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Version 3.0 – Public Discussion Launched


Why version 3.0?

As was mentioned a little while ago, we are looking to move ahead with versioning the CC licenses up to version 3.0 to improve the clarity of the terms of the licenses and to address some concerns of one of our first and very prominent license adopters — MIT, with their OpenCourseWare project, and to also take on board the concerns of the Debian group about the clarity of some provisions of our licenses.

New US and “generic” license

Another big feature of version 3.0 is that we will be spinning off what has been called the “generic” license to now be the US license and have crafted a new “generic” license that is based on the language of international IP treaties and takes effect according to the national implementation of those treaties. This may only be something that gets IP lawyers excited but I thought it might be good to share this draft with the community as well in order to ensure full transparency and in case people were interested and/or had any comments.

Anti-DRM language – possible parallel distribution language

Finally, there has been much discussion – preparatory to releasing these drafts to the public – about whether to amend the CC licenses to include a “parallel distribution” amendment to the existing “anti-DRM” (or more correctly an “anti-TPM” (technological protection measures)) clause of the CC licenses. As you probably know, the existing clause of the Creative Commons licenses states that:

“You [being the licensee, not the licensor] may not distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly digitally perform the Work with any technological measures that control access or use of the Work in a manner inconsistent with the terms of this License Agreement.”

As you can see from the drafts below, version 3.0 includes amendments designed to make this language clearer. But there are some in the Debian community that feel that the existence of the current anti-TPM provision renders the CC licenses inconsistent with the Debian Free Software Guidelines (although the group has deemed the FDL DFSG-free and the FDL has similar if not stronger “anti-DRM” language in it) and that if CC introduces parallel distribution language we could achieve both freedom of content and freedom to code for open and closed systems (see this discussion for an explanation of the reasoning behind allowing TPMs on free content). The parallel distribution provision essentially says that a licensee can apply a technological protection measure to content only if they also release the content in an unrestricted format.

However, our international affiliates, as well as others in our community, are strongly opposed to the introduction of this amendment for various reasons, including: (1) lack of demonstrated use cases showing a strong need among CC licensees for this kind of an exception to the existing “anti-TPM” language; (2) risks of unduly complicating the licenses which defeats alot of the point of CC licenses being to be simple and easy to use and understand; and, (3) the strong opposition to technological protection measures by many in the CC community generally.

Consequently, CC is currently not proposing to include this new parallel distribution language as part of version 3.0; however, because it is not clear whether the Debian community will declare the CC licenses DFSG-free without it and because it represents an interesting proposal, we felt that it was appropriate to circulate the proposal as part of the public discussions of version 3.0.

The discussion about version 3.0 will occur on the cc-licenses list. Subscribe to the list to participate here. Drafts of the US v 3.0 license, the new “generic” v 3.0 license and the parallel distribution language are at the end of this posting.

Posted 09 August 2006