Creative Commons Law and the GeoWeb presentation


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Creative Commons participated in the Law and the GeoWeb workshop in Seattle, April 11, 2011.

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Creative Commons Law and the GeoWeb presentation

  1. 1. Law and the GeoWeb Eric Fischer / to Puneet for putting together this terrific workshop. My name is Timothy Vollmer, and I’m happy to be here from Creative Commons.For those of you that don’t know, Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that develops and stewards a suite of public copyright licenses and technical infrastructure that are in use on hundreds ofmillions of creative works worldwide. Our goal is one of universal access to research, education, and full participation in culture, which we believe will drive a new era of development, growth, andproductivity.CC is truly global. Our licenses are ported to 55 jurisdictions, and volunteer affiliates provide local and regional legal expertise, promoting CC adoption and helping to scale our outreach efforts.
  2. 2. CC works for open geodata Openness requires good design thinking Help us for 4.0There’s 3 main pieces I’d like to talk about today. First, Creative Commons licenses work for open geodata. Creative Commons tools are used for data and database projects around the world, from 1)grassroots efforts to create and share maps to 2) national open data mashup competitions to 3) large, multinational attempts to map the poles.Second, good design thinking is essential in making and keeping data open. We believe that by keeping our licenses intuitive to apply and easy to use, we honor good design thinking.Third, as we begin our next license versioning process, we’d appreciate your feedback, criticisms, and suggestions.
  3. 3. CC works for open geodata Openness requires good design thinking Help us for 4.0Creative Commons licenses work for open geodata. Since the very beginning, with version 1.0 of the CC license suite in 2002 people have published data and databases under CC licenses.MusicBrainz, an open content music database, is an early example, along with Freebase, DBpedia, OpenStreetMap, and others.
  4. 4. Copyright Maths Content Data[bases] 2 2 +2 +2 4 4CC licenses can be used for data and databases because copyright law for content is no different from copyright law for data and databases.Copyright law grants a bundle of rights to the author of a work the moment the creative work is fixed in a tangible medium. Under U.S. law one must show a minimal degree of creativity for a work to beprotected by copyright. The controlling precedent here is Feist v Rural, where the Supreme Court ruled that the Rural Telephone Service Company’s white pages phone book was not copyrightable. Butin general, copyrightability is a very low bar.Under the copyright regime, individual entries of data are copyrightable exactly like any other fixed expressive content. Entries could be photographs, text or audio, and if they have the requisitecreativity, they are copyrightable.We’ve also seen that creative expression in the structure of a database itself is similarly copyrightable, and the opportunities for creativity in database structure lie in the creative selection andarrangement of its elements.Thus many national copyright laws grant copyright protection specifically to a database or collection of potentially unprotectable works based on creative selection and arrangement. This is not somealternate form of copyright law, it is the same copyright law that looks for creative expression in the places it may find it given the medium.
  5. 5. CC licenses can and should be used for data and databases right now, as they have been for 8 years—with the important caveat that CC 3.0 license conditions do not extend to “protect” a database that isotherwise uncopyrightable.Of course, databases in some jurisdictions—primarily Europe—are covered by additional rights called “sui generis” database rights, where protection is given to a database which does not qualify forcopyright.CC handles the sui generis database rights slightly differently. Within jurisdictions with sui generis rights—mainly in Europe—the use of database materials under CC results in the waiving ofrequirements and prohibitions for uses triggering the database right. However, the license requirements and prohibitions continue to apply to all uses triggering copyright.
  6. 6. 4nitsirk / separate database rights required under the EU directive has cast a haze over the re-use of data.And, confusion that data and databases and content must be treated differently reflects the complexity of the rapidly evolving digital world, where the divisions between data and content are blurringfaster than the law evolves. This blurring in turn makes the line at which copyright begins or ends an open ended question rather than a cut and dry one. The reality is that copyright law likely reachesdeep into databases, even databases composed of facts that are themselves uncopyrightable.
  7. 7. + =This reach of copyright and its lack of clarity is precisely why we recommend in publicly funded science that the confusion be dealt with via the public domain, using a tool like the CC0 public domainwaiver. CC0 waives copyright and related rights to the extent they exist. It is essential that publicly funded research be unambiguously public domain, so that it can serve as baseline infrastructure formore publicly funded research around the world.
  8. 8. But in areas outside the publicly funded sciences, this same reach of copyright can be leveraged by using Creative Commons licenses. This applies to geodata and databases of geodata just as it does to adatabase like Metaweb, which is published under a Creative Commons Attribution license, or the geospatial information published using CC tools in Australia and New Zealand.
  9. 9. <div xmlns:cc=""> <a rel="license" href=" licenses/by/3.0/"> <img src=" 3.0/88x31.png" /> </a> <br /> This page, by <a property="cc:attributionName" rel="cc:attributionURL" href="">Lawrence Lessig</a>, is licensed under a <a rel="license" href=" licenses/by/3.0/"> Creative Commons Attribution License</a>. </div> Machine Readable MetadataUsing a Creative Commons copyright license brings many benefits beyond its legal functions. We provide a standard, machine-readable way to describe rights, freedoms, and re-use conditions via CCREL: the Creative Commons Rights Expression Language standard. CC REL is based on the W3C’s RDF specification.This standard, machine-readable description of permissions and requirements is in turn integrated into Google, Yahoo, and many other technical platforms. Making open data not just legally open, buteasy to find via the tools that people already use every day is an essential component of the Creative Commons methodology.
  10. 10. CC works for open geodata Openness requires good design thinking Help us for 4.0In making data open, and ensuring openness, good design thinking is essential. Developing standardized open licenses that scale with use is a complex process, especially in an area as dynamic as thegeneration, capture, distribution, and re-use of data products.
  11. 11. At CC, we operate from a straightforward principle, inspired by the technical architectures of the Internet and the Web: the simplest tool that can achieve the desired results is usually the best choice.Aligned with this design principle, the Creative Commons licenses are simple. They act as one-to-many offers to the world, and allow for downstream “chains” of distribution without additional actionssuch as 1) registration, 2) technical protection measures, or 3) need to return to a central database to maintain control.And of course, CC solely addresses copyright. Creative Commons licenses don’t impose obligations that go beyond the copyright. So, the licenses don’t touch on patents or trademarks. Nor do CClicenses impose contractual restrictions, which can both make licenses more complex, and are more easily circumvented than copyright.It should be noted that Creative Commons licenses do prohibit licensors from imposing any terms on a work that restrict the ability of a recipient of the work to exercise the rights granted in the license.And, the licenses do not apply to public domain material to which copyright does not attach, such as individual purely factual entries of data, or aggregations of purely factual data selected and arrangedwithout any creativity.The takeaway here is that Creative Commons licenses do not remove any freedoms under applicable law, and under most national copyright laws users may take purely factual material and use it asthey choose.
  12. 12. We also actively monitor our licenses to make sure we are offering the fewest possible. Odd as that may sound, our goal is not to provide a license for every use, but to create a global standard for opencontent and database licensing that maximizes interoperability and reuse of the open content and data.In support of this design principle, we have taken steps to reduce the option space in our core suite of copyright tools. For example, we’ve made attribution mandatory in all our licenses, because almostno one used a license version without it. We’ve also “retired” licenses that have unintended side effects, such as the developing nations license, which didn’t permit worldwide noncommercial verbatimsharing, something that’s at the core of even the most restrictive CC license.So, the current and hopefully longstanding CC attitude is that a goal of maximizing the value of the commons requires not just one solution, but a small set of them. As we’ve seen, a large set of optionsfacilitates lots of content and data silos, which drastically under-realize the potential of the commons. And as a steward of the global digital commons, this is a challenge to which we must always bealert.
  13. 13. CC works for opengeodataOpenness requires gooddesign thinkingHelp us for 4.0Finally, as we move into the 4.0 license versioning process, we need your help and input.
  14. 14. 1.0 : 2002 2.0 : 2005 2.5 : 2005 3.0 : 2007 4.0 : nextOur licenses undergo a versioning process when deemed necessary, but hopefully only every few years. We’ve arguably gotten better at this process, as we released 4 versions in the first 5 years, andversion 3.0, the most recent, has been in place since 2007, almost another 5 years. Now is the right time to begin the work on 4.0, and we invite participants from the geodata community to join us as weexamine the next iteration of the suite. We’d like 4.0 to be a milestone for CC and its community, and increase the shelf life of this version even more.A little detail about the versioning process: We take on both the small—for example typos in the legal code—and the large—major changes that reflect updates to the laws, judicial thought, and technicalrealities since the last release.In 3.0, for example, we 1) separated out the “international” or “generic” license from the United States license, 2) we harmonized treatment of moral rights and collecting societies, 3) we added languagethat explicitly protects authors from implied endorsement, and 4) we implemented a compatibility structure for our Attribution-Share Alike license that allowed Wikipedia and other sites to convert toCreative Commons and enjoy the benefits of interoperability with the rest of the world’s CC-licensed content.
  15. 15. data[bases]: HUGE in 2011We fully expect that version 4.0 will, by necessity, address the explosion of data and interest in making it available for creative reuse around the world. Having a set of users to provide us with feedback,suggestions, and use cases will be essential to our success in making sure the full potential of a digital commons for data is realized. Some difficult issues that we’d like feedback on from the opengeodata community include might include: 1) implications and practical challenges presented by non-copyright database rights such as data protection regulations, privacy, and data governance; or 2)suggestions about how to grow an interoperable geodata commons—via the adoption of standard public licenses and tools as opposed to customized solutions.We welcome the geodata community to join us in the process as stakeholders. In turn, CC is excited to participate in the geodata community’s exploration of open data, so please draw on us, whereappropriate, as a supporting organization and resource hub.Thanks again to Puneet and the workshop organizers, and I look forward to a great discussion.