Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Alternative Copyright Licensing Scheme Formalizes Free Sharing of Content Online

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Creative Commons' Free Content Distribution Licensing Service
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You're probably familiar with the phrase "All rights reserved" and the little © that goes along with it. Creative Commons wants to help copyright holders send a different message: "Some rights reserved" and our "CC Creative Commons" logo.

Creative Commons is a non-profit dedicated to promote the creative reuse of intellectual works and to provide an easy mechanism to allow people to share their online content for free.

Through the Licensing Project, Creative Commons helps you tell others that your works are free for copying and other uses, but only under certain conditions.

If you have some creative work you have made, and you want to share with others, get exposure, visibility, while keeping protecting your fair rights, Creative Commons Licensing Project offers the way to share with others that many of us have long been looking for.

For some examples of who would want to use such type of license and when here are a few interesting example: licenses/examples

Even if you would want to offer your work to others by opening it to the public domain, where nothing is owned and all is permitted, Creative Commons supports your effort to declare "No rights reserved."

A variety of options exists: a content provider may wish to allow or disallow commercial use, a provider may wish to require or not require attribution, et cetera.
The complete list of 11 licensing options can be found here:

Creative Commons has created a set of template licenses, one to describe each possible combination of licenses for free content distribution. In order to use one of these licenses, a provider of web content needs merely to link to the appropriate license on their web page. A potential user then accesses the license and decides whether or not their use is allowed by the conditions in the license.

Creative Commons also provides a licensing wizard that allows a content provider to make a set of selections (using an easy forms-based menu). Once the selections are made, Creative Commons automatically generates the (HTML) code required in order to apply a certain sort of license. This means that content providers do not actually need to know anything about the code describing the license; they simply cut and paste from the code provided.

The service is completely FREE of charge and it requires only a simple subscription process before it can be used.

You can watch a beautiful Flash animated cartoon fully explaining Creative Commons mission and scope. The demo does an absolutely wonderful job at clarifying why the CC alternative license is not against copyright but it complements it.

As you may notice at the bottom of this newsletter report, from this very issue MasterMind Explorer is published under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (cc) license.

The alternative Licensing Project is not the only CreativeCommons initiative in this direction. I was particularly interested in their new parallel initiative called Founders' Copyright.

According to CreativeCommons "the Framers of the U.S. Constitution understood that copyright was about balance - a trade-off between public and private gain, society-wide innovation and creative reward. In 1790, the U.S.'s first copyright law granted authors a monopoly right over their creations for 14 years, with the option of renewing that monopoly for another 14 years."

Through the Founders' Copyright initiative CreativeCommons intends to bring about that sense of balance - without pressing or requesting the change of laws but by supporting and facilitating copyright holders who acknowledge the limiting benefit of long term copyright holding and are open to release some or all of their work to the public domain after a short time period (14 years).

Here's how the Founders' Copyright works: The Creative Commons and a contributor enter into a contract to guarantee that the relevant creative work will enter into the public domain after 14 years. During the first 14 years after a Founders' Copyrighted work is created, the original creator will have all the rights that copyright permits. After 14 years, the work enters the public domain.

There has already been an exemplary first adopter of the Founders' Copyright that provides a wonderful example and model of how things can turn out to work beneficially for both the publisher and society that uses its works.

O'Reilly Associates, the world-renowned publishers of quality publications about technology and society, as well as best-selling software handbooks, has pledged to release certain copyrights into the public domain under the Founders Copyright, as well as to donate some of its content to the public domain immediately.

What Creative Commons and O'Reilly hope to make understood is that the separation of interests of society from the ones of companies is indeed highly disputable. If companies and organizations can provide a gain to those who live in their society, by increasing understanding, knowledge, know-how that becomes available to others, we can all benefit and greatly gain for this for a long time to come.

This can be panacea for the world's intellectual and cultural future development.

There is nothing wrong in considering that a profit-making enterprise may in fact gain (make a profit) by enforcing its (copy)rights only to the extent that they measurably benefit from them - but no further. Yes, read that again, and think about it.

(I even wonder if all of the international development organizations should not apply a "limited" copyright to all of the content, publications, and information they generate instead of protecting so extensively information that should be the wealth of humanity.)

My support to Creative Commons is complete.
Not recommended; Indispensable for a livable future.

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posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, December 31 2002, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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