[cc-licenses] questions about attribution

Andrew Rens andrewrens at gmail.com
Mon May 14 17:05:47 EDT 2012

Comments in text

On 11 May 2012 18:32, Sarah Pearson <sarah at creativecommons.org> wrote:

> All -- We have some specific questions about attribution/marking in v.4,
> and we would love to get as much feedback as possible by the end of this
> month. The questions are posted on the 4.0 wiki here<http://wiki.creativecommons.org/4.0/Attribution_and_marking#Questions_about_attribution.2Fmarking_in_4.0>.
> I have also cut and pasted them below for those that would rather respond
> on the mailing list.
> Note that we are also trying to solicit feedback from specific
> communities, such as OER and others, so we are circulating the questions on
> a few other mailing lists as well. We will do our best to consolidate all
> feedback on the 4.0 wiki as we receive it.
> Thanks for your input.
> best,
> Sarah
> --------------------
>  In draft 1, we tried to simplify the attribution and marking
> requirements by putting them all into one section of the license in list
> form. This is designed to make it easier for licensees to understand and
> comply with their obligations.
> Specifically, when sharing the work, licensees must provide the following
> information when it is supplied by licensor:
>    - Name of the author
>    - Name of parties designed by licensor for attribution
>    - Title of the work
>    - Copyright notice
>    - URI associated with the work
>    - URI associated with the CC license
>    - Notices, disclaimers, warranties referring to the CC license
> Most of the licensors who I have advised have wanted this information
> reproduced but don't have clear ideas about how they want this done. Many
> licensees don't have a clear idea how to do this either.

Both would benefit from the availability of standard ways of attributing.

One way to do that and to enable efficient attribution would be to allow a
licensor to specify that the attribution should follow a publicly available
attribution standard, either in addition to the listed details or in place
of the listed details. This would enable communities to create attribution
standards. These standards could require either fewer or more details
depending on the requirements of the community, and provided that those are
attribution requirements. No licensor would be bound to adopt such a
standard but could do so.

Example;  Andrew photographs a bear and requires attribution according to
the Free Wildlife Artists rules that require only a link to Free Wildlife
Artists listing for the photograph and the licensing URI. The listing on
the Free Wildlife Artists website contains the other information and other
information of interest to wildlife artists such as the location of the

> *(1)* Is there any *other* information we should require licensees to
> provide when fulfilling the attribution and marking requirements under CC
> licenses? Alternatively, is there anything in this list that is unnecessary
> for licensees to provide even when it is supplied by the licensor? Our goal
> is to make the requirements extensive enough to satisfy licensors’ desire
> to be attributed and recognized for their work without making the
> obligations impractical.

> *(2)* All of these requirements may be fulfilled in any reasonable manner
> based on the medium the licensee is using to share the licensed work. This
> flexibility is intended to help ease compliance with the license
> conditions. Does the current language grant licensees too much flexibility?
> Not enough? Is there anything else we should change to make it easier on
> licensees that are remixing content from multiple sources – the so-called
> “attribution stacking” problem?

Encouraging the creation of community attribution standards, enabling their
use by licensors would  go a long way to easing the stacking problem.

> *(3) *If the URI associated with the work refers to a resource that
> specifies the name of the author (or attribution parties, if applicable)
> and title of the work, licensees may include only the URI rather than
> specifying that information separately. This is another attempt to make
> compliance with the license conditions easier and more flexible without
> compromising the needs and expectations of licensors. Is this shortcut
> appropriate and/or helpful? If the URI points to a resource that includes
> the other required information (e.g., the copyright notice), would it be
> preferable to allow the URI shortcut to satisfy those other requirements as
> well?

It would make more sense to experiment with these in community attribution

> *(4)* Some licensors have more detailed expectations for attribution of
> their work. Should we make allowances for licensors who want to include
> specific attribution requirements (e.g., a particular attribution
> statement), or would this unnecessarily complicate license compliance? Note
> that any particular requirements would need to be subject to the
> reasonableness standard to be consistent with the explicit terms of the
> license.

Where this is non standard it increases transaction costs for licensees but
if there were community attribution standards those transaction costs could
be reduced by automation, widgets that enable a licensee to attribution

In the above example a community standard such as the Free Wildlife Artists
could require some more information be passed on e.g. the scientific name
of the species photographed.

> *(5) *Another possibility is to change the language to a more general
> requirement to acknowledge the author and cite the original work and
> applicable license. We could then include the current list of attribution
> and marking requirements as an example of best practices rather than as a
> specific legal requirement. This would potentially give licensees more
> freedom to adapt attribution to their particular circumstances, while
> maintaining the spirit and purpose of the requirements. Is this a proposal
> we should pursue? Why or why not?

This would not be suffecient for many of the licensors whom I have advised,
including a number of OER projects.

If experimentation with various standards is desirable then enabling
licensors to require a publicly available community attribution standard
with a default will enable the greatest range of experimentation. The
licensor can then decide what is most appropriate but in a way that enables
efficiencies, different communities would figure out what works best for
different media. That would be a true punt to culture.

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Andrew Rens

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