News

Plaintext versions of Creative Commons licenses and CC0

Chris Webber, April 15th, 2011

Last Friday, we made plaintext versions of our core 3.0 (unported) licenses and CC0 available. This is something that some people have wanted for a long time. For example, Evan Prodromou made a draft of plaintext licenses a few years ago, but these never became official.

But now we do have official plaintext versions. Here’s a list:

For most works, plaintext legalcode doesn’t matter as linking directly to the deeds (say with the copy-paste output you get with the license chooser) is good enough, even ideal. And it’s important to note that the XHTML licenses are still the canonical versions. But for some projects plaintext legalcode may be a very good thing. For example, it is traditional practice in free and open source software projects to bundle your licenses along with your project. More and more FOSS projects are using Creative Commons licenses or CC0 for their non-software content, so having plaintext legalcode will probably be very useful in these instances. Additionally, some other projects which release their content in a way that is largely offline may benefit from plaintext legalcode.

If you need to provide licensing information about your work in a similarly plaintext way, you should follow this pattern:

<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME>

<WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

You should have received a copy of the license along with this
work.  If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>.

… replacing <WORK’S NAME> and <AUTHOR’S NAME> appropriately. (The first line in this example is optional.)

This push for an official plaintext legalcode release was spurred by the recent work with the Free Software Foundation on establishing the compatibility of CC0 with the GPL. It is important to note here that while CC0 is acceptable for software, Creative Commons licenses are not acceptable for software. The usage of plaintext legalcode as described in this post is intended for non-software content.

Copy / Paste Examples

For reference, here are some easily copy/pasteable examples of how you would annotate your works for all Creative Commons licenses, as well as CC0 (which is listed last).

CC BY 3.0:

<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME>

<WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

You should have received a copy of the license along with this
work.  If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/>.

CC BY-SA 3.0:

<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME>

<WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

You should have received a copy of the license along with this
work.  If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>.

CC BY-ND 3.0:

<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME>

<WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

You should have received a copy of the license along with this
work.  If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/>.

CC BY-NC 3.0:

<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME>

<WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

You should have received a copy of the license along with this
work.  If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/>.

CC BY-NC-SA 3.0:

<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME>

<WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

You should have received a copy of the license along with this
work.  If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/>.

CC BY-NC-ND 3.0:

<WORK'S NAME> (c) by <AUTHOR'S NAME>

<WORK'S NAME> is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

You should have received a copy of the license along with this
work.  If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/>.

CC0 1.0: (note, see here if using CC0 for software)

<WORK'S NAME> by <AUTHOR'S NAME>

To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with
<WORK'S NAME> has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights
to <WORK'S NAME>.

You should have received a copy of the CC0 legalcode along with this
work.  If not, see <http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/>.

7 Responses to “Plaintext versions of Creative Commons licenses and CC0”

  1. What if I am using a user name (fake name)? I don’t like using my real name on the internet.
    What would be adviced for me to enter in the whole “author’s name” or “Attribute work to name” section? (I have not yet completed a form to create my copyright).

    Should I use my real name or the user name?

  2. Jane Park says:

    The attribution fields are optional, so it is up to you how you would like others to attribute your work. See http://wiki.creativecommons.org/FAQ#How_do_I_properly_attribute_a_Creative_Commons_licensed_work.3F:

    “In the case where a copyright holder does choose to specify the manner of attribution, in addition to the requirement of leaving intact existing copyright notices, they are only able to require certain things. Namely:

    They may require that you attribute the work to a certain name, pseudonym or even an organization of some sort.”

  3. Jim Garrison says:

    Why not do the same thing for the country-specific licenses?

  4. Alex says:

    Thank you for providing ‘official’ plaintext versions of the licenses.

    I am impressed by the legibility of all CC licenses and have admired the lego-nature of their construction. As far as legalese, these are works of art, almost poetry. One can compare different licenses by simply describing which specific sections are common, removed, added, or slight variations. This is characteristic is very useful when studying the licenses.

    Official plaintext normalisation makes explicit comparison possible. However admirable, there are some minor shortcomings that could perhaps be considered for the 4.0 batch.

    There are the (perhaps unavoidable) discrepancies when referencing blocks of legalese. One license may reference 4(b) while another license might reference the same text identified by 4(c). I wonder if sections could be identified with short codes rather than sequential numbers and letters, or some other brilliant solution I am not clever enough to propose myself?

    There are avoidable differences such as spaces, commas, and articles when for example comparing BY to BY-NC:
    “and (iv) , consistent” vs. “and, (iv) consistent”
    “Section 4 (b)” vs. “Section 4(b)”
    “part of this License” vs. “part of the License”

    These are perhaps minor issues and thus could be resolved in a future batch. If the 3.0 batch can be updated, I would be happy to offer my minor changes.

    Cheers, Alex

  5. Tal says:

    Please provide plaintext versions of the 4.0 licenses!

  6. Calrion says:

    When I change the version in the above URLs to `4.0` rather than `3.0`, I get a 404 ‘file not found’ error. Could official plain text versions of the new 4.0 licenses also be provided?

    Ideally, I’d like CC to consider the plain text the ‘official’ license, and anything else (such as the HTML copy) a version of that. CC licenses are about reuse, and the best format for that is plain text.

    My specific situation is that I’m CC licensing the documentation for an open source project, and I want to include the complete text of the license in the project’s repository. This is common in software projects and allows the project repository to be self-contained—reuse doesn’t require navigating to third-party websites, such as creativecommons.org.

    Thanks in advance!