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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: Re: [cc-licenses] Founders as a module? was Re: Getting to Version 3.0
  • Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 01:22:26 +0000

Mike Linksvayer wrote:
> (Is it really necessary for works to go into the Public Domain to
> be considered "free"?).

Let's not talk about that.

Oooh. "Witness the oppression inherent in the system!" ;-D

Seriously though, why not? It doesn't seem all that controversial to me.

To clarify the question, what's the difference in practical terms between
CC-By or MIT or 3-clause BSD versus "public domain"?

AFAIK, the only legal difference is that you aren't legally obligated (by
copyright law) to acknowledge the author of a PD work. But of course,
not doing so can still be legally actionable: it can invalidate a patent
claim (failure to disclose prior art) or get you thrown out of college
(plagiarism/academic dishonesty).

To me, it doesn't seem like there's any difference worth harping on,
so it is just as effective to define a short-term copyright by using
a sunset provision to expire the more restrictive parts of the license,
leaving the others.

In fact the idea that there is no difference in practical terms is pretty
much the conventional wisdom in the free-licensed software community
(which is, admittedly not made up of lawyers, but still). E.g. debian
legal seems to have reached this consensus in the past. There's also
a popular idea that "you can't legally consign a work to the public
domain in the US", but I've never been too sure about that one, myself.

Terry Hancock (hancock AT
Anansi Spaceworks

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