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Proving Creative Commons Licensing of a Work?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the submarine-license-changes dept.

Media 105

Q7U asks: "I recently posted a few Creative Commons licensed photographs from Flickr on one of my websites. I later noticed that one of the photographers had retroactively switched all of his photos from the Creative Commons license to an 'All Right Reserved' notice. When I saw this I went ahead and removed his photo (even though I understand that CC licenses are perpetual unless violated), but this begs the question: How does one prove one obtained a work under a Creative Commons license, should there ever be a dispute between a creator and the licensee? Is a simple screenshot of the webpage where it was offered proof enough? Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated."

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frist! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786100)

poost!

Good question. (2, Informative)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786128)

In the past, I've tried to obtain the best physical proof possible, be it a timestamped email that affirms the license, or a piece of paper with a signature on it. Really, the best method is to get a positive affirmation on the work being CC, before the license is pulled.

Wayback (2, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786146)

Too bad it's from Flickr. The indexing done by the Wayback Machine (archive.org) makes it easy to see how most individual websites looked at various points in the past.

Re:Wayback (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17803488)

Another problem: Doesn't WayBack not archive often? :(

Other Considerations (4, Informative)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786164)

For me, as a writer, director, producer, and someone who sometimes does some amateur photography and other types of image creation, I think there's a bigger issue.

I, personally, don't want to be using someone's work as part of mine if they don't want it involved. When Kubrick used music from György Ligeti, his favorite composer, he was later sued for misuse of the composer's work. (I hear the composer won, but I don't remember the details.)

If someone has made photos licensed under CC, if I were going to use them, I'd be sure to obtain permission and verification first. I know there are some people who don't care about such things, but I feel it can detract from my work or my later editing of that work if there are issues involving arguments or fights over whether or not I had the right to use something in what I was doing.

In other words, do you really want to put in all the effort to use something against the will of the creator/author instead of finding something else that will do?

Re:Other Considerations (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786214)

If someone has made photos licensed under CC, if I were going to use them, I'd be sure to obtain permission and verification first.

That's the whole point of CC. The licenses are permission. If you have to get permission anyway, then what the hell is the point of CC in the first place?

Re:Other Considerations (0, Offtopic)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786376)

That's the whole point of CC. The licenses are permission.

Oh shush, you.

KFG

Re:Other Considerations (3, Insightful)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786898)

I'll embellish. If I were going to use photos published under CC in a work where they could not easily be replaced or which was going to be sold or used professionally, I would contact the author. Yes, they're under CC, but I'd like to be sure the author put them there himself, and someone wasn't "getting back" at him or something similar and I'd want to make sure he's not vacillating about it. If I use a photo as an establishing shot and later the CC license is revoked, and the video ends up doing well in the DVD market, it can be a mess dealing with the person about it. It's easier, in the long run, to double check and make sure what I'm using is intentionally under CC and that I can expect it to remain there. It also does a great job of the old "CYA" because if I contact them in writing, with a SASE enclosed, I get something back in writing, signed by them, that goes into my files and which I can use as proof if questions arise.

Once you've bumped into a few glitches on things that are supposed to be obvious but aren't, you realize it is much easier to CYA now than to SYA (Save YA) later. An ounce of prevention and such...

Re:Other Considerations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787144)

I'd like to be sure the author put them there himself, and someone wasn't "getting back" at him

If this person was getting back at him by spreading his work around with a CC license on, why on earth would you expect the contact details to be legitimate?

If I use a photo as an establishing shot and later the CC license is revoked

CC licenses are irrevocable. Authors can stop distributing under a particular license, but that doesn't revoke the license already granted to you. For example, I quote:

Subject to the above terms and conditions, the license granted here is perpetual (for the duration of the applicable copyright in the Work). Notwithstanding the above, Licensor reserves the right to release the Work under different license terms or to stop distributing the Work at any time; provided, however that any such election will not serve to withdraw this License (or any other license that has been, or is required to be, granted under the terms of this License), and this License will continue in full force and effect unless terminated as stated above.

Authors can't terminate; the only way to terminate a CC license is for the distributor to not follow the rules of the license.

Re:Other Considerations (2, Informative)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787408)

Ah, I see. You're a literalist.

Too bad the real world doesn't always work that way. I've been lucky enough to work with a number of lawyers (they're my clients, fortunately I'm not their client!). One thing I've learned is that you can be sued for almost anything. They don't have to have good firm grounds. You can be sued and be completely innocent and still spend tens of thousands to prove you're innocent.

It's much easier, as I said, in the long run, to do a little work up front. 95% of the time it's not necessary, but doing it in every case saves so much work, money, and time the one or two times something does go wrong that it makes up for it a thousand fold. People are not always predictable, but if you've contacted them and they've sent you a signed paper saying they're okay, the chances of them trying to sue later, even if they don't have solid grounds, is reduced to almost nothing.

Sure, you don't have to CYA. There are times I did not -- and it was a few of those times that taught me to always CYA. A little extra effort keeps one safe. Why take the risk?

Re:Other Considerations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787444)

Ah, I see. You're a literalist.

If by that you mean that, when somebody quite clearly says something in unambiguous language in a license vetted by top lawyers, I believe them to actually mean it, then yes, I'm a literalist.

One thing I've learned is that you can be sued for almost anything. They don't have to have good firm grounds. You can be sued and be completely innocent and still spend tens of thousands to prove you're innocent.

Oh, I totally know that. But how is getting an additional something in writing prevents this. You can be sued for anything without cause, remember? They don't have to have firm grounds, remember? You can be totally innocent, remember? This isn't about not being able to be sued. Nothing can stop that.

It's much easier, as I said, in the long run, to do a little work up front.

I'm sorry, but I don't see the difference between somebody saying "you can use this" in a CC license and somebody saying "you can use this like I already said in the damn license" for a second time. All in all, the lawyer-approved version is much more likely to stand up in court.

Re:Other Considerations (4, Insightful)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787746)

If by that you mean that, when somebody quite clearly says something in unambiguous language in a license vetted by top lawyers, I believe them to actually mean it, then yes, I'm a literalist.

No. I mean someone who is so focused on the exact words that they think real life works the same way. In other words, someone that thinks saying something a certain way makes it so, as opposed to someone who uses words and language to describe the world as it is. Contracts and licenses are one thing, discussing human behavior is another. If you have trouble separating this, read a dozen Sherlock Holmes stories for a bit of insight. While the great detective thought and behaved very logically, a major part of his brilliance was the understanding of how illogically and passionately people behaved.

Oh, I totally know that. But how is getting an additional something in writing prevents this. You can be sued for anything without cause, remember?

Ah, here's a great example of the above point: the difference between the nice, neat world that exists in theory and the diverse and sometimes messy one that exists in the world that contains humans. If you've gone through the effort of contacting a person, even with just a letter that took less than 3 minutes to type up, then they are much more likely to "warm up" to you and keep a positive opinion of you. By contacting them, even though their work is licensed under CC, you are showing a level of respect for them. Yes, they can still file a suit, but 1) they have had a personal communication with me at that point, and I'm no longer just a faceless name. 2) They will likely remember specifically giving me permission to use their work and not want to take action. 3) They also remember that I have signed papers they sent me, and are aware they don't have a leg to stand on.

Humans are emotional beings first, and logical only 2nd or 3rd. For example, I knew a friend in Amway who was sure she'd get rich. I showed her a set of numbers that proved a large part of the profit was not in selling the products, but in selling the CDs to people like her. She had the IQ of a genius (literally) and knew Math well, but didn't want to believe that what they were telling her was not true. What's the point and why am I saying this? People do not always behave logically, but if one takes time to understand people and their passions and what drives different types of people, one can reduce one's problems quite significantly.

One time I needed to use shots of a state building in a project I was producing. I could have easily shot from the street and used all the footage without ever talking to the state. Instead I took some time to find out who the person was in charge of that building and talked with him. It took less than 20 minutes to track him down and talk with him. This was, btw, not long after 9/11, and people were still paranoid. I told him what I was doing, why I wanted the shot, and let the conversation digress into how our state is encouraging more commercial video and film production. He started to see it from the point of view that agreeing to what I was doing was helping a small business in the state and ultimately helping the state itself in terms of commerce. It may not seem like much, but then was I was shooting, I noticed the state troopers in the area (yes, I was near the state capitol, where troopers would come through from time to time) watching me, then eventually coming up to me. I gave him the name of the man I talked to and his office number. He checked, and walked away within less than 3 minutes, which was valuable time I needed for shooting, since it was during magic hour.

I didn't have to call for permission. I would likely have been able to talk the trooper into letting me keep shooting, but I can't be sure, especially since that was so soon after 9/11. A few minutes ahead of time, talking to an amiable bureaucrat, saved me the time I needed when I needed it (magic hour, btw, is about 45 minutes during sunset when everything takes on a reddish/golden glow).

I'm sorry, but I don't see the difference between somebody saying "you can use this" in a CC license and somebody saying "you can use this like I already said in the damn license" for a second time. All in all, the lawyer-approved version is much more likely to stand up in court.

You don't see the difference because, and I'm not saying this to be mean or argumentative, you don't see the difference between theory and fact, or, as philosophers said, between is and ought. There's a big difference in their reaction if permission was given generically and if they give it personally. It may not make sense, but my experience is that it works because it accounts for human interaction and behavior and, as Spock so often pointed out to us, that is not always logical. That doesn't mean, though, that it isn't understandable.

Re:Other Considerations (2, Interesting)

itwerx (165526) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788010)

...you don't see the difference between theory and fact...

Heh, reminds of the lovely philosophers' saying, "In theory there is no difference between theory and reality, but in reality there is."

Re:Other Considerations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17788128)

Heh, reminds of the lovely philosophers' saying, "In theory there is no difference between theory and reality, but in reality there is." That theory is not sound.

Re:Other Considerations (3, Funny)

n9hmg (548792) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788556)

That theory is not sound. I just read it aloud, so now it is, though it's rapidly turning into heat and disorder.

Re:Other Considerations (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17791792)

A philosopher would never say that.

Yogi Berra did. And it actually goes "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is."

Re:Other Considerations (1)

itwerx (165526) | more than 7 years ago | (#17794702)

A philosopher would never say that. Yogi Berra did.

So you're saying a baseball player can't also be a philosopher...? If you read enough of his quotes I think you'll find he was as much a modern day philosopher as anyone.
      Thanks for the correction of the quote though, I'm sure that saved quite a few people, (like me :), the trouble of actually looking it up.

Re:Other Considerations (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17795858)

Oh, yes. Definitely.

Some quotes:

"He must have made that before he died." (about a movie with Steve McQueen in it)

"If you can't imitate him, don't copy him."

"I take a two hour nap, from one o'clock to four."

"I always thought that record would stand until it was broken."

Yep. The man is definitely up there with John Stuart Mill, Alan Turing, Aristotle, Charles Dodgson, and Rene Descartes.

Quick quote from Wikipedia: Philosophy concerns itself with what is the best way to live (ethics), what sorts of things really exist and what are their true natures (metaphysics), what is to count as genuine knowledge (epistemology), and what are the correct principles of reasoning (logic).

Did Bera show an interest in ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, or logic? In other words, other than just flubbed quotations, what indications are there that Bera actually spent time thinking about these deeper topics instead of just making mis-statements about them that showed he hadn't thought something out before saying it?

Pop philosopher or pseudo philosopher, but not nearly close to being a true modern philosopher, such as Ayn Rand or Buckminster Fuller. These are names that will be associated with serious thought and focus on science, math, humanity, and theory for centuries. Other than his baseball skills, is there any reason to expect anyone to remember Yogi Bera in 100 years?

Re:Other Considerations (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17797480)

Pop philosopher or pseudo philosopher, but not nearly close to being a true modern philosopher, such as Ayn Rand or Buckminster Fuller. These are names that will be associated with serious thought and focus on science, math, humanity, and theory for centuries.

Ayn Rand and Fuller? Barf.

Names strongly associated with
  • Philosophy of Science: Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn.
  • Philosophy of Language: Peter Geach, Wittgenstein, W.V.O. Quine, Frege, Dummett, Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam, Kit Fine, many others
  • Philosophy of Mathematics: Wittgenstein, W.V.O. Quine, Frege, Russell, Carnap, Godel, Brouwer, Hartry Field, Alfred Tarski, Skolem, Lowenstein, Dummett, Stewart Shapiro, Imre Lakatos, too many more to mention.
  • Epistemology: Gettier, lots of people responding to the so-called Gettier Cases.
  • Ethics: Sartre (especially in relation to phenominalist epistemology). Many many others, not including Ayn Rand or Fuller.


Fuller was a dilettante, and Rand was just a shrill nutjob.

Re:Other Considerations (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17799402)

I went with a wider range to further illustrate how far off base calling Yogi Bera a philosopher was. Even in an inclusive list (as opposed to being exclusive), he doesn't fit in.

You may not like Rand or Fuller, but they dealt with appropriate topics. Rand did deal with what she felt was right and wrong and Fuller did write on what he felt the nature of the Universe and mankind were and proposed ideas of how we should handle some aspects of life. You may not classify them at the same level as some, but that doesn't exclude them based on your opinion. I know people that do include them, some that don't. As I said, I was making an inclusive list to indicate even in such a case, Bera doesn't belong.

Re:Other Considerations (0)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805298)

Fair enough. I just take exception to the "true", "modern", and "philosopher" in your original post. ("[Berra is] not nearly close to being a true modern philosopher, such as Ayn Rand or Buckminster Fuller.")

I would class both of those in the pop/pseudo philosophy realm. Ayn Rand might have thought very hard about ethics, but she had no insight. She barely understood philosphical language. For instance, her "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" is in fact a book on the Problem of Universals. A metaphysical problem, not an epistemological one. She describes nominalists as "subjectivists" -- of course, nominalism is a (proposed) solution to the Problem of Universals, and orthogonal to the object/subject divide. That is, one can be a skeptical nominalist or be a nominalist who believes the truth of true sentences of the form S(x). I don't remember the details (it has been several years since I've looked at this book), but I recall her seriously misinterpreting the existentialists. And Nietzsche of all people.

It's a wishy-washy foundation for, as she puts it, the rest of her work.

I don't mind Fuller much, but he didn't claim to be a philosopher (as far as I know).

Re:Other Considerations (1)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | more than 7 years ago | (#17800486)

So you pull four quotes from who knows where and use that to support your statement. You must be a statistics major... because you sure don't seem to be a philosophy major. ;-)

Seriously, your statement is one large fallacy.

Pop philosopher or pseudo philosopher, but not nearly close to being a true modern philosopher, such as Ayn Rand or Buckminster Fuller.
Oh I'm sorry. I didn't realize you had to be famous to be considered a philosopher now. Everybody thinks of philosophical topics. Everybody thinks about what is right and wrong and what the meaning of life is and if god exists and whatever. We're all philosophers... some people are just better / more "into" it than other people. Even though I'm not the best baseball player and don't spend any time viewing highlight reels of the pitcher I'll be batting against next game I'd still call myself a baseball player.

I can be a baseball player just as much as Yogi could be called a philosopher.

Yes, I realize I'm stretching things a bit... but I find your reasoning faulty.

Re:Other Considerations (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17802198)

Let me guess. You find "Friends" a literate and amazingly deep TV show, right?

Enjoy your bland, pseudo-intellectual pap.

Re:Other Considerations (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801088)

If someone accidentally posted something under a CC license, or they did it on purpose and then realized that their work was being used in a way they didn't like, or they just didn't like the person using it, they could attempt to "undo" that license in the way suggested by the article summary and sue the person using their work, claiming no license was granted.

One of at least two things will happen:

1. The court believes the other person instead of you. Civil trials are not "proof beyond a reasonable doubt". It's whoever the court believes more. You lose your rights to use the work, lost a lot of time going to court over it, and have to pay substantially in lawyer's and possibly court fees.

2. Maybe you're able to prove that the work WAS licensed under a CC license at the time you got it. The court believes you. The other guy loses and you keep your rights to use the work. Good job. But you've lost a lot of time going to court over it, and have to pay substantially in lawyer's fees.

By not taking the extra time to more firmly establish your rights, you've put yourself in a situation that is almost certainly a net loss for you. By having that extra piece of paper, that extra documented communication with the original rights holder, you've added a significant deterrent to them attempting to sue you later, if for whatever reason they chose to try.

In addition, this makes the crucial assumption that the person purporting to license the work is actually authorized to do so. If the image actually belongs to someone else, and the Flickr account you found it under was some guy's account where he set his default license to a CC license, and reposted the image because he thought it was interesting, the CC license doesn't matter squat. The legal holder of the copyright did not license it under a CC license and you have no rights to use it. By not taking the extra time to figure this out, you never learned this and now you're in the wrong and SOL.

If you just want an image for your web page, that's one thing, but if you intend to use the work in some greater project that would suffer significant financial harm if it turns out there was no license, or the license you thought you had could be contested, it's irresponsible NOT to attempt to verify its legitimacy before you commit to using it.

Re:Other Considerations (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815810)

If by that you mean that, when somebody quite clearly says something in unambiguous language in a license vetted by top lawyers, I believe them to actually mean it, then yes, I'm a literalist.

No, he means that unless you can prove that the photo was released by the copyright owner by CC, the license is meaningless. I could scan a photo from a magazine and slap a CC license on it, but that does not mean that I had the right to do that.

If you are going to profit on others work based on rights granted to you, it is prudent to be sure that you actually have the rights.

Re:Other Considerations (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787306)

Yes, they're under CC, but I'd like to be sure the author put them there himself, and someone wasn't "getting back" at him or something similar and I'd want to make sure he's not vacillating about it.

If someone is faking the CC license, chances are they are impersonating the author. Fat lot of good checking with that guy will do you.

The problem that you are trying to address is the copyright-induced belief that an artist should retain control over his creation once it has been published. The useful Creative Commons licenses are all about breaking that mindset - realizing that an artist should not have any more control over their published creations than a woodcrafter has over the furniture he sells.

Sure, the law is not anywhere near catching up with that yet, but the useful CC licenses are an attempt to recognize what statute still hasn't.

Re:Other Considerations (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787366)

I disagree on that last point. I think CC actually makes creator control easier. Before CC, there were far fewer simple, common licenses under which work could be "opened". The choices before CC were self-licensing, niche public licenses, public domain, or "ask me".

Re:Other Considerations (1)

jargonCCNA (531779) | more than 7 years ago | (#17807564)

<nit type="minor">
The story is that Ligeti was pissed, so Kubrick invited him to a private screening of the film, before its release. After seeing the context in which Kubrick used Atmosphères, Ligeti turned around 180 and gave the film his blessing.
</nit>

Re:Other Considerations (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808158)

Thanks for clarification.

Can you verify or do you have any strong degree of confidence of the accuracy? I recall reading what I said, but forgot the source, since it was over 20 years ago.

Welcome to Copyright! (5, Interesting)

Shihar (153932) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786210)

If you decide you want to buy a piece of land, or think that a piece of land is public property and would like to perform some activity on it, what do you do? You got to the local town office and find out who owns the land, what restrictions there on that land, and who you must contact to ask permission to use or buy the land. This is a good system that has been in place in the US since its foundation.

The copyright system is like private property's evil twin. It is still a form of "property", but the "system" designed to deal with questions of use and ownership is utterly non-existent. For instance, this post I am writing is protected by copyright. True, there is no indication in this post that shows it is under copyright, and the fact that I have my e-mail address hidden means that you can't ask permission to use it. This post will NOT be recorded in any government database so you can never look up who owns it and what the rules of using it are. Our current copyright system is a default "everything is copyrighted" and there is absolutely NO record of who owns what. You can't even find out when a copyright expires because there is no record of when it was first created.

We desperately need a new copyright system.

The new system should REQUIRE the registration of copyrighted content. There MUST be a public record of who owns what and for how long they have had it under copyright. Further, there is not a damn reason in the world why we need copyrights that span centuries as the current system does. Anything that is not registered as copyrighted should be considered public domain. Slap in a fee of a couple bucks to register copyrighted content, throw up an Internet site to register such copyrights, and we would have a workable system.

The current system as about as far away from good as you can possibly get. To answer the articles original question, there is absolutely nothing you can do. There are no records of what is under copyright and no way of finding out if that copyright changes. The current system sucks balls and no politician gives a shit because voters don't realize such issues exist, much less care about such issues.

Sucks to be someone who uses creative content. Sorry.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (2, Insightful)

keesh (202812) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786238)

Requiring registration will only screw over the little guy.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786336)

As opposed to screwing over the guy when someone decides they made a terrible licensing mistake and want to erase the past as in this case?

Sorry, copyrights and patents are for promoting the arts and the sciences. If you're doing neither, you deserve neither. This post does neither, and should not be copyrighted. If you can't afford the registration fee (which should be kept to a token fee of $5 or so for the purpose of showing that you care, not for the government's profit) then flip burgers between slitting your wrists and writing poetry about how empty you are.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (2, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787256)

If you can't afford the registration fee (which should be kept to a token fee of $5 or so for the purpose of showing that you care, not for the government's profit) then flip burgers between slitting your wrists and writing poetry about how empty you are.

$5 for what? If I'm a photographer on a photo shoot and take 500 pictures (no clue if this is an accurate number, but I do know that they take *a lot*, especially now with digital), is that $5 for the whole bunch, or do I have to pay $2500 (or pick out my favorite 10, pay $50, and destroy the others)?

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17791406)

That seems obvious (to me..).

1 image is 5$.
1000 images is 5000$.

Programs can put images together into one massive image.

1 massivo-image-the-size-of-5000 5$.

I betcha the copyright office wouldnt like that one ;-D

"He violated my copyright at (5300px,0px to 5900px,600px)" (booo)

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787370)

So not only should you have to register for copyright and prove your work was original, the work should be reviewed to ensure it in fact does actually promote the arts and the sciences, other wise into the public domain it goes.

Sharing knowledge is of far greater value than sticking carrots in front of jackasses, as they support the pigopolists in the mistaken belief that they will be multimillionaires, rather than people who will just be demeaned and humiliated for the pleasure of the publishing executives.

You can't sell music, then flash you genitalia at passing strangers in order to try to get them to buy it, oh my, raunch as modern media marketing, is to laugh.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17790024)

So not only should you have to register for copyright and prove your work was original, the work should be reviewed to ensure it in fact does actually promote the arts and the sciences, other wise into the public domain it goes.

Meh. Originality merely means that it isn't copied from someone else and that it has a modicum of creativity. It's easier to disprove than to prove. Similarly, copyright is concerned with promoting science (it's patents that are concerned with promoting the useful arts), but since 'science' in this context merely means general knowledge, pretty much anything will work, since it's pretty damn easy to enlarge the scope of what humanity knows.

I'd rather limit copyright examination to the obvious uncopyrightable categories, e.g. unoriginal compilations of facts, useful articles, names, etc. An opposition and reexamination process would be better, since it requires someone out there to actually oppose the copyright, rather than the Copyright Office having to check everything that is registered, and is therefore more efficient.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17796642)

Computers can check stuff pretty quickly. Just give a time limit for existing works to be registered, a few years, and then implement the system. Don't register and into the public domain/creative commons it goes.

The fee can simply be derived from the cost of implementing the system, user pays, the copyrightists want it, then let them pay for it as well as for the full cost of enforcing it and leave us creative commons copyleftists out of it.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17797828)

No, originality means it has a modicum of creativity and wasn't copied. But originality does not mean novelty, i.e. never having been created before.

So if Alice writes a poem, and later on Bob writes an identical poem, both poems are independently copyrightable, so long as Bob didn't copy his poem from Alice. The fact that they're identical doesn't matter at all.

So how does a computer check this?

And that's text, which would be easy to put into a computer.

Also, people who use CC or the GPL, or whatever, are still relying on copyright, and should still have to go through the same registration procedures as everyone else.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786810)

Yes, because the $5-$35 registration of a domain has become such a problem. If you really don't care about your creation just post it and let the world benifit. But if you want protection you should be required to ask from the start..

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

StrongAxe (713301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789208)

Yes, because the $5-$35 registration of a domain has become such a problem.

Yes, but what if it wasn't $5 per domain, it was $5 per distinct object instead? If you have a web site with 100 pages, and each page has 20 objects (HTML, animated GIFs, style sheets, etc.) that is now $10,000 to register the whole kit and kaboodle. Is it still casually affordable now?

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789914)

I really don't think thats the argument, the argument is there was an affordable registration system would it benifit the humanity. Obviously if each element had to be registered it wouldn't be affordable. Now the does bring up an issue of reregistering changes. Personally I would say you should register the initial creation, and I don't see the point of recopyrighting a few small changes, just as I don't think disneys copyright should be extended if they make a few tiny edits to a movie. Your basic style would still be copyrighted, and MAYBE would could have a system in place that requires credit for material that isn't explicitly copyrighted.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786660)

This post will NOT be recorded in any government database

That's exactly what they want you to think.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (2, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786872)

So... what if I cut and paste what you just posted into the copyright site, pay $2, and register it as mine? Suddenly it doesn't seem so simple. You have to consider:

. How do I prove that the material I am trying to copyright is mine to copyright? If I cut and pasted it off of a web site, especially one that wasn't indexed somewhere, how could they tell?

. What happens when I sue you for posting my copyrighted material on slashdot? How do you prove that you originally wrote it in the first place, and that you didn't copy it from me? (I put it on my web site and modified the datestamps to make it look like it predated yours by a few days)

This alone would make a system where $2 is nowhere near enough to cover costs. And in fact if I didn't like something you'd said on slashdot, for $2 I could trivially register it as mine and issue slashdot with a cease-and-desist letter.

I think it's time to raise some funds and buy out all the law firms that specialise in copyright law. That way, everytime there is a dispute, my superfirm gets revenue. Even better, because you won't find a non-superfirm copyright lawyer who's any good at all, both sides will be represented by my superfirm lawyers and we can drag it out for long enough to suck the money out of everyone.

I'll be rich!!!

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787336)

What happens when I sue you for posting my copyrighted material on slashdot? How do you prove that you originally wrote it in the first place, and that you didn't copy it from me? (I put it on my web site and modified the datestamps to make it look like it predated yours by a few days).

How is that any different from the current system?

Your whole argument about establishing authorship applies just as much today as it would under a registration scheme. At least with a registration scheme, there is the date of filing to use as a reference. With the current system it could easily devolve into he-said/she-said.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

ak_hepcat (468765) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788114)

Um..

I hate to break the news, but you're too late with this idea.

I've already patented it.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789848)

So... what if I cut and paste what you just posted into the copyright site, pay $2, and register it as mine? Suddenly it doesn't seem so simple. You have to consider:

What happens when I sue you for posting my copyrighted material on slashdot? How do you prove that you originally wrote it in the first place, and that you didn't copy it from me? (I put it on my web site and modified the datestamps to make it look like it predated yours by a few days)

This alone would make a system where $2 is nowhere near enough to cover costs. And in fact if I didn't like something you'd said on slashdot, for $2 I could trivially register it as mine and issue slashdot with a cease-and-desist letter.

What happens? The exact same thing that happens now. Today, under the broken system, you could post my stuff on your website and sue me for using copyrighted material.

The key difference in my proposed system is that if I decided that my post was pure gold, I could register it as copyrighted before posting it publicly. At that point, you would not only know my post was copyrighted with a quick search, but you would also know how to contact and pay me for using my content. Under the current system, you can do neither. Under the current system, nothing short of getting a warrant to search the Slashdot servers and my ISPs servers is going to show who has made this post.

Further, in my proposed system, if you copyrighted my post, it would be a simple matter to show that the time/date stamp on my post is BEFORE your copyright registration. Just make it a simple rule that anything released to the public must be copyrighted before it is released. So, if I want to copyright my post, I need to cut and past it into a submission form before posting it publicly. Under the current system, both your server and Slashdot would need to be to offer up proof of when posted what and when.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (2, Insightful)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786910)

Spoken like someone who uses copyrighted material, but certainly not like someone who creates it.

There are advantages to something automatically being considered copyrighted once it is created. Granted, those advantages are only for the creator, but without help like that, there is less motivation to create.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (2, Insightful)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787554)

without help like that, there is less motivation to create

I'm sure that the lack of million-dollar commissions also results in "less motivation to create" -- the point being that, while the purpose of granting copyright monopolies is ostensibly to encourage the sciences and "useful" arts, one does eventually reach a point of diminishing returns, both in terms of the amount of art and science created, and in terms of the utility of that increased amount. There is no need for the government to supply unlimited motivation, and it would, in fact, be counter-productive for it to do so. In my opinion we are already long past the point were the social benefits of copyrights and patents can be said to outweigh the costs.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787776)

Yes, in some cases, copyrights are counter productive. Mickey Mouse, I think, would be out of copyright now if the law was not changed. Walt Disney, his heirs, and Disney, Inc. have made millions and, honestly, in some ways it is time to let such an icon move into public domain.

On the other hand, as a small business person, even though I haven't had to use this fact yet (and hope I never do!), I am quite thankful that my work is copyrighted when I write it, and not when I submit it for copyright. When I was dealing with a TV show and started with sending in a spec script, it helped that I could send it in after registering it with the Writer's Guild and not have to wait for the forms to come back from the Library of Congress.

If there were not copyrights, I would not be able to make a living creating the work I do. I'd still be working 24/7 over a keyboard on program code instead of other work I want to do.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789916)

Spoken like someone who uses copyrighted material, but certainly not like someone who creates it.

There are advantages to something automatically being considered copyrighted once it is created. Granted, those advantages are only for the creator, but without help like that, there is less motivation to create.
There is also an advantage to being able to create content with worry that you are stepping on someone's copyright claims. If I wanted to publish a best of Slashdot quote series, it would be utterly impossible to do so short of stealing Slashdot's server. All of the posts are automatically copyrighted and there is absolutely no way to get in contact with the authors of most of the posts. You could NEVER EVER legally make such a book in our current fucked up and broken system because at any time someone could sue you into the ground for using their copyrighted material.

Under my proposed system, it would be a trivial matter run a search of a database to see if any of the posts I want to use were registered as copyrighted. If a post was registered and I still wanted to use it, the database would include contact information so that I could actually get in contact with the author, pay him, and use his material. Under our current fucked up and broken system, this is completely and utterly impossible. There is content not being created (legally at least) because under our current copyright system there is absolutely no way humanly possible to shield yourself from a potential lawsuit or find original content owners BEFORE they start trying to sue you into the ground.

One size does not fit all! (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789018)

Slap in a fee of a couple bucks to register copyrighted content

Word count of average novel = ~100,000
Word count of average haiku = ~12

Average Hollywood budget = $xx,000,000
Average novel budget = ~$15,000 (assuming 6 months equivalent to college-educated wage bracket) Average haiku budget = ~$5 (including paper tissues and fizzy drinks)

Now, I may not like haikus in English -- they only sound right rythmically in Japanese, which I don't understand -- but some people do. The point here is that it is the little works that would suffer the most by proprtionally paying the most. A scheme favouring big works favours monoculture.

Re:One size does not fit all! (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789968)

Simply adjust prices so that it is 'fair'. What if you can register a 100 photos at once, 10 works under 1000 words at once, so and so forth. If you can't cover a $5 (or $10 or $2 or whatever is decided is fair) charge for some piece of creative work, it probably has no business being copyrighted. That is the problem with our current fucked up system. This post should NOT be automatically copyrighted because there is not a slim chance in hell that I am going to try and profit from it. You should merrily be able to take this work and post it into your blog without fear that I will sue you. If I really think that this post is a gem, then I should have to pay a trivial fee to register it as copyrighted. Once I do this, you could easily find it in a government database, find my contact information, contact me about using my copyrighted work. Under the current system, you could NEVER use my post in your blog because my e-mail address if hidden and I have offered up no contact information. You couldn't ask to use my work even if you wanted to pay me for it.

Re:One size does not fit all! (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17798240)

If you want your post to be free, you are more than welcome to add a note as such in your sig.

If I write a short story for a creative writing class, I may not see it as of commercial use, so I hand it in without registering. So should my teacher or any of my classmates be entitled to rip off my plot, just because he/she was the one who identified a market? It was still me that wrote it -- it's still my work.

HAL.

Re:One size does not fit all! (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 7 years ago | (#17798392)

Yeah, they should be able to. It isn't like you thought enough to drop a couple of bucks to protect it. If someone with more motivation turns around and actually CREATES something for public consumption, society is bettered. If you write a story and no one ever bothers to make anything out of it and it is never heard from again, no one has gained anything.

The point of copyright is not to ensure that artist get money. The point of copyright, and this is written in black and white in the constitution, is to promote the useful arts. Giving artist money is a good way to promote the useful arts a lot of the time. Hence, why artist should be able to copyright their creative work. That said, if they have no intention promoting the useful arts with their work, they no longer are entitled to lumps of money. If someone else can take the content that and make something worth while out of it, more power to them.

Re:One size does not fit all! (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801282)

If someone with more motivation turns around and actually CREATES something for public consumption

But if you look at my example, the person registering it has CREATED nothing, just released someone else's creation.

Now what if someone wants to create something for public consumption, but doesn't want paid for it -- eg an Apache developer? (Slashdot runs on Apache, doesn't it?) Why should he have to pay to ensure that it gets protected by the GPL and prevent unscrupulous software vendors rebranding it as their own product for unfair profit?

Your system fails because it is motivated by money, not the freedom of the creator. A creator with freedom is more creative.

HAL.

Re:One size does not fit all! (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808002)

Now what if someone wants to create something for public consumption, but doesn't want paid for it -- eg an Apache developer? (Slashdot runs on Apache, doesn't it?) Why should he have to pay to ensure that it gets protected by the GPL and prevent unscrupulous software vendors rebranding it as their own product for unfair profit?

Uh, if Apache can't scrounge up 5 dollars to copyright their code, they have much bigger worries then someone stealing it and selling it for profit. Apache wouldn't have to change a single thing about how they operate. They would simply shell up a bank breaking 5 dollars and retain their merry GPL protections. In fact, not only would they have the same protection as now, but it would actually be registered with the government so that people could look it up and see that it is under GPL.

Re:One size does not fit all! (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812474)

Every minor change is a derivative work, and if a malicious third party downloads a +0.0.0.0.0.0.0.1b change from sourceforge for any given project and registers it, the project's in deep doo-doo, so the project has to reregister every single time a source change becomes available.

Even if every FLOSS project could afford $5 for every single incremental change, can you image how soon the copyright registry would collapse if Sourceforge automatically submitted every upload for registration? "Sourceforging" would knock "Slashdotting" out of the dictionary.

HAL.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17790470)

The copyright system is like private property's evil twin...

Copyright is about a right, not property. You are automatically granted the rights to control some uses of your specific expression. I may express the same thing in my own words, or through a photo, a video, etc., without any permission from you. I may even copy some your expression verbatim, as long as I attribute it to you, and I quote you only to the extent that I need to, so that I may discuss what you expressed. This is called "fair use."

If I want to use a larger part of your expression verbatim, perhaps without attributing it to you, then I need to secure your permission, since you have rights over the copying of your expression.

Wikipedia has a a nice overview of copyright [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

mike2R (721965) | more than 7 years ago | (#17791142)

I pretty much agree with you, although I think saying unregistered works go permanently into the public domain is overly harsh - better to follow Lessig's idea that you can register your own work late and stop future uses of your work.

However I think you trivialise the opposition to this type of change when you say:

The current system sucks balls and no politician gives a shit because voters don't realize such issues exist, much less care about such issues.


If you go to a forum used by small content producers, eg webmasterworld.com, you will find a huge number of small content producers with very different opinions to the slashdot consensus.

Personally I think they're generally wrong, but it's their livelihood and most are dead set against anything that looks like it might endanger that.

So I agree with the ideas in your post, but I think you're fooling yourself that the argument has been won and is only being balked by corrupt or ignorant politicians and a few multinational monopolists. There is still a hell of a lot of evangelism to be done - to convince honest people who see this as a threat to their livelihoods - that this is a good idea.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17796952)

So where and wtih who should a /. post be registered?

With an international agency? Who wil pay for it? Where will it be located? How are registrations to be sent?

With national agencies? Which one then? The US one because /. is in the US? The one where the poster is resident? How will people know?

How will you verify that the registrant is the real owner? What happens if someone spots unregistered content and starts registering it?

A simpler solution would be to require a copyright notice and a statement stating who the copyrght holder is.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

Dopefish128 (516350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17796962)

The new system should REQUIRE the registration of copyrighted content. There MUST be a public record of who owns what and for how long they have had it under copyright. Further, there is not a damn reason in the world why we need copyrights that span centuries as the current system does. Anything that is not registered as copyrighted should be considered public domain. Slap in a fee of a couple bucks to register copyrighted content, throw up an Internet site to register such copyrights, and we would have a workable system.
Umm, nope. Implicit copyright is what's keeping me from taking everything you just wrote, sticking my name on it, and reposting it. That said, the duration of implicit copyrights is far too long. I never saw the problem with an implicit 14 year copyright, then the option to explicitly extend that protection repeatedly for another seven years for a small fee.

Re:Welcome to Copyright! (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 7 years ago | (#17798348)

Umm, nope. Implicit copyright is what's keeping me from taking everything you just wrote, sticking my name on it, and reposting it. That said, the duration of implicit copyrights is far too long. I never saw the problem with an implicit 14 year copyright, then the option to explicitly extend that protection repeatedly for another seven years for a small fee.

Uh, no, implicate copyright does not keep you from claiming my post as your own. You can still copy my post in the current system and claim it as your own. I could still sue you copyright violation. We would then go to court and have to compare time/date stamps. Under my proposed system, you would need to 1) pay money to copyright my ranting and 2) would make a public record for when it was copyrighted. As a result, it would be an easy matter to show that the time/date stamp on my post comes before your copyright rendering it invalid.

I would leave it up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786246)

if you go to court, you can subpoena flickr and they will prove that the license was different at the time you downloaded it.

If you're doing something IMPORTANT with it (like publishing a book or article) I'd get a piece of paper from the photog.

dipshit (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786258)

Begging the question: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beg_the_question [wikipedia.org]

Re:dipshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17790214)

I looked in here specifically to see if 1) someone had posted this correction, and 2) they got modded down for it. /. hates nothing quite like grammar and language usage flames, no matter how ignorant the person who made the original mistake looks. I can't wait for the folks who reflexively mod this stuff down to finally reach college age, take a Composition 101 class, and receive some rude surprises.

Re:dipshit (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 7 years ago | (#17791312)

Perhaps the GP's use of the title 'dipshit' had something to do with the moderation?

Is a registrar needed? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786270)

In the case of music licensing, you go to BMI or ASCAP. If you want to republish a book, you go to the publisher or the author and get a contract in writing. The writer's guild [wga.org] provides a standard contract for producers who want to hire a writer (work for hire) or buy their product (outright transfer of license).

Perhaps there needs to be a 3rd-party registrar where people can submit their material under particular licenses? It would be a great service for anyone looking for CCed material regardless, and could help to assure people licensing the material that they have someone to go to if there's a dispute.

Admittedly, this is patterned after the WGA's registry [wga.org] , only this version would be transparent-- that is, a registered material would be visible after it's uploaded.

Of course, validating that the submitter is in fact the original copyright owner is another issue, but that's not what the original topic was asking. (An interesting question though-- how do you know that someone who says "this song is distributed under the CC license" really owns the right to do this? Then again, the same issues all apply to the GPL. Is there a CC sourceforge?)

Use a timestamping service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787334)

Another option is a timestamp service. Some companies, such as Entrust [entrust.com] will take a document and sign it with a timestamp. The signature proves the document existed at or before the time in the signature. So you create a text document with your copyright statement and a copy of your license. Then you zip it up along with the material the license applies to and send it off to be signed.

If someone later comes along and claims they created the content, they will have to prove they created it before you had it signed.

Yet, another possibility is to post a lower quality version of a picture and keep the high-resolution version for cases like this. Or to crop the edges so you can prove you have the original and the person claiming copyright does not.

Re:Is a registrar needed? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17788574)

How do you know that someone who says "this song is distributed under my commercial license" really owns the right to do this? The only difference to creative commons, the GPL or similar is that there is a money trail which can be used to track the distributor. Nevertheless, infractions do occur.

Begs the question? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786332)

Begs the question != raises the question.

Nobody knows. (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786396)

IAMNAL, but this seems like one of those things that will only be settled in court. Since that has not--at least AFAIK--happened yet, it's hard to know what would count as evidence that someone released something under a CC license and then changed the license. Although given that the RIAA has got away with using screenshots as evidence there may be some precedent there.

Re:Nobody knows. (1)

Samari711 (521187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786520)

Not all screenshot are admissible in court. There's specific products that take screenshots that are admissible though, I believe PJ over at groklaw has talked about/used one before.

Been A Problem on Wikimedia Commons (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786490)

The situation on wikimedia commons is split into two. First we have a separate signup project called "flickrlickr" which is a separate program run by Eric Moller. He has run the bot on wikimedia acceptable licences (only one of the two at the moment) and then reviewers, such as myself, wade through the 1000 and 1 pictures of cats and dogs to find really HQ pictures, highlights:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:FlickrLickr /Highlights [wikimedia.org]

which we then flag and they are uploaded to the commons. Eric knows his program has scanned all the correctly licensed photos - and it has came down to the situation that if a Flickr author asks wikimedia to remove them we may - but we don't have to - we have the program logs and we can prove that they were uploaded at one point under a cc licence, no matter what the Flickr page now says.

For pictures uploaded to wikimedia commons by individual users the situation is a little more blurred. There is now a situation in place where a bot checks most of the pictures and cetifies they are under the correct licence - but that is pretty recent and so there are quite a few older ones which have had licence changes and they just have to be removed as we have no way of proving they once were CC.

In short, at wikimedia commons there has been a major drive to cover our backs to be able to prove that something was uploaded under CC. If an author later changes licences and asks the commons to remove then in most cases we will oblige, but we are now in a position to refuse if we need to (such as a very useful picture etc). I think some folks on the commons got in touch with the folks at Flickr and have tried to persuade them to show a history of licences and there would be no further problems - but so far they haven't obliged.

Re:Been A Problem on Wikimedia Commons (1)

Ray Radlein (711289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786746)

I think some folks on the commons got in touch with the folks at Flickr and have tried to persuade them to show a history of licences and there would be no further problems - but so far they haven't obliged.

If they even track license change history, that would be very useful. In the other hand, if they don't currently track and retain history on things like that, it could well represent a non-trivial amount of work for them to start.

Re:Been A Problem on Wikimedia Commons (1)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789666)

I can see that Flickr might be unwilling to do such a thing. As one of the other posters mentioned, it's quite easy to accidentally flag your work with the wrong license, and people do change their minds on such things. If a history was provided, any photos that had ever been CC licensed would end up being fair game, as anybody could just look through the history and claim that they had downloaded it when it was CC licensed.

Metadata, In Part (1)

mmurphy000 (556983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786512)

Some types of media support metadata, and Creative Commons has the means for putting license metadata in such media. See the Creative Commons Tools [creativecommons.org] and Developer [creativecommons.org] Wiki pages for details.

That doesn't cover situations where the media lacks metadata, either because the format doesn't support metadata or the metadata is missing. It also doesn't protect you against claims that you injected the CC metadata against the wishes of a non-CC-using copyright owner. I don't see where the CC metadata includes any sort of digital signature to tie the license to the media and copyright holder in a form that prevents repudiation.

It's a little more complicated (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786648)

If the original author (or, in this case photographer) posted it, then a screen shot that shows the picture and the license (or the CC mark) should probably be enough to protect you. But, remember that only the original author can offer it under a different license -- if somebody else posted it without the author's permission, then the "license" is irrelevant.

Check with an attorney in your state if you want a full analysis.

Re:It's a little more complicated (2, Informative)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786758)

the problem is that screenshots are nearly worthless as a proof - you can modify them digitally leaving no trace of the modification, and without some trust system it's impossible to sign the screenshot proving it wasn't doctored.

Re:It's a little more complicated (1)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17795616)

Most documentary evidence can be forged. The question of whether it has or not is generally for the jury. And, I have my doubts that a judge is going to let the plaintiff go into a bunch of evidence about how screenshots can be altered without having any sort of independent basis for showing that they were.

Flickr (4, Informative)

Ray Radlein (711289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786692)

That can actually be a bit of a problem with Flickr; if you regularly upload both CC and © photos to your account, it can be very easy to accidentally upload pictures under the wrong license. On several occasions I have uploaded a photo meaning for it to be ©, only to discover that I had forgotten to turn off CC, leaving me to scramble over to the properties page and adjust the license. I was always absurdly afraid that someone would grab my picture in those few moments before I made the change and go to town on it.


Finally, I changed my default upload permissions to ©, on the theory that I could always CC-license the pictures after I was finished uploading them.

Re:Flickr (1)

Boogaroo (604901) | more than 7 years ago | (#17792142)

Similar thing happened to my pro photographer friend. I had noticed his entire photoset was under Creative Commons. I mentioned it to him and he was NOT happy. His stuff was up for weeks before it was noticed. It was never intended to be under Creative Commons.

If the website has that set as default and the creator didn't check, can you argue that the creator didn't place it under the license? Is the creator SOL because of those few moments where someone might have snagged it? I don't think that one could predict the outcome in court.

Another angle... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786694)

Who is liable if you redistribute a CC work and discover that the person who placed it under CC was not the rights holder? There's big FUDDY holes in CC that need resolving before I use it.

Re:Another angle... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17786914)

That's the same with anything though. If I "create" something, place it in the public domain and you use it who is to say I wasn't the creator and so you end up using something that isn't pd at all. The CC licence has nothing to do with that argument - it is the exact same line that has been played back and forth for many many years - to the extent that court cases come up all the time about who the "original author" of a piece of work is.

public key cryptography and signatures (2, Interesting)

akb (39826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787850)

Aside from the issue of someone changing their mind, there's no way anyone should trust an anonymous assertion of a Creative Commons license. All the time on places like archive.org people contribute work that is not their own and assign it whatever license they happen to like. This happens both with copyrighted works being assigned licenses less restrictive than their author would want and with public domain works being placed under more restrictive licenses.

What is needed is a system to attach metadata containing CC licenses signed by the original author using public key crypto. That way you can irrefutably prove that a particular person licensed a particular file under a particular license. This does not solve the issue of trusting whether that person has the right to so license that work but one could imagine a reputation system (Bob has asserted that 10 Britney Spears songs are CC so no one trusts him anymore) or perhaps legal consequences for making a fraudulent representation.

CC Office (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17803176)

Agreed, that's exactly the right way to handle this.

The trickier part would be tracking derivations. So, if you resize a photo that's been CC licensed, the signature no longer matches. I could probably convinced that the person doing the resizing should keep a copy of the original, but that could leave people with a legit license but no proof.

It would be neat to have something analogous to the Copyright Office - the Creative Commons Office. This could be a non-profit responsible for tracking copyright owners' signatures, for verification purposes, archiving originals, and providing unique identifiers for each work that could then be used by licensees for tagging. e.g.
<img src="images/cc_licensed_picture.jpeg" ccorig="1234-5678-9abc-defg-hijk-lmno-pqrs-tuvw">

which smart browsers (e.g. Firefox plug-in) could use for verifying licenses. That's a very ad-hoc syntax; some kind of embed or object would probably be more HTML 4-ish.

Re:CC Office (1)

mlinksva (1755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17803532)

See Registered Commons [registeredcommons.org] (not affiliated with Creative Commons).

Re:CC Office (1)

akb (39826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805152)

The site goes into a 302 redirect loop.

I would have thought a CC registry would be a good project for Bitzi.

Re:CC Office (1)

mlinksva (1755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805804)

So RC does, was working a few days ago. Yes Bitzi would make a fine registry, but I'm not in a position to push that due to conflict of interest (and becasue there are a zillion things more critical for Bitzi to do).

Re:CC Office (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17808910)

Is it still alive? They've been down all day. From what I can see in the Google cache it looks about right.

Re:CC Office (1)

mlinksva (1755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816234)

RC is back online, bad timing for them.

Re:CC Office (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816502)

Thanks for letting me know. Much appreciated.

Depends on the picture (1)

Prysorra (1040518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788138)

I believe you have a case when you can prove that the work was produced by virtue of what's in the picture. If it's a picture of your friends, and this guy lives 2000 miles away and has never seen you nor your friends, I think you have a chance.

Suggestion for a service documenting usage/ripping (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789768)

An interesting problem. I used to work in a major commercial photo licensing company. You would have a signed receipt with price based on usage, i.e. media, circulation, etc. Even so you would have trouble once in a while concerning conflicts (e.g. use by two companies in the same industry, unpaid use of photo in a corporate or internal presentation, or other claims). The photographer also might want to license photos directly, or a client wants to buy exclusive use, and confirmation has to be made. So imagine a slightly different photo being Creative Commons and then people pick up the mistake, and change the license. Now I am not an expert on CC but if it is like GPL of course if you can prove the timing of your copy then you may be safe in one sense but this does not mean you may not have people angry at you or even trying to stop you from using the photo in some other way. So if you are doing serious work I'd say you should confirm use with the author by email and save and print a copy of it.

On the other hand, the technical problem of proving when you copied something digital regardless of the liscense (GPL, CC, etc.) is a separate, interesting issue. It could be solved by establishing a trusted entity that provides a time-based computational service, returning an encrypted file that can be decrypted to display its metadata. The source text would include a GMT time stamp, the full text of the email and its headers, and a snapshot of the web page offering the media or perhaps a copy of the media with the license embedded in its metadata, plus a hash of the entire file thus created.

This information could be shared with other certifying authorities who could likewise take a snapshot of the relevant web page at the same time and perhaps just store a minimal amount of data such as the hash of the entire file that the first authority is storing. If possible the service ought to be free but it could offer a paid corporate service that provides reports proving clear licensing of all works used in a project.

This type of service would not necessarily solve all your problems, as there is a human element involved as noted above, but in particular if used in combination with a copy of a confirmation email from the content owner, should have a positive effect in establishing online offers of CC and other open licensed media.

It also might be used to prove that you are the owner of freely obtained media on CD/DVD at some time in the past, or even that you have legally copied content for fair use. For example if someone chose to rip his or her cassette tape or purchased CD/DVD collection to his computer, it might be very useful to have a free client application that can very quickly hash up the headers of all the files (not the entirety of the media, that would take too long) and you could upload the thus created digital documentation to a similar service as suggested above, which could either store the fact for you online or give you an encrypted token to prove when you did these rips and why. Personally it is a bit ugly to me that you would have to do this for your own media, but considering the attempts of some organizations to spy on your systems to determine license infractions, it might be a nice way to insulate yourself while also maintaining a private collection for the use of your friends and family. Such an application would be a way to proactively assert your rights and establish digital libraries (in the sense of the old fashioned library that would let you view film strips, videos and yes books). Perhaps it would even help realize legislation asserting the right to creating libraries of digital content.

"This begs the question" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17790264)

"Me fail English? That's unpossible!"

Content certification timestamps (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 7 years ago | (#17791732)

What we need are digital timestamps that incorporate a hash of the digital content item
and a statement of the license terms. These need to use digital signature technology
so that they cannot be repudiated.

The idea would be that if you want to license your content under a create commons license,
then you submit the file of that content to a license certifying server.

A well-known repository of such content (or a search engine setting in google) could
then find all the content that had been so certified.

And you could run a file through a site that would verify that "yep, it had this license on this date."

Free Software Foundation solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17794854)

It's why the Free Software Foundation asks for all copyrights on work they use to be signed over to them.

WebCite to the rescue. (1)

I am Jack's username (528712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17798184)

WebCite [wikipedia.org] allows you to grab a page to cite - like Internet Archive but with you in control. You can use this until the site's taken out by the copyrightists.

Re:WebCite to the rescue. (1)

mlinksva (1755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17803582)

+1 WebCite isn't perfect for a variety of reasons, but it's pretty useful.

pdf? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17801958)

I'm thinking... acrobat?

you could print to PDF, and use acrobats signature tool to indicate date and time with a checksum

if you modified the page, it would invalidate the 'signature' stamp.. if nothing else it would be proof that that verison
existed at that date and time.. wouldn't it?

Some definitions (1)

alexo (9335) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804778)

[...] but this begs the question: How does one prove one obtained a work under a Creative Commons [...]license
Some definitions:
Beg the question [reference.com] .
Editor [reference.com] .
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