Why do you have to chose the 'Attribution' option with the new CC 2.0 Licenses?
james.grimmelmann at yale.edu
Tue Aug 17 02:33:20 EDT 2004
At 06:03 PM 8/16/2004, Greg London wrote:
>The question is whether or not "many" CC licenses is an issue or not.
>the main argument is that "many" licenses creates incompatibility
>problems, or at the very least, questions of how to combine works
>of different licenses such that all license requirements are still met.
>This is a problem only if the original work is intended to become
>derived many, many times beyond the original. I don't think this
>is the Creative Commons model.
I would disagree that Creative Commons has "a" model. Creative Commons
licenses are designed to work with a great many business models and a great
many cultural models. The hope is that a simple _legal_ model can suffice
to help many of these business and cultural models to flourish in a happy
and symbiotic coexistence with each other.
I would strongly disagree with the idea that the creation of derivative
works (and long chains of derivative works) is not really part of the
Creative Commons model (even if we're only allowed to have one). From the
outset, Creative Commons has pointed out the importance of creators having
large bodies of shared content that they can rework, reimagine, and
reinterpret as they develop derivative works of their own. And I think
Creative Commons has been quite up front about these values: the Reticulum
Rex video (http://mirrors.creativecommons.org/reticulum_rex/), for example,
is very much about derivation and rederivation.
>CC's "niche" is to offer Market-Economy
>licenses that are more liberal that "All Rights Reserved", that leverage
>some of its liberal rules in an attempt to offer free-distribution and
>free-samples and free-word-of-mouth about some really cool work that
>might not otherwise get noticed.
Your categories of Market Economy and Gift Economy provide one way of
looking at models of creation. I don't know that things are so neatly
categorized: in my summer at Creative Commons, I've talked to an awful lot
of creators whom I'd be hard-pressed to put in one of those boxes or the
Many of them have content with one well-defined money-making channel, and
they want to release that content into other channels, not from a desire to
increase revenues, but from a sincere belief that they're giving something
to the community at large (even in cases where doing so cuts into their
Others choose Attribution only, because they want their work picked up and
transformed and available even to people who can't use ShareAlike for their
Still others want to participate in what you'd call a "Gift Economy" but
want to keep the corporations out entirely: they pick
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike so that their work is part of a
cultural commons that can never turned into a source of revenue at all.
Personally, I think that taking all of these people's wishes seriously is
the right thing to do, even though I often don't understand their
particular motivations. I treasure that bafflement, actually, because it
means they may have something important to teach me about creativity and
making creativity work in our society. The person whom I think
misunderstands a CC license may in fact understand something deeper and
more important: they may be showing us a new and exciting way to use that
license, or they may be showing us an opportunity for a new license to do
All of this is a long-winded way of saying that "getting noticed" is not
the only goal of CC licensors who choose something other than CC-SA, and
that these other goals are valuable.
>CC's "twist" on licensing is to offer NonCommercial with a bunch of options.
I like to think that CC has something more to offer the world than this.
It may be helpful also to point out that there are three possible kinds of
rules involved in CC licenses (indeed, in any similar license).
* Procedural requirements: What steps must someone take to use the licensed
work? Must they pay a set fee? Must they give credit to the original
author? Must they attach a copy of the license?
* Use restrictions: Can someone sell copies of the work? Can they use it
in advertising? Can they use it contrary to the artistic intent of the
* Derivative restrictions: Can they make derivative works? How
transformative must derivative works be? Must derivative works be
relicensed on particular terms?
Attribution is a procedural requirement. It doesn't much affect what you
can do with the work, just what side tasks you need to carry out if you
choose to do something with it. Paragraph 1 of the GPL is also a
procedural requirement: it requires copyright notices, disclaimer of
warranty, and redistribution of the license itself.
NonCommercial is a use restriction. It tells you a specific context in
which you _cannot_ place the work. The Hacktivismo license's prohibitions
on using the work to violate human rights are also use restrictions. So
is the prohibition in the CC Sampling/Recombo license on using the work in
NoDerivs and ShareAlike are both derivative restrictions. They govern your
ability to make derivative works. The "transformative" requirement in the
Sampling/Recombo license is also a derivative restriction: only certain
derivatives are allowed.
These categories are obviously not pure: it's easy to blur the lines with a
little effort. But they really are independent axes along which one might
impose rules, and Attribution-type procedural _requirements_ really
shouldn't be completely conflated with NonCommercial-type use
_restrictions_. NonCommercial tells you that no, you can't go to the beach
(though you can go to the park), even if you jump up and down and hold your
breath. Attribution tells you to go ahead and have fun at the beach, but
to close the door behind you when you leave.
>Since the Derivatives of a CC-NC document "peter out", incompatibility
>issues are not a real issue. The issues never accumulate to the point
>where some massive, multi-author, multi-generational, work would ever
>get THIS >< close to being created, if it weren't for those pesky
>alphabet-soup incompatibility problems.
This argument depends on the assumption that the form of creativity
involved is the sort for which some monetary compensation is eventually
required as an incentive to create. But if the _original_ author is
creating for non-monetary reasons, then that's a strong indication that the
type of creativity involved in downstream works may not be of the sort that
requires monetary compensation either. Indeed, such an author who chooses
a CC-NC license isn't really reserving to herself anything "more" than she
gives to downstream creators, since no one anywhere along the chain cares
about the money. With Creative Commons licenses there to eliminate the
friction of licensing transaction costs, why couldn't such chains go on
Remember, also, that without a ShareAlike attribute in there, these chains
can also eventually "escape" from the NonCommercial restriction. When the
chain has modified the work enough that it no longer counts as a copy of
the original, the original author has no copyright claim against it, and so
compliance with the original CC-NC license is no longer necessary for
someone who wants to use the profoundly-modified downstream work.
Now, people along the way might choose to license _their_ modifications
also under CC-NC. Or they might not. But that's their choice.
>The BSD advertising clause showed people in the open-source community
>how such "overhead" can accumulate to the point where it becomes
>almost as much work to derive a work with advertising clauses as it
>does to create a new work from scratch with no advertising restrictions.
"Appropriate to the medium" is a powerful phrase; it incorporates a
sensitivity to the degree of onerousness of compliance with the attribution
>Yes, for gift economy licenses, incompatibility is a killer.
>but as soon as you slap NonCommercial on a work, you are no
>longer talking about a gift-economy license. you are talking
>about a market economy license.
I don't think you can separate licenses, or creators, into two camps quite
that easily. If these are the right categories for thinking about creative
economies, then almost all creation, I think, draws on both models and is
something of a mixture.
I am NOT a lawyer. I do NOT speak for Creative Commons.
More information about the cc-licenses