[cc-licenses] Time limited CC licenses for version 4.0?

Mike Linksvayer ml at creativecommons.org
Thu Dec 22 20:46:55 EST 2011

On Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 2:22 PM, Parker Higgins <parkerhiggins at gmail.com> wrote:
> These proposals remind me of an older, now-defunct CC tool called Founder's
> Copyright, which was limited to 14 years with a possible 14 year extension.
> Obviously that is no longer promoted, if it still even exists.
> Mike, it looks like its earlier URL is now
> gone: http://www.creativecommons.org/projects/founderscopyright. I've found
> some press releases about it and such. Maybe talking about what didn't work
> with timed licenses would be illustrative in a discussion about implementing
> them now?

I did mention in my initial response to this thread
... I encourage people continuing this thread to go back and read

The only thing to add is that
is older than I thought, essentially just as old as the CC license

Kat Walsh wrote:
> It would be interesting for some organization that will credibly be
> around for some time to maintain a site that registers and tracks such
> commitments.

It could be, and that's basically what CC was doing with "Founder's
Copyright", in a very heavyweight manner.

But it's not clear to me this would be necessary, at least to
demonstrate interest, if not 100% legal foolproofery. For years before
widely used public copyright licenses existed or were widely used,
people used their own ad hoc statements with some (often verbatim
copying) or all (approximately or explicitly attempted public domain)
permissions. Has anyone ever seen something like "FooBlog content by
Mikey released under BY-NC-ND; Mikey irrevocably commits FooBlog to
the public domain 14 years after publication"? If so please send a
reference, I'd love to see! If wasn't a person who uses CC0 from day
0, I'd go do this right now.

Would such a thing need to be mentioned in the license at all? If
there was demand (and no good reason to believe such a facility would
detract from using fully open licenses in the first place) and a sound
way to make such a promise, a license chooser could just ask in how
many years one wants their work to be dedicated to the public domain
(yes I know a few people would prefer copyleft, but I doubt they're in
the audience of not being fully open from day 0), and provide an
appropriate statement.

I do realize a key aspect of Gregor's proposal is that expiry be built
in (I'd also be curious to look back at the details of Greg London's
past proposals; quick search didn't turn up). Maybe such should've
been built into CC licenses from the beginning, but I'm less sure
about the case for adding it now without a clear demonstration of
demand and theory as to why it would be a net benefit. I'd love to be
convinced (hopefully an indicator that others would be too).

As I said in my first response, complexity can be merited, and I'm
interested in a couple things that depending on how (and if)
implemented, could add complexity (around ShareAlike scope and
compatibility with other copyleft licenses). Though I find them
exciting, I admit the proto-proposals are at best controversial. But,
highly informed people have regularly asked for them over the years,
and not just because they sound like cool ideas, but because those
people want to use licenses with those features, and there's been
analogous progress in the free software world. I haven't heard any
such demand for licenses with expiry-to-more-freedom, and zero
coherent interest in Founder's Copyright and abandonment and no
copying of the Ghostscript GPL-after-next-release practice are kinda
negative indicators of interest.


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