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Saturday, December 21, 2002

IAAL: A Lawyer Licenses Her Weblog

Having now gone through the Creative Commons licensing process for Bag and Baggage, I'll share some thoughts with you I had along the way. This is far from advice (legal or otherwise), a call to arms, a benediction or anything even remotely resembling a jelly doughnut. It's what I decided would work best here given what Creative Commons is offering. The Background: Why do this at all? Creative Commons explains this nicely. A license permits you to express your intent not to have your work protected by the full range and scope of otherwise applicable copyright law. In the U.S., protection of copyrightable works is the default. One need not post a notice. One need not register (although doing so triggers additional rights and remedies not otherwise available). The law assumes, and thus anyone interested in using your works should also assume, that copyrightable works are protected unless you expressly state otherwise. (See generally's Copyright FAQ.) The License: I picked the "Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial" flavor. In a nutshell this means anyone can copy, distribute and display whatever original works I may post here at Bag and Baggage (please do!), as long as I'm credited. Also, since I don't generate dime one off these posts, I'm not wild about others doing so without my express permission. Finally, I don't see any reason to expressly allow others to alter things I might post here without checking with me first; hence, "No Derivs." (Of course, as all Creative Commons licenses specify, the fair use doctrine -- more here -- still applies.) Licensing The Weblog: Here's where we begin to get into some of the implementation questions Dave and Shelley have been asking. Three things are worth highlighting:
  • The "Work." I intend the license to apply to the weblog and any specific item -- text, audio, video, image -- I might post here. To make this intent more clear, I revised the notice language generated by the Creative Commons chooser application. By default, the notice provided by Creative Commons says: "This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license." To better convey my intent that the "work" in question is everything I create and post here unless I say otherwise, my notice reads: "Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Denise M. Howell and included in this weblog and any related pages, including the weblog's archives, is licensed under a Creative Commons license." By these revisions, I mean to advise the world that I do not purport to license things appearing here that I did not create (the base HTML template, for example), and also to preserve for myself the right to differently license, or not to license, specific items or posts on a case-by-case basis (I can't really foresee wanting to do this, but it could happen).
  • The Metadata. I opted not to include "step 4 - work info," which adds more information about the work in the metadata. This was because the chooser application wanted me to specify whether the "work" I was licensing was text, an image, audio or video, and the metadata would have included that specific information. As I said yesterday, the metadata is not the license, it's informational. But likewise I don't want to provide confusing or inaccurate information. As mentioned above, I don't want to make this license that specific. I want it to apply by default to whatever I might post here unless I decide in the case of some particular item that a different, or no, license should apply. (I thought about changing the RDF code to say "any" where it would otherwise specify "text" or what have you, but figured I could be violating all kinds of standards and practices I might not even know about. Heaven forfend!) I see the metadata identifiers as being much more useful in the case of a discrete work such as an image, and I am sufficiently satisfied for the time being with other technologies that enable interested parties to find things here without it.
  • The XML/RSS. I think it would be useful and informative to give notice of my Creative Commons license(s) in my blog's RSS feed, but I have no control over the content of that feed. It's generated by Blogger, so until Ev thinks this is worth implementing, the notice at the bottom of this page is what I've got. Thoughts, anyone?

  • 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.