Commons News

New Scientist

Press Robot, May 15th, 2003

Customised copyright licences going global,” by Will Knight

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On Warranties: Part II

Glenn Otis Brown, May 15th, 2003

In response to the ongoing discussion of our licences’ warranty provision, I’ve decided to raise the issue at our upcoming board meeting.

Meantime, please keep fleshing out what you think our approach to warranties should be. The how is as important as the why. Is there any disadvantage to making a quitclaim-style warranty optional (as opposed to the standard)? Do you think we should have some type of warranty in the licenses, or rather abandon the idea altogether?

Soon we can move the conversation over to our forthcoming Discuss page, where we’ll host a variety of archived email lists dedicated to public development of innovations, license versions, iCommons, and more. For now, please keep posting your comments here. And thanks.


Color Blender

Matt Haughey, May 14th, 2003

Web Developers and designers looking for that perfect color might want to check out Eric Meyer’s Color Blender, recently released under a Creative Commons license. You input two colors and specify how many midtones you’ll need, and it does the rest. Since it’s written entirely in javascript, you can download it and use it yourself.

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Featured Commoner: Wiley Wiggins

Glenn Otis Brown, May 14th, 2003

Check out a new interview with actor, animator, author, and Austinite Wiley Wiggins, by our own Matt Haughey. You may remember Wiggins’ star turns in Richard Linklater’s films Dazed and Confused and Waking Life. But if you’re really in, you recognize him as a friendly blogger and all-around web dude.

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Project Gutenberg CD

Matt Haughey, May 2nd, 2003

The people at Project Gutenberg, long known for creating and hosting public domain works, are releasing a “Best Of” CD under a Creative Commons license.

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On Warranties

Glenn Otis Brown, April 30th, 2003

Dan Bricklin of recently posted some thoughtful concerns about the Creative Commons licenses, in particular their common warranty clause.

Dan’s concerns take two forms: (1) Creative Commons should do more to alert licensors to the details of our warranty provision; (2) the warranty provision is too strong for the average copyright holder — that is, it makes the licensor promise too much about the legal legitimacy of the work he or she wants to license.

(I’ll start, as I often do, by cautioning that what follows isn’t legal advice. It’s an explanation of our form licenses and the policies that led us to draft them as they are.)

Point number one is well taken. After a fresh look over the site and our Commons Deed, I think we could explain the warranty provision in a more “human-readable” way. We’ll work on it — thanks for bringing it up.

I think point number two — that the warranty provision is too strong — deserves a little more discussion.

Dan says, “The Creative Commons licenses say, in effect, ‘After checking, I guarantee no one will sue you if you copy my work, with some restrictions.'”

But the licenses aren’t quite so extreme, and the “with some restrictions” part matters. Look at the text (Section 5a):

“Licensor represents and warrants that, to the best of Licensor’s knowledge after reasonable inquiry . . . Licensor has secured all rights in the Work necessary to grant the license rights . . . “

The key word is “reasonable.” It limits liability. When our licenses were still in draft, they contained no such qualifier. After many of you wrote in concerned about that, we made it more lenient by adding the “reasonableness” clause.

I agree with Dan that using Creative Commons licenses is serious business, and I would encourage any potential licensor to think hard about what he or she is doing (and yes, if in need of individual, context-specific advice, to consult a lawyer). But I think that our warranty clause helps people take licensing seriously. When you consider that (1) anyone in the world may use our licenses (2) at no charge, a reasonable promise about the source of a work seems like a small price to pay — especially to all those licensees out there. Someone has to carry the risk, and just because someone’s a “casual” weblogger doesn’t mean that his or her readers should bear it. Right?

That said, I’m happy to have more discussion on the subject. I’m open-minded.


New books under a Creative Commons license

Matt Haughey, April 28th, 2003

John Sundman, author of the books “Acts of the Apostles” and “Cheap Complex Devices” has recently applied a Creative Commons license to his works. The full text of the books are available for download from his site.

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Creative Commons Releases Hundreds of Titles Under its Founders Copyright

Neeru Paharia, April 23rd, 2003

Creative Commons announced today the release of several hundred titles under its Founders’ Copyright. The Silicon Valley nonprofit also opened the Founders’ Copyright submission process to the public via its website.

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Syndic8’s news feeds

Matt Haughey, April 21st, 2003

Syndic8, a central repository for syndicated news feeds, has recently started tracking the use of Creative Commons licenses in feeds. They’ve got a growing list here.

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Syllabus Magazine

Press Robot, April 16th, 2003

Academic Digital Rights: A Walk on the Creative Commons,” by Glenn Otis Brown

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