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Why you should pay attention to your Creative Commons licenses

I have never given a second thought to ensuring I’ve chosen the correct/most recent version of a creative commons license. That’s changed, because I just finished reading Cory Doctorow‘s post, A Bug in Early Creative Commons Licenses Has Enabled a New Breed of Superpredator. In it, he outlines the emergence of the Copyleft troll, someone who posts images with an outdated CC license, and then sues people for using those images as they were intended to be used, but who may (or may not!) have neglected to completely comply by the letter of the license.

I don’t know whether any of this would even apply to the textual works I would more likely post with a CC license, and maybe that doesn’t matter because I’m not going to be going after anyone for using my works that may have an old license, but here at MPOW we’re really starting to move to Open Educational Resources, and I could easily see the authors of such resources including images that are CC licensed earlier than 4.0 (or whatever the current version is by the time you read this). Going back to Cory’s post, it seems that license version 2.0 is the really problematic one, but perhaps 1.0 and 2.5 are bad for the same or similar reasons? Please let me know if you know!

Does anyone know of a tool that allows me to search a specific site for content that has any creative commons license? So I’m looking for something like that includes something like Google’s “site:” option. Bonus points if it could allow a search to be limited to content that applies a specific CC license! @researchbuzz? @cogdog?


I love these quotes from Cory:

If you put a CC license on your work, its explicit message is, “I want you to re-use this.” Not “I am a pedantic asshole with a fetish for well-formed attribution strings.” The point of CC is not to teach the world to write attribution strings: it is to facilitate sharing and re-use. If you are a good-faith user of CC licenses, then your response to an incorrect attribution string should be a request to correct it, not a threat to sue for $150,000 in statutory damages.

If you send threats instead of requests for correction, you are a terrible person and you should feel really bad about yourself.

Stay safe, all, and do let me know if you have answers to any of my questions above!

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