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Thursday, May 23, 2002

Creative Commons, In Use

For those interested in how the new Creative Commons will work once everything is in place, and what it can do for you, there is useful information on the site:
  • How Will Creative Commons Help You?: real-world examples about how people working on a project will be able to use Creative Comments to locate works to enhance the project free from copyright infringement worries.
  • Technology: Creative Commons will utilize a Contributor Application and a Search Application. The Contributor Application will "help people create what we call a Commons Deed -- a document that uses plain English and intuitive icons to summarize the terms under which a contributor has offered her work." Once a work has been so dedicated, the Search Application will help others locate the works and put them to use.
  • Machine Readable Licensing: The license terms generated by Creative Commons technology "will be 'machine-readable.' That is, computer applications like search engines will be able to determine how Jill's photos are licensed. So Jack will be able to search for photos of the Empire State Building that are available under a Creative Commons license that permits copying and posting on the Web. He will find Jill's photos, and know that he has Jill's permission to use them in his movie."
  • In other words, the system appears designed to maintain the comfort level of all concerned. Contributors can state the degree of attribution and control they expect to maintain, if any. End-users can rest easy about incorporating the work of others if they comply. The more I look at this, the more I like it, and see where it helps eliminate uncertainties and risks inherent in the current system, and, as Creative Commons puts it, "complement[s], rather than compete[s] with, [the GPL] and other efforts to ease the sharing of creative works." Questions. However, I also can think of a few concerns I hope the good professors and their colleagues will address. One is fraud - there should be a way of verifying that a person using the Contributor Application is the original author, and of notifying end-users if some issue about this arises down the road. Another is the cross-jurisdictional effectiveness of the Commons Deed - those using works licensed with the help of Creative Commons will want assurance they are authorized to do so regardless of where they or the author may reside. Finally, I wonder what role Creative Commons will play, if any, in disputes among contributors and end-users about the scope or propriety of a use. I don't see a discussion on the site about this, so I assume a contributor who feels the terms of the Commons Deed have been exceeded will have to look to a court to determine the scope of the license under basic contract principles. Perhaps agreement to an alternative dispute resolution process could be built into the system, to provide even greater confidence that those using Creative Commons will reduce the risk of costly litigation down the road. (I see the site has a feedback address for questions like this, so off these will go. If you think of others (1) let me know, I'm interested, and (2) send them here.)

    Creative Commons LicenseUnless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Denise M. Howell and included in the Bag and Baggage weblog and any related pages, including the weblog's archives, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.