[cc-licenses] Creative Commons licenses cause a problem

Jonathon Blake jonathon.blake at gmail.com
Thu Jun 8 07:20:38 EDT 2006

Terry wrote:

> Likewise, you can't copyright words.

One of the issues is how much text can be different, for the text to
have a different copyright owner .  [Or, as frustrated Bible students
put it:  "Why does USB-4 and NA-27 require copyright permission from
two different places, when the texts are identical, except for
punctuation.? To be followed by "Then why don't I need permission to
quote Stephanus TR, when his text is virtually the same as NA-26?"]

> in the original, is not a "derivative work".  It's too "transformative", and each individual "copy" is of a tiny piece of the original, well within the bounds of the fair use concept of "academic quoting".

And at the other end of the spectrum, individual character pairs and
triplets can be used to identify the author (amongst other things) of
a text.   So even though you have randomly assembled character pairs
and triplets, derived from the authors writing, it is still
identifiable as being from that specific author, and not another,
different author.

> Certainly if you blend a work in with many other works, and similarly
> scramble the content, you will be in the fair use category,

>because even a complex word count couldn't figure out that the words
are from particular works (well,  it might be able to guess if it's a
really smart algorithm based on rare words,

It doesn't have to be rare words.  Common words will suffice.  I first
saw the algorithm (in Pascal) 20 odd years ago. [ IIRC, common words
were better indicators than rare words were, and not only because of
their frequency.]

> The point is, it is not a derivative work just because it has the same words in it. The words have to retain their original structure and meaning.

If this was a musical composition, I'd disagree with you, citing case
law.   And because of that stupid case law, a case can built on the
project being a derivative work, and thus an infringing work,  if the
copyright owner has not given permission for the project to use their
material.  (Note: "a case" does not mean "a good case". )

> If it is, then "fair use" is badly broken, which is entirely possible.

"Fair Use" has some pretty interesting limits.   This might be one of them.

> This is really dead simple, and they really need to get their heads around it, it's not like lawyers haven't figured this stuff out before.

They have.  Their perception is that a 10 minute explanation won't
satisfy the client as much as ten hours of research (even if unneeded)
and an hour to explain it in legalese, then plain English will.


Ethical conduct is a vice.
Corrupt conduct is a virtue.

Motto of Nacarima.

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