In the lead up to our Building an Australasian Commons event, CCau is very pleased to announce that we have (finally) finished the first drafts of our version 3.0 licences. Once these are finalised and officially launched, the Australian licences will be up-to-date with the latest version of the CC licences internationally.

But before we finalise them, we thought we’d see what others had to say about them. So we’re releasing two of the draft licences for public consultation:

Attribution (BY) and

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (BY-NC-SA).

We’ve decided to do this for two reasons:

  1. we believe in crowd sourcing – the more eyeballs who look at the licences before they go live, the better; and
  2. we value your input – we want to make sure that the Australian CC community is happy with the changes to the licences, and get feedback on any other changes you’d like.

Getting everyone’s feedback on the v3.0 licences is particularly important because we’ve decided to depart slightly from our traditional drafting approach.

Rather than writing the licences as a straight translation from the Unported (ie non-country specific) licences provided by Creative Commons International, we’ve instead decided to base them on the excellent licences produced last year by our friends in New Zealand, which they in turn based on the England and Wales licences. The great thing about these licences is that they’re written in plain English rather than legalese – which means they’re much easier for non-lawyers to understand.

We’re also adding some clarifying language on the licensing of derivative works to the BY and BY-NC (Attribution-Noncommercial) licences which isn’t in either the Unported licences or the New Zealand licences – so we wanted to see what people thought about this.

So if you have the time, take a glance over the new licences and let us know what you think. If you have any comments, you can send them to us directly at [email protected]. Or, better yet, send them to the CCau mailing list – that way we can get some community discussion going on any issues raised.

More detail about the licences and the public consultation process is provided below. However, if you have any particular questions, feel free to email us – we’re always open to public inquiries and feedback.

What are the v3.0 changes?
There’s a detailed explanation of the changes made as part of the v3.0 upgrade on the CC international website, but in summary, the main changes that were introduced in v3.0 are:

  • new language that makes it clear that a person cannot improperly imply a relationship with or endorsement by the licensor or author when they use a CC work (see here).
  • the CC Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 licences now include the ability for derivatives to be re-licensed under a “Creative Commons Compatible License” (see here).
  • minor clarifications to the language to take account of concerns expressed by Debian (see here) and MIT (see here).
  • harmonised moral rights (see here) & collecting society (see here) language for all jurisdictions. However, this doesn’t really affect Australia, as the approach taken is the same as that already used by the Australian v2.5 licences.

What do the plain English Australian licences look like?
Like the New Zealand and UK licences we are basing the new Australian licences on, our v3.0 licences are very simply drafted. A lot of the language is drawn directly from the Unported licences, however it has been simplified and rearranged to make it easier to understand and follow. The main feature is a series of lists that set out clearly what users can do, what they can’t do, and what they must do. Other than that, they contain the same basic statements as to disclaimers, warranties and introductory materials that are included in all the CC licences.

We’ve made a particular effort to make sure the Australian licences align with the Unported licences – after all, the whole point is that each licence has the same effect anywhere in the world, and you shouldn’t have to worry about which country version you’re working with. The one exception to this is with respect to the strict requirement to include a URL link to the relevant Creative Commons licence every time you use a work. We’ve followed the UK and NZ example by loosening this up a bit, to allow you to provide this reference to the licence in any manner reasonable to the medium you are working in. This ensures, for example, that someone playing a song on their radio station can attribute the CC licence just by mentioning it, and perhaps providing a link on the station’s website, without breaching the licence. You could arguably do this under the Unported licence too, but we wanted to make it clear.

Why are there different country licences?
One of the main goals of CC is to create a group of standardised licences that have the same effect anywhere across the globe. However, creating licences that will have legal effect in all countries can be difficult, particularly as each jurisdiction will usually have its own requirements regarding, for example, moral rights and consumer protection. This is why CC country offices to create jurisdiction-specific versions of each of their licences. These licences are designed to have the same effect anywhere in the world while at the same time complying with the technical legal requirements of particular jurisdictions.

You can find out more about the licensing porting process here.

What is the new language in the BY and BY-NC licences?
The new language in the BY and BY-NC licences is intended to clarify how derivative works can be on-licensed. While the CC licences currently spell out exactly how on-licensing applies to the original work and collections, and how it applies to derivative works under the ShareAlike licences, they are less clear on how derivative works can be licensed where there is no ShareAlike requirement.

This makes it hard for users to know how they can license derivative works they create with material that is available under the BY and BY-NC licences (ie the two licences that allow derivative works that aren’t ShareAlike). You can work out how you are allowed to license such works by applying the basic principles of copyright and contract law – but this doesn’t really help non-lawyers. So CC International has a great licensing table on its FAQ page that helps people work out how they can license works incorporating CC material. However, we thought it didn’t hurt to include some language in the licence itself.

In line with the CC licensing table, the language we’ve written up makes it clear that, in the absence of a ShareAlike clause, you are free to license a derivative work incorporating CC material under any licence you like, as long as it is less permissive than the CC licence the original material is under. This is because the derivative work still contains parts of the original work, and you can’t pass on rights to those parts that you do not own.

Feel free to drop us a line if you want more clarification on this.

What should I include in my comments?
The main aim of the licence drafting process is to make sure that the licences:

  • have the same effect as the Unported licences provided by CC International;
  • comply with Australian law; and
  • are simple for people to use and understand.

You should focus your comments on these issues. However, we’re always open to hearing about other suggestions, or even just typos.

Where can I get the licences?
You can download the Attribution (BY) licence here and the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (BY-NC-SA) here.

Why only two licences?
Because managing all six of the new licences is already hard enough, without having to manage comments on all six as well. Instead we’ve decided to release the simplest of the licences (ie BY) and the most complex (BY-NC-SA). They also contain just about all of the language that’s used for the other licences. But if anyone particularly wants to see the other licences, let us know and we’ll send them your way. Any changes made as a result of the public consultation process will, of course, be applied across all the licences.

How long does the consultation last?
We’re aiming to get the licences finalised and launched in the next few months, so we’re asking that people provide their comments by 1 August 2008 if they want them to be taken into account in the v3.0 licences. However, we’re always open to feedback, so even after this, feel free to send in your comments.