Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

We've posted a summary of the Creative Commons Board Meeting held 13-14 of December, 2008 on the CC Wiki. Highlights included the CC Network, progress with the Free Software Foundation with respect to CC and the GFDL, CC0, integration with additional tools such as Picasa, the "Defining Noncommercial" study, partnership with the Eurasian Foundation, the fall fund-raising campaign, website updates, updates from Science Commons and ccLearn and the launch of four new jurisdictions - Romania, Hong Kong, Guatemala and Singapore.

As video footage and video remix become one of the primary forms of conveying and discussing political issues, we find that video is less permissive than text with respect to copyright. In other words, with text we are accustomed to and legally permitted to quote, annotate and share each other's words in political dialog. However, we find that in the case of video often presidential debates, war footage and many other things that we would like to use in political videos, are protected by copyright. Video has traditionally been treated more as "content".

In the case of video journalism, this "content" falls between the cracks. There is a great article by Rebecca MacKinnon, former Bureau Chief of CNN Japan, about how the focus of CNN changed from journalism to money-making "content" as it shifted from the leadership of Ted Turner to Time Warner.

I believe in amateur journalism and even amateur video journalism. I think projects like The Hub that we are doing at WITNESS are very important. On the other hand, there will always be a role for professional journalism, especially when it comes to wars, corruption and politics because of the cost of deploying and defending, both physically and legally, the journalists sent in to get the stories.

There is a famous moment in video journalism when the Gennifer Flowers scandal was breaking. The heads of the big news networks at the time decided not to run the story. They controlled how and when news broke. However, CNN had started distributing their full news feeds to local news stations allowing local news to edit their own news. Some local networks decided to run the story that they found in the unedited news feeds from CNN and the next day all of the networks opened with the story. See Steven Johnson's Emergence for a good account of this episode.

I think that news networks making their footage available to the public is the next step in this decentralization and the participation of the public in the global dialog. I'm very thankful to Al Jazeera for taking the first step in what I hope will be a more common practice of news agencies making their material available for reuse and remix.

Al Jazeera Launches Creative Commons Repository


Al Jazeera is releasing 12 broadcast quality videos today shot in Gaza under Creative Commons' least restrictive Attribution license. Each professionally recorded video has a detailed information page and is hosted on blip.tv allowing for easy downloads of the original files and integration into Miro. The value of this footage is best described by an International Herald Tribune/New York Times article describing the release:

In a conflict where the Western news media have been largely prevented from reporting from Gaza because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli military, Al Jazeera has had a distinct advantage. It was already there.

More importantly, the permissive CC-BY license means that the footage can be used by anyone including, rival broadcasters, documentary makers, and bloggers, so long as Al Jazeera is credited.

There's more information over at Al Jazeera's CC repository, and in our press release. You can also add the Al Jazeera repository to your Miro feeds by clicking here.

Larry was on the Cobert show. Great job Larry.

Sam did the first remix of my Colbert appearance.

Jim Vanaria did another.

This is the first video remix I've seen.

Here's a remix from the Eclectic Method Mix.

And the audio to the show is available to be remixed on ccMixter here.

Colbert says (or more accurately, "says") you can't remix this. I say please do.

Very cool update on the CC licensed CD from Nine Inch Nails on the CC Blog.

Creative Commons Blog


NIN's CC-Licensed Best-Selling MP3 Album

Fred Benenson, January 5th, 2009

NIN Best Selling MP3 Album

NIN's Creative Commons licensed Ghosts I-IV has been making lots of headlines these days.

First, there's the critical acclaim and two Grammy nominations, which testify to the work's strength as a musical piece. But what has got us really excited is how well the album has done with music fans. Aside from generating over $1.6 million in revenue for NIN in its first week, and hitting #1 on Billboard's Electronic charts, Last.fm has the album ranked as the 4th-most-listened to album of the year, with over 5,222,525 scrobbles.

Even more exciting, however, is that Ghosts I-IV is ranked the best selling MP3 album of 2008 on Amazon's MP3 store.

Take a moment and think about that.

NIN fans could have gone to any file sharing network to download the entire CC-BY-NC-SA album legally. Many did, and thousands will continue to do so. So why would fans bother buying files that were identical to the ones on the file sharing networks? One explanation is the convenience and ease of use of NIN and Amazon's MP3 stores. But another is that fans understood that purchasing MP3s would directly support the music and career of a musician they liked.

The next time someone tries to convince you that releasing music under CC will cannibalize digital sales, remember that Ghosts I-IV broke that rule, and point them here.

As of December 30, 2008, I am a legal resident of Dubai, UAE.

When Della Van Heyst invited me to a conference in Bahrain in 2007, I decided to go because I had never really been to the Middle East and realized that I needed to understand the region better if I one of my goals was to be a global citizen. The meeting was interesting and only reinforced my view that I was completely ignorant about the Middle East and Muslim culture. After Bahrain, Jay took me to Dubai where he was about to relocate to and introduced me to some people including his friend Balall.

My work at Creative Commons includes supporting the spread of Creative Commons globally. We have had success in Asia, Latin America, North America, Australia/New Zealand and Europe. While we have met some great people and are moving forward in the Middle East and Africa, these two regions continued to be difficult for us. Last year, we appointed Donatella Della Ratta as the Creative Commons person in the Middle East and Donatella along with my small (but increasing) number of Muslim friends have tried to coach me and navigate my understanding of the region.

However, I soon decided that trying to learn about the Muslim world remotely wasn't going to work. At the risk of making vast racial stereotypes, I felt that I understood most of the major cultures in the world, but the Muslim culture was one that I simply couldn't "grok" well.

As with most of my important decisions in life, I decided to jump in feet first based on my intuition and spend much more time in the region by moving my home base to Dubai. After considering various ideas, I decided that Dubai was a fairly safe, liberal and convenient location from where I could operate. While it is wildly different in many ways than anywhere else I've been, basic infrastructure such as medical facilities, airline travel and banking seemed to work and there appeared to be a critical mass of friends who could help me assimilate. Also, as part of my mission to fill in my gaping blind spots, Dubai seemed to make Africa a bit closer as well.

As someone who doesn't spend "the majority" of my time in any place except in airplanes, "moving to Dubai" basically means setting up a residence and shipping most of my "stuff" here. My main business is investing in early stage consumer Internet companies all over the world and my main non-profit work is Creative Commons, which are both global. I intend to spend my "spare" time here (except maybe in the hot summers) working on my academic work and learning Arabic. Keio University is trying to develop relationships here and in the region and I'll do my best to support these efforts as well.

While there are some very interesting people in Dubai and I'm slowly meeting many of them, I think that a great deal of my work in the region will be in other Arab countries and Africa. Dubai will be sort of my hub and I will explore from here.

Mizuka's mother and our extended family in Chiba will hold down the fort in Japan and Mizuka will probably spit her time between Japan and Dubai. I will continue to spend a fairly large chunk of my time in Japan, US and Europe.

Finally, I want to thank Jay, Renu, Ballal and Nazia all of their help in my ongoing transition to Dubai. I also want to thank Ambassador Hatano and Maria for providing me with a lot of context and support in connecting with the academic community here.

There are still many things in the air and I haven't really "turned off" any commitments that I have elsewhere so I don't expect my behavior our profile to change too drastically to the casual observer, but I can already feel some interesting changes as I start calling Dubai my home.

Note: I realize that I use Muslim an Middle East interchangeably and that there are many other faiths in the region. However, I spent my life growing up most non-Muslim faiths so the Muslim part makes up the biggest chunk of my ignorance.