I can’t get rid of this license

I honestly don’t laugh at people in need of help. Really, truly, I don’t. But that doesn’t stop me from sometimes laughing at the unintended irony in what they ask. Given the way that one of the points that the Token Dissenter in the rush to Creative Commons licensing tried so hard to make was, harshly abbreviated, “this is serious, and you can’t just take it back,” I’m afraid I had to laugh (at the situation, not at the person) when I saw a thread in the MT Support Forum entitled “Creative Commons License, How do I get rid of it?” In fact, the question was “since there’s no option to delete it from the Config page, do I have to go into my template and delete it there?,” but still and all the answer should be “Why bother removing it? You granted an irrevocable license.” Whether or not you pull the template tags, the very second that you choose a license and say “rebuild all,” it’s under that license until your copyright expires, second thoughts or not.

Notwithstanding the above, Licensor reserves the right to release the Work under different license terms or to stop distributing the Work at any time; provided, however that any such election will not serve to withdraw this License.

You can change your mind, you can delete the tags, you can add “All Rights Reserved, Republishers Will Be Shot,” but the second you publish something under a CC license, it’s under that license until your copyright expires (or, as we in the US like to refer to that term, “until Hell freezes over”). So if after you’ve read and digested the full legal code (not just the deed), and decided that it’s what you want, great! That’s the spirit of generosity that I love about my favorite webloggers. But if you’re just clicking buttons because you’ve seen that CC icon on other people’s sites, please, think twice, and then think again. There are no do-overs.


Comment by Tim Hadley #
2003-02-21 22:46:43

I just wanted to clarify that new material added after the author removes the CC license grant would be covered by ordinary copyright protection, not the CC license. One might want to remove the CC code from the weblog to change the licensing for future entries. It’s entirely possible under the law to have all the entries before 11:46 p.m. on February 21st covered by one license and all the entries after that time covered by another.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-02-21 22:59:03

Very true. I started to try to write something about that, began wandering down the path of how you would express that (choose the end of an archive period to switch, and wipe everything off your main page? just rerelease under a new license, and too bad for anyone who doesn’t know that it was also available under another license previously?), drifted off into RDF, and then realized that Friday or not, this is a work night and I can’t spend all night on one post. Entirely possible under the law, and depending on which direction of the hand-wave about what license information in an RSS feed means you choose, perhaps something that can be expressed without having a separate page describing what’s covered by what. But then, if you are going to a more liberal license, there’s no need for people to know about the stricter license, and if you go to a stricter license, you have no desire or obligation to tell people about the more liberal license that’s also in effect, so I guess expressing it is easy, isn’t it? Don’t tell people things that you don’t especially want them to know.

Comment by #!/usr/bin/geek #
2003-02-22 01:07:15

You certainly have the right to make light of the problems associated with providing The Creative Commons License (CCL) in MT. However, I don’t think citing my post is a fair example in the hypothetical you used.

It would have only granted an ”irrevocable license” on any new material published while the CCL was still displayed. (The content published previously remains protected by its original copyright since it predates the CCL and cannot be covered by the CCL legal agreement.) Since no new content was published under the Creative Commons License while it was briefly displayed on the site, the license’s addition to the page and later removal is mute.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-02-22 07:23:53

I don’t think so. I can’t see any way of interpreting the addition of a CC license as only applying to new work published from that moment on. At the very least, if the auto-licensing button only puts the license into your main page and RSS feed (where the RDF will apply it to your permalink targets), then then existing entries on the main page at the time of licensing are covered. But having it apply to existing copyrighted works is the whole point of the exercise: the current use in weblogs is just good PR, while what it’s really aimed at is, ah, more substantial works which will certainly already exist in a copyrighted state (since they are copyrighted the second that they are created).

Comment by Dorothea Salo #
2003-02-22 11:34:18

Hey! I thought I was the Token Dissenter!


Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-02-22 11:47:51

I think you’re the Token Dissent’s Token Dissenter, rather than the Token Dissenter, making you TD-squared, which has to be better, right?

Comment by Matt Haughey #
2003-02-22 12:23:03

The problem seems to be in the implementation, rather than the legal world. If you have a body of work, like Roger McGuinn from the band the Byrds does, and you decide to start licensing new music, it doesn’t apply to all your previous work. Every new song is clearly licensed.

Legally, I could try out the CC licenses by applying them to a single blog post today, and never again, but it’s up to me to clearly display that.

As a result of the implementation in Movable Type, when you choose a license, it gets applied blog-wide, and gets built into all your posts, and that is unfortunate. I’ll suggest changes to Mena and Ben to better align the implementation in MT and the output displayed, with the legal aspects. You should be able to choose a license, and apply only to posts after the moment you do that. You should be able to turn it off, and leave future posts unlicensed. This may just involve adding RDF metadata to posts under a license, and the icon on single archive pages. If shown blogwide, perhaps the license can be appeneded to say ”this work (after Feb 22, 2003) licensed under the following…”

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-02-22 13:19:54

I think what I would want would be to link the icon to a page that states what is and isn’t licensed (”the title and text of posts from this date on”, ”HTML and CSS but not images”, ”posts in these two categories but not this category, and not comments in any category”), since the primary benefit to the person doing the licensing is that they can make things available without having to be asked, but if the only thing that says exactly what is and isn’t licensed is the RDF, until someone builds an RDF license interpreting tool I would be inclined to ask anyway before I used anything in a situation where I thought it would matter, just to be sure that we both agree on what exactly you meant to license.

Comment by Token Dissenter #
2003-02-22 14:38:17

Matt, you hit the problem dead on — adding the CC License automatically is a little more complex than turn on/turn off. Still, people should read first, and license second.

And Dorthea, you’re the token dissenter _of_ me, which makes you the square _root_ of token dissenter.

And Phil is pi.

Comment by Tim Hadley #
2003-02-23 13:21:16

I’m working on a long post about this. I hope I’ll have it done this afternoon or evening, and I’ll run a Trackback once I’ve finished.

Trackback by Burningbird #
2003-02-22 07:01:38

I’m not going to say it…

Unfortunately, I came down with the same flu that’s hit so many others. This and a nasty snow storm that just blew in are conspiring to keep me from my much needed walks and explorations, dammit. So I might as well work on the edits for Practical RDF, …

Trackback by Math class for poets #
2003-02-23 16:47:40

Creative Commons Licensing: Amount and Timing

I’m going to address two main questions here that have come up in discussion. First, when a writer displays a Creative Commons license on his or her website, what site content does the license cover? Second, what happens when a writer removes the Cre…

Trackback by Musings #
2003-02-25 23:50:56

Creative Confusion

MovableType 2.6.x added a CreativeCommons Licence module (off by default, but all too easily turned on). This has touched off…

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