[cc-licenses] Alex Bosworth: "Creative Commons Is Broken"

Stephanie Rieger steph at yiibu.com
Mon Mar 6 14:39:42 EST 2006

A couple of things keep coming up that to me affect reuse on a large scale.
In many cases, the blame can be put on the users and to me, that just points
towards a need for better education regarding the licenses.

For example, the CC license is now very easy to add to a site. Consequently,
there are many works being licensed CC that a) shouldn't really be as they
incorporate other people's copyrighted work and b) could/might be reusable
if they were properly labeled--except they often aren't. When I say they
aren't I'm simply referring to labeling that should be present to allow
downstream users to follow the "how to provide attribution" listed on the CC
site FAQ page. If the potential 're-user' of the content doesn't have
everything he/she needs, then legal reuse is impossible (or at the very
least 'illegal'.) This gets even more convoluted during downstream reuse.

Almost all examples of downstream reuse I've come across do it incorrectly.
Some people simple say "courtesy of" and link to the user rather than the
URI of the work and the CC license. Some also state their license (ie. the
one they a licensing the derivative work under) and forget to mention how
the works being incorporated were licensed (except of course in the case of
SA licenses in which both should be the same--even here people get it

I totally understand that in all these cases, the burden is on the licensor
and the re-user to provide the right information but if so many people are
getting it wrong...what does that say about the current licenses and/or the
public's understanding of them?

(PS-I have spent a lot of my own time researching the current state of reuse
and the types of works currently being licensed. In retrospect, I should
have carefully documented it as concrete examples would be more useful to
everyone involved than my generalizations. At the time I didn't really think
it would be useful to anyone but me. One of those cases of hindsight I

In regards to my comments about OurMedia, I didn't mean to single them out,
I was mostly referring to Alex's comments about the type of content being
licensed CC. It's now become so easy to do so that long term, I have real
worries regarding the adverse effects of masses of user generated content on
findability. This particular issue really speaks to transition from a
society of few creators to one of many. Findability is already a bit of a
problem on 'portal' sites like these as it's difficult to 'force' users to
enter the necessary amount of contextual (meta)data to make search as useful
as it could be. If I'm looking for a CC licensed photo of a particular
thing, it's often way more efficient to search for real sites about that
topic than go to a site like OurMedia or Flickr where tagging of media can
be both a blessing and a curse.

So I think that if step one of launching the licenses was adoption (in the
community and within publishing and discovery tools), step two should be
education to ensure that we can truly start taking advantage of the content.
I also found the suggestion a few weeks back of simplifying the
representation of the licenses through the use of abbreviations and
iconography really useful. I know there are impracticalities but, the
abbreviations are already very well indexed and a Google search immediately
points you to the appropriate license right on the CC site. Using these
would already help simplify the attribution process and I don't think would
hurt brand awareness at all. An easy to use, K-12 educational/student
license option would also hugely affect reuse I think as the educational
community isn't talking about CC nearly as much as they should. They are
also actively being courted by large corporate 'asset' companies who are all
too happy to charge them for databases of video, audio and photos while not
mentioning a word about open content alternatives. Teachers are currently
very confused about the implementation of any kind of technology in the
classroom and CC, as it mostly lives on the web, is falling into that
category (ex: how to link to a URI is still a mystery to many teachers.) 

Providing some very clear re-use use cases for people would also be great.
Even totally silly sounding ones like, how to provide attribution when
re-using a CC work on a T-Shirt, baseball cap or other 'merchandise item.'
There's just no place that people can go for these types of answers and user
lists are great except everyone always states that they are not a lawyer so
all the advice provided should be taken with a grain of salt regardless. Of
course if you have a legitimate business you'll probably consult a lawyer
regardless but since everyone can now self publish, create t-shirts on
CafePress, generate revenue through Google adds, distribute a podcast (tons
of schoolkids are now podcasting on a weekly basis) etc. this type of
information would be really helpful to many people I'm sure.


-----Original Message-----
From: cc-licenses-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:cc-licenses-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Adam Fields
Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 9:15 AM
To: Discussion on the Creative Commons license drafts
Subject: Re: [cc-licenses] Alex Bosworth: "Creative Commons Is Broken"

On Mon, Mar 06, 2006 at 08:13:04AM -0800, Stephanie Rieger wrote:
> 1. Education - How do you use these licenses correctly? What do they
> mean (especially the 'non-commercial' variant--and I know they are working
> on this) What types of works should be licensed CC and why (This will
> very restrictive to some but I think we need to address this. OurMedia.org
> (for example) is full of millions of works, only a fraction of which are
> actually useful to anyone or reusable in any way.)

Can you please elaborate on what you mean by this? I've been working
with Ourmedia in a technical capacity (largely keeping the site from
crashing under the load), and this is a major concern for
them. Details would help.

> 2. Simplification - This may be a pipe dream but the licenses are really
> complex to use and need to be simplified so they can be used more easily
> alternate publishing mediums and by novice users. We've made choosing,
> tagging and discovering CC-licensed works dead easy (maybe a bit too
> now lets focus on reuse!

It's important to note that without the former, the latter is really
useless. Rather than decrying CC as a broken venture, as Mr. Bosworth
does, I would look at it as a stepping stone.

So - there's a real question in there.

As a consumer/remixer/user - what do you want? What rights should be
clearly delineated that aren't currently being so?

				- Adam

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