Michael Geist on Why Whitehouse.gov’s Copyright Policy Matters
Fred Benenson, January 22nd, 2009
Canadian copyright scholar Michael Geist explains why Whitehouse.gov‘s adoption of our Attribution license for 3rd party content is important in light of Canada’s policy on government works:
Now consider the Prime Minister of Canada’s copyright notice:
The material on this site is covered by the provisions of the Copyright Act, by Canadian laws, policies, regulations and international agreements. Such provisions serve to identify the information source and, in specific instances, to prohibit reproduction of materials without written permission. …
While this is better than some other Canadian government departments (who require permission for all uses), it is still not good enough. First, Canada should drop crown copyright so that there is no copyright in government-produced materials. Second, there is no need for a distinction between commercial and non-commercial – Canadians should be free to use the government-produced materials for either purpose without permission. Third, third-party materials, which are Creative Commons licensed in the U.S., are subject to full restrictions in Canada.
While the decision to use CC on Whitehouse.gov may appear uncontroversial in light of the fact that US federal works are not subject to copyright protection, very few other countries share this policy as evidenced by Geist’s post. This is precisely where Creative Commons can help. Obama’s far sighted choice should serve as an example for other governments around the world: now is the time to start sharing.