BY MATT MCGREGOR
Over the last few years, we at Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand have been thinking about an obvious but difficult question: what does a successful Creative Commons affiliate look like? This question has two interrelated parts. First, how should we structure ourselves? Second, what are our priorities? What are our goals? What should we do?
It sometimes seems like every CC affiliate has taken a different answer to that first question, which is hardly a surprise, given the diversity of the global affiliate community. Some affiliates are part of larger NGOs or thinktanks; some are located in faculties of law; others are more or less independent entities. Some larger countries, like Canada and India, have multiple affiliates, which share a range of legal and advocacy projects.
Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand has always been part of a larger NGO, though over the last year we’ve been slowly moving towards greater independence. In July, we left our long term host, the Royal Society of New Zealand, who had provided everything from office space to accounting, governance and managerial support.
In moving to our new host, the wonderful Open Education Resources Foundation, our advisory board and staff took on more responsibility, in return for greater control over our budget and leaner decision making processes. Simply put, we chose this new structure because it enabled us to do much more with our limited resources.
This brings me to the second question: as part of this move to greater independence, we also started rethinking what we do, day-to-day. The first thing we did, in late 2013, was move away from the breakdown of projects we’d borrowed from CCHQ. We decided that the four headings – ‘Culture’, ‘Science’, ‘Government’, and ‘Education’ – were too vague and broad to adequately represent our work.
‘Culture,’ for example, encompasses GLAM, creative arts and indigenous knowledge, which are three distinct projects. The same was true of education, which encompassed both our schools OER project and our OER project in the tertiary education sector — which actually have relatively little to do with each other. Finally, the former literature teacher in me bristled that ‘Science’ was being used as a shorthand for ‘open access to scholarly publishing.’ As a result, we ditched ‘Science’ for ‘Open Access to Research’, and created a new project area for ‘Open Data.’
At the end of the process, we had created eight new project areas – replacing the original four – which you can see on the front page of our website. For each of these projects, we developed an introduction and brought together a growing range of resources. We also developed a series of overarching goals (which we shared in our roadmap), and we are currently developing a detailed workplan, which will outline how these goals will be achieved
In general, these goals centre on CCANZ assisting a range of public-sector organisations with open policy adoption and implementation, with a particular focus on the heritage, research and schools sectors. Our workplan focuses on providing a heap of in-person workshops and resources, including targeted policy toolkits, brochures, posters and discussion pieces from the CC community – which we have started to publish on our new sister site, NZCommons.
With this focus on open policy, we seem to be moving in the same direction as many other CC affiliates and NGOs (as the establishment of the Open Policy Network suggests). While we still support licence adoption in the creative sector, and still support sensible copyright reform, open policy advocacy has become the clearest path for a small NGO like CCANZ to contribute to lasting social change.
Our success will largely depend on the growing number of volunteers and champions in and around our public institutions willing to advocate for open licensing to their colleagues, managers, clients and boards. A key part of our job – and one of the reasons we provide workshops and produce resources – will be to support the work these champions are doing to grow the commons.