Upgrading our data licenses

A potential customer just nudged me about our use of now deprecated CC licenses and a deprecated Public Domain dedication. We should really address these issues and upgrade our data licenses. We are currently using the following licenses:

I propose that we move to:

The move to the CC license version 3 allows us to use the latest and most robust version of the Creative Commons license. If you’d like lots more detail on what this change means, please read the CC version 3 license “brief” explanation.

The CC0 grant improves a number of aspects of our old Public Domain dedication, especially in jurisdictions outside the US. Our current dedication isn’t sufficient to renounce any copyright over the data in some countries. The CC0 grant is an improved version that maximizes the global coverage of our rejection of copyright for our data.

Summary in plain english: We’d like to move to updated, more robust licenses. We are not changing what data is available under which license, nor are we taking away any rights that end users already have.

If you have questions or comments, please post them here. If there are no objections to this change, I will make it effective with our May 15th release.

UPDATE: Fixed an incorrect link that Mike from the Creative Commons pointed out. Thanks Mike!

11 thoughts on “Upgrading our data licenses”

  1. Good move, especially to CC0. Minor correction: the old/deprecated PDD is at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/ — what’s linked to as deprecated above isn’t deprecated, but is only for marking things already in the public domain.

    CC recently started work on version 4 of its license suite. Reasonable and good to go from 2 to 3 now though I don’t think there’s anything significant wrt databases, but I’d encourage anyone interested to give feedback on 4 — databases are one of the main items to address, see http://wiki.creativecommons.org/4.0/License_subject_matter

  2. Mike:

    Thanks for the link correction — blog post updated.

    Glad to see that we’re soon to be behind again. 🙂

  3. Yay! CC0!

    For the NC parts I would suggest using “CC BY-SA 3.0 United States” instead of “CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported”. The Unported license basically enforces “moral rights” even in countries which wouldn’t otherwise have much moral rights. The USA license doesn’t have that clause. Moral rights are bad for free/open licenses because it makes using the work/data more risky, the copyright owner can at any point retract the license if in his/her eyes you are damaging his/her reputation. Compare clause 4f in both licenses.

  4. Will it require for each user to agree that his/her data to be published under new license? Openstreetmap is currently changing from CC-BY-SA to ODbL, very hardcore process.

  5. er, previous comment should refer to “CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 United States” vs “CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported”, obviously (not the CC BY-SA licenses).

  6. All CC licenses are applicable worldwide, so it’d be fine to use the US port, though generally I recommend “unported” because having to explain/understand that all the licenses apply worldwide is a bit much — my ideal would be no porting after 4.0. However, 3.0 US is preferred by some people for the reason warp mentions — of the top of my head an example of someone who switched from Unported to US because of it is the Free as in Freedom podcast. Another option is to waive the offending provision like Fedora has, see https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Legal:Fedora_Project_Contributor_Agreement

    I doubt it matters that much for databases (but IANAL etc) but if the US port is closer to the policy you want to express, it is OK to use.

    warp and anyone else who cares, please make sure your voice is heard re moral rights, which is also a 4.0 issue, see http://wiki.creativecommons.org/4.0/Moral_rights

  7. ungzd: No, users wont have to OK it. It would be nearly impossible to get approval from everyone. Just in 2011 more than 250k people contributed. Fortunately we’re not changing any of the real terms of the licenses, just upgrading licenses.

  8. Sounds like a good idea to me. Would it be worth asking contributors to give the Metabrainz Foundation permission to perform these sorts of limited license upgrades?

    I’d feel uncomfortable giving away permission to make arbitrary changes, but upgrading to a new version of a license with the same spirit as the old one doesn’t bother me as much.

  9. @james henstridge:

    Legally, contributors already gave such permission when they approved their work to be licensed under a creative commons license. AFAIK all creative commons licenses include an “or any later version” clause. For CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 this is in clause 4b.

    Obviously we shouldn’t upgrade the license to a version the community of contributors would object to, but getting that kind of feedback is exactly the purpose of this blog post.

  10. Maybe it would help a lot for people not so used to read license agreements (especially for users like me, who don’t understand all the english significance) if you could tell us the most important changes/differences. Some practical examples what will (still) be allowed and maybe what will be forbidden can help us to understand better the content in the new licenses.

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