Back in December we announced the CC0 project, which encompassed two tools. First, a waiver of all copyright and neighboring rights in a work, to the extent permitted by law. Second, an assertion that a work is not under copyright or neighboring rights. We were (and are) basically taking our existing public domain dedication and certification and everything we’ve learned over the past five years (in particular from working with a large network of international legal experts and experience with deploying rights metadata) and rolling them into a much improved toolset for enabling the “no rights reserved” portion of the commons.
We launched the first beta of these tools in January. One thing feedback from this beta helped us realize is that bundling the waiver and assertion in one tool could be confusing. While both tell an end user that there are no strings attached to using a work, they’re actually very different. A waiver must be used by the copyright holder of a work; an assertion is made by someone with knowledge that there is no copyright holder of a work.
In February we announced that the next beta would take pains to make these two use cases distinct. We also said that we hoped to have the next beta ready for public review and discussion by March 31. We’ve missed that date by a couple weeks, but for the good — some exciting organizational growth (more below) and incorporation of further lessons.
We’ve also come to believe that we’re really close on the CC0 waiver, while the assertion tool is going to require significant work before it provides a big step up from our existing public domain certification. For example, we want to facilitate publishing of facts about a work that would help one determine the work’s copyright status, and separately, rules about copyright status in various jurisdicitons — people who know lots about a particular work aren’t likely to be global copyright experts, and if there were a single person expert in copyright law in every jurisdiction, that person would have no room in their brains for knowledge of any creative works! There are various groups working on different pieces of this who we look forward to collaborating with. Expect news concerning public domain assertion tools in the coming months.
So the new beta we’re announcing today is focused exclusively on the CC0 waiver. The big change in this beta (as planned in February) is that rather than starting with a jurisdiction-centric U.S. version of CC0, the tool will be “Universal” from the beginning. You can access the beta at ccLabs. Your feedback and criticism is most welcome. The primary venue for discussion is the cc-licenses mailing list (low volume and moderated; do not fear jumping in).
Speaking of organizational growth, one addition directly impacts this work on CC0. Diane Peters, our incoming General Counsel, will be leading this project going forward. Diane comes to CC from Mozilla,was previously GC of Open Source Development Labs, and also serves on the board of the Software Freedom Law Center. We’re very happy to have Diane coming on board and are very confident she will lead CC0 to fruitful implementation and beyond.
In addition to contributions from many of you (Jordan Hatcher especially, leading by example with the PDDL), special thanks goes to CC lawyers Virginia Rutledge (who is stepping into a new role as Vice President and Special Counsel) and Thinh Nguyen (Science Commons Counsel), who have pushed us to the point we’re at now — a precipice of greatness! 🙂
Science Commons VP John Wilbanks, ccLearn ED Ahrash Bissell, and CTO Nathan Yergler made key policy and technology contributions.