attribution

We are still against SOPA/PIPA (plus best practices on marking CC-licensed works)

Jane Park, January 12th, 2012

In the next two weeks, the U.S. Congress will take up deliberations on SOPA/PIPA, the Internet censorship bills. We’ve written about it here and here, and we’re writing again to help stop U.S. American Censorship of the Internet.

On a related note, Vice.com notes that the website of the author of SOPA, U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, did not properly attribute its use of a CC BY-NC-SA licensed photo (Mist Lifting off Cedars) by Flickr user dj @ oxherder arts, aka DJ Schulte.

Here’s the photo, with attribution (aka how we normally attribute photos on this blog):


Mist Lifting off Cedars / dj @ oxherder arts / CC BY-NC-SA

As anyone who has read the CC license deeds know, all CC licenses require attribution, which is clearly summarized at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0 (and all CC license summaries):

Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work.

Additionally, the complete license (aka legal code) is linked at the top of all deed summaries. We’re continually trying to help users understand how to properly mark CC-licensed works; to avoid mis- or non-attribution situations like the above, or for more info, see our FAQ and Marking best practices for users of CC-licensed content.

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CC tools and PSI: Supporting attribution, protecting reputation, and preserving integrity

Diane Peters, February 11th, 2011

The following is cross-posted from the blog of the European Public Sector Information Platform (ePSIplatform). ePSIplatform is a comprehensive  portal showcasing research and projects working to stimulate and promote public sector information (PSI) re-use and open data initiatives in Europe. Creative Commons is pleased to contribute a series of blog posts discussing the role of CC tools for use in public sector information.

In an earlier blog post, we promised to share some useful “things you may not know” about legal and technical aspects of CC tools, especially as they relate to the release of public sector information.  Publishers of PSI – which may include governments and their agencies, but also others – have a strong desire to receive the credit they deserve through proper attribution, while simultaneously safeguarding their reputations when information is re-used.  They also care about preserving the integrity of the information they provide, so that the original can be differentiated from modified forms, and can be easily located. CC’s legal tools provide sound and tested solutions for each of these needs.

Attribution

Creative Commons tools provide a sophisticated, flexible method for attribution that addresses the needs of those making PSI available (licensors) and those using the information (licensees).  Attribution is a condition of all Creative Commons licenses. This requirement calls for preservation of any copyright notice, attribution (recognition of the licensor as the copyright holder of the work) and the URL (link) to the original work if provided as well as to the CC license. The attribution requirement thus serves the dual purpose of ensuring that the publisher of PSI receives appropriate credit, and that provenance information for published PSI is kept intact.

CC licenses allow governments and others releasing public sector information to define how they want to be attributed, in advance at the point of publication.  For instance, a licensor may request a specific attribution statement separate from or in addition to credit for the individual author or the releasing agency, or request that attribution be made to another person or entity altogether, such as a funder, publisher or journal. Below is an example attribution statement that includes attribution to an author and credit to a funder, though any number of custom statements might be crafted:

“An evaluation of non-motorized traffic accidents from 2000-2010,” by Mary Smith. Funded by the Polish Ministry of Transport. Available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland license.

Licensors may also request not to be attributed at all, and can require users to remove the credit otherwise required.  For example, if PSI released under a CC license is aggregated with other content and published in a collection, or if the PSI is itself modified (when a CC license permitting modification is applied), then the licensor may request removal of the credit to which it is otherwise entitled from the collection or the modified work, regardless of the reason.  This removal mechanism enables the publisher to distance itself from re-uses, a feature that may also be used to protect the licensor’s reputation.

CC tools also make it easy for users of PSI to comply with attribution requirements. CC licenses allow for flexibility in the way attribution is implemented depending on the means used by a licensee to re-distribute the information.  There may be different expectations for attribution based on the format in which the PSI is re-used.  For example, providing attribution to the author when re-distributing information via a blog post is different than crediting the author within a video remix.  All CC licenses provide that attribution must be provided in a manner “reasonable to the medium or means” used by the licensee, and for credit to be provided in a “reasonable manner.”  This flexibility facilitates compliance by licensees – minimizing the risk that overly onerous and inflexible attribution requirements are simply disregarded as being too difficult – while at the same ensuring that credit is still provided.

CC’s straightforward yet flexible method of attribution makes it easy for users to “do the right thing.”  Licensees are more likely to use and republish the information and provide proper attribution, just as intended by the publisher, because no fixed or unbending form(at) is dictated. At the same time, institutions releasing PSI consistently receive the credit they are due.

Reputation

Governments and others want to release PSI and allow others to re-use, build upon, and combine the information with other materials in impactful and meaningful ways, yet some may be concerned that their reputation might be tarnished depending on how the information is re-used.  Protecting the reputation of publishers is critical, and CC licenses have several features that help ensure that this high priority need is met.  In addition to the credit removal mechanism mentioned above, CC licenses also contain a “no endorsement, no sponsorship” clause.  This standard feature of all CC licenses prohibits licensees from implicitly or explicitly asserting or implying any connection with, sponsorship or endorsement by the licensor without express, prior written consent.  Any violation of this clause results in automatic termination of the licensee’s right to use the CC-licensed PSI.

CC licenses help protect reputation in other ways, too.  When PSI is licensed under a CC license that permits modifications (any license without the “NoDerivatives” condition), anyone modifying the information must clearly label or identify that changes have been made.  This marking requirement puts users of the modified work on notice that the original has been modified, helping ensure that modifications are not wrongly associated with the original publisher of the PSI.  This feature, in combination with the requirement that the URL for the original must be provided, properly distances the original publisher of the information from the modifications (whether or not desired) and facilitates comparison of the original with the modified version.  Finally, CC licenses do not grant permission to use anyone’s trademarks or official insignia, nor do the licenses affect other laws that may be used to protect one’s reputation or other rights – those rights are all reserved and may be enforced separately by the publisher of the PSI.

Integrity

Some publishers of PSI may worry that information they release may be changed for the worse, re-used in a way that compromises the integrity of the original, or mixed with information from other sources in a way that compromises the integrity of the original release. CC licenses guard against these worries in several ways. Importantly, when PSI is released under a CC license permitting modification, any modifications that are made do not affect the integrity of the original material because any changes are made to a copy of the released information. The original remains intact and preserved, exactly as released (most typically) on the publisher’s website.  Additionally, the attribution and credit requirements described above require that adaptations provide a link to the URL for the original (if provided), ensuring everyone has access to the authoritative work in its unmodified form for reference and comparison purposes.  These mechanisms, together with the requirement that modified works be clearly marked to alert downstream users that modifications have been made (and the original may be easily be found through the link to its URL), provide a net of safeguards to help preserve the integrity of the original PSI release.

CC tools offer flexible yet legally and technically robust mechanisms for ensuring attribution in the preferred manner of the publisher (when credit is desired).  They also protect publishers’ reputations and alleviate concerns about preserving the integrity of the original information.  These mechanisms work together easily and seamlessly, giving confidence to publishers choosing CC licenses for their PSI.

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Open Attribute, a simple way to attribute CC-licensed works on the web

Jane Park, February 7th, 2011

Open Attribute, “a suite of tools that makes it ridiculously simple for anyone to copy and paste the correct attribution for any CC licensed work,” launched today with browser add-ons for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. The add-ons “query the metadata around a CC-licensed object and produce a properly formatted attribution that users can copy and paste wherever they need to.”

If you use our license chooser and copy and paste the resulting HTML code into your website, then you’re pretty much good to go. Anyone who uses the Open Attribute browser add-on to query your site will automatically receive a formatted HTML or plain text attribution that they can copy and paste to give you the proper credit.

Open Attribute uses CC REL metadata found in the pages to generate the attribution metadata. You might remember that we developed a guide with real examples to make CC REL metadata much easier to implement: CC REL by Example contains example HTML pages, as well as explanations and links to more information. If you’re curious to see how Open Attribute pulls the metadata, the guide includes a specific section on Attributing Reuses.

Open Attribute is a direct result of the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival held last year in Barcelona on Learning, Freedom and the Web. See Molly Kleinman’s post for a more comprehensive run-down of the origins and team behind Open Attribute.

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Barcelona Events Wrap-up

Jane Park, November 9th, 2010


CC BY by mozillaeu

Since we last blogged about CC in Barcelona, we’ve been very productive. Two weeks worth of open events have yielded several talks around open educational resources (OER) search, discovery, and policy at Open Ed, recommendations and tools for greater open content reuse at the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival, and a 12 month plan for the future of the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU).

Open Ed 2010

In addition to an excellent talk by board member Cathy Casserly, CC staff members Nathan Yergler and Timothy Vollmer both gave talks that led to fruitful side conversations that will be helpful going forward. Nathan’s talk on “Search and Discovery: OER’s Open Loop” spurred conversations about one of the underlying issues of OER search, which is, “how do you (software, crawlers) know what’s an OER and what is not?” Timothy Vollmer’s talk on the “iNACOL survey: An inquiry into OER projects, practices, and policy in U.S. K-12 schools” identified how OER is being used in K-12 online education and investigated the existing OER models at the state, district, and school level. The survey revealed the widespread knowledge of OER among the respondents, but also ongoing questions about the funding models and professional development needs to alert other teachers and administrators about the process and benefits of exploring OER. On the whole, survey respondents were optimistic about the potential for OER, wanting to see it implemented for a wide variety of functions, including the development of digital textbooks to replace hard copy texts, as a component in building better assessment mechanisms, to augment learning materials for struggling students, credit recovery, independent study, college prep and tutoring, special education, library tutorials, and to provide opportunities for students to engage in content and classes that the school doesn’t offer.


CC BY by tvol

Mozilla Drumbeat Festival: Learning, Freedom, and the Web

CEO Joi Ito gave a keynote and CC’s International Project Manager (and Drumbeat Festival program co-chair) Michelle Thorne worked closely with Mark Surman and other Mozillans to make this event happen–a huge shout-out to all the Mozilla volunteers! The Peer Learning Lighthouse tent, organized by CC Superhero Delia Browne, Alison Jean Cole (P2PU), and myself, focused specifically on overcoming barriers to reuse of CC licensed content and a future School of Copyright & Creative Commons at P2PU. One of the coolest outcomes of this tent was tech specifications around a CC attribution generator, a browser and platform plugin that would export the metadata around a CC licensed work to produce a formatted attribution. University of Michigan’s Molly Kleinman and our CTO Nathan Yergler, in collaboration with Mozilla, are working to make this tool a reality. Discussions on the School of Copyright & Creative Commons revolved around increasing global and linguistic reach of the Copyright for Educators courses, and also adapting the course for librarians, policymakers, and creators.

P2PU Workshop

All P2PU-produced content is under CC BY-SA. In order to more effectively educate P2PU participants and course organizers, the P2PU community are planning to integrate copyright and CC license education into its orientation process, in addition to emphasizing the P2PU value of openness as part of a “social contract” at the beginning of every course, which will be revised to explicitly call out the license. Additionally, the revamped P2PU platform will introduce values and licensing in the latest stage at the sign-up phase.


CC BY-SA by kiyanwang

Of course licensing was far from the only issue that was talked about. Governance, nonprofit incorporation, sustainability, course formats and content, quality control, research, and more were heavily workshopped, and all outcomes from the workshop are available at the P2PU wiki, under CC BY-SA of course. Immediately after the workshop, the P2PU techsprint, involving volunteer developers and designers, produced the next iteration of the P2PU platform–which you can preview here.

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Who is Copying and Pasting Your CC Content? Discover More With Tynt’s Tracer Tool

Fred Benenson, July 24th, 2009

Tynt Logo If you’re one of the couple dozen people who copied text off our blog yesterday, you may have noticed some more text accompany your clipboard when you pasted it — a link to our site and the license (Attribution) we’ve offered our content under. This is because we’ve installed Tynt’s Tracer tool on our blog which uses a bit of javascript wizardry to concatenate attribution and, as of now, particular CC license information to content copied from our site.

If you’re curious about how this works, try selecting some text from anywhere on our blog and pasting it somewhere. Rich text editors (such as most WYSIWYG HTML editors, or Gmail) will preserve the hyperlink but the text will also show up in standard plain text editors as well.

As a creator and contributor to the commons, you have the right to attribution (all six of our licenses require it), so why not make it easy for your audience to automatically provide it?

Setting up and installing Tracer on your own site is easy, just head over to the site, create an account for your domain, select the CC license you’ve released your work under, and add the javascript tags to the footer of your pages. You’ll then be able to see on your Tracer dashboard precisely which text and images are being copied and pasted from your site, and where they are going.

And don’t worry, the extra markup is just text. Nothing about Tynt’s tool forces reusers to do anything, its merely useful additional information providing proper attribution and license notification.

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Wikipedia and attribution

Mike Linksvayer, March 9th, 2009

The potential migration of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects to using CC BY-SA as their primary content license has spurred some interesting discussions about attribution — how to give credit for a massively collaborative work in a variety of mediums? This question is relevant regardless of migration, but clearly migration has prompted the discussion and provides an opportunity to progress best practices.

Erik Möller has posted results of a survey run on the English and German Wikipedias regarding how contributors feel about what constitutes appropriate credit for using Wikipedia content. Raw survey data is available for independent analysis.

Unsurprisingly (at least in hindsight), attribution via linking to the article used was most popular, while not giving credit at all was least popular. Here’s the Condorcet ranking, provided by Robert Rohde:

1) Link to the article must be given.
2) Collective credit (e.g. Wikipedia community).
3) Link to the version history must be given.
4) For online use: link. For other uses: full list of authors.
5) Full list of authors must always be copied.
6) No credit is needed.

Creative Commons had wikis in mind when we added attribution via link in version 2.5 of our licenses in 2005. If there are further changes we can make to address attribution and massively collaborative works, it is surely something we’ll want to look at in a future version of the CC licenses, regardless of Wikipedia migration, as wiki and wiki-like mechanisms will only grow in importance for the creation of free cultural works — though it will be very helpful to have the brainpower and experience of the Wikipedia community guiding such developments.

Correction 2009-03-11: We added attribution by link in version 2.0. The change in 2.5 did have wikis in mind, but was more subtle — allowing the licensor to designate that attribution should go to an entity such as a journal or wiki. Thanks to Anthony for prompting this correction on the Wikimedia Foundation discussion list.

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CC Talks With: University of Michigan Library

Cameron Parkins, February 19th, 2009

Over the past year, the University of Michigan Library has shown itself to be particularly sensible in regards to open content licensing, the public domain, and issues of copyright in the digital age. The U-M Library has integrated public domain book machines, adopted CC licensing for their content, and independently had their Copyright Specialist, Molly Kleinman, articulate the importance of proper attribution in using CC licenses. We recently caught up with Molly to learn more about these efforts – primarily how they came to be and the results they have yielded – as well as discuss CC’s place in educational institutions at large and how CC and Fair Use interact in the academic sphere.

1library
Book, Suzanne Chapman | CC BY-NC-SA

What is your role at the University of Michigan Library? How does the University Library interact with the rest of the University?

I’m the University Library’s copyright specialist. I provide copyright and publishing assistance for faculty, students, researchers, staff, and librarians throughout the University of Michigan, and occasionally to the community at large. I handle questions on both sides of the copyright universe: people come to me as users of copyrighted works and also as creators with concerns about their own rights. At a university just about everybody is both a user and a creator, so I think it’s important to promote a balanced perspective on copyright. A big part of my job is teaching workshops and providing one-on-one consultations about copyright and scholarly publishing basics. I work with librarians all over campus to raise awareness about topics like fair use, Open Access, and author rights. I also support a number of the Library’s activities, including our institutional repository Deep Blue, the Scholarly Publishing Office, and Special Collections exhibits. People always ask if I’m an attorney… I’m not. I’m a librarian by training, and have a background in publishing. A law degree is useful when dealing with copyright, and it’s certainly necessary when you’re providing legal advice, but in many other situations it’s not essential. Copyright is messy and confusing and it makes a lot of people nervous and scared. Approaching these issues as a librarian allows me to explain things in “human readable” language instead of legalese. My goal is to demystify the law and empower students and faculty to advocate for their rights as both users and creators.
Read More…

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Creative Commons HowTo

Greg Grossmeier, August 16th, 2008

Molly Kleinman, Copyright Specialist and Special Projects Librarian at the University of Michigan, just wrote up a nice howto for people who use Creative Commons licensed material in their work. This will hopefully add to the repository of knowledge for best practices on material integration.

This is an ongoing issue in the community. No matter how straight forward the instructions for providing attribution to a work are, mistakes will always be made. Most times the mistakes are made not in malice but in a lack of guidance. Luckily, Molly is taking up the task on her blog.

Her examples are easy to understand along with providing various methods of accomplishing the same goal. She even has an “Ideal” example and a “Realistic” example.

From Molly:

I’m taking the material I use in my workshops, mixing it up with CC’s extensive documentation, and posting the results here. If anyone has ideas for topics they’d like me to cover, let me know.

Here’s hoping she continues on this project of producing easy to understand examples of how to use Creative Commons licenses effectively and correctly.

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