[cc-licenses] Removal of a clause in non-SA licenses?

Tim Cas darkuranium at gmail.com
Wed Jan 11 18:25:57 EST 2012


Hey there; I am new to the list and thus don't know if this has already
been mentioned or not, but there is a certain clause in CC-BY-* licenses
(except for -SA and possibly -NC) that keeps bothering me:

It is listed under 4.a (emphasis mine):
*You may Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work only under the terms of
this License. You must include a copy of, or the Uniform Resource
Identifier (URI) for, this License with every copy of the Work You
Distribute or Publicly Perform. You may not offer or impose any terms on
the Work that restrict the terms of this License or the ability of the
recipient of the Work to exercise the rights granted to that recipient
under the terms of the License. You may not sublicense the Work. You must
keep intact all notices that refer to this License and to the disclaimer of
warranties with every copy of the Work You Distribute or Publicly Perform.
When You Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work, You may not impose any
effective technological measures on the Work that restrict the ability of a
recipient of the Work from You to exercise the rights granted to that
recipient under the terms of the License. This Section 4(a) applies to the
Work as incorporated in a Collection, but this does not require the
Collection apart from the Work itself to be made subject to the terms of
this License. If You create a Collection, upon notice from any Licensor You
must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Collection any credit as
required by Section 4(b), as requested. If You create an Adaptation, upon
notice from any Licensor You must, to the extent practicable, remove from
the Adaptation any credit as required by Section 4(b), as requested.*

In case the mailing list or your email client has stripped the bold tags,
here is the emphasis again:
*You may not impose any effective technological measures on the Work that
restrict the ability of a recipient of the Work from You to exercise the
rights granted to that recipient under the terms of the License.*

I am not a lawyer, but the way I see it, this imposes restrictions on
technological mechanisms for copying and distribution. For example, from
what I gather, software could not use a proprietary format for this since
that imposes such a restriction. Note that a choice of proprietary formats
is not necessarily malicious intent - for example, the proprietary format
might simply be more efficient (in one or more aspects) to the original, or
simply be the native format on the platform. One such example is Kindle's
format - authors don't have much choice publishing for that platform, since
Kindle does not support EPUB; the only alternative is an outdated format
with half-broken support (disclaimer: I do not own a Kindle and thus do not
know if the situation has changed - had it changed, however, I would
probably have known as I am keeping taps on this).

Of course, this could be misused for DRM, but although I myself am against
DRM, this is nevertheless probably not what the author intends when they
release their software under CC-BY-* (-SA and *possibly* -NC
notwithstanding).

Think about it - if the authors were worried about someone releasing this
in (say) a proprietary format, wouldn't have they picked the -SA license in
the first place? And if they were worried about DRM, wouldn't have they
picked -NC?
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