Al Jazeera adds Egyptian & Tunisian footage to the Creative Commons repository

Al Jazeera has just started updating the Creative Commons Al Jazeera repository which the channel created in early 2009 during the Gaza crisis. The Al Jazeera New Media team is working to update the repository with daily packages of footage coming from Egypt and Tunisia uprisings.

Having chosen the most “lenient” Creative Commons license, CC BY, Al Jazeera is  allowing anybody to take, copy, share, translate, remix, and even re-broadcast the footage for free under the only condition of attributing the original source.

This is a key move towards the circulation of information particularly during crisis, like the one currently happening in Egypt. Wired has commented the move here.

Today the Egyptian Ministry of Information prevented both Al Jazeera Arabic and English from operating within the country but the live coverage of the Egypt uprising continued thanks to mobile phones live coverage.

Since the beginning of the demonstrations, Al Jazeera Arabic and English have been covering Egypt extensively both through traditional broadcast and with an impressive online coverage on all the major social networks.

Egypt`s day of anger is Al Jazeera day, too

I have been watching Egypt`s “day of anger” today on many TV channels, English and Arabic: BBC Arabic, BBC World, Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera Arabic and English, CNN. I must admit that this time Al Jazeera English did really a great job, particularly their correspondent from Cairo Ayman Mohyeldin. Al Jazeera English live feed on the Internet has been providing constant live coverage today, even during the worst moments of Friday the 28th of January, when the police was  attacking Al Jazeera`s Cairo office and trying to stop the live broadcast. Al Jazeera Arabic and English also started tonight to release some of their Egyptian footage under a Creative Commons license, something which has been very warmly welcomed by Internet users that are in constant need of footage in these crisis situations.

On the contrary, Al Arabyia was quite “low profile” today and they even reported the totally random news that Internet had been shut down by Syrian authorities in Syria. The news is totally false, as I have been live tweeting from Syria during all Friday, as many other Syrian tweeps. Internet was very fast today  in Syria, as far as I can tell. It has never been so fast in the country since I am here, as much as it has never been raining like tonight and Damascus has never looked so quiet and gloomy as it was tonight.

picture by Paul Keller

Guest blog post on Yalla Start up: “we need to produce not only to consume”

Last month my friend Habib Haddad co-founder of Yamli asked me to write a blog post on his Yalla Start up which I did with a lot of pleasure – I love the work Habib and his friends are doing and I think their way of thinking will impact a lot on Arab new generation of entrepreneurs-. For some reasons, I totally forgot to re-publish the post which I will do right now.

I think what I wrote few months ago is still very much valid, and the more I go in depth in researching issues in the Middle East, the more I find that fostering original creation is the only way for making the Arab world switching to a pro-active culture(s) that speak(s) for itself instead of being spoken by Others.

In the age of digital media, where the actual cost of content production (whether audio, video, texts, etc) has dramatically (and luckily) fallen, we cannot just complain that somebody else is “monopolizing” our image and telling our Story and stories, we have to switch to a proactive attitude.

I believe this is the right time for ideas like “Orientalism” to stop. We control the knowledge tools much better than in the past, so we have to use them in a the proper way. And when I say “we” I  mean also the Arab world, and I mean also in a way myself as a part of the Arab world, as somebody living here, speaking the language and sharing the culture(s). Few days ago a friend of mine who wanted to introduce me somebody  for my phd research told him on the phone “I want to introduce you a friend of mine, an Orientalist who`s studying Syrian drama”. His expression did struck me, since for me “orientalist” is a negative word, whereas he said that for him “had it not been for the Orientalists, much of our recent Arab history would never have been written“.

This situation can be changed and I strongly believe that digital media is the chance for Arabs to change it.

“We need to produce, not only to consume!”

Few weeks ago, I was running like a crazy from an interview to another in order to finish the first part of my field work for my PHD research about Syrian musalsalat.

An (Arab) friend of mine just looked at me as if I was totally weird and told me: “why are you doing all these crazy efforts?! You read Arabic, just translate those (pointing at few articles and couple of books dealing with drama) into English and khalas, it’s done!”.

While trying to explain him that a PHD research –generally speaking- is something quite serious in terms of getting a critical mass of sources, comparing them, quoting, elaborating, etc I just realised there was an “abyss” between us.

Few days later, I went to interview a smart guy who’s trying to collect different historical sources concerning drama and doing an “encyclopedia” type of project. When asking questions, I saw him being quite reluctant in answering.. he suddenly said: “sorry but you should pay for this”. “Pay?!” . I have to admit it was the first time in more than 10 years of research that I was hearing such an answer. “There is a value in what I do. And, if you are going to take it without giving anything back, at least you should pay”. My efforts in explaining that there is something called “quotation” in academia, something that acknowledges the original creator of a thought, were vain.

He simply concluded that, while the Western world has got “quotation”, the Arab world has only  “copy and paste”.

That “abyss” of few days before finally had a name: “copy and paste” culture, thaqafat al nskh wal lsq.  It seems that Arabs are so used to copy and paste others’ works that original creation is quickly dying in this part of the world. Creativity just disappears when there is no value attributed to cultural creation, no intention to acknowledge, no wishes to build upon somebody else’s work in order to create your own work.

The copy and paste culture is not a revenge against Western imperialism – the West which exploited and deprived the Arab world -, as somebody is nostalgically putting it.

The copy and paste culture is actually something the Arab world itself is paying a price for, by preventing original Arab thoughts to be exposed and debated, original Arab ideas to be investigated, original Arab research works to be published, etc. Cause if nobody attributes a value to a scientific article, a to a piece of information, to interviews and investigations that go into a PHD thesis, how do we expect to have an original Arab thought to be formed?

We always hear debates about the “XXI century Arab thought” etc, but where does its essence lay if not in original creation? And where this original creation can be expressed and exposed the most, if not on the Internet?

It’s precisely there, with all the digital easy access tools that new technology has provided us with, that a new Arab thought has to displayed, debated, re-elaborated, re-innovated.

When we celebrate the boom of the Internet in the Arab world, the increasing usage of social networks, etc, lots of this stuff is actually still about consumption and not creation.

  • We need to write, not only to read.
  • We need to film, not only to watch.
  • We need to produce, not only to consume.
  • We need to innovate, not only to preserve.

But, in order to create, we need to give a value to our creation. Then we need to respect this value. We need to trust. I personally see the challenge of Creative Commons organisation in the Arab world to be in this very challenge of creation, of giving a value, of facilitating trust.

Creative Commons was born in a Western world were copyright protection had become a chain, an obstacle to innovation. In the Arab world, copyright is almost unknown or disrespected, and original creation is disrespected, too, to the extent that it is totally neglected. In this context Creative Commons should be understood as a way of giving value to this neglected creation, of building trust and respect around it.

Would be this possible, the Arab world’s past and its history (like the history of its TV drama, just as an example) will finally have a value for Arabs too … the future won’t be made up of only Westerners investigating and writing this story, while Arabs just reading it.

Creative Commons`Beirut Salon still rocks the city!

Less than two weeks ago, Creative Commons Salon kicked off for the first time in Beirut, and it is still rocking the city with an energizing effect.

Artist Maya Zankoul, who published many of her comics works under CC BY, designed some very cool car stickers for car parking and published them under CC BY NC SA inviting people to use and remix.

The story made a buzz and was covered by national newspaper Al Ahkbar .

The same newspaper announced, during the Beirut Salon -held at Obross last 16 April- to start releasing its web content under a Creative Commons license.

Mansour Aziz, the web and IT manager of Al Akhbar newspaper, who presented at the Salon, said they were hoping to switch to CC for their printed version in the next future.

The Salon also saw Al Jazeera releasing footage specifically on Lebanon for their Creative Commons Al Jazeera repository.

CC Beirut Salon featured Lebanese creativity at its best.

Filmmakers Cyril Aris and Mounia Akl presented their “Beirut I love you I love you not”

singer Tony Yammine and his rock band Meen rocked all over the place with their music

fBassel Safadi gave a very useful CC for filmmakers talk

Jessica Dheere from Social Media Exchange highlighted the use of CC in the Ngos environment

photographer Lara Zankoul delighted the audience with her super stylish CC pics

artist Rania Saghir showed how copyright could be not that boring through her illustrated book

and comics magazine Samandal remixed almost live other Lebanese artists` works under CC to create an interactive mash up

Not to mention the wonderful works presented by Maya Zankoul and Naeema Zarif who were also part of the Beirut Salon`s organizing commitee together with Smex`s  Moham Najem and Yamli`s Habib Haddad.

They made a great job in putting together the first showcase ever of CC Lebanese creativity and  organized a live interactive contest with the audience to create the first CC purely Lebanese slogan. @dashkoun won the competition with his slogan“3tiya men albak”

(I won the second place with my “copyright 3la keifak” immediately remixed by the Lebanese for being too much Syrian!).

Hopefully the winner slogan will be printed on the next to be designed CC Lebanon Tshirt, something as cool as the first one that Maya and Naeema designed and co-remixed for this first Salon (and which I proudly wear!).

And also the official poster for the event was designed by the two Lebanese artists using the same technique of remixing each other`s work

A big thanks to everybody who joined, to @sdarine who was the nice host of the evening, to Beshr Kayali who filmed it (and also presented his podcast under CC), to Joulane from Obross who hosted the Salon, to the slogan competition jury, to the wonderful volunteers` team headed by Maya, Naeema, Mohamed and Habib who organised and to the vibrant Lebanese people who attended and showed their great talent and energy.

Creative Commons Beirut Salon to be held tomorrow at Obross, Beirut!

I`m proud to announce this first Creative Commons Beirut Salon to be held tomorrow 16th April starting at 7pm in  Obross in Hamra, Beirut. With the fantastic energy and passion of people like @MayaZankoul, @Naeema , @HabibH, @MoNajem and many other musicians, illustrators, geeks, visual artists, etc, Creative Commons Lebanese community has been growing and growing during the very past few weeks with incredible results that will be highlighted tomorrow during the presentations.

Please have a look to the programme which is published on different websites

Wiki page:
Maya Zankoul`s blog:

and stay in touch through Twitter @CCBeirut

remix by Maya Zankoul and Naeema Zarif CC BY license

Tomorrow will be a day full of surprises, two great media organisations will make CC related announcements at the Salon and then artists will showcase their music, comics, visual works, films, etc.

We`ll run also a competition about the best and more “lebanese flavoured” CC Slogan (short message, like the 140 twitter characters!) that we`ll use in the future to promote Creative Commons activities in Lebanon. It has to be something cool, inspired by Lebanese street cultures, built up on remix words and expressions from different languages just as it is Lebanon in his everyday vibrant life.

And just as Naeema and Maya did for the beautiful poster of the Salon and image of the Tshirts remixing each other`s work.

(you can buy this cool Tshirt tomorrow to support CC Lebanon and also win it by submitting a cool slogan in pure Lebanese style)

Everybody is welcomed to join this slogan competition submitting proposals through Twitter or coming to the Salon and participating live from there.

Remember: slogan should be short, catchy, remix, street cultures, and purely Lebanese -whatever this means!-.

The list of names to be thanked is sooo long that would take ages . For the moment, I will thank again the beautiful “organising committee” that has showed that Lebanese people are not only creative and energetic but can do a perfect team work and build on sharing and cooperating.

Amazing message to the whole Arab world and the entire world.

Shukran kteer ya sabaya w shabab for this wonderful gift!

Lessig’s slides on his Italian Parliament lecture

I’d like to share this link to the  lecture Larry Lessig delivered on 11th march at Italian Parliament. It has been extremely ispiring for many people (and, hopefully, for our Parliament members and ministries, particularly for Paolo Romani who’s responsible for this shameful “Romani decree”) and we are looking forward to seeing how this will influence future developements in our country.

Lessig also followed up today on Italian daily news La Stampa by sending them a very interesting article that they titled “Internet.La trasparenza aiuta la fiducia” (Internet. Trasparency helps trust). This is not really what Lessig meant, I guess, particularly during his lecture -and on his famous pamphlet “Against transparency“- where he argued that actually transparency can also enhance mistrust in democracy.

Article is still not available online but you can find it on La Stampa newspaper today.

Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, at the Italian Parliament on 11th March

Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, is going to lecture at the Italian Parliament in Rome on 11th March starting at 3pm (free entry with ID, but limited seats available, so the earlier the better. Pls email me so I can send the official invitation to print and bring with you).

Gianfranco Fini, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, is going to introduce Lessig’s lecture  in the framework of a debate entitled “Internet è libertà” (Internet is freedom) organised by Capitale Digitale, in cooperation with Creative Commons and Nexa Center for Internet and Society in Turin.

A panel debate will follow the lecture with, among the others, Paolo Romani, vice Minister of Communication in the Berlusconi’s government, who gave the name to the controversial Romani decree.

“The law, which bears the signature of Paolo Romani, vice minister of communications for the Berlusconi government, calls for measures that would allow government control of audiovisual content on the web”, as the European Journalism Centre reports.

“In particular, the decree would force anyone wanting to upload videos to the Internet – be they single users or professional publishers – to seek a licence from the Ministry of Communication. Individual users, private citizens, would when uploading videos be equated under the new law with a television station… with all the legal obligations implied”.

In such a difficult time for Italian democracy and with all the controversies raised in the past few days (not only on new Internet and audiovisual law projects but also on the regional elections),  this debate is much more than needed and we’ll see where it will end up.

YL Social Media Cafe tomorrow at Zico House, Beirut

“Switching from the culture of consumption to the culture of creation. Can Arabs do it?”.

This is the question I’ll try to address in my talk at the YL Social Media Cafe tomorrow 6th of March in Beirut.

And this is one of the gorgeous pics that my  Lebanese friend artist Maya Zankoul has been so kind to design for my presentation (I’m really flattered!). Maya is one of the most promising young Lebanese artists and she also publishes under Creative Commons. People like her make me thinking that yes, of course, that “switching from the culture of consmption to the culture of creation” is possible.

For those of you who are in beautiful Beirut tomorrow, please join us at Zico House in Hamra starting from 4pm.

The YL Social Media Cafe programme is here: and on Facebook.

Thanks to Hiba and her team for inviting me to such an interesting event I’m looking forward to it!

ps. Maya’s illustration is under CC BY license. Pls read the terms of use and don’t trick!!!

Lawrence Lessig, fondatore di Creative Commons, al Parlamento Italiano l’11 marzo

La settimana prossima il Parlamento Italiano ospiterà Lawrence Lessig, fondatore dell’organizzazione internazionale Creative Commons e Direttore del Center for Ethics di Harvard University.

Lessig è uno dei pensatori contemporanei più innovativi sul versante di Internet e di come valori, pratiche e procedure delle società democratiche siano da esso profondamente.

Famoso è il suo ultimo provocatorio pamphlet “Against transparency”, da cui Lessig partirà per la sua lectio magistralis italiana.

Telecom, Wired Italia e gli altri partner del consorzio Capitale Digitale organizzano l’evento in collaborazione con Creative Commons e Nexa, l’unico centro d’eccellenza in Italia che si occupa del rapporto Internet-Società.

Il Presidente della Camera Fini ha voluto intitolare la giornata dell’11 marzo -dentro la quale Lessig terrà la sua lectio magistralis seguita da un panel di dibattito fra esperti e rappresentanti del governo- “Internet è libertà.Perchè dobbiamo difendere la Rete”.

Dopo i recenti, infuocati sviluppi del caso Google-Vivi Down in Italia, è proprio il caso di dire che questa giornata cade a pennello. Lessig è un noto libertario, il che non si può dire della nostra maggioranza di governo, almeno sul trattamento del dossier “Internet“. E sarà quantomeno interessante seguire un dibattito che vede, fra gli altri, protagonista il sottosegretario Romani, che ha dato paternità al contestato decreto Romani, al centro di polemiche per aver equiparato Rete e tradizionali editori broadcast nelle norme di pubblicazione di contenuti audiovisivi.

To Shoot an Elephant global screenings in the Arab world

The team from “To Shoot an Elephant” , the award-winning CC-licensed documentary directed by Alberto Arce and Mohammad Rujeilah, organized a global screening of the documentary last January 18, 2010.

The campaign, called “Global Screening Global Screaming”, was coordinated through the documentary’s community website and has inspired 240 screenings worldwide, from Venezuela to Thailand from the US to India. More will be organised in the next months, in different countries and locations.

The response of the Arab world community to this event has been significant. I would just like to bring some examples about the incredible community participation and enthusiasm that this event has registered throughout the Arab Region.

Royal Film Commission in Amman, Jordan, has screened “To shoot an elephant” with around 100 people attending and  hosting a phone live debate with Mohammad Rujeilah, a Gaza citizen and one of the two directors of the documentary.

With the kind cooperation of Hisham Morocco was able to screen the movie at the Ecole Hassania des Travaux Publics in Casablanca, as well as France which hosted two screenings, one in Poitiers and the other one in Paris.

The latter was organised by Regarde à Vue an association of social media activists who organises training and workshops mostly in Palestine and share all its works under Creative Commons.

Thanks to Hussein , Bahrain screened “To shoot an elephant” at the Bahraini Medical Society. Pictures of the event can be found here:

The virtual world of Second Life also had its “To Shoot an Elephant” at the Galleria Szczepanski cinema thanks to  Movieoonline and  2LifeCast

You can have a look at some beautiful SL pictures of the event here

It seems that the SL residents are asking for more screenings, the next one should be February 8, so watch out!

I`d like to thank all the people that have made all these worldwide events possible, and not only in the Arab world.

“To shoot an elephant” is  available for free download under Creative Commons license at

ps For those of you who are in Rome, tonite Forte Prenestino is screening the film at 21.30 local time info at