[cc-licenses] 'Attribution' condition human-readable summary misleading

Brianna Laugher brianna.laugher at gmail.com
Wed Aug 8 00:56:23 EDT 2007


I'm new to this list, but familiar with CC. I'm an editor at Wikimedia
Commons ( http://commons.wikimedia.org/ ) which accepts the CC-BY and
CC-BY-SA licenses. I'm impressed by CC's efforts to build bridges with
groups such as my own, so I'm trying to reach back. :)

I have noticed that the human-readable summary of the 'Attribution'
condition has lead a few people to a belief about their 'right' to
'specify the manner' in which they should be attributed, in a way
which is not supported by the legal code of the license. The intent of
the license text itself is very clear, but the wording of the
human-readable summary is not backed up by any content in the legal
code that I can see.

Taking CC-BY-3.0 (unported) as an example, the human-readable summary says

>> You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author
or licensor

Clause 4b says

If You Distribute ... the Work, You must ... keep intact all copyright
notices for the Work and provide, reasonable to the medium or means
You are utilizing: (i) the name of the Original Author (or pseudonym,
if applicable) ... (ii) the title of the Work if supplied; (iii) to
the extent reasonably practicable, the URI, if any, that Licensor
specifies to be associated with the Work ... The credit required by
this Section 4 (b) may be implemented in any reasonable manner

This is how one user interepreted his 'right' to 'specify the manner'
of attribution:

He thought he could specify the exact wording of the text, the font
type and size, and the location of the attribution as directly on the
work. His line of thinking is not totally unreasonable if you only
read the human summary. His directives are pretty extreme but I've
come across other users who have thought (and tried to impose) similar

IMO a 'reasonable manner' of attribution for a digital work presented
in a digital form is caption/alt-text with a link and text stating the
author and license. The idea that you could specify that the
attribution's font size and exact location is quite an unreasonable
one to me.

Just wondering if anyone else had flagged this wording as a potential
cause of confusion.

In a slightly related note I have been wondering about the wording
"keep intact all copyright notices for the Work": does this mean if
someone puts a watermark on their image "(C) Someone 2007
SomeLicense", we are obliged to keep it? I hope not...


They've just been waiting in a mountain for the right moment:

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