Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, University of New South Wales
Unlocking IP  |  About this blog  |  Contact us  |  Disclaimer  |  Copyright & licencsing  |  Privacy

Friday, June 13, 2008


Creative Commons Australia version 3 Licences - Open for Comment

I realise that the majority of readers aren't licensing nerds like myself (or perhaps you are, it would make sense to be on this blog if you are), but in recent news Creative Commons Australia has just released drafts of the forthcoming v3.0 licences. Two drafts are available for comment, the Attribition and Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licences.

On the CCau website it is stated that:
Getting everyone's feedback on the v3.0 licences is particularly important
because we've decided to depart slightly from our traditional drafting approach.
Rather than writing the licences as a straight translation from the Unported (ie non-country specific) licences provided by Creative Commons International, we've instead decided to base them on the excellent licences produced last year by our friends in New Zealand, which they in turn based on the England and Wales licences. The great thing about these licences is that they're written in plain English rather than legalese - which means they're much easier for non-lawyers to understand.

Comments are requested by 1 August 2008, to either or the CCau mailing list. I imagine that myself and my colleagues on the 'Unlocking IP' project will submit comments on the new licences, and we'll cross post any comments here at the House of Commons too.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, June 12, 2008


iTunes U: Enemy of Open Content?

[This is a guest post, written by Roger Clarke - - Sophia]

Some months ago, I participated in a public panel session run by a
university department. It was video-recorded. The university
requested from all participants a copyright release for
"non-commercial educational purposes - for example, a teaching
resource for undergraduate and postgraduate students, and public
access to short excerpts via our web site". All participants signed
that release. So far so good.

Today, I was approached by the university in question to sign a much
more substantial 'Presenter's Deed of Consent'. It included "a
non-exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, irrevocable, and perpetual
licence to Exploit", including right to sub-licence. There was no
mention of constraint to non-commercial uses only, i.e. it authorises
commercial uses. (Added to that, "The Presenter is not entitled to
claim a fee or royalty for the use of the Recording by the University
or its sub-licensees").

The reason for this dreadful, old-fashioned proprietorial form of
consent transpired to be that the University is participating in the
about-to-be-launched iTunes U Oz version.

iTunes is an Apple product and service to provide paid access to
music, etc. iTunes U is an extension that enables universities to
put material up on that site:

Again, so far so good, because multiple channels for discovery of and
access to content is a good thing.

Here comes the rub.

The iTunes conditions appear to preclude the University from making
material placed on iTunes U subject to an open content licence. It
appears that the conditions apply not only to the version available
through iTunes, but also to versions available through other channels.

(Note: I briefly looked on the iTunes site for information on the
conditions and licences, but had little success).

That would mean that anything that a university makes available
through iTunes is locked-down and proprietised. And the new breed of
profit-oriented universities will find that just too tempting, and
will seek to 'extract rents' as economists are wont to say, or
'charge serious money' as the rest of us do.

Unless and until the iTunes U conditions are found to be different
from what I fear (or they are changed), content-producers who want
their materials to be openly available need to refuse permission for
them to be made available through that channel.

Dr Roger Clarke

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 19, 2008


National Library of Australia's web data

The National Library of Australia has been crawling the Australian web (defining the Australian web is of course an issue in itself). I'm going to be running some quantification analysis over at least some of this crawl (actually plural, crawls - there is a 2005 crawl, a 2006 crawl and a 2007 crawl), probably starting with a small part of the crawl and then scaling up.

Possible outcomes from this include:
They're all interesting. I'll blog a bit about the technology, but in a separate post.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, October 19, 2007


Australian Elections 2.0?

The Australian public is going to the polls on 24th November to elect members of our Federal Parliament (the one that sits in Canberra, is currently led by John Howard, and is constantly under siege from members of The Chaser's War on Everything). The calling of the election was a long time coming. Even though we knew that an election would have to take place soon (so says the Constitution), Prime Minister John Howard took his time in announcing the exact date. But now, in the words of one Federal House of Representatives candidate, it's "game on". A normal part of an election process, particularly at such a high level of government, is the holding of debates between party leaders. In Australia, debate is already under way as to who, when, and how these debates should take place.

House of Commons friend and ANU academic Dr. Matthew Rimmer has called for Australia to follow the lead of US Democrats presidential candidate hopeful Barack Obama and allow these debates to be made "freely accessible across all media and technology platforms" (See the ANU Press Release here). In the United States, Obama suggested that the US Democrat debates be either placed in the public domain or licensed under a Creative Commons licence.

Dr Rimmer has said that

"Whichever television networks or internet media end up broadcasting the federal
election debates, it’s important to the health of our democracy that people are
free to capture and distribute the dialogue of our prospective leaders so that
they can make a more informed decision."
The House of Commons strongly supports Dr. Rimmer's suggestion. It is an unusual one in an Australian context - in the United States, there is no copyright in works produced by the US government and thus there is at least a precedent for this type of action. There is also the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech, which arguably means that this type of content gains even greater significance. However, there has been a shift in this campaign to Australian political parties embracing all that the digital revolution has to offer (just type 'Kevin07' into Google, for example). A pledge by the parties to make debate materials freely available and accessible via sites such as YouTube would be both a positive and definite step for Australian democracy in the digital age.

The logisitics of such a proposition has also caused much discussion amongst House of Commons housemates. Housemate Ben writes:
"I think election debates should belong to the commons, at least insofar as
complete reproduction is concerned. However, I do see that there are good
reasons not to allow modifications, because they could be used to spread
disinformation at such a crucial time. For these reasons, a licence such as
Creative Commons No Derivatives would be appropriate (as opposed to, say, a
public domain dedication). It's also worth noting that, even under such a
licence, derivatives could be made for the purpose of satire (correct me if I'm
wrong here!), and that could perhaps be both a good and a bad thing (I'm not
sure to what extent you could use the satire exception to spread
In response, Housemate Abi has agreed (and I concur) that the parody or satire fair dealing exception in the Copyright Act could probably be used to create parodies, although there issue regarding modifications may need to be addressed.

For more information on Dr. Rimmer's proposal, the ANU Press Release can be found here.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 19, 2007


The Rise and Rise of Wikipedia, Open Content and Open Source

A little while ago I made a promise that I would try to restrict my blogging about Wikipedia (see that here), but looking at the April 2007 edition of the online refereed journal First Monday, I felt compelled to blog. The articles in this edition of First Monday focus on a lot of issues that we discuss here at the House of Commons (and, more generally, as part of the Unlocking IP project). Here's a summary:

Wikipedia: Different aspects of Wikipedia are considered in three articles. Dennis Wilkinson and Bernando Huberman assess the value of cooperation in Wikipedia here; Anselm Spoerri has created a qualitative study on the 100 most visited Wikipedia pages between September 2006 - January 2007 here; and Spoerri also asks, in a separate article here, what is popular on Wikipedia and why?

Open Access/Content/Source: Four articles address different aspects of the "open" revolution. After my discussion last week on open source cinema (and Snakes on a Plane!) I found Stefan Gorling's article Open Source Athletes particularly interesting - see that here. Peter Kaufman looks at open content, education and videos here; Paul Stacey look at open educational resources in a global context here ; and finally, Anna Winterbottom and James North combine a lot of issues, discussing the creation of an open access African repository based on Web 2.0 principles here.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, April 02, 2007


"Creating Commons": SCRIPT-ed Special Issue

The House of Commons is very pleased to announce that a special issue of the University of Edinburgh's online, open access law and technology journal, SCRIPT-ed, has just been released, featuring articles from the 2006 Unlocking IP "Creating Commons" conference that was held here at the University of New South Wales. The special issue can be found here.

A big "thank you" must go to the SCRIPT-ed team for their hard work in putting this journal edition together!

(Note: Don't miss out on "Finding and Quantifying Australia’s Online Commons" and "Simplification and Consistency in Australian Public Rights Licences" written by housemates Ben and Catherine and included in this special issue!! -- Abi)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Citizendium v. Wikipedia

[This is a guest post, written by Roger Clarke. -- Ben]

Wikipedia is the most prominent of the new-age collaborative information sources. But even its champions acknowledge that there are challenges, and choices to be made.

Larry Sanger, one of Wikipedia's co-founders, has long been dissatisfied with some aspects of its management. He announced on 17 October 2006 his intention to spawn a fork, or republished version, of Wikipedia that is intended to progressively develop higher-quality, more reliable articles.

Sanger envisages the core difference about Citizendium as being a set of editors, with interleaved scope, who will take responsibility for approving articles and amendments to articles. There will be rules that are rather less loose than Wikipedia's (e.g. contributors must declare their 'real names' - whatever that means), 'constables' who will enforce the rules, and a process for appointing and controlling editors and constables. Sanger intends that the appointment process will have collaborative features, but the proposal at this stage is sketchy.

The essence of the debate is whether and how to quality-assure the content of collaborative information sources. The orthodoxy within the open movement is the 'many eyes' principle: errors will come to attention and be addressed, because of the sheer volume of people who are looking and who are empowered to do something about them. The risk of pollution is high, and anarchy looms; but believers say it can be avoided.

Some people are nervous about pollution and anarchy, and uncomfortable with constructive looseness. They prefer layers of controls, and trust in a few rather than trust in the 'great unwashed hordes'. They point to the increasing incidence of Wikipedia pages being frozen for short periods, to let tempers cool. (As this was being written, the Wikipedia entry for 'Wikipedia' was locked, with the explanation "Because of recent vandalism or other disruption, editing of this article by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled. Such users may discuss changes, request unprotection, or create an account.").

The distinctions between the two approaches might be seen this way:

QA Principle'Many eyes''A few good men'
QA StyleOpen collaboration among manyAn inner clique of guardians, possibly self-perpetuating
QA ProcessInformal review, by genuine 'peers' as in 'equals'Formal review, by an approved set of 'peers' as in 'peers of the realm'?
Editorial StyleSelf-organising and/or AnarchicHierarchical command and control, but with a collaborative appointment process?

There are many aspects of Citizendium that cast doubt on its ability to survive any longer than its predecessor Nupedia, let alone thrive. Will the elite few prove to be as energetic as the egalitarian hordes? Will the bureaucracy of editorial committees cause even the first few score pages to miss their window of opportunity? Will any of the pages ever score high enough on Google rankings to be noticed? Will the quality difference matter to people, or will the 'good enough' of Wikipedia trump the new approach, just as Microsoft's Encarta, by using some of Funk & Wagnall's middle-brow encyclopaedia, trumped Britannica? Will the inevitable re-branding as something trendier like 'Zendi' be enough to revive interest?

Ultimately, the community will vote with its feet, or consumers will determine what the market wants by paying with their clicks and eyeballs (choose your preferred metaphor). Perhaps the venture's greatest contribution will be to help us learn about quality assurance of open content.

[This was a guest post, written by Roger Clarke. It is available from Roger Clarke's website under either an AEShareNet Free for Education licence or a Creative Commons 'Some Rights Reserved' licence. -- Ben]

Labels: , ,


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?