[cc-community] Happy Founders' Copyright Day!

Evan Prodromou evan at bad.dynu.ca
Tue May 10 07:11:40 EDT 2005

This is a resend of a message from 4-24-05. I was asked by a few people
for a bloggable version of this screed, and it wasn't in the archives
due to its HTML nature.



So in all the hubbub about World Book Day, I forgot to wish everyone a
happy Founders' Copyright Day! Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of the
publicity stunt-cum-joint press release by O'Reilly and Associates and
Creative Commons that created the stillborn Founders' Copyright program.


In summary, the idea was that authors could unilaterally reduce the term
of copyright for a work to 14 years (the copyright term in 1776). The
mechanics were pretty complicated: authors would transfer their
copyright to Creative Commons, who would return to them an exclusive
license to the work for 14 years. After 14 years CC would dedicate the
work to the public domain. In the meantime CC would keep a registry of
all works under the FC.

The program was created on April 23rd, at the end of the O'Reilly 2003
ETech conference. It was announced by Tim O'Reilly during his keynote
speech, and got all kinds of positive press.

Two years later: 

      * 0 works are available under the Founders' Copyright 
      * none of the people who said in the press release that they'd
        release FC works have done so 
      * the promised registry of FC works has never materialized 
      * the Web form for applying for FC status doesn't do anything 
      * the "Real Soon Now" promises of the above press releases have
        never been fulfilled
      * O'Reilly has exactly 0 works available under the Creative
        Commons Attribution license (a side issue, but one that shows
        little good faith)

And yet... the Founders' Copyright pages were ported to the new Web
site, and it's still listed as one of the alternatives on the license


I think Creative Commons should do a few things: 

     1. Come out of denial and accept that the FC is a non-starter. With
        so many incredible successes, I think CC is strong enough to
        acknowledge and rectify this one big mistake. 
     2. Remove the FC pages (and links to them) from
        creativecommons.org, and note that that happened in the Web
     3. Do a post-mortem on the FC "program" and gain some lessons from
     4. Think twice about starting new, labor-intensive programs like
     5. Think twice about being someone else's dog-and-pony show.

Anyways, this is my second annual FC rant. I've just put an alarm in my
calendar for April 23, 2006. It'll be interesting to see where the
"program" is then.


Evan Prodromou
evan at bad.dynu.ca

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