Open licenses. Still confused.

It’s Monday morning. I am trying hard to avoid distractions. I close my Gmail window. I make a list of the key goals I want to accomplish this week. I get ready for the P2PU office hour, which is our way to briefly check-in on Monday mornings.

And then a question about CC licenses derails everything. Again. We’ve been here before. And before that. We’ve been here enough times that a little rant is justified.

The fact that it is so difficult to understand how the open licenses play with each other, is a sign that the whole system is deeply dysfunctional. It’s a huge waste of time and energy.

Here is what happened > License confusion all over again

This morning we searched the webs for a picture to include in an upcoming report. We assumed that CC BY was ok, even though the report would be licensed as CC BY SA.

When P2PU chose CC BY SA as our default license, we did so mainly for three reasons: (1) So we could include Wikipedia materials, which are licensed CC BY SA, in P2PU courses. (2) So we could include other more liberally (CC BY) licensed materials in our courses. (3) We thought CC BY SA would provide an extra layer of protection for the materials contributed by our users. (The third point is not relevant to the discussion today).

Back to this morning, when we noticed that the CC BY legal code states that “You may Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work only under the terms of this License.” To the non-legal eye that seems to say, you have to always license downstream works as CC-BY. Which is different from what we thought.

Quick question to the twitter verse supported our original reading of the license, e.g. we can combine CC BY licensed materials with our content and license the result as CC BY SA. Or maybe it just shows that others are also confused.

Twitter Question

Here is what’s important > It’s a waste of time

The details of what’s possible and what’s not are actually not relevant to my point. What’s important is that we spend (waste) our time trying to figure out how the different open licenses play together.

Yet, we are all on the side of open, and ultimately our positions are much closer to each other than to the opposite side of the spectrum, e.g. all rights reserved. How can we get over the subtle differences in our positions, and work together to pick the real fight. It’s like endless arguments with your neighbor while the landlord gets ready to evict both of you.

It doesn’t have to be this way > Open or not open!

Can we (on the open side) not just compromise and pick one license, either CC BY or CC BY SA and then there is only one choice to make: all-rights-reserved or open. It will be clear what open means.

I would love to see Creative Commons reboot and support only one license.