October 7, 2003

License to Blog

by Nick Montfort · , 5:12 pm

Recently, we drivers have been discussing how to make the things we write on Grand Text Auto available under a Creative Commons license. I believe we all agree that things we write for the blog (and photos we take and images we create for the blog) should be available under the Attribution-NonCommercial 1.0 license. However, checking the checkbox and putting that license statement on the main page would suggest that we’re licensing content to which we don’t own the rights. That’s why I chose to indicate individually that particular entries by me are licensed. It’s clunky, but a broader, incorrect offer of a license throws those legitimately licensed items into suspicion.

Just putting a license on the front page might be a good solution for one person who has a blog that doesn’t allow comments and never includes any content (text or images) from other sources, but that doesn’t describe any blog I know of. On Grand Text Auto, we often have lengthy comments from others, and we like this. I don’t claim to own these, and without claiming to own these, I can’t offer them under a license. I very much oppose requiring that people who comment sign over any rights. You shouldn’t have to agree to anything (except, obviously, to allow your comment to be posted on Grand Text Auto) if you want to join the discussion here. The point of a Creative Commons license is to allow people to choose to freely make their work available to the commons, not to force people to either surrender their rights or not speak in a forum like this.

Personally, I’ve included a photo from another site in a post; I can’t offer that under any sort of license, since I don’t own it and it doesn’t even reside on the Grand Text Auto server. Some of us have posted the comments of other people under our own name, with attribution and with permission to post them on the blog. But it’s not clear that we have the right to offer this writing by other people under a license that we select. Even in the case of some of my own writing (e.g., drafts of articles) I may have the right to post something on Grand Text Auto but may not be allowed to offer it under a Creative Commons license, because of another agreement I’ve made.

So, unfortunately, “This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License” doesn’t seem like a blanket statement that we as drivers can make. I think we should offer our own writing under a Creative Commons license, as I have started to do, and I think we should figure out a way to do this that is as easy as possible, with minimum clutter on the blog and minimum effort from drivers. But what is that way? I don’t know…

Creative Commons License The text of this blog entry is licensed under a Creative Commons License.