I’ve been scouring the blogosphere and news sources for other writeups about this, but so far haven’t spotted a single posting. And there’s not a word about this on the Creative Commons site.
So I’ll relate what I jotted down last night at Creative Commons’ fifth birthday party at Terra Gallery in San Francisco with no guarantee that it’s 100% accurate. (If you have an additional details, feel free to leave a comment.)
I’ve been worried about Creative Commons’ viability for the past year or so, given that nonprofit law requires new revenue sources after a certain period of time. Founder Lawrence Lessig (still on Ourmedia‘s Advisory Board) took to the stage with perhaps 400 well-wishers millling noisily around and gave a half-hour presentation about Creative Commons’ fund-raising efforts and the launch of two licenses.
$13 million raised
A while back, the Hewlett Foundation agreed to kick in $500,00 per year over 5 years if Creative Commons could find four other outfits to pledge the same amount. Lessig related the deadline drama:
The Omidyar Network agreed.
So did a "secret entity" from Europe that declined to disclose its identity.
Next, a consortium consisting of Mozilla, Google and Red Hat.
Saturday, the fifth actor fell through, leaving all the pledges in jeopardy, for Hewlett made Dec. 15 a hard and fast deadline.
So, yesterday the board members of Creative Commons — I believe consisting of Lessig; Joi Ito; cyberlaw experts James Boyle, Michael Carroll and Molly Shaffer Van
Houweling; public domain web publisher Eric Eldred; filmmaker Davis
Guggenheim; MIT computer science professor Hal Abelson — individually pledged the $2.5 million over 5 years, through a combination of future fund-raising and personal donations, saving the entire enterprise. Wow. Talk about last-minute dramatics.
Individuals also have kicked in more than $530,000 so far during the current fund-raising cycle. (There was also talk of another $12.5 million, bringing the total to $25 million, but I didn’t understand what that was a reference to.)
Two new licenses
Lessig also unveiled two new licenses, though they’re not live yet.
The upcoming CC Zero license appears identical to the public domain. "It means no law applies," said Lessig. The license carries the additional benefit that it will be machine readable and thus more easily discoverable.
The new CC Plus is the one I’ve been waiting for and will be using extensively. It provides a simple way to obtain additional rights online. Say you designate your video or photo with a Creative Commons By-NC license and a commercial outfit spots it and wants to use it. They’ll be able to click through and learn of the pricing and restrictions you specified in a metadata template (microformat) that the work carries. A few of the sites that are set up to begin using the CC Plus license are Pump Audio, Jamendo, Magnatune and Blip.tv.
Lessig also hinted that Trent Reznor and Nine-Inch Nails, one of the bands that have been at the forefront of encouraging remix creativity,
will be using Creative Commons licenses in some of their next works.
Joseph Siino, senior vice president for global intellectual property and business strategy for Yahoo!, briefly took the stage and announced a new set of Creative Commons capabilities we’ll be seeing on Yahoo! soon.
Other sites Lessig mentioned during his presentation:
Public Library of Science
The Web Virtual Library at Publicresource.org
The night ended with the great Gilberto Gil — longtime musician, Brazil’s Minister of Culture and a Creative Commons supporter — taking the stage with his son, Bem, and performing an acoustic set. (Couldn’t stay for DJ Spooky’s after-midnight set.)
I have photos, but I lost my Canon Digital Rebel XT at the BART station on the way home.
Update: Larry Lessig updates us on the latest events at Creative Commons.