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« Twitter's Tupperware Parties | Main | Further on Creative Communism »

April 05, 2009

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Darien Caldwell

Seems contradictory then. If it's not a contract you can be sued for breaching, why have one in the first place? Seems meaningless. And maybe that's the point then.

Dale Innis

Darien, copyright is a law that you can be sued or prosecuted for breaking. The CC licenses are a way of saying "people have permission to do X with this work in circumstances Y, and therefore won't be sued or prosecuted for doing so, even though that would otherwise be prohibited by copyright."

So the CC licenses are not contracts, they are, well, licenses. (Wikipedia has decent articles on both that help make the distinction.)

When the copyright on a thing expires, then people can do what they like with the thing regardless, and the CC license (whose sole function is to let you do things that you couldn't otherwise do) becomes pretty much meaningless (in my non-lawyer understanding at least).

It's like if I give you a key to a closet: this lets you do things that you couldn't otherwise, but once the door vanishes, the key is sort of irrelevant.

Prokofy is right that the CC licenses are things you can't really take back. If you've said to someone, "here, you can use this for anything you want, as long as you mention my name in your documentation", it would sort of defeat the purpose if you added "unless I change my mind later, of course", because then no one sensible would risk making attributed use of the thing, for fear that once they became successful you would "change your mind" and start demanding half their profits.

Putting a CC license on something doesn't prevent you from also having a version that you make money from. You can for instance sell someone the right to make commercial use of a thing, even if you've already released that thing under one of the "nc" (non-commercial use) licenses. You can sell someone the right to prepare derivative works based on a thing even if you've also released it under a CC "no derivative works" license. So the CC licenses are by no means incompatible with selling stuff.

It's true there's no CC license that says "you can do X with this thing only if you've paid me $Y via method Q". In general I think if you're planning to make money with something, you're probably better off paying a real live lawyer to make up the license for it, rather than using a pre-made one off the net. :)

To my thinking, one reason the CC licenses can be nice and generic and low-stress is precisely because they're aimed at situations where there's no money involved. If you want a good watertight commercial agreement, that's sort of more work. And it may well be that the people doing CC stuff currently are just less interested in those cases.

Now that I think of it, it'd be very interesting to see someone put forward, in good faith, a proposal for a set of "payme" CC-style licenses; even if the CC folks themselves didn't want to adopt them, a CC-like effort designed to make it easier for people to create and use simple "license for money" arrangements would be a fun thing to have.

ichabod Antfarm

"a CC-like effort designed to make it easier for people to create and use simple "license for money" arrangements would be a fun thing to have."

We do have that, Dale, and, you're right, it is fun. It's called the free market. :-P

Dale Innis

/me grins at Ichabod.

I meant something a bit more detailed than "the free market". I agree the free market is fun! And it makes great pizza.

I was thinking more along the lines of a site that would, say, ask you some questions about your product and how you want to control and sell and license it, and would give you the draft legal language to use to do that. Sort of like what CC does, only when there's money involved.

And when I put it that way, it occurs to me that the most likely reason that no one (including the CC folks) have done this is that the potential liability (if a license that you generate had a bug in it) might be significant, since money is involved.

Oh, and on the "license vs. contract" issue, I was rereading the actual CC license legalese, and the wording explicitly acknowledges that some jurisdictions might regard the license as a contract, and in that case it says that it is granting you the listed rights in exchange for you abiding by the terms of the license (attribution or whatever), and that it expires when the copyright on the thing expires. So we don't have to just assume that the CC licenses stop when copyright expires, even if that seems obvious; they explicitly state that they do.

If that's any comfort. :)

Prokofy Neva

Once again, Dale-the-tool is filled with reductivist, literalist arguments that ultimately seek to undermine commerce and defend the technocommunism of Creative Commons. Not surprising, comrades!

>If you've said to someone, "here, you can use this for anything you want, as long as you mention my name in your documentation", it would sort of defeat the purpose if you added "unless I change my mind later, of course", because then no one sensible would risk making attributed use of the thing, for fear that once they became successful you would "change your mind" and start demanding half their profits.

Too bad. They can learn the social injunction that exists -- and long existed -- without CC which is that you don't take people's work until you attribute them, and only for fair use. Naturally, Google has helped erode this concept of what "fair use" means.

If someone who created a thing wants to change their mind about it, that's legitimate and they can do that. The CC license has no legal authority, and ascribing legal authority to it (which its founders crave and try to snooker you into doing) only perpetuates the madness. All that happens is that IF you go after someone who used your item for free when you issued the prior "license," then they *might* be able to say, "but you issued this CC license before". I'd love to see a court case on that. Perhaps the creator who changed his mind would lose, perhaps not. CC "licenses" are only a game, a token in a game.

The real issue is that the person who created something gets to change his mind, its his item, and henceforth he *could* change his mind, and if he chose NOT to go after those already making the free use, what difference could it make?

In fact, Dale then repudiates this point himself by saying that there is nothing to stop you from starting to sell your item commercially after you gave it away with CC.

Well, wait a minute, Comrade, which is it? A second ago you said nobody can ever change their mind on their CC "license" because this would cause fears of the risk of using CC. Well, good! Nothing should be forever!

Of course, this is only an abstraction. The world does not abound with examples (er, could you find me even one) of people who issue their creation for free to everybody, then suddenly issue it for pay as a license for one commercial use. That's because nobody in their right mind would buy something they can get and use for free if that's all they want to do, *use it*.

If they want to resell it, then CC simply doesn't help them. They'd have to go to this creator *anyway* because there *is no license to say 'pay me then use it*. They'd have to negotiate with them as they do in any RL situation outside the virtual world of CC (and it truly is a virtual world of techocommunist utopianism).

Oh, most likely people can find examples of this, where people gave away their songs for free on Magnatune to the masses, but if some company needed an advertising jingle, *then* they'd buy it for money (I'd like to see whether this system is really widespread, or whether it sustains bands *really* -- we never get the numbers on that. Like we never get the true and actual numbers of Doctorow's books).

The fact is, this idea of "liability" from a "pay me" license is a fiction that overly lawyerly types severed from real-world practice like Lessig, and immersed in ideology, in fact foist on you. There is absolutely nothing to stop you from creating a payment system. Nothing.

CC is incompatible with life, like all communism. If you give away stuff for free, you can't really expect to sell it and live. The few exceptions that exist within the copyleftist cultural virtual world don't help make the case because they are aberrations based on the culture itself, like selling hippie roach clips and hippie culture. Few people make a living selling bongs and roach clip holders.

Thriving sites like etsy.com where people sell their crafts without any CC nonsense for money let us know that this is possible, it works and it doesn't need all the lawyering up that people imagine. Part of the CC undermining of commerce is to make it seem like you need lawyers like Lessig for commerce, which is something that is some kind of scary 'controlled substance'.

Dale Innis

"" In fact, Dale then repudiates this point himself by saying that there is nothing to stop you from starting to sell your item commercially after you gave it away with CC.

Well, wait a minute, Comrade, which is it? A second ago you said nobody can ever change their mind on their CC "license" because this would cause fears of the risk of using CC. ""

I think you're reading a little too fast, Prokofy.

The CC licenses do grant a perpetual right, it's in the wording; so if you want to keep the ability to change your mind later, you have to use some other license instead. But that doesn't mean that you can't grant a CC (perpetual) license for non-commercial uses one week, and sell a license for a commercial use the next week. Or that you can't grant a (perpetual) CC license for attributed use one month, and sell a license for nonattributed use (to someone willing to pay for the privilege of not having anyone else's name in their documentation, say) the next. That's not changing your mind about the original CC licensing at all; that license applies just as it originally did, for those purposes that it originally did.

There's no contradiction there.

When I said that no one sensible would use something under a "you can use this unless I change my mind later" license, you replied:

"" Too bad. They can learn the social injunction that exists -- and long existed -- without CC which is that you don't take people's work until you attribute them, and only for fair use ""

but I'm afraid I haven't the foggiest notion what you meant by that; it seems to have nothing at all to do with what I was saying. My point, and it seems pretty obvious, is that licenses and contracts of this kind hardly ever say "unless I change my mind later" in them (at least not without a stiff penalty clause), because if they did the other party wouldn't want to risk their business or whatever on the possibility that the other party would change their mind. I'm not sure if you were disagreeing with that, or what...

I'm also not sure what you mean when you say the CC license has no legal authority. Anything anyone says about what rights they reserve or grant potentially has legal authority, whether it's marked "CC" or not.

Ask any lawyer if he'd be willing to take on a case where you've posted something in public with a statement that you grant everyone in the world a perpetual right to use it as long as they attribute it to you, but now you've changed your mind and you want to sue someone who used it to make money, for half their profits. I expect you will be gently told that attempting to win such a case would not be a good use of your time. This has nothing do to with whether or not the license that you posted the thing under said "CC" on it or not; it's because of the words of the license, not where it came from.

I'm not one of those people who's sanguine about how it would still be easy to make money in a world where all content was free to share; I think it's not nearly as obvious how that would work (or that it would work) as some people think. I would not claim that everyone who makes a living off of copyrighted content now would do just as well or better if the notion of copyright just went away; I don't think that's something that we know at all.

But on the other hand I don't see the Creative Commons licenses as trying to bring about the destruction of copyright. I believe the CC folks when they say that they just want to make it easier for people who *want* to grant the world some rights to do so. It may be that there are some people who like the CC licenses who also want to smash world capitalism and destroy the notion of copyright; but I think that saying that everyone involved in the CC stuff, and the CC stuff itself, is inherently aimed at that, is an error.

I expect we differ on this. :)

Gareth Nelson

"If someone who created a thing wants to change their mind about it, that's legitimate and they can do that. The CC license has no legal authority, and ascribing legal authority to it (which its founders crave and try to snooker you into doing) only perpetuates the madness."

The CC license does have legal authority. That authority arises from the right of the copyright holder to give permission to people to use their copyrighted work and to put limitations on that permission.

It may help to ponder proprietary licenses (EULAs) rather than CC or free software licenses when thinking about expiry or revocation. Can you picture any court actually ruling in favour of a proprietary developer believing they can revoke a EULA unless the EULA specifically says "this license may be revoked"?
There's a pretty simple logic to this:
If someone gives you permission to do something and doesn't say "I might change my mind later" it defies justice to say that they're entitled to arbitrarily change their mind.

If I own a piece of land and tell you that "it'd be trespassing if you enter my land without permission, but you have my permission to walk across my land on Wednesday afternoons for so long as I own it" then one Wednesday afternoon suddenly decide i've changed my mind and call the police to arrest you for trespass is that right? Yes, the land is mine - but if I don't want you walking across it I should not give you my license to walk across it. Even worse, if I say "yes you may build a house on my land so long as you don't rent it out" and then change my mind, should I be entitled to demolish your house? Replace house with "derivative work" and you should hopefully see what i'm getting at.

"In fact, Dale then repudiates this point himself by saying that there is nothing to stop you from starting to sell your item commercially after you gave it away with CC.

Well, wait a minute, Comrade, which is it? A second ago you said nobody can ever change their mind on their CC "license" because this would cause fears of the risk of using CC. Well, good! Nothing should be forever!"

This is much simpler then you're making out. As copyright holder, you can license the same work to multiple people in different ways. In granting a license for commercial use to person A, you aren't revoking the license for noncommercial use from person B.

If you do honestly believe by the way that any copyright license can be revoked for any reason, then I seriously hope you don't have any freebies inworld, or any books or DVDs, or any software on your computer. These are all copyrighted works with attached licenses (even if the license is only the implied license granted by sale). The copyright holder, if your view is correct, still "owns" all of them and can revoke the license from any of them.

Here's something that seems to have been overlooked:
Copyright licenses are not unique to creative commons and free software, they're used pretty much in all creative works everywhere. Anytime you obtain someone else's creative work, there's a license that allows you to do so, or it's simply illegal for you to obtain it. This license can be written out formally, or it can be a document that gives you the relevant permission, but if your view is correct then any of these creative works can be "taken back" by the copyright holder.

Do you honestly believe that?

Gareth Nelson

"This license can be written out formally, or it can be a document that gives you the relevant permission"

should be

"This license can be written out formally AS a document that gives you the relevant permission, or it can be the implied license given when you purchase it"

Note to self: sleep more

bill gibson

time to buy and use a digicam

Prokofy Neva

Anyone making claims here about what they think they can interpret about CC "licenses" being "legal," please cite chapter, verse, date, time, state for the judicial decisions that support your claims. Otherwise they are speculative.

Prokofy Neva

Hi, Bill, you know, I just got one for my daughter's birthday, I'm not a camera type, can't really work them but she loves them and has had them for years, and other friends use them and upload stuff.

I love that picture of the ice on Georgia bay.

Do you still try to sell your work in SL? is that viable at all? Seems like it would be for no cost.

Also, do you put CC licenses on your works? I don't see them. Not that I'd want you to!

ichabod Antfarm

What's the difference between putting a CC Attribution license on a work and simply not defending your copyright when that work is used by someone else? Why do I have to grant a specific permission? If it's my wish to share the thing freely, I don't need the license to do that. I just say to myself, well, if someone uses it, cool, I'm not going to take them to court over it. If they claim it's their own work then I might consider it but I don't need a CC license to make my case. Further, if an entity of which I do not approve decides to take my work and use it for their own purposes then I can come down on them as hard as I am able because I didn't attach some trendy legalese to my thing. It seems to me the more flexible and potent practise is precisely the one we have in existing copyright. Seriously, I do not understand the need for CC.

Gareth Nelson

"Anyone making claims here about what they think they can interpret about CC "licenses" being "legal," please cite chapter, verse, date, time, state for the judicial decisions that support your claims. Otherwise they are speculative."

"Consent and waiver of rights

(1) It is not an infringement of any of the rights conferred by this Chapter to do any act to which the person entitled to the right has consented.

(2) Any of those rights may be waived by instrument in writing signed by the person giving up the right.

(3) A waiver—

(a) may relate to a specific work, to works of a specified description or to works generally, and may relate to existing or future works, and

(b) may be conditional or unconditional and may be expressed to be subject to revocation;

and if made in favour of the owner or prospective owner of the copyright in the work or works to which it relates, it shall be presumed to extend to his licensees and successors in title unless a contrary intention is expressed."

"A licence granted by a copyright owner is binding on every successor in title to his interest in the copyright"
Copyright, designs and patents act 1988
Sections 87-90

Gareth Nelson

"What's the difference between putting a CC Attribution license on a work and simply not defending your copyright when that work is used by someone else?"

The difference is that you're removing uncertainty and liability for your users. Nobody sensible is going to want to touch a copyrighted work without a license and do anything serious with it, since doing so is a constant liability.

"I just say to myself, well, if someone uses it, cool, I'm not going to take them to court over it."
You say that to yourself, great - but if you really want people to use the work you need to say it to them too.

"If they claim it's their own work then I might consider it but I don't need a CC license to make my case"
No, you don't indeed. They need the license to make their case - it need not be a CC license specifically but they need some form of license from you if they don't want to be open to the legal risks.

"Further, if an entity of which I do not approve decides to take my work and use it for their own purposes then I can come down on them as hard as I am able because I didn't attach some trendy legalese to my thing."
If that "trendy legalese" correctly sets out the ways in which you don't want your work used, then same situation.

"It seems to me the more flexible and potent practise is precisely the one we have in existing copyright."
This is a huge misconception I keep seeing - nothing about CC licenses is at all incompatible with or different from "existing copyright law". They use copyright law as the means of enforcement. There's no real separation between "copyrighted" and "licensed", a work with a license on top is still copyrighted - just the copyright holder has waived some of their exclusive rights to whomever may obtain it.

"Seriously, I do not understand the need for CC"
The reason is to make it simpler to set out what permissions you are giving to people as regards your copyrighted work without them needing to contact you in every single instance and to do so in a form that's rock solid legally.

Dale Innis

"What's the difference between putting a CC Attribution license on a work and simply not defending your copyright when that work is used by someone else?"

There are a number of differences:

If you don't put out any explicit license, then people who respect copyright will either not re-use the thing at all, or will write you asking for permission; if you want nice people to be able to use your thing without having to ask you, the CC license enables that. (That's the main *point* of the CC license, in fact! The rest of these things are minor in comparison.)

If you put out a CC attribution license, you're expressing a wish to have your name mentioned when the thing is used. If you just put it out with no license, no one is incented to acknowledge you (i.e. it will be used only by people comfortable with breaking copyright, and there's no reason to think that they will use your name; "but Your Honor I put his name in the acknowledgements!" is no defense against a copyright suit).

If you don't put out any sort of license, and you see lots of people re-using it but take no action, and then someone wealthy uses it and you think "aha, I'll get him!", there's a chance (especially if you, say, intentionally wait until the wealthy person has rolled out his product that incorporates your work in seventeen countries) that you will find yourself facing a reasonable defense based on one or another sort of estopple or laches (the argument that because you had taken no action on prior infringements the defendant fairly concluded that the work was available for general use; that you were being a Bad Person by waiting until the infringement got really bad before acting, in hopes of a bigger settlement, etc). The courts do use this kind of thing to find against people that annoy them in an abusing-the-law sort of way.

But the main difference is that by using a CC attribution license you're expressing something completely different than if you don't. :) So if the statement that you make with the license more accurately reflects what you'd actually like people to do than the statement that you make without it, posting the license seems only sensible...

Dale Innis

/me waves at Gareth. :)

Prokofy Neva

No, um, nice try at fisking and playing "gotcha", Gareth, but it's not links to just any old case law about how CC licenses are accepted by a court of law. That isn't at all what was said.

Here is what I said:

"please cite chapter, verse, date, time, state for the judicial decisions that support YOUR CLAIMS"

That was in response to *your claims* which you made here:

"This is much simpler then you're making out. As copyright holder, you can license the same work to multiple people in different ways. In granting a license for commercial use to person A, you aren't revoking the license for noncommercial use from person B."

Pretty fancy footwork. CC does not enable you to provide multiple licenses like this at a whim. You have to pick! Only copyright law itself does! So suddenly, you come scurrying back to the principles of copyright law when it suits you.

Um, so, please find a case in a court of law where this notion of multiple licenses and "I get to play both CC and copyright at a whim" was upheld in a court of law *where CC was involved*. Go ahead, we're waiting. Again, find law that *backs up the claims you make for the flexibilities and advantages of CC over ordinary copyright law," not some case that merely recognzies copyright law for CC, too (which is all these are).

Once again, everything about this statement is false:

"The CC license does have legal authority. That authority arises from the right of the copyright holder to give permission to people to use their copyrighted work and to put limitations on that permission."

The CC "licence" comes from a non-profit, non-legal, non-government body which just "says so". It's merely a blue ribbon you pin on your cow and claim it's a prize-wainning cow. It means nothing.

Copyright is inherent. The limitations on it spring exactly from that right, not "limitations you put on it". The limitations exist prior to anything "you put on it" and it's the *undoing* of the pre-existing limitations that matter, which you don't need CC to arrange. Indeed, this is one of the biggest blurring of distinctions of CC -- they imply that they have bolstered people's rights, when all they have done is try to automate their *permissions* and make it a "system". But it is unnecessary, because you can grant permissions without automation and it's to your advantage to do so to make sure there isn't abuse of your wishes.

Dale, uh, no, I didn't read too fast, but your gotcha claims here hinge on your notion that the CC license "means something". It merely layers over what is actual copyright.

And no, the will of those who established Creative Commons isn't at all about "helping creators share their work". That's the cover story. The real story is "browbeating people into giving away their work," "refusing to create a system for people to get paid for the work" and "locking up content as free and making it impossible to commercialize it except by special authoriztion which brings you back to the place you were without CC".

Everything about the comrades is clear: they wished to undermine trademark, copyright, private property, commerce, to usher in more quickly a world of "sharing", by holding out the prospect of "making money from consulting" or "making money from customization for firms" -- and imagining that these capitalist firms would always remain available in this system to always pay more for -- or pay anything at all! -- for this free stuff. Why should they? It has no value. It's the rare exception that some company will pay for something that is released as free already everwhere. It's not enough of a business model to sustain an entire economy of people doing that. It works for a few, mainly within the CC culture mafia itself.

And that's another destructive aspect of CC I should have described -- that it relies on capitalism to go on existing to feed it, even as it undermines commerce. Pretty awful stuff.

I already noted at the outset that there is are one or two cases where people who released content as free and copyable were able to sue a company that used this content in a product they resold, without credit, and without compensation (which wasn't sought for non-commercial use).

I blame CC totally for this -- they could have set up a master website like Magnatune or etsy.com did, enabling people to post content and get paid for it. But they were lazy and unaccountable and ideological.

So in this case the CC issuer one the suit against the train company which then had to stop selling this item from what I gather.

Again, there aren't any cases -- it is mere speculation -- that illustrate the ability of someone to call back their free content and begin to charge -- although likely they *would* have a case because CC means nothing, and the idea that CC is perpetual means nothing, and copyright is yours to do with as you will, and if you change your mind and want to sell something, you can.

ichabod is right. You don't need this. Period.

What happens is that people keep claiming you do "need it" because they say copyright obtains. But copyright needs to be defended to obtain. If you do nothing for ages and your stuff is copied all over, it might become that much harder to claim (worlds.com anyone?)

Each time people argue about CC here, they put up this notion that sharing is somehow some idealized optimal good. It isn't. Getting paid is the ideal. If I like somebody's picture on Flickr, I can just look at it on Flickr. I don't *have* to put it on my website, too, or make a greeting card or poster out of it. But if it were easy to pay that person some small cost for my use of it that way, then I would! And CC has lost this opportunity to make an ebay out of people's digital works.

That was deliberate.

They are destructive.

The artist is ultimately the loser.

Prokofy Neva

Neither Gareth or Dale are lawyers. They've also mixed up software cases and principles here with CC which is for content (CC even tells you not to use CC for software).

Some would argue that all virtual world items are "software" and therefore CC doesn't apply and one of the others should be used if you've a mind to apply freeness, i.e. GNU.

Both Gareth and Dale do not argue in good faith. They Fisk, Haskell, obsess, literalize, pester, and try to play "gotcha" not to get at the truth of the matter -- how best to organize the economy of a virtual world and indeed all the Internet -- but merely to try to harass and bully me. As such, I don't much see the point of answering them, except merely to help weak minds easily swayed.

Strong minds aren't easily swayed because they get it -- nobody needs CC. They have copyright. What they need is a system to get paid that also helps them with DMCA takedowns. They need payment and DMCA enforcement far more than they need copyright, because copyright is expensive to maintain (and hard). CC doesn't make it easier or less expensive to defend copyright. You can put a CC license on a SL dress til the cows come home and you have nothing but cows and a stolen dress. Only takedown enforcement helps maintain copyright, given the culture that is rampant these days of theft and "sharing".

CC is part and parcel of that culture making it seem as if the absence of a CC shield on something means you can take it. They actively disseminate and inculate the culture of taking and sharing and making everything free -- and that's why people steal.

cube inada

"If you do nothing for ages and your stuff is copied all over, it might become that much harder to claim (worlds.com anyone?)"

Worlds.com suit is around patents, not copyrights. They have different rules of law dealing with usage and claims of infrigement.

Just trying to keep facts clear:) and strengthen the fact and case made here that no "artist or creator" needs CC.

Dale Innis

Are people really being browbeaten into making their works available via CC licenses? That would be a bad thing. Can you point to any examples of it? (Actual pointers to actual examples, not vague memories or "of course everybody knows" kinds of things, ideally.)

I'm not sure what parts of the things that Gareth and I have been saying you consider to be harassing and bullying of you. We've just been expressing different opinions, and correcting you when you're factually wrong. If you can point to what parts of anything I've said that you consider rude or harassing or bullying, I'll try to avoid repeating the offense.

Gareth's examples, Prokofy, were just exactly what you asked for: the part of the legal code, and some court opinions, that say that copyright owners can grant rights through written instruments. Of course it doesn't explicitly mention Creative Commons in the law! It doesn't explicitly mention anyone else that might write legal language for someone, either. And I'm not sure what kind of legal cases explicitly about CC you'd expect to find, either: people *not* suing when people take actions that the CC licenses grant them the right to take aren't going to show up in court files after all.

It's disingenuous to say that people interested in CC "come scurrying back to copyright law when it suits you". CC is *based on* copyright law. CC licenses are licenses that would make no sense if copyright law were not in place. The CC licenses are not some kind of alternative or competitor to copyright law; I don't think anyone's suggesting that. Except maybe you. :)

"CC is part and parcel of that culture making it seem as if the absence of a CC shield on something means you can take it."

How has anyone or anything "made it seem" that way? That's completely wrong, as anyone who understands anything about either copyright law or the CC licenses knows. The CC licenses are not, and are not pretending to be, a "shield" on content.

The CC licenses *grant* certain rights. How could anyone think that, if those rights are not explicitly granted, then they must obtain anyway? That's silly!

I don't know why you keep emphasizing that the people who wrote the CC licenses are "a non-profit, non-legal, non-government body" (not sure what you mean by "non-legal", as there were definitely lawyers involved). If someone licenses one of his works using one of the licenses, what matters is what the license says, not who wrote it. When a creator releases a work with certain words accompanying it, those words have their effects *no matter who wrote them*. The words could have come to the creator in a dream, or appeared at the bottom of a teacup; it doesn't matter.

If I put out a picture, and accompany it with a document saying "... Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, Licensor hereby grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual (for the duration of the applicable copyright) license to exercise the rights in the Work as stated below ..." and so on, then I have granted the public a certain right. What that right is and whether I have validly granted it has nothing to do with who originally put those words together: whether it was an expensive lawyer that I hired, or my Uncle Ferd who's a retired attorney, or if I wrote it myself by piecing together things I found on the web: if I say those words, I thereby grant a certain right.

I agree with you completely that no one *needs* CC. People can always hire a lawyer themselves, or find a license somewhere else that looks like it might serve, or decide to just say "all rights reserved, contact me if you want to work something out". But someone who wants to grant certain rights to some work of theirs without having to spend money, or take a chance on homemade legalese, or deal individually with every person who wants to use their stuff, might very well *want* CC, and be happy to have it.

I'm not sure what you mean by "you can grant permissions without automation and it's to your advantage to do so to make sure there isn't abuse of your wishes". As I say, you can always make up your own legal language, or hire someone to make it up for you. But the CC people have made it possible to grant rights conveniently without doing either. I think that's nice of them.

(And I don't know what you mean by "make sure there isn't abuse of your wishes". The CC folks just provide the legal language; why would using that language, rather than some other language that I got somewhere else for the same purpose, make it any more likely that my wishes will be abused?)

Dale Innis

On "I already noted at the outset that there is are one or two cases where people who released content as free and copyable were able to sue a company that used this content in a product they resold, without credit, and without compensation (which wasn't sought for non-commercial use)", do you have any more details or pointers? I'd be interested in reading about that. I assume the suit was won because the CC license was one of the "non-commercial" ones, and the defendant was using the stuff for commercial purposes?

Melissa Yeuxdoux

Any chance you might hold yourself to the same standards you demand of others, Prokofy?

Thought not.

ichabod Antfarm

"If you put out a CC attribution license, you're expressing a wish to have your name mentioned when the thing is used."

But WHY oh WHY do I have to ask for such a thing? Isn't it automatic that when you put forward work that isn't your own that you credit the creator? Do we need laywers to legalese what was common fucking sense when we wrote our projects on dinosaurs in grade three? You quote; you cite. It isn't about legal mumbo jumbo, it's about doing the right thing. Prok's question is valid. Does Creative Commons (and its ilk) undermine what was already understood by those seven year old bibliographers?

Prokofy Neva

Yes, ichabod, I think it most certainly does undermine not only the social injunction but private property and intellectual property as concepts bound up with commerce. And that is no accident, comrade.

It's really a very sinister implication of CC that you "need" this license to share -- when you don't, for two reasons:

1. Everybody already steals precisely because the Internet engineers made it so they can and provided no furtherance to the old social injunction against theft.
2. People can ask you, if they don't in fact steal, and you can share that way, without CC.

So by issuing this "license," CC tells you three things:

1. We will help you share as if we grant this power, and not the theft of the Internet or our bad engineering.
2. We will browbeat you into sharing in case you had any vestigal proprietary interests lurking in your unreconstructed new consciousness.
3. We will make sure you get attributed because people have stopped doing that.

Then, it deals the final blow not only to capitalism and intellectual property, but the rule of law, by saying the following:

1. We are not a real licensing authority but we will pretend we are, here's a license you don't in fact need, but it's all part of legitimizing us as licensers.

2. We won't offer a type of license that says "share this if you pay me" because we don't care if you get paid and we hate commerce and capitalism.

3. By blanketing all the cool websites with our shield, we will help further the Internet stealing culture because any site without such a shield will appear to be "fair game" outside our "club".

Yes, they undermine what was understood by the dinosaur writers. But that's deliberate. And they don't care.

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