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Comments on: Why Not CC By?

celebrating 20 years of open content and looking forward - pragmatism before zeal

Last Build Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2018 19:01:52 +0000


By: Gavin Baker

Fri, 14 Sep 2007 02:12:42 +0000

I'm waiting on my earlier comment to appear, but a quick note: w/r/t the attribution procedures in the CC licenses, if you view the legal code, you'll see the procedure is more defined than "attribute in the manner specified by the creator". In particular, it enlightens your concern about "the author didn't say how to attribute, so I don't have to attribute":
...You must ... keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and provide, reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing: (i) the name of the Original Author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied, and/or (ii) if the Original Author and/or Licensor designate another party or parties (e.g. a sponsor institute, publishing entity, journal) for attribution ("Attribution Parties") in Licensor's copyright notice, terms of service or by other reasonable means, the name of such party or parties; the title of the Work if supplied; to the extent reasonably practicable, the Uniform Resource Identifier, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work, unless such URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work; and, consistent with Section 3(b) in the case of a Derivative Work, a credit identifying the use of the Work in the Derivative Work (e.g., "French translation of the Work by Original Author," or "Screenplay based on original Work by Original Author"). The credit required by this Section 4(b) may be implemented in any reasonable manner; provided, however, that in the case of a Derivative Work or Collective Work, at a minimum such credit will appear, if a credit for all contributing authors of the Derivative Work or Collective Work appears, then as part of these credits and in a manner at least as prominent as the credits for the other contributing authors.
The catch will be in the term "if supplied". If a page has an author's name somewhere on it, has the name been "supplied" -- or does it have to be part of the copyright notice itself? I don't know, but anyway, that's the actual language.

By: Gavin Baker

Thu, 13 Sep 2007 16:38:25 +0000

Re: 1: With the public domain, can someone explain why a public domain dedication is invalid in jurisdictions outside the U.S.? I presume there are statutes or common law that state an author cannot add his/her work to the public domain. (If so, I would recommend to those jurisdictions to change those laws, and justify why an individual should not be able to waive his/her copyright if s/he wishes.) But leaving aside the legal meaning of "public domain", what does it mean practically? It means any user is free to do anything s/he likes with the work, with no restrictions or responsibilities. If an author does not enforce his/her copyright, and indicates to readers that "You are free to do anything you like with this, I won't stop you, no royalties required, permission is granted" -- how is that invalid? Is the concern that the license would be revocable? If so, are CC licenses revocable in those jurisdictions (I know the license says it's not, but that part of the contract might not be valid.) Now, what I've just described is effectively the OEL described here. You might say it's the BSD of content licenses: do what you want, no requirements. But in fact, the BSD license has 2 conditions the OEL doesn't: 1. You must include the copyright notice in uses of the work. This lets downstream users know what rights they have. 2. You cannot imply the endorsement of the author of whatever your later use is. I didn't notice either condition in the draft OEL; neither did I see any discussion in the post. Were they purposefully excluded, or unintentionally? If purposeful, why; if unintentional, what's your reaction? (FWIW, both provisions also appear in the standard CC licenses.) Let me echo the comment that there's nothing education-specific about this draft license. It's a more-permissive option than CC by, equivalent in practice to the public domain (if it doesn't include the BSD requirements); with the BSD requirements, it's less permissive than the public domain, but more so than CC by. Re: 2: I think this clause actually lets you accomplish what you want. Let me suggest that users of CC by can waive the requirement to attribution. Since the author gets to specify how to be attributed, the author can say, "I waive the right to attribution." This would achieve the same effect as OEL license + BSD clauses. Re: 3: This presumes that the attribution requirement only benefits the author, and only hinders the re-user. I don't think that's a full view of the situation. I think the attribution requirement actually benefits downstream users. For instance, it helps contexualize the work: You know who wrote it. That's worth a lot. It also protects a downstream user against accidental plagiarism: you want to be able to cite the real author. Additionally, often it's useful to know who authored a work, because the reader wants to go see what else they've done. Maybe the author has produced other works that would be of use to the user. I see this restriction as benefiting the user in ways as significant as it benefits the author. The BSD restrictions are similarly valuable to the user, not just the author. Re: 4: As another commented, this assumes academics will be the only users of this license. This won't be the case -- especially if it's a general purpose, rather than education-specific, license. Even if it was just education, there's no reason why a user outside academia couldn't appropriate this content for whatever purpose: a book, a magazine, whatever. Maybe this use, without attribution, is desirable; maybe not. But it will happen. To suggest it won't, I think, is incorrect. A general comment on the OEL: Any re-use of content under this license with content under another license would cause the resulting work to be licensed under the other license. Even mixing with a CC by work would mean the derivative has to be licensed CC by. I think this is not[...]

By: Mark Federman

Tue, 04 Sep 2007 18:21:49 +0000

I tend to agree with Stephen and D'Arcy. However, the NTU example as contrived as it might be, highlights an important aspect of this conversation: citations and attributions are political. The act of citing and attributing is a political act that either (and both) subverts and supports whatever hegemonic forces are active in the academy (as a starting point), and in the wider discursive environment. By requiring NC, for example, I am not necessarily precluding commercial uses, merely commercial uses without an additional conversation. That speaks to my particular economic views. By adding SA, I am making a specific political statement about my views and approaches to normative behaviours with respect to knowledge. Part of the underlying theory and philosophy of adult education, which is the primary discourse in which I currently reside, speaks to making the political explicit through the processes of education and collaborative knowledge construction. A critical conversation about the selection of one's license in the context of one's courseware contributes to this explication, I think.

By: Steve Foerster

Mon, 13 Aug 2007 17:05:00 +0000

Okay, you've convinced me. I think this shows promise as a complement to public domain dedication. I agree that you should eliminate the "education" reference though. It has much wider potential application than that.

By: Wide Open Education » Debate on open licenses…

Mon, 13 Aug 2007 12:35:04 +0000

[...] on David Wiley’s iterating toward openness blog. Here, David presents a four point explanation of why the new license he’s proposed is different that the CC By license. There are [...]

By: Leigh

Sun, 12 Aug 2007 08:53:21 +0000

Good job Dave, From this post and the comments I can see this: Your license IS needed, and beyond educational sectors - so the suggestion from SD is OL instead of OEL. If CC added a field in their publishing web service, then this would fix the most significant problem you point out with CC BY. Personally I don't consider the political and cultural issues you identify with CC BY as significant either. It would be great if you can find a way into and progress your suggestion that was neglected by them and add a new field for specified attribution. At the same time as fixing CC BY you could fix the PD regional limitations by introducing OL instead of OEL. I think dropping the education specific is a good suggestion. I do think it would be worth trying to work with as clearly it is well established. Good job Dave, and many thanks.

By: David

Sun, 12 Aug 2007 01:52:47 +0000

The responses of Stephen and D'Arcy represent the fact that different licenses suit different people which is why it is nice to have a variety of licenses available to content creators. In my case CC-By fits, but thanks to your insights I will be sure to make the attribution specification clear.

By: D'Arcy Norman

Sat, 11 Aug 2007 15:13:35 +0000

but the Taiwan/China attribution example is a bit contrived - if the NTU decided to use such an obviously political message in something as benign as a copyright attribution message, imagine the political overtones embedded in the actual content. It's unlikely that such "propaganda" would be used by Chinese state-run institutions anyway. A more open license doesn't change the nature of the content. And I also disagree with Stephen about the NC clause. From personal experience, I have had dozens of photographs used by "commercial exploiters" - small-time book publishers, tour guide producers, game creators, magazine publishers, etc... None of which would have been possible without my explicit avoidance of the NC clause. All of which are more than welcome uses of my content - that's why it's out there in the first place. NC is too restrictive. Sure, it's conceivable that Some Evil Corporation might take my works and do stuff with them. It's more likely that a bunch of small groups that fall in the grey zone of "commercial entity" will be able to do cool stuff with it.

By: Stephen Downes

Sat, 11 Aug 2007 12:59:39 +0000

This post goes a long way to explain the genesis of the OEL. However, significant questions linger. First, the OEL is not meant to be “the license� that replaces all other licenses...: CC By-NC-ND, CC By-NC-SA, CC-By-ND, CC By-NC, CC By-SA, GFDL, CC By, (OEL goes here)... Public Domain is impossible to put at the end of this list. The U.S.-centric nature of Creative Commons has long been a problem, and this is most clearly evidenced by its attitude toward public domain. So I accept the idea that there needs to be a license to the right of the list. But why is it called the Open Educational License? Why not just call it the 'Open License'. Or 'CC-Open' Or some such thing that does not tell readers that educational content is Open for Business? Second, there is a major mechanical problem with the way CC By is used by people. The Attribution requirement of all CC licenses, including CC By, states “You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.� This problem is generated by an equivocation on the word 'specified'. I 'specify' my attribution on every page of my site. At the bottom where I say 'Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes'. The attribution to me would be as I have specified it, 'Stephen Downes'. But of course you are interpreting the word 'specified' to mean 'citation instructions'. What good grounds are there for this interpretation? Especially given that 99 percent of CC-By resources do not provide 'instructions'. This problem is the sort that doesn't exist until a lawyer finds it. It is a case of using the letter of the license to act against the spirit of the license. This is far too common in the world of law and licenses. It is certainly not a problem specific to CC-By. Third, in the preface to the draft I described a family of scenarios in which the requirement for Attribution is effectively a form of discrimination against people and groups of people. Of course, as you say, "political and other messages could be embedded in Attribution requirements." I would even go so far as to suggest that political and other messages might be embedded in the content itself! But I digress. If the requirement of posting content is to post a message contrary to your own interests, then don't post it. It seems farfetched to expect that the creation of another license will change the intent - and the tactics - of organizations intending to put political messages into their licenses. Fourth and finally, in the context of open education we don’t need an attribution requirement embedded in the license. We have a citation culture... Attribution is a social norm in the academy (as well as a matter of policy), and we can depend on this social norm and existing policies to encourage proper citation. That's a noble sentiment but demonstrably false. The sentiment requires the isolation of an academic culture from the wider, more commercial, culture that surrounds it. But in the internet era, these cultures are thoroughly mixed. Academic content is considered fair game by people poised to copy - with or without attribution - for commercial profit in exclusive markets. Moreover, if attribution is the norm in the academy, then posting a requirement that use of my work be attributed is, in fact, the norm. It should not change any academic use of my work. And again I iterate that the only people harmed by CC-NC-By are commercial exploiters who seek to cordon off the market foracademic content as their own and to systematically loot it for their own benefit and at the expense of people who most need free - and