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Subject: Development of Creative Commons licenses

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  • From: "Greg London" <email 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 15:21:24 -0400 (EDT)

> ******NON******-copyleft --- how many asterisks do I need to make
> you read this syllable? ;-P

My bad. I'd say three or four asterisks, minimum.

> My question, to reiterate, is 'What's the difference between a
> "NON-copyleft free license" (e.g. MIT, BSD, CC-By) and "Public Domain"?'

The only practical difference that I know of occurs for licenses
that have accumulative requirements. I believe that's one of the
arguments against the BSD advertising clause is that as the
derivative work accumulated more and more sources, it would
accumulate more and more advertising. Early CC attribution could
accumulate in a project too. Theoretically, this overhead could
build up to the point that it becomes a pain in the butt to meet
the attribution requirements for a large, long-running, gift
economy project.

The CC-Wiki license fixes the cululative effect of the CC-BY,
because it allows attribution to be handed over to a single
website or similar organization. More contributers does not
mean more attribution. If I remember correctly, the wording
of the latest CC-BY is that it is in all licenses, but that
it only applies if the author provides the attribution info.
Not provided, doesn't accumulate.

The only other difference I can think of relates to Moral Rights.
I'm not so familiar with all the details of Moral Rights,
but my understanding is that they cannot be licensed away.
The author cannot sign them over. So, as long as copyright is
in effect, the work could be licensed CC-BY,
but the original author still has moral rights attached to the
work. Moral Rights have had some real world effects in court
cases in Europe, but in the US, the only moral right I know of
is a specific form of attribution requirement.

Truly Public Domain works have no moral right attachments.
And there is no legally binding way to surrender your moral rights.

So there is no legally binding way to put a work into
the Public Domain.

That's my understanding of the problem.
All bugs are shallow, so I'm sure any errors
on my part will be quickly straightened out by someone else.

I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice.

> I believe that important communities (such as the participants in
> the debian-legal mailing list that reviews projects against the DFSG for
> inclusion in the Debian distribution) believe them to be essentially
> equivalent (except for the quibble over unintentional effects of the
> CC-By's attribution requirement -- which this revision is supposed to
> fix, BTW). And absent any argument to the contrary, I agree with
> them.
> Of course, I am intimately familiar with the tradeoffs involved in a
> copyleft license, but I wasn't talking about that.
> The reason why this matters at all, is that the legal mechanisms for
> licensing under "CC-By" and "Consigning to the Public Domain" are
> quite different and the "Founder's Copyright" was apparently conceived
> as being closer to the latter. I think it's a lot harder to guarantee
> conversion to Public Domain (Some people think it's not legal to do so,
> but assuming it is, you definitely have to own all rights to it), whereas
> converting to a non-copyleft free license like CC-By is pretty trivial.
> So I regard them as a very easy road and a very hard road that lead to
> the same place. 'Is there any reason', I am asking, 'to take the harder
> road?'
> Cheers,
> Terry
> --
> Terry Hancock (hancock AT
> Anansi Spaceworks
> _______________________________________________
> cc-licenses mailing list
> cc-licenses AT

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