April 30, 2003

CC License Problem

Dan Bricklin points out that the Creative Commons licenses contain warranties many people overlooked.

I think this is a serious problem which needs to be addressed quickly and thoroughly by Creative Commons.

This kind of warranty has no business to pop up in a license intended to give content away for free. Since the licensor is not charging anything, he shouldn't expect to promise any extra liability to every licensee. If there is any economic value to that "warranty", using a Creative Commons license would mean actually paying people for using the works covered by the license. I don't think that's a fair deal.

Of course, if for example the content of this weblog is infringing on a third party copyright, I would be liable already to that third party, so the "warranty" liability to an unknown number of licensees would come only on top of an already existing liability in relation to that third party. There is no way a liability from the warranty could arise without the licensed work infringing on some third party right in the first place. So quite possibly, it's not that big a deal.

On the other hand, it does seem to offer at least a theoretical possibility of added damages, impossible to calculate, since typically there is a large number of anonymous licensees. I fail to understand why this is adequate in a license which gives away content for free.

So I would like to request that Creative Commons offer a license without this warranty.

And I feel that this point should have been explained more clearly on the Creative Commons website. If you want licensors to assume these warranty liabilities, I would at least expect to make that clear for everybody involved, for example by adressing the issue in the FAQ or warning people in some other form they will understand easily. People should not be surprised by a liability like that.

Link credit: Copyfight.

Posted by Karl-Friedrich Lenz at April 30, 2003 01:46 PM | TrackBack
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