Skip to navigation

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?

  • Friday, December 20, 2002

    See Me, Feel Me

    Matt Croydon writes: "I know that the Creative Commons licenses have all kinds of other implications, I just can't think of them right now." Here's one that seems pertinent as Creative Commons launches and people begin applying its licenses to their work: what suffices to establish a Creative Commons license that both parties (creator and user) can be reasonably comfortable will govern their activities?* Dave Winer gives the example of his picture of Shawn Fanning, and also now has deployed an RSS Module intended to convey information about applicable CC licensing in the XML version of a Web page. This begs the question: is it enough to have information about the license in the HTML, RSS/XML or metadata? (I.e., otherwise "invisible" when one is reading a Web page or other otherwise directly accessing a digital work?) Nope, I don't think so, and I don't think CC thinks so either. On the site, users are told that Web pages should incorporate specific HTML and RDF to "tag" the work as subject to a particular license. That code is designed to link the user back to the relevant CC Commons Deed and the actual license (the legalese) that the Commons Deed represents (click on the line "Legal Code (the full license)" in any Commons Deed to access). Apropos of Dave's Shawn Fanning photo example, users also are told that once a license has been chosen, "You should then include a Creative Commons 'Some Rights Reserved' button on your site, near your work. Help and tips on doing this are covered here. This button will link back to the Commons Deed, so that the world can be notified of the license terms. If you find that your license is being violated, you may have grounds to sue under copyright infringement." (Emphasis added.) This is all pretty apparently intended to strengthen the enforceability of the CC licenses. As stated in CC's FAQ, "We and our lawyers have worked hard to craft the licenses to be enforceable in as many jurisdictions as possible. That said, we can not account for every last nuance in the world's various copyright laws, at least not given our current resources." License information that is visibly and textually displayed on the site helps eliminate confusion and disagreement more effectively than something that lives exclusively in HTML or metadata. This point is bolstered by CC's explanation about why it offers a metadata component at all:
    If you run a search engine, you might use license metadata to highlight public domain and generously-licensed works. If you write a public file sharing server, you might offer to search the user's hard drive for works that allow distribution. If you write a magazine, you might use a CC-enabled search engine to find pictures of candy bars that you can legally include. ... Of course, this metadata only provides a first approximation of the license, for information use. Users are encouraged to read the full license to make sure it meets their expectations. [Why We Have Creative Commons Metadata]
    In other words, the metadata is informational. It helps with the location and dissemination of licensed works. It's several layers removed from the actual license. At some point, courts may be inclined to enforce a license that exists purely in machine readable form, or that is largely or completely invisible to a casual observer. We're probably a long way off from that day however, and it seems to me Creative Commons takes this into account by implementing a plan designed to include obvious visual and text cues in proximity to licensed works. *Here's another that Matt's page highlights: notwithstanding the intent of Creative Commons (at least for the time being) not to have its licenses apply to software (see Larry Lessig and the CC FAQ), this is happening anyway. I don't see a "no software" disclaimer in the licenses themselves -- a "work" is defined as "copyrightable work of authorship" -- and thus don't see why these could not form an enforceable software license (??). It would have to be free software, as the CC licenses aren't designed to help collect fees or royalties from use. [Update]: Woah. Seems folks much closer to this issue than I on the technical side also are intrigued.

    Comments, And Comments

    Donna has two fantastic posts today rounding up DMCA exemption comments due to the U.S. Copyright Office by Wednesday's date (previously discussed here and here). She also points to Larry Lessig's interview about copyright issues with CNN and Business 2.0 columnist Eric Hellweg, as part of the promotion for SXSW Interactive. Says Larry: "We've got to develop a rich and serious alternative mode of addressing these issues that's sometimes outside of the control of existing media. Blogging is one of the most important opportunities we have for finding alternative channels to discuss these things. That's what I'd encourage most."

    Lawyers Do It

    Split Indefinitives

    "The object of art is to give the whole ad hominem; hence each step of nature hath its ideal, and hence the possibility of a climax up to the perfect form of a harmonized chaos." --Coleridge, On Poesy or Art Harmonized chaos it is over at Corante, as Ad Hominem joins its ranks of regular columns. Does this mean one legitimately can point to both RageBoy and Chris Locke without cognitive dissonance interjecting a neural blue screen of death? Regardless, Chris/RB gets a big "write on."

    Thursday, December 19, 2002

    Use The Farce, Luke

    Anakin Skywalker switches to the Dark Side. [via The Screen Savers]

    What Goes Down

    Geoffrey Nunberg:
    [T]he media give a lot more attention to greed at some times than others, and particularly when the economy is tanking and everybody's looking for something to blame. When you chart the frequencies of greed and greedy in the press, they turn out to be an almost perfect trailing indicator for the stock market -- the worse the Dow is doing, the more the media start talking about greediness.
    Full essay (A Good Old-Gentlemanly Vice) here, and on Fresh Air.


    Check out Dave Sifry's new Technorati link sidebar: "I like going to my favorite news sources ... and when I find an interesting link, I paste it into the sidebar so that I can see what interesting conversations are going on about the article. ... It adds a metalayer to blogging."

    Wednesday, December 18, 2002

    Spit Vicious

    Punk Rock Baby (home of punk tunes and others not generally nursery indigenous -- in lullaby form) emails news of its holiday festivities: "May the best little terror win."

    Santa's On Atkins

    Well, the title was for effect and unconfirmed, but there's no denying Santa's diet is on the protein rich side. [via Chuck]

    Tuesday, December 17, 2002

    Houston, We Have Wit

    Reenhead: "I do have a recurring dream, however, of going to graduation in a hot air balloon and throwing hornbooks down on the unsuspecting crowd. If I could bean just one Career Services employee with a copy of Prosser on Torts, the rich irony would sustain me through any subsequent jail term I might receive." Ah, like the corners of my mind...

    For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone

    As above, so below; no willful violation of the DMCA, says the ElcomSoft jury. [via Donna]


    You no doubt have heard about the power woes we are experiencing in California due to the storm. Here in Newport? Our Christmas lights have shorted.


    Prentiss Riddle has done me at least two favors: expanded what I know about Rice University beyond merely why it plays Texas, and pointed me toward Reenhead, a highly entertaining blog by a D.C. law student and friends. Also, there's an excellent "Learning The Craft" resource in the links from Liable: JD2B, a comprehensive "non-commercial coummunity for law school applicants, students and recent grads...established by an '02 grad of NYU School of Law."

    Monday, December 16, 2002


    Crazy day. (Any day you learn this beat this at the box office is crazy I suppose, not to mention that the full force of the storm finally has descended on Southern California and traffic stops here if someone so much as accidentally expectorates.) As is inevitable whenever I update the blawg roll, yet more updates immediately are in order. New Category. I'm pleased to usher in a new category here at B&B for legal bloggers who are not actually (or apparently) *in* the legal field, or who quite apparently *are* in the legal field but choose not to disclose precisely how. I'm calling it "Blawgers At Large," and its ranks now include J-Files, The Comedian, Sarah Lai Stirland [via the Blawg Ring], WierdOfTheNews [via the Blawg Ring] and The Fourteenth Circuit [via Howard Bashman]. As always, your input is most welcome. Steve Abreu, a 2L at Ohio State University, writes ZipSix. Lewis & Clark Law School student William writes Phact Pattern. [via Jack Bogdanski] "Feddie" is a federal judicial clerk with Southern Appeal. [via Howard Bashman] PAB is, well, a 3LinDC. [via Howard Bashman] I do so crave utter definitude! -- much as Don Quixote wished to kick some serious windmill hiney. Keep 'em coming, folks.

    Sunday, December 15, 2002


    I have needed to update the blawg roll here for some time, and since Ernie did so much heavy lifting this week, now seemed like a particularly opportune juncture. ;-) A couple of observations before the linkfest begins. (1) Consider: in the span of oh, a little more than a year, the ranks of law bloggers have grown from a handful to numbers that begin to suggest something like a loosely joined, international confederation of considerable depth and expertise in all things legal. There are specialists at every level, in every field, from bankruptcy to corporate securities to employment to election law to health care, not to mention all manner of IP gurus and litigators of both the trial and appellate stripe. Unlike many other, more formally joined groups of legal professionals, its ties to academia are strong, it listens to those with particular insights about research, client service, business methods and technology, and everything its members contribute has both recruiting and marketing ramifications. (2) Why is this happening? Well, no quick and easy answers here, but at the recommendation of Satan himself Johnny Appleseed Christopher Locke -- if he suggests you read something, I suggest you not delay -- I started Shoshana Zuboff's and James Maxmin's new book, The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals And The Next Episode Of Captalism. It's roughly 400 pages of penetrating economic theory, observation, analysis and prognostication. (Of the ten reader reviews currently posted at Amazon, nine people gave this five stars, the highest rating. One gave it one star, the lowest. I have the feeling this book is destined to trigger such polarized reactions, but also that criticism is more likely to target its theories about the future than its assessments of the past and present.) I wish I could say this were the sort of item that usually prompts me to 1-Click, but sadly I'm more apt to go for a beach chair than something written by a Harvard Business School one. In this instance I couldn't be more pleased to have bucked my own tendencies. If you work in the legal field, are a blogger, or both -- or heck, if you stumbled on this page in search of a nice professional yoga bag -- this book is bound to make you examine your own motivations, and how our collective motivations might dramatically impact the broader economic equation. Obtuse enough for you? Good! On with the updates: Genie Tyburski's The Virtual Chase Alert. Genie should have been included here earlier but fell prey to my wondering whether her intelligent, useful updates were a "blog"; I get them in newsletter form. Screw it, it's an honor to include her. Similar considerations led to my delay in linking to Sean Carter's columns and home page, and likewise are hereby abandoned. Camera Lucida is by a lawyer, photographer and somewhat mysterious friend of Ernie's, and helps point up a distinction between what I do here and what others may do elsewhere. I like to check in on those in the legal field who blog. I don't care if they're not blogging about legal things; often, it's preferable. Judging by this writer's posts to date, I'm betting she, like me, may be inclined to comment on whatever moves her. The consciousness behind J-Files is yet more mysterious; he says he's not a lawyer but is "in the world of law." I'm sorry, but I just don't have the heading for that! In recognition of some considerable cheek and a domain that fairly jumps off a referral log I'm happy to throw a link your way, and will be equally happy to make it a permanent one -- should the future bring me a clue as to what you do. Ex Parte, the Harvard Law School Federalist Society's blog, and Captain Indignant (" excitable law student among many, decrying the injustices of stolen elections and mandatory minimum sentencing laws. But observe the fresh-faced young man with the German car carefully the next time he visits your municipal office: if he delivers a well-polished diatribe on the collapse of the correct English third-person singular and then glances about furtively, you should check his trunk for a telltale pair of red calf-high boots") come my way via Howard, who also has inspired D.C. appellate attorney Gary O'Connor ("not related to Sandra D.") to blog about statutory construction and "disseminate trivia about the pre-1789 English common law." (And you thought the Know-It-All Edition was a toughie.) From The Blawg Ring: a German attorney who answers to Simon if I'm not mistaken; a recent admit-T to the MidWestern University College of Law; a "Catholic home schooling mom/lawyer/journalist," Amy Kropp; a young government appellate and environmental lawyer, Stephanie Tai, whose views are not attributable to the United States (judging by Stephanie's "Selected Publications" I want her on my Trivial Pursuit team too, along with Gary O'Connor, and of course Captain Indignant for discrete consultations on the finer points of grammar); a self-described random, female first year attorney; and Yale law student Steven Wu. From Ernie's Law Blogs Outline: Bob Ambrogi, a lawyer, writer and filterer of law oriented Web resources; and David Goldman and his kfsource law librarian's weblog. David is the Head Librarian in the Boston office of a New York-based law firm. Do be sure to drop me a line if you are, or apprehend, a blogger-at-law. The Blawg Patrol never sleeps.

    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.