Concerns about CC licenses

Greg London email at
Wed May 19 16:31:10 EDT 2004

support said:
> My concern about CC is that it is built on the same framework as
> copyright.  ....  The problem still remains in the rights you are
> "reserving" namely the cost of enforcing those rights.

there is no other framework besides copyright upon which to
build a creative commons. Outside of copyright (and patent) law,
all intellectual works are pretty much Public Domain.

Inside of copyright law, the author may choose from
a spectrum of rights to relinguish to the public
or to select groups. "All Rights Reserved" on one end.
"All Rights Granted" on the other end. In between are
licenses like ShareAlike and EducationalOnly, etc.

Inside of copyright, there are licenses that relinquish
all rights to a work and effectively place it in the Public Domain.
The BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) license being
one of the first well known license to approach public domain status.

If you read the BSD license
You'll notice that half of the license is a disclaimer
of any warranty. In the US, anything that
is sold comes with an implied warranty of
merchantability and fitness unless labeled "AS IS"
or similar.

So, not only does CC (any any other intellectual works authors)
fall under copyright (Federal), they also fall under product warranty
laws (State).

The only way to operate in this arena, then, is to
use a license to release some rights and to use
a disclaimer to avoid warranty requirements.

As much as some propaganda might try to label
Copyleft or open source as a threat to copyright
law, they all operate inside of the requirements
of copyright law written for people who sell
their works "All Rights Reserved".

My point in "Drafting the Gift Domain" is to
actually change copyright law to create a
"Gift Domain" for authors who wish to retain
a much smaller set of rights to their work
and contribute the other rights to their works
to the public. The idea, basically, would be
to put Copyleft into law and offer it as
an option for authors.

It would simplify a lot of compatibility problems.
And it might be able to grant authors an exclusion
from warranty requirements. (not sure about the
Federal versus State powers here.)

> I'm just concerned that as we see demand for 'controlling' these variations
> (ala Share Alike, Sampling, Translations, etc) in the
> licenses issued by CC that it will just spiral out of control with dozens of
> different licenses and be no more useful than current
> All Rights Reserved.

Open Source Initiative has a definition
for what qualifies as an open source license.
And they have certified 50 licenses as meeting
this definiton. some of which are incompatible
with each other.

Creative Commons, with all its two-letter acronyms,
allows a rather large number of license permutations,
some of which are incompatible with each other.

It's "spiraling" to be sure. I'm not sure if
it has hit the "out of control" part yet.

More information about the cc-licenses mailing list