Blog archive for July, 2009

How can IP help spread green technology?

July 31st, 2009 by Kaitlin Thaney

A recent feature in SEED Magazine asks the question: How can intellectual property – and more specifically the current patent system – spread green technology? The article, “Who Owns Green Tech?” features replies from five leading thinkers on the matter. Our own John Wilbanks was one of those panelists.

In his response, Wilbanks, VP of Science at Creative Commons, challenges the public to not view this conversation of innovation as a black and white situation, but to make room for new forms of innovation in the discussion (ie., user-driven innovation, open innovation). He also encourages conversations on how patents get licensed and used, and how standards-based approaches may allow for more open innovation.

“We can find a way to balance the incentives of corporate innovators while making sure the innovators in the developing world have the means to solve their own problems. We’ve seen similar solutions take root in cultural commerce with extraordinary results, from the existence of Wikipedia to Nine Inch Nails making millions of dollars on songs they also gave away on the internet for free,” Wilbanks said. “We can do this for patents, and we can do this for sustainability technology. But it can’t be done if the rhetoric around the conversation is consistently fueled by maximalism and confrontation.”

This idea is at the core of the GreenXchange project, a venture by Creative Commons, Nike and Best Buy to create a marketplace for invention. For more information about the project, visit the GreenXchange project page.

Tonight at the Commonwealth Club (SF)

July 28th, 2009 by Kaitlin Thaney

Commoners and digerati alike will come together tonight at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco for a vibrant discussion on the intersection of science and the Web. The event, “Making the Web Work for Science”, will be moderated by Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media, joined by panelists Stephen Friend (Sage), Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), and our own John Wilbanks (Science Commons).

The night will be dedicated to the idea of bringing Web efficiencies to scientific research – a core theme seen in our work and thinking here at Science Commons. We now have the tools and understanding to bring together open research and data on a global scale, embedded with the freedoms necessary to be able to fully utilize it. Come help us further discuss this concept with some of the top names in the Bay area tech community as well as open science advocates.

The event (currently sold out, but stay tuned) kicks off at 6 p.m. with a networking reception; the main event beginning at 6:30. A private reception will follow. Tickets are $8 for Commonwealth Club members, $15 for non-members, and $7 for students with valid ID.

Update: The video of the event is now online.

WisconsinView dedicates 6+ terabytes of data to the public domain

July 1st, 2009 by Kaitlin Thaney

As of July 1, WisconsinView, an effort to make available a variety of types of imagery for the state of Wisconsin, will make their data available in the public domain via CC0. This news was brought to us by Puneet Kishor, a Science Commons fellow.

From the press release:

“Since 2004, WisconsinView  has made aerial photography and satellite imagery of Wisconsin available to the public for free over the web. As part of the AmericaView consortium, WisconsinView supports access and use of these imagery collections through education, workforce development, and research. Starting June 30, 2009, WisconsinView is making available all of its more than 6 Terabytes of imagery data under the new CC0 Protocol provided by Creative Commons. The CC0 (pronounced CC-Zero) Protocol waives any rights in a dataset, ensuring that all of the dataset is available to anyone without encumbrance of any kind. More information on CC0 is available at, and the reasoning behind the protocol is described here. Further questions about WisconsinView may be directed to Dr. Sam Batzli, Director, WisconsinView at or Puneet Kishor, Science Commons Fellow (Geospatial Data) at”

We applaud Batzli and Kishor for their ongoing work in making information available to the public and dedicating such a rich resource to the public domain.