Copyright license choice | Opensource.com

Copyright license choice

Posted 30 Oct 2009 by 

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There is no morality in copyright, it's just a tool.  I have no problem with anyone who believes that their own best interests are furthered by refusing any licensing of their work, and I respect that decision.  Don't want your music to be shared?  That's your choice - maybe it's not smart or realistic in the digital age to think that you can control the distribution of music, but I respect where you believe the right balance is. 

Open source software is built on the premise that, if software is to be copyrighted at all, it is better to use copyright to liberate rather than restrict.  Others disagree with that philosophy, that's ok.

 

This web site made the decision that it would exercise the full rights of a copyright owner in the Drupal theme for the web site - no CC license, no public domain, and it's published with a copyright notice.  It might seem like a hypocritical choice for a site about open source, but the look is part of the brand identity of the opensource.com site and we want it to stay that way.  So we don't give any blanket permission to use it.

 

We made a different choice for the content, because the goal of the site is to provoke conversation.  The default for the content published on the web site is the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License, because we want everyone to share, criticize, and build on the ideas you find here.  We make you grant the same license in your contributions too, for the same reason.  Well, also because it would be really a nightmare to try to administer different licenses from everyone; we're going to have a hard enough time trying to keep our own noses clean and not screw something up, like using licensed stock photography but not making it clear that we have.

The site, opensource.com, might look like it is copyright minimalist because it grants a liberal license.  But our use is no different that a copyright maximalist, we are all just exploiting the copyright law to further our own selfish interest. Each to his own.

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2 Comments

Mark Turner

Good for Red Hat to publish under Creative Commons. And I perfectly understand why you chose to omit the theme from that policy.

This site may turn out to be Red Hat's biggest intellectual property challenge, given the mix of licenses involved. Good luck!

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Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz
Newbie

The current proliferation of incompatible copyleft licenses contradicts the old “One-size fits for all” idea that it is good for the community if people use a single copyleft license (meaning the GPL in the case of software). Mixing multiple components in a combined work becomes increasingly difficult, due to the lack of interoperability provisions making possible the distribution of such combined work as a whole.
Based on a concrete example (a European Member State requesting the distribution under European Union Public Licence – EUPL) I highlighted this issue and possible solution http://osswatch.jiscinvolve.org/2010/03/05/guest-post-2010-threats-to-co... .

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Pam, formerly Manager, Senior Intellectual Property Counsel for Red Hat, is now the principal of Chestek Legal in Raleigh, North Carolina. She works with creative communities, giving practical legal advice on branding, marketing, and protecting and sharing content. Pam has authored several scholarly articles, has a legal blog at

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