Ryan Merkley

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Ryan Merkley
TerBurgDSCF0820 (34367491515).jpg
Cambridge, Canada
Alma materUniversity of Waterloo
OccupationChief of Staff to the office of the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation

Ryan Merkley is the Chief of Staff to the office of the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation,[1] and former CEO of the American non-profit organization Creative Commons.[2][3] He is an advocate for open licenses, net neutrality and open data initiatives in the public sector. Merkley is the Chair of the Open Worm Foundation board of directors[4] and was trustee at the Quetico Foundation.[5] He writes and speaks on issues such as the sharing economy, academic publishing and legal infrastructure for sharing content.[6]

In 2016, he was listed in the Globe and Mail's "Sixteen Torontonians to Watch in 2016".[7]


Merkley was born in Cambridge, Ontario, and studied at the University of Waterloo from 1998 to 2001, and employed at Engineers Without Borders Canada as the Chief Communications Officer. He worked for the City of Toronto government and the City of Vancouver government in roles such as Director of Communications and Senior Advisor to the Office of the Mayor, leading the open government data initiative of Toronto mayor David Miller. In 2010, he moved to the Mozilla Foundation to take the role of Director of Programs and Strategy. During his tenure at Mozilla, he contributed to the development of products in support of the open web including Lightbeam, Webmaker, and Popcorn.[8][9]

Creative Commons[edit]

Merkley was recruited as CEO for Creative Commons in 2014,[10] after the position was vacated by Catherine Casserly in 2013. His focus included work on new, long-term strategy and sustainability of the Creative Commons mission and operations.[11][12][13] His 2016 op-ed in Wired criticising the academic publishing industry was referenced by then-Vice President of the United States Joe Biden in his speech to the American Association for Cancer Research, calling for more open research.[14][15] In 2016, he successfully secured a $10 million grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to support Creative Commons' new strategy, re-focusing the organisation on encouraging sharing.[16][17][18]

On February 7, 2017, Merkley announced a partnership between Creative Commons,[19] Wikimedia Foundation[20] and The Metropolitan Museum of Art where the museum released 375,000 images under a public domain dedication Creative Commons Zero, known as CC0. As part of the announcement, Creative Commons also released the beta of CC Search which included social features for list sharing and simple attribution.[21] The search engine, currently in BETA, pulls Creative Commons licensed images from The MET, Flickr, 500px, Rijksmuseum, and the New York Public Library.[22]


  1. ^ "Wikimedia Foundation welcomes Ryan Merkley as Chief of Staff to the office of the Executive Director". Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  2. ^ Van Houweling, Molly. "Leadership Transitions at Creative Commons". Creative Commons. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  3. ^ Merkley, Ryan. "Moving on from Creative Commons". Creative Commons. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Our People".
  5. ^ "Our People".
  6. ^ "In a true sharing economy, the reward is gratitude". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  7. ^ Andrew-Gee, Eric; Bozikovic, Alex; Moore, Oliver; Nuttall-Smith, Chris; O'Kane, Josh; Ross, Selena; Wheeler, Brad. "Sixteen Torontonians to watch in 2016". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Ryan Merkley's Profile". LinkedIn. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  9. ^ "TED Talk: Ryan Merkley demos Popcorn". The Mozilla Blog. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  10. ^ Gannes, Liz. "Creative Commons Picks Former Mozilla COO Ryan Merkley as CEO". Recode.net. Vox Media. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  11. ^ "MLTalks Series: Diane Peters, Jane Park, Ryan Merkley and Johnathan Nightingale in conversation with Joi Ito". MIT Media Lab. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Welcoming Creative Commons' new CEO, Ryan Merkley". Creative Commons. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  13. ^ Harmon, Elliot (25 September 2013). "Catherine Casserly to step down as Creative Commons CEO". Creative Commons. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  14. ^ Merkley, Ryan. "You Pay to Read Research You Fund. That's Ludicrous". Wired.com. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  15. ^ "VP Joe Biden asks about CC's Ryan Merkley's op-ed in Wired". Vimeo.com. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  16. ^ "Creative Commons' Radical Plan to Bring Joy to the Commons". Shareable.net. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Creative Commons awarded $10M grant from Hewlett Foundation to support renewed strategy". Creative Commons. 19 January 2016.
  18. ^ "The Hewlett and Gates Foundations Award $9 Million to Pratham". Hewlett Foundation. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  19. ^ "The Met Makes 375,000 Public Domain Images Available". Fortune. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  20. ^ "The Metropolitan Museum of Art makes 375,000 images of public domain art freely available under Creative Commons Zero – Wikimedia Blog". Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  21. ^ Perez, Sarah. "Creative Commons unveils a new photo search engine with filters, lists & social sharing". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  22. ^ Murnane, Kevin. "Creative Commons' New Search Engine Makes It Easy To Find Free-To-Use Images". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-02-11.

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