Context and background information
A community-led process to revitalize and grow the CC network
Creative Commons was established in 2001 as a US-based charity. It developed a set of licences built upon the copyright system, to allow both content creators and users a standardized, easy, and free legal way of sharing and using creative content in the digital context.
Shortly after the organization’s inception, founder Lawrence Lessig created a global network made up of a group of affiliates, most of whom had the legal expertise to translate and adapt (“port”) the licenses and make them legally applicable in all jurisdictions. Formal projects were launched in countries with an expressed interest in contributing, framed as collaborations between the CC organization (CC HQ), and a local institutional partner (affiliate). The legal porting of the licenses required lawyers with expertise in local laws and policy, so the affiliate model was built upon direct relationships between these people and their organizations and CC HQ, including a formal signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). These experts were dubbed Legal Leads. Additionally, some MoUs were granted to those engaging in other activities, but without any organized program goals or structures with HQ or the network. These individuals were not lawyers, and were called public leads. With this structure, CC was able to go global, and reach billions of new users in their own legal contexts and local languages.
Over the years the CC community grew and changed, driven by two important factors: first, the affiliate network started to draw interest and contributions from other communities and professional sectors that didn’t have any legal expertise and adoption of the ported licenses but were interested in free culture, open content, policy-making, open data, and more. And second, in December of 2011, an internationalization process for the license suite was launched as part of the 4.0 versioning. As a result of internationalization — establishing one version of the licenses for the entire world — legal porting of the licenses was no longer necessary. Now adaptation of the 4.0 license suite requires only a translation and basic legal review. This fundamentally changed the role that the local jurisdiction organizations were originally meant to play.
In addition, the institutional structure that was developed for porting licences constrained the growth of the network because there was no clear way to expand and add new members to the affiliates. Only occasionally, and with the consent of an existing affiliate, were new members added to a country team. Around the world, country teams were generally made up of a public and legal lead, with no way to empower additional new members or clear way to officially join the CC community. Unfortunately, that meant that some enthusiastic contributors fell by the wayside, or were turned away. Within the network, the CC movement had few discussions on common mission and strategy, or management and cooperation issues. Today, the legal porting of the licenses — the glue that bound an important part of the community together — is absent. Meanwhile, teams in the network started working on other issues, like copyright reform, that went beyond the original scope of the MoU agreements.
As the network expanded its focus beyond porting, CC HQ expanded and changed its focus as well. Among other things, it started working in areas of open education and open policy. Despite the restrictive agreement and structures, CC HQ frequently interacted with affiliate teams on these projects, but the work being done was developed independently. So even if both CC HQ and the network were working on overlapping areas, efforts were often not coordinated. In 2015, CC HQ articulated a new strategy that identified collaboration, advocacy and strengthening community as a new focus of its work, in addition to stewardship of the licenses. This was done in response to calls from community members, and has helped pave the way for a new relationship. This creates an important opportunity for the network.
All of these changes now need to be addressed. The 2015 CC Summit in Seoul, South Korea, was a turning point in this direction. A group of affiliates organized the “Day Zero” workshop to take place immediately prior to the Summit to discuss the state of our network and its future. This was the first time the network had such a discussion and the consensus from both affiliates and CC HQ was that the current network model was hindering growth and restricting the CC movement from achieving its collective aspirations.
As a result of the workshop in Seoul, participants planned a strategic process to address the network’s transformation and created a Network Strategy Steering Committee to lead it. Participation in the Committee was open to all current affiliates of the network, and approximately 20 people (from all continents) volunteered to join. The Committee is co-chaired by a member of the network (Alek Tarkovski, Poland), and CC HQ’s CEO (Ryan Merkley, Canada). The committee was responsible for identifying issues and opportunities, defining areas of inquiry and further research, developing insights and proposing models for discussion. They met in person twice in 2016, and worked online over shared documents and in online chat. They worked together to collectively wrote this proposal.
This process is an opportunity to shape the CC network in a way that’s most beneficial to our community and movement. We are committed to making it as inclusive as possible, and hope that everyone feels encouraged and excited about participating in the process by sharing opinions, suggestions and concerns about what we believe we can and should develop for our common future: the Creative Commons Global Network.
The Global Network Strategy Steering Committee
Members of the Global Network Strategy Steering Committee include Carolina Botero (Colombia), Claudia Cristiani (El Salvador), Claudio Ruiz (Chile, RC), Delia Browne (Australia), Kelsey Wiens (Canada, South Africa), Muid Latif (Malaysia), Naeema Zarif (Turkey, Lebanon, RC – member of the Committee until November 14th), Nic Suzor (Australia), Paul Keller (Netherlands, CC Board), Evelin Heidel (Argentina), Simeon Oriko (Kenya), Soohyun Pae (South Korea, RC), and the Committee’s co-chairs Alek Tarkowski (Poland) and Ryan Merkley (Canada, HQ).
Facilitation was provided for in-person meetings in Berlin and Washington, DC by Kamil Śliwowski (Poland) and Paul Stacey (Canada, HQ). Jono Bacon (US) provided advice regarding networks and collaboration in open source movements, and Anna Mazgal (Poland) coordinated the “Faces of the Commons” global research.
Process, inputs, and outcomes
The goal of the Steering Committee (SC) for this stage of the process is to review the current state of the network and to propose a new model for it. The intention is to create a strong proposal that will engender discussion and lead to a final recommended proposal that the community will support. It still requires input, insights, and advice from more stakeholders.
The committee members worked virtually through calls and collaborative documents and met together in person twice — in Washington DC in May and in Berlin in November 2016.
To review the current state of the network, the committee commissioned independent research dubbed the Faces of the Commons to obtain evidence-based information. This research took place in six different regions where CC has presence (Africa, Arab World, South America, Central America, Asia-Pacific and Europe). The global and regional reports can be found here. The regional and global reports were used as input and the insights were influential for the Steering Committee, and they are worth investing the time to read for background. Some of the recommendations regarding translation and support for the network have already been considered and implemented by CC HQ.
In developing and proposing the new model, several activities were carried out, including reviewing strategies and structures that work (and don’t) for other organizations that operate globally, and receiving input from experts specially commissioned to help with the process.
The outcome of these activities is this Global Network Strategy proposal designed by the network, for the network, for comment and review by current affiliates and potential new members of the network. The review and consultation period is scheduled to take place from January to mid-March 2017. The Steering Committee will revise the proposal based on feedback, and bring the final recommended proposal to the CC Summit in Toronto at the end of April, where current CC affiliates and members of our wider community will approve the new strategy and begin its implementation.
A new network designed by the network
While defining the Creative Commons Global Network (CCGN), we have considered four major ideas or issues that provide what we believe are the necessary elements that will make the CCGN successful and the CC movement a stronger and more empowered community.
Shared ideals. The CCGN defines a vision, mission, values, and guiding principles that will enable us to build our future as a community and work together based on common ground.
A new affiliation mechanism. The CCGN is built on individual membership rather than teams that depend on a local organization or institution that assumes a formal relationship with CC HQ. Members connect and organize as national teams but also work internationally. We envision a community of peers – people, organizations, and institutions – who share values, work towards common goals and are responsible, as individual members of the community, for the CCGN’s maintenance and development, with the support and participation of CC HQ.
A new structure to working together. The platform framework we propose will hopefully allow more successful, direct, and stronger relationships and collaboration among members within the formal CCGN structure and across the broader CC movement, based on our interests, goals, and needs.
Empowering diverse participation. The CCGN provides a framework and governance structure that fundamentally seeks to enable and ensure participation of everyone in the network, regardless of where we live, what language we speak, what our particular capacities are, or what local circumstances we need to work with.
Finally, it is important to note this process constitutes a substantial investment of time and energy on behalf of CC HQ, and many community members, to clarify and define key issues related to the network’s relationship to CC HQ, including channels of communication and governance structures that will better serve the network and acknowledge the value of CC as a global community.
We need your input: Join in!
This is not the final proposal. It requires review, comments, and suggestions. Consultation will take place from mid-January to mid-March 2017. Ideas are welcome from current affiliates, partners, supporters, and more — we want to hear from our current network, but also from those who might join us in a new expanded model. We’ve established several ways of engaging in the process, in multiple languages to facilitate more participation.
You can find the master document here where you can make comments. If you prefer, you can send your comments by filling in this form [English, Spanish, French, Arabic].
The members of the Steering Committee will be holding online sessions and webinars where you can participate and provide your input orally. Please check the consultation page to find a session you can attend in your language when possible, where a member of the SC or facilitator will be present to help explain the process, the documents, and receive your input.
If you have an event happening in your country and you’d like to organize a meeting with an affiliate team or potential new members of the network, please contact the CC Network Manager, Simeon Oriko, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any further questions, join the discussion with the Steering Committee through this CC Slack channel #network-consultation, or email Simeon at email@example.com.