Creative Commons Licenses and Fair Use

I’ve been watching episode 272 of This Week in Law and one of the guests is Sarah Pearson of Creative Commons. I hear this bit and I immediately rewound and listened again. Check it out:

So basically, if your use of a CC-licensed work would fall under Fair Use, you don’t have to follow the license! At least, not according to the folks at Creative Commons. Mind blown.

Well, I’m going to continue to follow the license in spirit every time (i.e. attribution at a minimum,) from the sounds of it I don’t have to all the time.

Is it copyrighted? Can I use it?

Copyright! Complicated, confusing, and not clear-cut. What does a librarian need to know? Michael Sauers and Laura Johnson, from the Nebraska Library Commission, will present scenarios to discuss, as we all shine a light on the subject and try to figure out what a librarian needs to do.

(Early on in the show we have some trouble with the polling software and it takes us a minute or so to solve the problem. Please bear with us through that small section of the recording.)

Creative Commons Issues an Update to its Copyright License Suite

After more than two years of community discussions and many drafts, the nonprofit Creative Commons has released a new version of its popular copyright license suite. These licenses allow rightsholders to release some of the exclusive rights associated with copyright while retaining others, in a way that’s easy for re-users, indexable by computers, and that stands up to legal review in many countries.

Version 4.0 accomplishes some ambitious goals, but sticks to the spirit of earlier licenses, so that it shouldn’t disrupt existing uses. In several places, the text has been clarified to better reflect the way the public uses the licenses in practice. The attribution requirements, for example, have been slightly adjusted to better accommodate the way re-users are typically providing attribution, by expressly allowing attribution to come in the form of a link to a separate “credits” page.

Among the most notable changes, version 4.0 breaks with the earlier practice of “porting” licenses to different jurisdictions, and is now designed to work all over the world. In the same vein, Creative Commons will provide official translations of the license deeds so that licensors and licensees can read the text in the local languages.

Read the full article @ EFF.org.

The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright

The Copyright PentalogyCopyright cases typically only reach the Supreme Court of Canada once every few years, ensuring that each case is carefully parsed and analyzed. As readers of this blog know, on July 12, 2012, the Supreme Court issued rulings on five copyright cases in a single day, an unprecedented tally that shook the very foundations of copyright law in Canada.  In fact, with the decisions coming just weeks after the Canadian government passed long-awaited copyright reform legislation, Canadian copyright law experienced a seismic shift that will take years to sort out.

I am delighted to report that this week the University of Ottawa Press published The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law, an effort by many of Canada’s leading copyright scholars to begin the process of examining the long-term implications of the copyright pentalogy. The book is available for purchase and is also available as a free download under a Creative Commons licence. The book can be downloaded in its entirety or each of the 14 chapters can be downloaded individually. This is the first of a new collection from the UOP on law, technology and society (I am pleased to serve as the collection editor) that will be part of the UOP’s open access collection.

Read the full article @ MichaelGeist.ca.

Cory Doctorow’s statement on Fox taking down his cc-licensed novel

Homeland DoctorowMy Creative Commons licensed, 2013 novel Homeland, the sequel to my 2008 novel Little Brother, spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and got great reviews around the country. But Fox apparently hasn’t heard of it — or doesn’t care. They’ve been sending takedown notices to Google (and possibly other sites), demanding that links to legally shared copies of the book be removed.

Read the full statement @ Craphound.com.

Fox Censors Cory Doctorow’s “Homeland” Novel From Google

Cory DoctorowCopyfighter, journalist, sci-fi writer and Boing-Boing editor Cory Doctorow has fallen victim to the almighty content empire of Rupert Murdoch. In an attempt to remove access to infringing copies of the TV-show Homeland, Fox has ordered Google to take down links to Doctorow’s latest novel of the same title. Adding to the controversy, Doctorow’s own publisher has also sent DMCA notices for the Creative Commons licensed book.

TorrentFreak confronted Cory Doctorow with these dystopian findings and the author was outraged by the gross abuse of his rights. Without hesitation he called for drastic action to be taken against the head honcho of the content empire.

“I think you can safely say I’m incandescent with rage. BRING ME THE SEVERED HEAD OF RUPERT MURDOCH!” Doctorow says.

Read the full article @ TorrentFreak.

Math instructor releases 2,600 videos under Creative Commons Attribution

CC LogoArizona Phoenix College math instructor James Sousa has been teaching math for 15 years at both the community college and K-12 levels. Over the years, he has developed more than 2,600 video tutorials on topics from arithmetic to calculus, and made these videos available on YouTube, originally under a CC BY-NC-SA license. His website and videos, entitled, Mathispower4u, feature both math lessons and examples, and many of the videos have been incorporated into online homework questions available at MyOpenMath.com.

Read the full article @ CreativeCommons.org.

Participating in the Creative Commons for MLS

A few weeks ago I delivered my Creative Commons presentation online for the Massachusetts Library System. Here’s the recording of that session.

Participating in Creative Commons from Massachusetts Library System on Vimeo.

There were also a few comments and questions passed along with with evaluation that I thought I’d respond to here for the benefit of all. (I’ve e-mailed the folks that submitted their contact information to let them know this info is here.) Feel free to address further questions or comments in this post’s comments if you wish to continue the conversation.

“When various “copyright” situations arise, where is the best place to go to find the answers?”

Let’s start with a hard one and I’ll try to avoid “it depends” as an answer. Not knowing your particular situation, if you’re the cautious type, I’d say speak to whomever in your library is responsible for this sort of thing. That might be the director, or the relevant city, town, campus attorney. At least, that’s the person to speak to if you have a particular question. However, I will warn you that chances are, if it gets to that point their answer is most likely going to be something along the lines of “ask for permission, failing that, don’t do whatever it is you want to do.” Remember, their job is to help not get your library sued so they’re generally going to be on the cautious side.

If you’re just looking for some online resources and I’ve just over analized your question, here are a few I’d suggest:

“Not clear on how to attribute cc images that are used as clip art.”

I’m going to assume that you’re using clipart that is CC-licensed. The short answer is give credit somewhere pointing back to the source of the clip art. How, depends on the platform on which you’re using the clip art. If it’s on w Web site, I’d put a footer on the page with a hyperlink, or maybe on some sort of credits page if you have one for the site. In print, I’d put it in a footer or at the end of a longer document. In a PowerPoint slide, I generally, put a small URL on the particular slide, while others create a credits slide at the end. Basically, the same way you’d cite a CC-licensed photo.

“‘Share Alike’ always is bit puzzling–if some of the content in the work has a stricter CC license OR is used based on a Fair Use analysis. The whole “commercial” vs. “non-commercial” definitions…”

As I understand it, if the source content has a “share alike” license you need to license your new creation under a “similar” license. i.e. the license you use can’t be more restrictive than the license of the content you’re re-used. Yes, this is a but confusing and why I stopped using a share alike license on my content. Once I did that, re-use of my content went up. (Though I can’t actually prove causality on this one.) 

The idea of “what is non-commercial” is one of those problems I raise in my presentation so I don’t have a particular answer. Simply, it ultimately ends up being in the eye of the creator and their opinion trumps yours unless you’d like to settle it in court. However, in my experience most who license their content as non-commercial are pretty liberal in their opinions. For example, I’ve never had someone complain about my use of one of their non-commercially-licensed photos in a presentation for which I was paid to deliver. However, if I was to take their photo and then exclusively sell access to that presentation, most would consider that commercial use.

“Still wondering about transcriptions of historical documents (docs in public domain). Thinking of deeds and also a diary. Related question too about photographs taken of historical artifacts, for instance a duck decoy or scrimshaw (both 1800’s, but modern photo of both)”

I remember this question from the end of the session and I think the example helps. Keeping in mind I’m not a lawyer, here’s my current thoughts on this situation. In these cases you’re creating a derivative work based on the out-of-copyright original (either a transcript or photo) and therefore can claim copyright on the new work. If you can claim copyright, you can license it under creative commons should you wish to do so. 

The only situation in which I think giving it a CC license would be useless would be for a transcript of something so common so as to make it easy for someone else to create the same sort of work. For example, if you transcribe the US Constitution, assigning a CC license would be practically worthless since who’s to say someone else is using your transcription or their own. If however, you’re creating a transcript of something that you have the only copy of, then I could see it working.

“The narration and the slides did not always jibe, making it confusing at times.”

This is unfortunately a bandwidth issue that can not be completely controlled. I’m very familiar with the platform that was used for this presentation (GoToWebinar) and when I change a slide, that change then needs to propagate to everyone in attendance. Those on a face connection will see those changes sooner, while those on slower connections we have a bit of a delay. Normally this isn’t a problem, but for this particular presentation, since I change the slides very often, the effect is more noticeable.