[cc-licenses] Attribution: accurate credit should not be forbidden

Francesco Poli invernomuto at paranoici.org
Fri Jan 13 18:18:25 EST 2012

Hi all,
a clause that should be improved in CC-v4.0 licenses is the following
one, found in CC-by-v3.0:

|     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.

A nearly identical clause is found in CC-by-sa-v3.0 (and in other
CC-v3.0 licenses).

I'm not convinced that this clause meets the Debian Free Software
Guidelines. See my previous comments[1] if you need to read a more
detailed analysis.


In summary, I don't think that a license can (allow a licensor to)
forbid an accurate credit and meet the DFSG at the same time. I think
that stating "This Adaptation is based on the Work _foo_ by James O.
Hacker" is an accurate credit, as long as it's true. Allowing James O.
Hacker to force me to purge such a credit seems to significantly
restrict my ability of modifying the work (see DFSG#3).
Why? Because it forbids me to state a true fact in a modified version
of the work, namely that the modified version is based on the original
work by the original author.

Many licenses require that *accurate* credits be kept. This seems to
be fine and acceptable (that is to say it's DFSG-free). On the other
hand, if a license required *inaccurate* credit, I think it would be
considered non-free. If this is the case, how can forbidding
*accurate* credit be considered acceptable?

Please note that I'm *not* advocating misattribution: stating the true
origin of a work (and explicitly clarifying that the original author
wrote the original work, while someone else based the adaptation on it)
is *not* misattribution.

Moreover, I'm *not* advocating the permission to hurt the reputation of
the original author: I believe that no reputation is being hurt, as
long as it's clear that the original author just created the original
work, and that the modified version was created by someone else by
modifying the original work.

I think that this clause should be dropped entirely from CC-v4.0
licenses, or, at least, amended so that it says "remove from the
Collection any *inaccurate* credit".

I hope this suggestion may be implemented.

 New GnuPG key, see the transition document!
..................................................... Francesco Poli .
 GnuPG key fpr == CA01 1147 9CD2 EFDF FB82  3925 3E1C 27E1 1F69 BFFE
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