Creative Commons Licenses Enforced in Dutch Court

Mia Garlick, March 16th, 2006

Many people have asked us over the years whether any court had held that CC licenses were enforceable. I have always found this question to be amusing. In my many years as a lawyer in private practice, if the licenses I had drafted were *not* litigated, then I was considered to have done my job well. But for some, it seems that keeping people out of court is not an indication of CC’s success; the legitimacy of the CC licensing system depended on some judicial validation.

So now we have that to some extent. The first known court decision involving a Creative Commons license was handed down on March 9, 2006 by the District Court of Amsterdam. The case confirmed that the conditions of a Creative Commons license automatically apply to the content licensed under it.

The proceedings arose when former MTV VJ and podcasting guru Adam Curry published photos of his family on the well-known online photo-sharing site Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike license. The Dutch tabloid Weekend reproduced four of the photos in a story about Curry’s children.

Curry sued Weekend for copyright and privacy infringement. As to the copyright claim, Weekend argued that it was misled by the notice ‘this photo is public’ (which is a standard feature of all Flickr images that are viewable by the public), and that the link to the CC license was not obvious. Weekend had assumed that no authorization from Curry was needed. Audax, the publisher of Weekend, argued that it was informed of the existence of the CC license only much later by its legal counsel.

The Court rejected Weekend’s defense, and held as follows:

“All four photos that were taken from were made by Curry and posted by him on that website. In principle, Curry owns the copyright in the four photos, and the photos, by posting them on that website, are subject to the [Creative Commons] License. Therefore Audax should observe the conditions that control the use by third parties of the photos as stated in the License. The Court understands that Audax was misled by the notice ‘This photo is public’ (and therefore did not take note of the conditions of the License). However, it may be expected from a professional party like Audax that it conduct a thorough and precise examination before publishing in Weekend photos originating from the Internet. Had it conducted such an investigation, Audax would have clicked on the symbol accompanying the notice ‘some rights reserved’ and encountered the (short version of) the License. In case of doubt as to the applicability and the contents of the License, it should have requested authorization for publication from the copyright holder of the photos (Curry). Audax has failed to perform such a detailed investigation, and has assumed too easily that publication of the photos was allowed. Audax has not observed the conditions stated in the License […]. The claim […] will therefore be allowed; defendants will be enjoined from publishing all photos that [Curry] has published on, unless this occurs in accordance with the conditions of the License.”

For more information, see here.

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Good Times for CC at SXSW Interactive

Eric Steuer, March 15th, 2006

A few of us have just returned from Austin, Texas, where we attended SXSW Interactive. I’d like to share a few personal highlights.

  • Saturday’s laptop battle, hosted by AMODA. Competitive live electronic musicmaking as it was meant to be: loud, manic, and super geeky.
  • Manning the CC booth on the trade show floor with Mike Linksvayer. We met hundreds of interesting people and had many, many great conversations about CC, intellectual property, and media. We were lucky to be set up right by our friends from Magnatune — it was nice being able to point to our next-booth neighbors as an example of a successful commons-based business model (as well as an excellent source of CC-licensed music). Creative Commons stickers and pins were so popular that we had to request emergency backup supplies (thanks, Jen!).
  • The Monday morning panel I was on, called “Remixing Business for a Convergent World.” The turnout was terrific — the room was packed with about 125 people. Several introduced themselves to me after the presentation to ask questions and give feedback about CC.
  • Monday night’s Fifth Annual EFF/Creative Commons SXSW party. This is where I saw the coolest group of musicians of all time: The Robo Theremin Band, which is a project of Austin’s Robot Group. Their show is made up of guys playing electric drums, a synth, and a theremin, accompanied by remote-controlled giant robots on wheels, moving around on a dance floor. Incredible!

As always, SXSW rocked. I’m already looking forward to next year!

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Copyright education drawn

Mike Linksvayer, March 15th, 2006

Duke Law School’s Center for Study of the Public Domain has released an amazing 76 page copyright education in the shape of a documentary filmmaker and form of a comic book: BOUND BY LAW?

A collaboration between cartoonist Keith Aoki, law professor (and CC board member) James Boyle and CSPD director Jennifer Jenkins, the work is available for viewing online, download, or hardcopy purchase and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 license.

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Get Your Hungarian Remix On

Mia Garlick, March 15th, 2006

You only have two weeks left to upload your remix of the Hungarian band Nomada’s song Aven le Roma! – Here come the Roma!. The five-member group Nomada was founded by Roma singer-guitarist Balogh Gusztáv in 2003. Nomada’s music is derived from the Hungarian Gypsy tradition in addition to drawing from other musical styles such as Spanish, Arabic and Serbian folk elements.

Nomada have released their song Aven le Roma! – Here come the Roma!, and its component elements, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license which authorizes members of the public to remix it. To be considered as part of the content, remixes must be uploaded by March 31, 2006. Six of the best remixes will be selected by panel of Hungarian and international musicians including DJ Vadim, Szakcsi Lakatos Béla, Mitsou and Dj Palotai.

The idea of remixing is in keeping with Nomada’s tradition, as Balazs Bodo of the CC Hungary project team explained “Nomada has its roots in the Roma music tradition where music is ‘free’ as the common heritage of Roma people. The band has created something unique out of this, and by releasing their remix of this tradition under a CC license, they are giving it back to those to whom it belongs: a community where it is kept alive. The only difference is that we have stepped out from the analogue, manual music tradition into the realm of electronic music and digital remixes. Use it, fuse it, diffuse it!”

The competition is being hosted by Creative Commons Hungary, the band Nomada and Tilos Radio. Tilos Radio is a community, non-profit radio station in Budapest, Hungary, that was established in 1991, to draw the public’s attention to the fact that there was at that time no legal framework for independent and community broadcasters. During the first years of its broadcasting, Tilos (which means “forbidden” in Hungarian) enjoyed wide public interest and played a key role in the liberalisation of the airwaves in Hungary, which happened in 1995. In 1995, Tilos Radio secured a frequency license and has since transitioned to become a key player in the cultural and lifestyle scene of Budapest.

Add your contribution to the cultural heritage now…

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ccPublisher 2 Beta 2 now available

Nathan Yergler, March 13th, 2006

For everyone who has filed crash reports, sent me emails and generally wondered about the state of ccPublisher, I’m pleased to announce that our first widely publicized beta is now available. You can find information on downloads and installation instructions here.

Note that while we think this code is ready for public consumption, it is still a beta. For a list of issues that need to be resolved before we call it final, see the tracker. I’m sure (and even a little hopeful) that the list will grow before it gets shorter. The list will grow because people try the software, and the more eyes we have looking at it, the better it will become.

Which brings me to my final point: if you try ccPublisher 2 and have an idea or suggestion for making it better, please open an issue in the tracker. Doing so will help us keep track of things and prioritize them. Enjoy!

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Digital Preservation as Cultural Environmentalism?

Mike Linksvayer, March 13th, 2006

Ten years ago Duke Law Professor (and now CC board member) Jamie Boyle coined the metaphor cultural environmentalism, drawing on lessons from the environmental movement for free culture and the legal environment that fosters or hinders free culture. A conference on Cultural Environmentalism at 10 was held at Stanford over the weekend.

Today at SXSW on the Digital Preservation and Blogs panel it occurred to me that digital preservation could be thought of as an instance of cultural environmentalism. To stretch the analogy, just as environmentalists care about species and habitat preservation, cultural environmentalists should care about digital preservation.

Preserved culture is not fossilized culture — so long as archives are not “dark” (inaccessible to the public) preserved culture can continue to be built upon. Creative Commons licenses lower the legal barriers to effective preservation. Excerpt from Requirements for Digital Preservation Systems in D-Lib Magazine:

If it is necessary for each and every journal, even a very cheap and easy negotiation gets expensive. Wider adoption of the Creative Commons license, which provides the permission needed for preservation and thus eliminates negotiation, could greatly reduce the cost of preservation.

By applying a Creative Commons license to your work you’re saying “please share” and (in some cases) “please remix” and also “please preserve for posterity” or more simply — “please backup!”

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Upping the Flickr zeitgeist ante in Austin

Mike Linksvayer, March 11th, 2006

SXSW attendee St. Murse ups the
Flickr zeitgeist ante…

cc on the head
Photo by St. Murse licensed under BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Mike Linksvayer, March 10th, 2006

Creative Commons staff, board member and many friends will be at SXSW Interactive. Here’s a schedule of explicitly CC-linked events:

Trade Show: CC will have a booth Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Remixing Business for a Convergent World: CC Creative Director Eric Steuer moderates Monday 10AM.

Digital Preservation and Blogs: CC CTO Mike Linksvayer empaneled Monday 10AM.

EFF/Creative Commons Party: Monday 7PM

Open Science: Science Commons Executive Director John Wilbanks moderates Tuesday 10AM.

Commons-Based Business Models: CC board member Joi Ito moderates Tuesday 11:30AM.

Open Science is a bit of an outlier as SXSW panels go, but I’ve seen lone science presentations go over very well at (computer) technology conferences. I speculate this is because the most computer geeks dreamed of being a scientist as youths but at some point realized they weren’t smart or hard working enough to cut it, so having some science at a (computer) technology conference is some good vicarious fun. Dont’ be offended — I’m projecting. I liked my proposed panel description better than the brief one posted on the SXSW site:

Scientists are facing the same issues of openness as programmers and other content creators–but far more complex due to higher financial stakes, in addition to patents, trade secrets and the moral implications within developing nations . Learn how web 2.0, open source and related concepts are changing the way scientists work and how, and how they’re being stymied.

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CC Salon San Francisco a success!

Mike Linksvayer, March 10th, 2006

The first CC Salon San Francisco held Wednesday evening was a big success. The 1337 venue was filled, people drank, the presentations were just right, and Minus Kelvin delivered well-modulated jams.

Next month we have Lucas Gonze presenting on How the net is changing music. Watch here and the wiki for details.

Minus Kelvin photo by sloanro licensed under CC BY. More CC Salon photos under flickr ccsalon tag.

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CC Talks With: Sistema de Internet de la Presidencia, Mexico

Alex Roberts, March 8th, 2006


The Sistema de Internet de la Presidencia (or Presidency Internet System) (“SIP”) is the office in charge of generating and publishing all of the Mexican President Vicente Fox’s content and information over the Internet. They host and maintain various websites including the Presidency’s main website, “México en Línea” the Presidency’s Internet radio station, and “Software Libre” Presidency’s website for using the FLOSS project. León Felipe Sánchez, of our CC Mexico team, interviewed Luis Alberto Bolaños (pictured on the right) and Emiliio Saldaña (pictured on the left) to explain why Creative Commons licenses caught the Mexican Presidency’s attention. A Spanish version of this interview is available here.

Creative Commons (“CC”): How did you find out about Creative Commons and its project in Mexico?

SIP: As part of our activities within SIP we try to keep up to date with the leading technologies and trends in digital environments. One of our core activities is the work with FLOSS, which is how we learned about the Creative Commons project which attracted our attention because of its flexible range of licenses that can be tailored to the specific needs and interests of the Presidency’s communication and transparency programs.

CC: What made you decide to adopt Creative Commons licenses for all the content generated by the Mexican Presidency on the Internet?

SIP: We carried out extensive research on copyright protection and licensing and analyzed the Presidency’s specific needs to make its content available to the people. After this research we were delighted to find that Creative Commons licenses enabled us to protect our content in a more flexible way than the default “all rights reserved” status quo, thereby contributing to one of our main objectives, which is to make all the information available to as many people as possible. This is a key issue for the Presidency because we want our content to be used and distributed by researchers, academics, students, press members and the general public. Through Creative Commons’ licenses, the Presidency is able to ensure the free distribution, reproduction and diffusion of its content at no cost, thereby encouraging people to share while preventing unauthorized commercial use with licenses that fully comply with Mexican copyright legislation.

CC: What impact has this decision had on the Mexican Internet radio community and other program producers?

SIP: Collaboration between the Mexican government and Creative Commons Mexico is still at an initial stage. As a government Internet radio proposal, “México en Línea” is an innovative project which we trust will encourage other government entities to adopt the Creative Commons licensing scheme. This will emphasize the state’s recognition of the fact that the content belongs to the people while preventing unauthorized commercial use of such content and information yet not affecting its distribution and reproduction which, in the case of government statements and information, is very important for reaching as many people as we can.

CC: What impact or implications do you think the adoption of Creative Commons’ licenses might have on the governmental environment?

SIP: Both the impact and implications will be very positive because through the adoption of these licenses, we guarantee that the content generated by the Presidency remains the property of the people and that it is available free of charge. The use of Creative Commons’ licenses is a step towards a new government with very high standards of openness as regards information that will contribute to the administration’s levels of transparency, thereby guaranteeing that information will always be available to the people that need it. As we said, we want to set an example to help other government entities make their information available as well benefiting the community.

CC: How does Creative Commons fit into the government FLOSS project which you lead?

SIP: The use of Creative Commons’ licenses strengthens the work philosophy underlying the way the Presidency’s Internet System directs this project. It represents the spirit in which almost all of the content generated by the government is administrated actually. In other words, Creative Commons’ licenses have helped us make access to information more democratic.

CC: What is your vision about the role that FLOSS and open access to information technologies will play in the future of Mexico?

SIP: The use of FLOSS is a growing trend, especially within government, because it has enormous benefits such as, for example, the savings made from not having to buy software licenses. However, the most important fact is that taking advantage of open technologies and open distribution methods increases the transparency and efficiency of government operations, the process of documenting working procedures and the generation of knowledge databases, in this case in systems that enable us to increase the number of better government practices very simply.

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