[cc-community] [cc-licenses] Rant about CC licenses

Emma Carpenter emma.k.carpenter at live.com
Mon Dec 16 10:39:14 EST 2013


I apologise - I didn't make my meaning clear. The language is made difficult by the use of licenses, which are ideally suited for one-to-one interactions, in an erga omnes manner.

What I intended to convey was that an existing 'license relationship' (insofar as there is such a thing) cannot be revoked - an author cannot go to a redistributor and require them to stop redistributing because the author wishes to revoke the licence. This is the term I believe you're referring to, §3 and §7(b) in 3.0 and part of the preamble and §2(a)(1) in 4.0 (which I hadn't read before now).

They can, however, re-release the work under a different licence, in which case newcomers to the work will have to abide by the terms of the new licence (see below for why this may not be true). In the context that means that a person may release their work under CC-BY-5, cease distributing it under CC-BY-5 after four years and re-release it under CC-BY. In this case a person who, 6 years after the release under CC-BY-5, wishes to use the work, would have to abide by the CC-BY licence and not the CC0 licence which would have applied if the author hadn't relicensed.

This is, of course, my interpretation, which is in line with what I have read on licensing but is far from the only interpretation. The issue might be complicated by §6(c) of 4.0, but I think to resolve the question of what exactly "will not terminate this Public License." means, we would have to once and for all resolve the question of whether a license acts like a contract or whether it functions in a novel way, which is a bit overambitious for an afternoon of mailing list exchanges. ;)

Emma Carpenter

From: eric at hellman.net
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2013 10:08:52 -0500
To: cc-community at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [cc-community] [cc-licenses] Rant about CC licenses

Please note that CC licenses, including CC0 are NOT revocable. Read the code.
On Dec 16, 2013, at 9:41 AM, Emma Carpenter <emma.k.carpenter at live.com> wrote:I agree... and disagree. :)

I think it would be a great idea to have time-limited licences, something like the CC-X or CC-BY-SA-X, or similar, that you suggested. It would require careful implementation, as determining when a work was licensed (and thus when the licence would expire) can be as difficult online as determining who its author is, but with good design it would be doable and, I think, a valuable addition to the CC tool set.

On the other hand, some of the goals you express aren't achievable. It's not a clear-cut issue, but the legal consensus still seems to be that an author cannot place their work into the public domain by any non-statutory method. CC0, then, is a licence which entitles anyone to do anything with the work - but does not technically place works into the public domain.

In practise, the difference is usually pretty meaningless. However, you say there would be no possibility for an author to decide "after those X years, there is no
>> "oh, I want a few years more, my work is more successfully than I anticipated and I am rich now", you licensed it, it is public domain. Yes!".
That would not work. The CC0 is a licence just like any other, so the author is entitled to relicense the work under a different licence at any point. CC-X or CC-(whatever)-X would equally be a licence which the author could revoke. The consequences of this in terms of what past and future redistributors and remixers are or aren't allowed to do are complex and I won't try to go through them here - there's lot of discussion available online if you want to look into that issue. But it does remain true that you cannot tie an author into a licensing decision, if they change their mind, even when that licence is as close to public domain as we can make it.

I also agree with Ben Finney that the best solution would be to reduce the default copyright term (and for the US senate to stop extending all existing copyrights every time Disney writes them a letter), and I am aware that there are significant problems with adding new licences, not least the effect that doing so has on the porting and translation process, which is made massively more complex by every term added.

However, I do think that adding an expiry term to CC licences is a worthwhile proposal: we are unlikely to be able to resolve the problems with copyright law itself in the short term, so I think the question is whether or not adding an expiry term A) is more worthwhile than other terms which we might want to add, and B) would make enough of a difference to justify all the extra work.

Emma Carpenter

> Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2013 05:46:39 -0800
> From: mmitar at gmail.com
> To: cc-community at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: Re: [cc-community] [cc-licenses] Rant about CC licenses
> 
> Hi!
> 
> As I said in my original argument, I think that currently we as a
> community cannot have any tool to argue for shorter copyright
> protection. If we would have a license which would put a work into
> public domain after X years, we could have an argument, that so many
> content creators are deciding for such license.
> 
> This is in parallel with current CC licenses which address those
> creators which immediately want to give users some rights. This is
> great, but even for those, why wouldn't those creators decide that for
> 5 years I give a work under CC-BY-NC, but after 5 years it can go into
> public domain.
> 
> My proposal is not to argue the copyright itself (and that ideas are
> property), but to have a tool to argue in the context where I believe
> we could change something. So dismissing ideas as property is a hard
> goal. Making copyright terms shorter is more pragmatic goal.
> 
> 
> Mitar
> 
> On Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 2:17 PM, Ben Finney
> <bignose+hates-spam at benfinney.id.au> wrote:
> > Mitar <mmitar at gmail.com> writes:
> >
> >> I think we are all agree that CC licenses are a hack, a patch to the
> >> broken copyright system.
> >
> > Definitely agreed here. I think what is broken is that copyright
> > mistakenly attempts to treat ideas as property.
> >
> >> CC licenses provide a range of choices for the users. Users can decide
> >> to allow this or that, but the main issue of copyright they do not
> >> address: the length of the copyright before it enters the public
> >> domain. Isn't this the main issue we have about current copyright? Not
> >> that copyright exists and what it protects, but that the protection
> >> time is getting longer and longer.
> >
> > That is a terrible result of the copyright system, yes. But it's an
> > outcome of the main complaint: the system attempts to grant
> > property-like monopolies over ideas.
> >
> >> And CC licenses do not address this at all. They play with some small
> >> permissions, sharing, remixing, just toys. But not with the real
> >> thing: when does work enter public domain.
> >
> > The granting of rights which are by default restricted under copyright
> > *does* address the real thing: it grants, immediately, the permissions
> > rather than waiting for some term of monopoly to expire.
> >
> >> But the main point is that after those X years, there is no "oh, I
> >> want a few years more, my work is more successfully than I anticipated
> >> and I am rich now", you licensed it, it is public domain. Yes!
> >
> > Why? If the work's recipients deserve the rights, then why not
> > immediately? I see your formulation as the one tweaking at the edges
> > instead of addressing the core issue.
> >
> >> This could also be mixed with other licenses, if you want. CC-BY-SA-5,
> >> means for 5 years it is CC-BY-SA, but then it goes into public domain,
> >> into CC-0. So every year, it gets one number less, countdown:
> >> CC-BY-SA-4, CC-BY-SA-3, CC-BY-SA-2, CC-BY-SA-1, CC-0. Happy new year!
> >> We have more CC works entering public domain. Isn't this the best
> >> present ever?
> >
> > I think you over-estimate the power of CC-0. It can only do what
> > copyright law allows a copyright holder to do; it is not at all clear
> > that copyright holders can defy the term of monopoly and simply declare
> > a work in the public domain before the expiration of that term.
> >
> > So no, I don't think creating more licenses is the solution, even if
> > this were a problem worth addressing. To the extent this is a problem,
> > it is solved only by reducing the term of copyright in law.
> >
> > --
> > \ “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you |
> > `\ have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither |
> > _o__) on your side, pound the table.” —anonymous |
> > Ben Finney
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
> > In consideration of people subscribed to this list to participate
> > in the CC licenses http://wiki.creativecommons.org/4.0 development
> > process, please direct unrelated discussions to the cc-community list
> > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/cc-community
> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> http://mitar.tnode.com/
> https://twitter.com/mitar_m
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