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Subject: Development of Creative Commons licenses

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  • From: "Greg London" <email AT>
  • To: cc-licenses AT
  • Subject: [cc-licenses] CC-TERM license, CC-BID banner?
  • Date: Sun, 2 Sep 2007 00:11:45 -0400 (EDT)

I was talking about copyright terms with an author.
He informed me that he and several author friends
of his agree that the current duration of copyright
is too long, and that they'd probably settle for
something more like Life+15 or so.

I was thinking that maybe one way to fight the
copyright maximalists who claim they're extending
copyright terms to protect the little guy and
because no one can afford to write for anything
less than Life+70 years, would be to have a bunch
of published, professional authors who make it
publically known that they'd write for Life+15
or something like that.

The first thought that came to mind was a CC license
that authors could place their works under which would
put the work into the public domain at Life+15, which
would sort of be like the Founders Copyright, but
longer terms.

The CC-TERM would be a license that would release the
work into the public domain after some number
of years. This might be settable by the author,
or perhaps CC could come up with a few numbers that
would be stakes in the ground. Life+20 years might
be one. Not sure what other good ones might be,
so the more flexible way would be to allow the
author to specify the duration for the particular

But the Founder's Copyright license hasn't been a huge
success, and I think there are a couple reasons for
that. One is that the term is too long to encourage
any sort of gift economy to form around a work.
Which means the author is likely going to be sole
contributer to the work. Which also means that the
author will likely want to make money off the work
to compensate them for their time and energy.

But authors can't sell exclusive rights to their
works to a publisher (which is how they usually
make their money) if they've committed to release
the work into the public domain via the Founder's
Copyright license, or some CC-TERM license.

So, I was thinking that a CC-TERM license would be
made available for folks as an option for those
who can commit to such a thing. However, the other
new addition wouldn't be a license, per se, but more
of a public declaration of support of some shorter
copyright term.

Author's could paste some kind of CC Banner on their
webpage or user page or whatever, that would be
similar to the CC-License banners, with the metadata
and the rest of it.

But instead of being an actual license, it would
be a "bid" by the author to say how short terms could
be made to be for them to continue working as a writer.

If professional, published authors posted bids on
their websites to be willing to write for much
shorter copyright terms, then that might slowly
grow and become a sort of indirect petition to
correct copyright terms.

It would certainly reframe the topic of copyright
into something more in line with a reformist's view.
And it would get the conversation started and spreading
to authors who can't use CC-SA because they work
by selling exclusive rights to their novels to
publishers who want exclusive rights and don't want
other licenses to the work floating out there.

CC has been, to some extent, preaching to the choir.
This would be a way to bring more conventional
authors into the discussion of fixing copyright law,
by specifically fixing terms to shorter, more reasonable,

So, CC-TERM would be a license that authors could use
to license their work into the public domain 20 years
after they die, and for those who can do so and still
operate in what would essentially be a proprietary

CC-BID would not be a license, but would be a
banner of some kind that would have the same
searchable metadata that the license banners do
(to enable some sort of tracking of how successful
or not the adoption of said banners would be.)
Authors could post the banner on their home page
or whereever and use it as a notice to the government
that terms are too long.

If enough people used CC-BID, then maybe congress
would take notice. Or, at the very least, when
some maximalist argues that they must have Life=Pluse-100
to survive, a quick google search would turn up
all the CC-BID banners and a list of authors who
endorse said plan.

Again, I'm not sure if the actual durations would be
predetermined or completely open to the user to choose.

But I thought I'd run the basic idea by the gang
here and see what they thought.

What do folks think?

Greg London

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