white house

The 3rd Party Content of Whitehouse.gov

Fred Benenson, March 25th, 2009

Whitehouse.govWhen Whitehouse.gov relaunched itself during Barack Obama’s inauguration it included a clause in its copyright policy mandating that all 3rd party content on the site be released under our Attribution license. Until yesterday, there wasn’t much third party content on the site. However, as of this writing, 13,785 people have submitted 16,561 questions and cast 508,450 votes in the site’s “Open For Questions” section. President Obama will answer some of these questions on Thursday morning in a special online town hall.

While the copyright status of each individual question may not seem significant, all of the questions taken in aggregate are of unquestionable value for current and future generations of journalists, historians and citizens. By placing this corpus under our most permissive license, the Obama Administration has secured that the public will always have access to this unprecedented part of American presidential history.

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Recovery.gov Following Whitehouse.gov’s Lead

Fred Benenson, March 20th, 2009

Recovery.govRecovery.gov is the site that provides US citizens with the the ability to monitor the progress of the country’s recovery via the The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As with Whitehouse.gov, the Obama administration is presciently using our Attribution license 3.0 for all third party content on the site, while all of the original content site created by the federal government remains unrestricted by copyright and therefore in the public domain.

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Michael Geist on Why Whitehouse.gov’s Copyright Policy Matters

Fred Benenson, January 22nd, 2009

Canadian copyright scholar Michael Geist explains why Whitehouse.gov‘s adoption of our Attribution license for 3rd party content is important in light of Canada’s policy on government works:

Now consider the Prime Minister of Canada’s copyright notice:
The material on this site is covered by the provisions of the Copyright Act, by Canadian laws, policies, regulations and international agreements. Such provisions serve to identify the information source and, in specific instances, to prohibit reproduction of materials without written permission. …

While this is better than some other Canadian government departments (who require permission for all uses), it is still not good enough. First, Canada should drop crown copyright so that there is no copyright in government-produced materials. Second, there is no need for a distinction between commercial and non-commercial – Canadians should be free to use the government-produced materials for either purpose without permission. Third, third-party materials, which are Creative Commons licensed in the U.S., are subject to full restrictions in Canada.

While the decision to use CC on Whitehouse.gov may appear uncontroversial in light of the fact that US federal works are not subject to copyright protection, very few other countries share this policy as evidenced by Geist’s post. This is precisely where Creative Commons can help. Obama’s far sighted choice should serve as an example for other governments around the world: now is the time to start sharing.

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Whitehouse.gov’s 3rd Party Content Under CC-BY

Fred Benenson, January 20th, 2009

Whitehouse.govAs you may of heard, the new Whitehouse.gov launched today at 12:01pm during Barack Obama’s inauguration. What you might not have noticed is that the copyright policy of the site stipulates that all 3rd party content is licensed under our most permissive Attribution license:

Pursuant to federal law, government-produced materials appearing on this site are not copyright protected. The United States Government may receive and hold copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.

Except where otherwise noted, third-party content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Whitehouse.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

(emphasis added)

Congratulations to the 44th President of the US for choosing CC!

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