Economic Orthodoxy and the Information Commons

September 2003 Adopts Creative Commons Licensing

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

10 April 2003

Today we announce the adoption of a Creative Commons licensing model for material published on the site. When the Creative Commons license logo appears along with an article on this site, it will serve as an indication that there are certain specific uses of that article (beyond those embodied in copyright) which the copyright holder grants to readers.

Probably many of you are already familiar with Creative Commons. For those who aren’t, Creative Commons is an organization founded in 2001 to expand the range of creative work available from which anyone can draw in creating new works. Led by a group of legal experts, creators, and publishers, the organization is dedicated to expanding the wealth of information available in the commons.

The Creative Commons license is the organization’s first major project for expansion of the commons. They have constructed and made available at their website an automated system through which creators can select the ways they want to designate their works may be used without further permission.

Of course we have all heard of licenses used by publishers to restrict the rights that copyright gives to users. That is not the intent of the Creative Commons license. All the rights of users granted by copyright still apply to material using a Creative Commons license. Rather, the Creative Commons license allows the creator to specify additional rights she is willing to give to users of her creative work without requiring further permission. The Creative Commons license allows creators to expand upon the rights others have in using their creative works, while still retaining certain controls over that work.

We have selected an attribution/no derivative works license. This means that, on documents where the license logo (like the one at the top of this page) appears, users are free to republish the material so long as they provide proper attribution and do not create derivative works (click on the license logo for complete details). Of course, other users’ rights under copyright still apply. As always, we encourage fair use of the essays on our site. And even if we didn’t, fair use is a right of users.

The Creative Commons license does not mean that we are giving up (nor that we are giving up on) copyright. The works that appear on this site will still be copyright of their respective authors or, in the case of pieces without a byline, copyright the info-commons project. The authors will decide whether to apply the license to their works.

We believe that copyright is and should be an appropriate tool for expanding the commons. But obviously the commons creation elements of copyright are suffering. Recent legislation and court decisions have made clear that promoting a vision of copyright, first and foremost, as an instrument for expanding the commons is an uphill battle.

In adopting the Creative Commons license, we are making a political statement that we believe in the concept of the information commons, and that we believe that the commons creation aspects of copyright are being gutted in the current legislative and judicial environment. Specifying rights of access beyond those embodied in the copyright regime is one way to respond to this process.

Furthermore, we see applying the Creative Commons license as an act of solidarity. In adopting this licensing format, we are joining with that organization and with others who have embraced the model. Together, hopefully, we can have a positive effect on our information environment by promoting the information commons.


For more information about Creative Commons:

Contact information, and Web links contained in these pages were correct at the time of publication, but are, of course, subject to change or deletion by their owners or publishers.