Monday, May 26, 2008

Creative Commons Licenses -- a mechanism to allow customers enhanced reproduction and distribution rights, good for open source

One hears a lot of mention these days about Creative Commons licenses. These are licenses that one can apply to one’s work (as with embedded HTML code on a web page) to identify what reuse of the material in the work is permitted.

The main site that explains is Creative Commons, with the subtitle “Share, Remix, Reuse – legally.”

The concept would encourage artists, especially new ones, to offer their work for reuse beyond what is normally acceptable under the “fair use” doctrine of copyright law. In a sense, it is a “some rights reserved” copyright. There are four components to a CC license: “attribution” “commercial or non-commercial” “derivative works allowed or no derivative works allowed” and “share alike,” the last of which causes derivative works to inherit (in object oriented fashion) the licenses. This leads to the selection of one of six licenses, with common language, legal language, and digital code expressed in the license (link).

A typical license is offered by Electronic Frontier Foundation, stated here, license illustrative example here.

Widespread use of Creative Commons has been promoted among new artists to counter confusion that results from various attempts to control piracy. Established for-profit public companies normally have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders to protect their normal copyrights vigorously. Creative Commons also comports well with the open source concept.

I would be interesting to debate how a CC license affects some situations, such as inframe or hot links to images.

It is my practice to give attribution at all times, and links when possible, and to “add value” to news stories with my own observations besides just re-reporting the information in the stories. I try to give more than one source when possible. Some websites have clauses on their stories against “publishing, broadcasting, rewriting, or distributing” of stories but that would not preclude inclusion of facts with proper attribution under the “fair use” doctrine. External linking (including deep links but not hot links) appear to be protected by fair use, as has been covered before in this blog.

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