[cc-licenses] Request for feedback: URI requirement in Attribution section

Kat Walsh kat at creativecommons.org
Wed Feb 20 18:39:19 EST 2013

This is the second issue related to attribution we'd like feedback on
before the final revision of 4.0. (The first, on identifying when a
work has been modified, has its own thread:

Part of the difficulty in revising this section is that the
requirement may serve several different purposes. This post is fairly
long, but we think it may be a more useful discussion if you're all
also aware of the considerations we've had in mind.

The way this is written in d3 reflects our current thinking: that the
most important purpose of this requirement is informing recipients of
the original version of the work if it has been modified. The d3
language attempts to address this while minimizing the potential
drawbacks, by only requiring this information be retained where
necessary.  However, best practices for many types of use would be to
include a URI even where not strictly required, and our  guidance for
license users should reflect this.

Some purposes of the URI requirement:

* Indicating modification to the original work.

When a user receives a modified copy of the work, it should be easy to
locate the original and identify the differences, and it is often
important to licensors that recipients know if and how a work was

* Indicating the origin of the work.

Many works will have an official or otherwise authoritative location
associated with them: the official site of the author or creator of
the licensed work, for example, or the site of an institution that
curated or sponsored the work.

* Enabling recipients to exercise the Licensed Rights.

The copy of a work that licensees receive may be in a format or
location where it is difficult to download or modify; the URL supplied
may provide a means to do this.

* Directing traffic to the original site of the work

Many licensors view increased traffic to their sites as incentive to
release a work under a CC license.

Some potential drawbacks:

* It is redundant, if information is supplied.

Where copyright information is already supplied with the work (or in a
shortcut as permitted by the license) along with all other attribution
information, the requirement to maintain a URI to preserve additional
copyright information is redundant or unnecessary.

* The URI the licensor supplies is not always the best place to access the work.

The work may be removed from its original location by the licensor or
a third party, making the licensor-supplied URI obsolete, and its
purpose better served by providing a different location. The
licensor-supplied location may also be inaccessible or harmful to
certain users, and other locations more appropriate.

* Licensors may use the requirement for non-attribution purposes

Licensors may include otherwise unnecessary links to spread
advertisements, malware, or other reasons unrelated to attribution.

* It may create problems for collaborative projects

Retaining links for material brought in from outside a project, but
not for material created within a project, may be undesirable for
large collaborative platforms.

One final consideration is that we would like to ensure that it is not
burdensome for licensees to comply. For example, someone who receives
a work and then wishes to share it should not have to do a difficult
search to supply
required information.

We would appreciate your comments.


Kat Walsh, Counsel, Creative Commons
IM/IRC/@/etc: mindspillage * phone: please email first
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