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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] Founders as a module? was Re: Getting to Version 3.0
  • Date: Thu, 18 May 2006 14:34:52 +0000

Mia Garlick wrote:

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

I haven't heard any explanation of why the "Founder's Copyright" isn't
simply designed as an extra module.

For example, I think a darned near ideal license for art might be one that
converts from CC-By-NC-SA to CC-By-SA (or even CC-By) after the proprietary
period expires. This would make it much easier to use the license-delay
strategy, which is a popular business model for free-software that may
be more applicable to art than most. It would also alleviate the perpetual
copyright lock-down that is the real reason many people are so uncomfortable
with the NC licenses. I think most people would be comfortable with 1 to 7
years of "non-free" followed by "free" licensing. Then many things currently
in the NC regime might migrate into the commons after all.

Right now it's possible to do this with a well-chosen license grant statement
(e.g. just like how the GPL handles the "license update" clause, but not how
the CC licenses do).

In fact, I'd actually like to see this become the default for NC 3.0 licensing
(though I suppose that could get sticky with the NC 2.5 upgrade clause). In
any case, it would be good to encourage it as best-practice in some way.

But anyway, back to Founder's as a module: what if it was designed to affect
any "non-free" elements of CC licenses whenever it was applied? If we call
this module "F7", then we'd have:

CC-By-NC-SA-F7 --> CC-By-SA (7 years after publication)
CC-By-NC-ND-F7 --> CC-By
CC-By-NC-F7 --> CC-By

Any of that content could, e.g. be admitted into Debian or be "remixed" with
free content -- just as soon as its 7 years were up. During those 7 years, though
the artist would get both the conventional copyright monopoly advantage AND
they'd be able to cash in on the goodwill of the free-licensing community (at least
I think they would).

This strikes me as a useful compromise. It gives people who are attached to
the NC model because they want to sell their work, and those who are attached
to the free-licensing distribution system a way to work together, mostly getting
what they each want.

I also think it'd be cool if there were F1, F3, and maybe F14 modules, which
did exactly the same thing, but with one, three, and fourteen year proprietary
periods (for example, if I were using it for a magazine article, I'd want the F1
terms, but for a novel, I might want the F14 terms). On the short side, these
are close to the proprietary blackouts some publications insist on, while on
the long side, they resembled older versions of copyright law (which I know is
where the term "Founder's Copyright" comes from, of course).

I think the present situation, with Founder's Copyright metaphorically
"parked in a corner" on the CC website is the reason not many people are
using it. As a module, I think it could become a big success at bridging
the "NC-rift" in the CC community.


Terry Hancock (hancock AT
Anansi Spaceworks

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