[cc-licenses] New Generic and ports

Andres Guadamuz a.guadamuz at ed.ac.uk
Sat Oct 7 09:09:05 EDT 2006

Henri Sivonen wrote:
> Considering that Free Software and Open Source has worked fine with  
> English-only licenses, that non-Americans are routinely using the  
> existing U.S./"Generic" CC licenses and that CC now has a "New  
> Generic" license draft that is designed to work globally, what's the  
> point of having ports of the 3.0 series instead of using the "New  
> Generic" with English as the governing language everywhere?
Comparing FLOSS with CC is a problematic exercise for various reasons. 
While a growing number of the general public is using open source and 
free software, the licences are really applicable to a small minority 
(comparatively) of developers, SMEs and larger enterprises. These people 
tend to be knowledgeable, well-educated and have access to someone who 
can speak English and/or understand the licences. Now contrast this to 
the target audience of Creative Commons. The movement exists to provide 
an easy to understand manner to provide open content to a vast number of 
people. Not everybody understands English, so translation makes a lot of 
sense to a movement that has such a potentially large number of users.

I always use "my mother" test when thinking of target audiences. Would 
my mother ever be a target user of the GPL? Not in a million years. I 
may convince her someday to install FLOSS in her computer, but it's not 
likely. On the other hand, she has a digital camera and is writing a 
children's novel, both are subject matter for CC licences. She does not 
speak English, so if we don't translate the licences, she would never 
know about open content and free culture.

Similarly, it is easier to draft technology-specific licences that apply 
globally. Software licences are a good example, although there are 
several problems with validity in each recipient country. There is a 
much bigger problem for creative works and trying to apply American 
principles to a wide variety of works. These are just some that have 
given regional drafters some headaches:

- Contract formation: In most countries licences are contracts, so the 
draft has to accommodate local contract formation principles.
- Moral rights: software does not have moral rights in many 
jurisdictions. On the other hand, all creative works have moral rights, 
and the range of protection in this area alone is staggering.
- Drafting rules: In the UK we have a requirement by law to draft 
consumer contracts in user-friendly language.
- Quirky copyright implementation rules: different countries have 
considerably different rules on the application of things like 
technological protection measures (just to name one), or that have 
considerably different definitions for some licence elements. Drafting 
licences that recognise these local idiosyncrasies tend to be more 
likely to stand up in court.



Andres Guadamuz
AHRC Research Centre for Studies in
Intellectual Property and Technology Law
Old College, South Bridge
Edinburgh EH8 9YL 

Tel: 44 (0)131 6509699
Fax: 44 (0)131 6506317
a.guadamuz at ed.ac.uk

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