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PlagarismToday on Why You Shouldn’t Write Your Own License

Fred Benenson, May 28th, 2009

Jonathan Bailey at PlagiarismToday has a great post dissecting the various issues raised by the bizarre “WE ARE COPYRIGHTED BLOGS” license he recently came across. Jonathan correctly recommends that you leave it to the professionals (Creative Commons is a good example :) to draft your copyright licenses:

This license displays some of the many hazards that people face when they try to craft their own copyright licenses. This is why, whenever possible, you should either use an “All Rights Reserved” license and grant permissions on a case-by-case basis, use a Creative Commons or other license that has been vetted and written by professionals or [an]other license that has been vetted and written by professionals.

And remember kids, just say NO to license proliferation.

3 Responses to “PlagarismToday on Why You Shouldn’t Write Your Own License”

  1. DBL says:

    A drumbeat of hostility toward other or even homegrown licences is unnecessary and is the Creative Commons’s worst habit.

  2. Hi DBL,
    I apologize if my characterization of the “WE ARE COPYRIGHTED BLOGS” license seems hostile — I truly mean it when I say I think it’s bizarre, and while that may be a subjective interpretation, I thought it would be one our audience might share.

    But to the larger issue of CC’s stance against other or homegrown licenses: license proliferation is a problem and we’re always working internally and externally to reduce the number of incompatibly licensed objects in the world.

    Whether this means retiring our own licenses (which we’ve done on several occasions, see: http://creativecommons.org/retiredlicenses) or discouraging other untested licenses, we believe it is an important responsibility and one that we take seriously.

    I encourage you to read more about the history of license proliferation in the free software and open source community. A common problem facing software developers is negotiating the thicket of potential incompatibilities when merging code from disparate projects, each with one of 500 different open source licenses. This problem exerts a transaction cost on par with negotiating traditional copyright licenses and can render moot the intentions of the original creator to share her work.

    Ultimately, CC is less interested in preventing competition from homegrown licenses (we assert no copyright on our own license text and permissively license all of our original content) and more interested in building a sustainable legal and technical infrastructure that benefits; a goal seriously jeopardized by license proliferation.

  3. Ian says:

    Slightly off your topic, but have you ever head anything from CC on this question?

    Flickr makes it easy to license images under creative commons. So what happens if someone posts and licenses a photo under CC that is not theirs, i.e. one that is stolen from the internet somewhere. Is someone who uses that photo legally responsibly for unwittingly infringing on the original creator’s intellectual property? My understanding of CC is that it can not be revoked, but it can be no longer offered. How can the original creator have their rights protected?

    thanks