DRAFT Creative Commons Statement of Intent for Attribution-ShareAlike Licenses

Mike Linksvayer, April 4th, 2008

Next in a series addressing a suggested Wikipedia CC BY-SA migration checklist, today I’m publishing a DRAFT Creative Commons Statement of Intent for Attribution-ShareAlike Licenses.

This draft statement attempts describe 1) what CC does as a license developer and steward, 2) why CC Attribution-ShareAlike licenses play a special role in the movement for free cultural works — clearly inspired by the free software movement, and 3) CC’s intentions as steward of Attribution-ShareAlike licenses, in the context of (1) and (2).

Note that while (1) provides a reasonable explanation of the role CC plays for all of the licenses it develops, (2) and (3) apply only to Attribution-ShareAlike licenses. Anyone who wants a thorough understanding of the contours of content in this age should take the time to understand the movement this statement addresses. However, other communities have different requirements. It is conceivable that at some point CC will need to address the requirements of other communities in relation to other particular CC licenses and tools that help those communities. One example of this — which takes a different form because all existing CC licenses are too restrictive for the community in question (but public domain and the in-development CC0 waiver are just right) — is the Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data. Still other communities rely on more restrictive CC licenses.

This particular draft statement has been previewed to many people within CC, CC’s international project teams, Wikipedians, and free software advocates. However, I take responsibility for its unwieldy verbosity and any minor or fundamental flaws it may have, and for taking too long to take this step of posting for public review. Comments and criticism are strongly encouraged. Leave a comment on this post, on the wiki (requires registration), or on the cc-licenses mailing list (requires subscription).

2 Responses to “DRAFT Creative Commons Statement of Intent for Attribution-ShareAlike Licenses”

  1. It’s a very strongly pro-sharealike statement.

    For example, it says “the dominant Free license SHOULD [my emphasis] not only grant essential freedoms, but protect those freedoms for all users. This is accomplished by copyleft”.

    Then, in point 3, it says: “Any clarification of whether a use constitutes an adaptation… may only broaden the scope of uses considered adaptations rather than collections”. I read that as saying “when a decision has to be made between copyleft and permissive (PD/BSD-style), it should always come down on the side of copyleft”.

    This is interesting, as it effectively constitutes a statement by CC that one “family” of CC licences is better than another. It contrasts very strongly with the CC FAQ which is avowedly neutral on the question of “Which Creative Commons license should I choose?”, answering: “You should choose the license that meets your preferences.”

    How do you reconcile the two?

  2. Mike Linksvayer says:


    This statement only applies to one of our licenses, BY-SA. Of course it is a strongly pro-SA statement, as that license is a SA license. :)

    For BY-SA license when a decision has to be made between copyleft and permissive, it should come down on the side of copyleft. This does not impact our non-copyleft/permissive licenses at all.

    There’s really nothing to reconcile. You should indeed choose the license that meets your preferences. We’re saying here that if your preferences are for BY-SA, this is what you should expect.

    Thanks for the feedback!

Leave a Reply