News

Retiring standalone DevNations and one Sampling license

Lawrence Lessig, June 4th, 2007

Today we are retiring two of the Creative Commons licenses — the stand alone Developing Nations license, as well as one of the three Sampling licenses we offer. The reasons for these retirements are both practical and principled.

The practical reason is simple lack of interest: From the start, Creative Commons has promised to keep our family of licenses as simple as possible. Actual demand has been one of the key indicators of how simple things can be. We estimate just 0.01% of our existing licenses are Developing Nations licenses, and 0.01% are the version of the Sampling license that we are retiring. Those numbers say that these licenses are not in demand.

The principled reasons are different with each license. The Developing Nations license is in conflict with the growing “Open Access Publishing” movement. While the license frees creative work in the developing nations, it does not free work in any way elsewhere. This means these licenses do not meet the minimum standards of the Open Access Movement. Because this movement is so important to the spread of science and knowledge, we no longer believe it correct to promote a stand alone version of this license. Later this month, we will begin a discussion about adding the terms of the Developing Nations license to 5 of the other CC licenses, and giving users the option to include those terms in their license. (So, for example, you could select a BY-NC license for the developed world, but offer a BY license for creators within Developing Nations.) Because such an option would be attached to a standard CC license, it would not conflict with the principle we are announcing here. Based upon the feedback we get to that idea, we will decide whether to implement it.

The Sampling License presents a similar concern. Until today, we have offered three versions of the Sampling license. Two of those versions permit noncommercial sharing of the licensed work (SamplingPlus, and Noncommercial SamplingPlus). One (the Sampling License) only permits the remix of the licensed work, not the freedom to share it. There is a strong movement to convince Creative Commons that our core licenses at least permit the freedom to share a work noncommercially.

Creative Commons supports that movement. We will not adopt as a Creative Commons license any license that does not assure at least this minimal freedom — at least not without substantial public discussion. We are grateful for the feedback, and for the understanding of those who helped us craft the sampling licenses, both of which got us here.

This change does not affect any existing licensed work. The links to these licenses, and every Creative Commons license, will always remain valid. The only change we’re making today is that we will no longer offer these licenses on our licensing page.

To read more about these retirements, please visit our retired licenses page.

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