nearly every form of human creativity, and the “limited” terms are so long most of my own culture will be “protected” until long after I am dead. And creators still can’t make a living from their work.

Today’s technology makes it possible for anyone to create our own digital work. Every cell phone is a camera, every school child has access to computers; that’s all you need to make movies. But the minefield of potential copyright infringement and criminalization is enormous. Copyright law is a tangled mess of law written differently in every country, and it can be used against anyone who uses any digital device. We must understand copyright basics for our own protection. Because today copyright law is used to “protect” our own culture from us.

Anything we are free to use as we like is all that remains of Free Culture; everything else is a legal risk. In today’s copyright mad world, creative works that have been Licensed To Share and works in the Public Domain are two sources of Free Culture that we can use legally.

 


UPDATE: I’ve provided links to all the Free Culture films I presented in LibreTea and Free Culture
 

Happy GNU Year

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Happy GNU Year!


This virtual card is the best gift I can give my readers and online friends this holiday season. Not just because its the best and most awesome Happy GNU Year card you’re likely to find online, but because I created it entirely using free culture and free software.

The Free Software Foundation‘s GNU operating system led to the adoption of the gnu as its symbol.  Free software is incredibly important for a host of reasons, and yet I very much suspect it wouldn’t exist at all any more but for the efforts of Richard Stallman and the FSF.  I highly recommend that you use free software as much as possible, not just because it’s usually free of charge (gratis) but far more importantly, because it respects our personal freedom (libre).

The penguin “Tux” is the mascot of the Linux kernel, is the heart of the free and open source software operating systems we use today. (MacOS and Windows are the non-free software used in personal computing devices (computers, cell phones, tablets, PVRs &tc.)

Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)) LicenseIf you click on the card, you’ll find a higher definition version suitable for printing.  And you are allowed to print it, because this card carries a free culture license, specifically a Creative Commons  Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) License  This license gives you the freedom to use this creative work in any way you like, even commercially, with only 2 restrictions.

  1. The “Attribution” restriction means you must credit the creator(s) as specified.
  2. Second, whether printing it out and selling physical copies, mailing it to you your friends, or modifying it to create something completely different, it must carry the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike License, or a similar license that requires attribution perpetuation of the license terms.

Attribution is simply giving credit where credit is due. I try to provide attribution for everything I use, even work in the public domain. The “share-alike” part of the license exists to prevent creative works from being removed from free culture and locked behind copyright.

Below you can see the steps that led to this card. Click on any of the images below for a larger/printable version.

Happy GNU Year Green (cc by-sa)Modified "Powered By GNU/Linux" Free Software  sticker set Happy GNU Year STENCIL

On the left is my first try, which I like a lot. It could make a good poster, but it’s too difficult to see and read in small formats because it’s too cluttered.

In the centre is the “wallpaper” background I devised. I modified the Powered by GNU-Linux sticker set originally created by deviantdark and published on deviantArt  under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) License.  There are many free software operating systems not included, so I added Trisquel and centOS when I made up the wallpaper background. You can download the printable sticker sets from the deviantART Powered by GNU-Linux page and make your own sticker for your computer.

On the right is the first draft of the red card. I loved the simplicity of Rasmus Olsen‘s gnu meets penguin titled GNU/Linux licensed Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) that I found on Flickr.  I altered the image by bringing the penguin close enough to touch noses with the gnu, and stood them both on the lettering. In the final version, I changed the lettering because it was hard to read when the wallpaper was added.

CORRECTION: Rui Damas is the originator of the GNU/Linux artwork I reused, and it was actually released under the GNU Public License. I’m not entirely sure what that does to my licensed usage. [Thanks to Mike Linksvayer for pointing that out!]

Free Software & Free Culture

It’s no harder to learn to use free software than it is to learn to use a windows computer or a Mac.  Many Apple and Windows users are already using free software with Firefox or OpenOffice (I prefer LibreOffice).  The coolest and best ebook conversion software is called Calibre (it comes with a good e-reader so you can read eBooks on your computer).  And of course my favorite blogging software, WordPress is free software.  Wikipedia runs on free wiki software (which is why there are wikis popping up all over) and if you’re into video production, you could so worse than the amazing Blender 3D animation software or Kdenlive for video editing.  You can use social networking with GNUsocial and Friendica.   If you do switch to free software, the biggest difference you’ll notice is that you don’t have to pay for things again and again and again.  Other advantages include better security and a much lower incidence of spyware and other malware.

It was difficult for me to unlearn Photoshop so I can learn to use GIMP, but I keep trying.  I still look for a lot of the features where they would be in photoshop, but its getting easier.  I have yet to find anything Photoshop can do that can’t be done in GIMP; the challenge is finding out how to do it.   That’s why I’m so pleased I made this card entirely with GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) on my computer, which is currently runs on Linux Mint in a MATE desktop environment that has the  Ubuntu Studio plug-in.

As the copyright maximalists successfully lobby to lock up more and more of our culture for longer and longer terms, the importance of free culture has become more apparent.   Sites like the Flickr photosharing site and deviantArt make it easy for users to give their work Creative Commons licenses, so they are often the easiest places to find images licensed to share.

All versions of my GNU year card are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) License.  If you’re interested in finding out what free culture is out there, I’ve been growing a list of Free Culture resources (in the right sidebar).    And if you have some spare cash left over from last year, please consider making a donation to the two non-profit organizations that have been instrumental in ensuring the continued existence of free software and free culture:

The Free Software Foundation and Creative Commons

And have a Happy GNU Year!

Owning A Copy Does Not Confer Copyright

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Photograph
William Lyon Mackenzie King and friend on railway platform, Montreal, QC, about 1930
Anonyme – Anonymous
About 1930, 20th century
Silver salts on glass – Gelatin dry plate process
12 x 17 cm
Purchase from Napoleon Antiques
MP-1978.107.216
© McCord Museum



An anonymous person took this vintage photograph, which found its way to Napoleon Antiques.

Because one of the subjects of the photograph was a Canadian Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, the photograph has some instrinsic value. It certainly isn’t a Karsh portrait, but either the photographer or the person who commissioned the photograph would be the copyright holder under Canadian law.

The fact we don’t know who that was makes this an “orphan work”.

When this photograph was sold to the McCord Museum, the antique shop had the right to sell the physical property of the photograph, but did not own the copyright.

The fact that the photograph wound up in an antique shop suggests an estate sale, so there is reason to believe the work may be in the public domain. 1930 was over eighty years ago, after all.

Clearly, though, Napoleon Antiques would have bought the physical photograph. The name of the photographer would most certainly been known had there been an assignment of copyright. And in 1930, Canadian copyright terms were much shorter than they are now.

Wikipedia tells us that the Canadian copyright term:

“For anonymous works, 50 years from publication
or 75 years from creation,
whichever is shorter.”

So how does the McCord Museum come to own copyright in this work? Clearly a photograph taken by an anonymous photographer in 1930 would be in the public domain now, so the McCord Museum can’t own the copyright.

If owning a physical copy of a work conferred copyright, well, anyone who bought a CD would be able to take down the recording artist’s MySpace page…

I really don’t have any problem with McCord, or any museum, educational facility or even private individual selling copies of historic works that they physically possess. This is an acceptable business model. But I do take issue when they lay claim to copyright of public domain images.

Because work in the public domain belongs to all of us. As our history belongs to all of us.

If McCord actually owned the copyright in these works, then placing a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada (CC BY-NC-ND 2.5) would be reasonable, perhaps even generous.

But the museum does not own the intellectual property in this work. Since the image is in the public domain, placing such a notice is horrendously and unreasonably restrictive, and the McCord has absolutely no legal or moral right to impose such restrictions.

Worse, this is actually a case of copyfraud. I don’t think that is the McCord’s intent, considering that its founder:

“David Ross McCord wanted to make history accessible to all. His dream has become the McCord’s mission – a mission whose importance is reaffirmed each year by thousands of visitors.”

McCord Museum: A Museum for all Montrealers

Locking up our history in copyright, preventing us from using historic works — works in the public domain — whether to create derivative works, or even commercially, is the very antithesis of making history “accessible to all”.

I don’t think David Ross McCord would approve, do you?

Jamendo … music makes my soul dance

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Allison Crowe photo by Adrian du Plessis

Canadian Singer/Songwriter Allison Crowe

Jamendo gives us back the ability to discover music through sharing.

Because everything on Jamendo is Creative Commons licenced.

I’m emailing my nominations for the Jamendo Awards, but I thought I’d share them with you too. I don’t think this music is every bit as good as what you would hear on the radio.

It’s better. :D

My Jamendo Awards Nominations

Allison Crowe (pop)

ALÓ DJANGO (world)

Distimia (España) (Instrumental)

Revolution Void (Electro)

Josh Woodward (rock)

The James Quintet (urban)

i am this (experimental)



Because the music on the radio all started sounding the same.

Can you differentiate between Justin Bieber and Brittney? I can’t. That’s why I stopped listening to the radio.

So for a long time I was only listened to my vinyl, cassettes and CDs. My only possible introduction to any new music was been what I hear at venues like the Beaches Jazz Festival or Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festivals. If I like it, I buy the CDs the artists are selling.

But I found Jamendo just when my record player pooched and I’d worn out Paul Simon and Huey Lewis cassettes.

Since I’m a wee bit older than the average university student, I had to research what was currently hot for my novel, “Inconstant Moon.” and frankly the only new mainstream music that I could find worth listening to is Black Eyed Peas. The E.N.D. is the only Big Six CD I’ve bought in years.

In the normal course of events, it takes hunting and sampling to find the music that resonates with me. I’m not about to stop listening to the old music I’ve grown to love, but I find it far easier to find great new music on Jamendo than on the radio.

More than any other single source I am aware of, Jamendo is the source for music that can be freely downloaded for personal use.

Which means that, since discovering their website, I have been able to discover new music again. And I know full well that I have barely scratched the surface of what awaits me on Jamendo. That’s why I love Jamendo, even though technical difficulties have sometimes prevented access, or as now, voting in their contest.

It’s crazy. At a time when the technical barriers to people being able to share culture are at an unprecedented low, and the large distributors that have been milking and funneling culture into homogeneity have been seeking to prevent it with copyright law.

Yay Jamendo.



Image Credit:

Allison Crowe by Adrian22 at en.wikipedia
under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License (cc by-sa)



Politicians: Publicity Photos need a CC License

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Copyright symbol with a Maple Leaf embeddedCitizen journalism is on the rise and playing a much larger role in the political arena.

As a blogger, I make use of images in all of my blogs. But when i can’t take my own, I look for photos online. But © copyright, all rights reserved means I can’t use an image. And Canadian copyright law makes every photograph copyright © all rights reserved as the default.

Both Google and Flickr offer an Advanced Image Search option. When looking for images to use in my blog, I choose to search “labelled for reuse.” I can tell you right now that Google returned zero labeled for reuse image results for the incumbent in my riding.

[I would have screen captured the Google page to show you here, except that I can’t, because the page is “protected by copyright”copyright. Isn’t copyright fun?]

Canadians can’t even use images included on Government of Canada web pages paid for with our tax dollars because they are protected by Crown Copyright. And if you haven’t heard, CBC does the same thing. They don’t allow citizens to reproduce anything from their website, even when it is of a non-profit public service nature.

blogger legality

That makes it copyright infringement to reproduce the photo without permission. As a blogger, I don’t have time to ask, so it is easier for me not to not use photos unless they are licensed for re-use, rather than risk legal ramifications (EFF calls that the chilling effect). So people who want to include your photo – and provide you with needed publicity – won’t.

The flip side is that when you are in public life, total strangers can legally take your photograph and publish it without your permission. So what is likely to happen is that unflattering images will appear on flickr or WikiMedia Commons that are licensed for reuse. Unflattering images make attack ads possible.

Permission

Privately granted permission can easily be withdrawn, disavowed or legally challenged. Most bloggers don’t have legal departments, nor pockets deep enough to risk spending the rest of our lives in court arguing this.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia is not an advertising medium, which means that famous people or political parties can’t make their own (presumably biased) pages.

One photographer who takes photographs of politicians to include in Wikipedia explained how he was forced to include an incredibly unflattering photograph of a highly placed Canadian politician in Wikipedia page. He had never been able to get a good picture of the man, and an unflattering photograph is better than none.

Which is an excellent reason for famous people or political parties to license images they can live with for reuse. You can post licensed images anywhere online, on your website, blog, even as an Identi.ca avatar, or on a free Flickr page.

If you don’t, someone else will.

Creative commons double c enclosed in a circle, with black text at right reading Creative Commons and in red dot CA

Creative Commons

There are other ways of licensing to get around the over-stringent copyright law we have today, but the one I know about is Creative Commons on licenses. I’ve blogged a bit about it in CC is for Creator’s choice.

Creative Commons Zero or Public Domain logo

The photographer owns the © copyright, and can license a good image through on the Creative Commons license choosing page.

For the widest possible dissemination of any information, the best license is CC0.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

April 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm

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