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Some clarifications about the “Commonwealth” list

Glenn Otis Brown, August 19th, 2004

A few of you have expressed concern about a discussion list we announced recently. These are all good points and I feel I should make a couple of things clear:

(1) It is never a foregone conclusion that a project in discussion will be adopted by Creative Commons. Check out the image on our discuss page, laying out the model. Projects live or die on the merits, and your take on the merits matters. So if you find the project description murky or if you think the project is completely barking up the wrong tree, please say so on the list. I will probably link to the comments on our initial blog entry and post them to the list myself. Anyway, the point is: the discussion lists should be considered laboratories, or seminars — places to talk about and bang-up innovative licensing ideas, even ones a little outside the norm, and see if they hold up. Already your comments have been valuable in this way, and made a few on the staff here think more carefully about what this list is supposed to be about.

(2) If Creative Commons ever gets into what is vaguely being referred to as “commercialization” of content, it will never extend beyond facilitating what, say, the folks at Magnatune are doing: helping authors declare “some rights reserved,” then to charge, if they want to, for uses of those reserved rights. For example: Joe picks a Creative Commons no-derivatives license, but then a movie studio comes along and wants to include it in a film — what tools might CC consider including along with our licenses that will help Joe exercise the best of both worlds? That’s the question I’m interested in, and if the discussion list in question is ranging afield from this basic principle, then I’ll be commenting on it, too.

We certainly won’t, as one comment imagines, turn commercial ourselves: the IRS would have a thing or two to say about that, our board would probably have my head well before that happened, and as a matter of conscience I’d be long gone well before even that.

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