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

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Sat Jan 14 04:35:27 EST 2012

On 13/01/12 23:18, Francesco Poli wrote:
> 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.

But attribution states who the work is *by* (or BY), and authorship is a
matter of *intent*. Who created the materials used in derivative works
has to be recorded truthfully by the copyright statement. It does not
necessarily need to be part of an advertising clause, and it does have
bearing on people's reputations under moral rights.

The right to have one's name removed from works one did not create goes
beyond Berne but is included in the US VARA for example.

> 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?

I agree that inaccurate attribution does not deserve to be maintained or
created, but "accurate" is not such a simple concept. Is attribution to
a pseudonym accurate? Is anonymous attribution accurate? Is satirical
attribution accurate? How little of a work must remain, or how
transformed must it be, before it is obviously inaccurate to claim that
the adaptation is in any way "by" the original author?

- Rob.

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