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  • From: Kat Walsh <kat AT>
  • To: Development of Creative Commons licenses <cc-licenses AT>
  • Subject: [cc-licenses] Translation policy for 4.0 (and other CC legal tools)
  • Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2013 19:09:17 -0700

Post summary: official translations will be treated as equivalents for
both CC0 and the 4.0 licenses. The license will not say anything on
this point, to avoid unintended complications. The revised translation
policy will be published soon, and will apply to CC0, 4.0, and future
legal tools.


As has been mentioned before, CC is planning to support official
translations of the 4.0 licenses. After a conversation with our
affiliates, who will be leading the translation efforts, we have
decided on a policy for doing so.

We will be treating all of the official translations of 4.0 as
equivalents, though the license text itself will be silent on this
point. CC would like users of its legal tools to be able to use them
entirely in their own language. However, in rare cases where disputes
come up between languages, we don't want to remove the option of
referring to the English text as authoritative when this may be the
best resolution.

A primary reason to do this is that not everyone can reasonably use
the English legal tools, and they shouldn't have to. We want people to
be able to use and rely on the licenses in the languages they read,
and to be able to substitute translations as needed without changing
the legal effect. There will be many cases where neither licensors or
licensees will be using the English text at all. We expect disputes
that rest on differences in meaning between two translations will be
rare (if they happen at all), so we don't want to declare English as
the controlling version when relying on the texts the parties were
using may make more sense.

On CC's part, we will be working with teams to bring the translations
of 4.0 as close as possible to the original English text. While it may
be impossible to get perfect correspondence, CC HQ will remain
involved in order to minimize errors, particularly on the meanings of
key terms and phrases.

However, the English text has had the benefit of broad input, and it
will naturally be the one that we are most confident reflects the
intended meaning. While we think disputes over language in
translations are unlikely, we don't want to create unintended
complication by declaring the translations to be equivalents within
the legal code itself: there may be cases where the best resolution
will be to look to the English text, and we don't want to
unintentionally cut off that possibility.

The effect of this policy will be that languages will be treated as
equivalents. Licensors can refer to the language that they are most
comfortable with, as can those who use and then reshare the work
and adaptations (where permitted). Where a dispute arises, you or
your local court may choose to look to the English if you wish, but
most if not all disputes should be solvable by looking to any
official language.

We will also be changing the CC0 translation policy to reflect this
approach, and the new policy and process will apply to CC0, 4.0, and
all of CC's legal tools going forward. (The new policy will be
published on the CC wiki soon, replacing the old CC0 policy.)


Kat Walsh, Counsel, Creative Commons
IM/IRC/@/etc: mindspillage * phone: please email first
Help us support the commons:
California Registered In-House Counsel #801759
CC does not and cannot give legal advice. If you need legal advice,
please consult your attorney.

  • [cc-licenses] Translation policy for 4.0 (and other CC legal tools), Kat Walsh, 09/30/2013

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