Creative Commons wins

Two wins for the Creative Commons. Firstly, the Open University have decided to release course materials under a Creative Commons license. It’s not yet clear which license they will use but this is a very positive move and, hopefully, will be followed by more U.K. universities.

The other piece of good news is that the Creative Commons license has been upheld by a Dutch court. Actually the news here is less unambiguously positive. Copyleft licenses (such as the CC licenses) use the letter of copyright law against the spirit of intellectual property: in other words they encourage the sharing and copying of ideas and creative works rather than discouraging them. But some CC licenses in fact place certain restrictions on the otherwise-free distribution of the works they cover. In this case the photographs in question were under an attribution-noncommercial-sharealike license. Essentially this means they can be freely used except in a commercial context, the original photographer has to be credited, and if you modify them you have to make your modified version freely available as well. So in this case the court has upheld the first two restrictive aspects of the particular license being used and not the copyleft aspect. From the restrictive point of view the CC license looks no different from any other copyright license. The ‘win’ here is simply that the restrictions of the CC license have been recognised as valid. I guess it would be more interesting if the ‘copyleft’ aspects such as the ‘share-alike’ requirement had been upheld.

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