[cc-licenses] Draft 4 discussion period: license drafts and open issues

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Wed Sep 18 13:02:30 EDT 2013

[Now replying on the Adapter's license]

On Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 2:57 PM, Sarah Pearson
<sarah at creativecommons.org> wrote:
> This is an interesting point. Perhaps one way of fixing this hole is to add
> something to the definition of Adapter’s License that makes it clear
> something only qualifies if it is applied in accordance with the terms of
> the license? (e.g., “Adapter's License means the license You apply to Your
> Copyright and Similar Rights in Your contributions to Adapted Material in
> accordance with the terms and conditions of this Public License.”)

Right.  I'm still of the view that the whole approach is problematic,
but your proposed language or similar would resolve that tangential

>> The often tortured line between aggregation and adaptation further
>> complicates this, as it is already a norm for "clear adaptions" to be
>> made, like synced audio and video, where the adapting party offers
>> "[Their] Copyright and Similar Rights in [Their] contributions to
>> Adapted Material" under BY-SA incompatible terms for the purpose of
>> disaggregation.
> I’m not sure I follow this. Can you explain further?

There is a not uncommon practice to say "This work is CC-By-Sa, plus,
for my contributions CC-By".

Arguably a work which could be disaggregated so that the CC-By license
there would ever matter isn't really an adaptation, but thats a
separate rats nest. (And also why I used an example which was defined
in the license to be an adaptation).

In that case  "CC-By" is the license the adapter applies "to their
contributions to the adapted material".

(If you'd like to instead argue that their contributions must always
be CC-By-SA ... there is a lot of practice to fix there... in
particular a lot of the free culture world has responded to -NC terms
by at least offering their own contributions under more permissive

It might not legally be a problem, but considering the practice it may
create unneeded confusion and disputes.  Defining the Adaptor's
license in terms other than "[The adaptor's] contributions" would be
helpful here. I'm struggling a bit with proposed language: everything
that comes to mind is sort of circular.  "The adaptor's licenses is
the license the adaptor offers you, as permitted by this license, for
the whole of the adaptation."

> Again, I’m not sure I follow your reasoning here. Under ShareAlike 4.0 as
> drafted, it is not the case that there are boundless possibilities for
> licensing adaptations. The only licenses that an adapter may apply are later
> versions or ports of BY-SA. [Eventually, it may be the case that adapters
> can apply a license deemed a BY-SA Compatible License, but there are no such
> licenses to date. This designation would only occur after a thorough vetting
> and public discussion. One of the major considerations in such a
> compatibility process will be whether SA licensors would feel that their
> expectations are being upheld by the other license.]

I apologize that I'm failing to be adequately clear.

I believe the release is, in fact, boundless via this procedure:

Licensor releases their work under CC-By-SA-4.

WombatMarketingPublications releases  WMPL 1.0 which is a copy of
CC-By-SA-4 with some trivial changes and change control for future
versions designated to WombatMarketing.

WMPL 1.0 is _clearly_ a compatible license if any license is, after
all it's just a copy of CC-By-SA-4 with insignificant changes. And,
rightfully, Creative Commons declares it as such.

The licensors work is adapted under the WMPL 1.0 and the adaptiation
is offered exclusively under the WMPL 1.0, without any stacking— the
CC-By-SA-4 is effectively gone from the work.


WombatMarketing, releases a WMPL 2.0 which does ???? (Allows creating
non-redistributable derived works, permits DRM, etc.)

I do not believe this loophole can be closed without either, at a
minimum denying the "Adapter's license" functionality to compatible
licenses, or narrowing the definition of permitted compatible licenses
such that none will exist (an unfortunate outcome).

Trying to filter out in advance a WMPL 2.0 which was bad would have
the effect of not really offering the adapter's license, but a
filtered version that removes some of the features of the adapter's
license (upgradeable), so the result would still be a stack.

I might try to suggest that the permitted adapter's licenses could be
filtered by some criteria that also accomplishes preserving freedom in
future versions of CC-By-SA, but that assurance largely comes from
trusting creative commons, and from creative common's promises outside
of the license, and not from any powerful meta-licensing in the
upgrade clause (I do not blame anyone for this: The problem of
licensing is hard enough without solving the problem of
meta-licensing). Trust is generally not commutative.

Its arguably unclear how binding Creative Common's own commitments are
for future versions of the license— e.g. the license itself makes no
mention of the intent document—, especially when we get into subtle
tradeoffs (e.g. some people have been lobbying to remove the technical
restrictions terms and CC has clearly considered it, but my decision
to release things under CC-By-SA-4 may be conditional on that). So I
do not see how compatible licenses could be adequately tested against
this risk beyond them having no upgrade ability at all.  (And I think
that the compatible licenses idea is a failure if CC-BY-Sa-4 couldn't
be compatible with itself-by-another-name).

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