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cc-licenses - [cc-licenses] Color-coding, was Re: Getting to Version 3.0

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Subject: Development of Creative Commons licenses

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  • From: Terry Hancock <hancock AT>
  • To: Discussion on the Creative Commons license drafts <cc-licenses AT>
  • Subject: [cc-licenses] Color-coding, was Re: Getting to Version 3.0
  • Date: Thu, 18 May 2006 14:13:53 +0000

Mia Garlick wrote:

Attached is an outline for why and how CC proposes to version to 3.0. [...]

Regarding the section on disambiguating licenses, ever since that guy asked
about license buttons for non-free EULA-type licenses, I'v been thinking that
some kind of color-coding scheme would be extremely helpful, both for clarity
and as a marketing tool, e.g.:

"Free" licenses have cool colors (say):

GREEN = free / non-copyleft
BLUE = free copyleft

While "non-free" licenses have hot colors:

YELLOW = Non-Commercial
ORANGE = Non-derivative (& NC-ND)
RED = More restrictive licenses (e.g. EULAs)

Of course, those are just ideas that seem psychologically appropriate to me
(the one that provides the greatest freedom to the receiver is GREEN as in
"go", and the one that provides the least is RED as in "stop" or "warning").

I also feel that BLUE is appropriate for the free-licensed copyleft regime because
it has very positive connotations of freedom and open space ("sky"), also blue
signifies "loyalty" to many people, and thus fits the copyleft ideal.

I don't like NC or ND, but they shouldn't be RED, because they allow many
people sufficient freedom for what they need. But they should be used
with "caution", traditionally symbolized by YELLOW. ND is a bit more
restrictive than NC, so it gets the ORANGE color code.

LinuxTag used something like this on their free music demo disk a few
years ago (they had special "green", "yellow", and "red" licenses written
up for it -- probably pre-dated CC).


Terry Hancock (hancock AT
Anansi Spaceworks

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