I thought I'd left the tropics behind on returning from the ICANN Rio de Janeiro meeting where I was attending as a member of the Interim At-Large Advisory Committee. But as San Francisco heated up Sunday, Dolores Park became Dolores Beach (photos)!
Being a lawyer, the first link I clicked in Manila's "Prefs" menu was of course the "legal tags" option. As will be obvious to the non-lawyers, that was a listing of the HTML tags acceptable in the blog layout. As I backed out from that menu item, however, I saw that the blog also features the kind of "legal tags" I was looking for -- a Creative Commons license.
To me that default choice, and the ease with which I could alter it, highlights what Creative Commons adds to the mix. It tells me that copyright isn't just for the movie studios' lawyers, and it isn't always set on "high" -- it's something that the smaller-scale publisher can use to indicate willingness to share, as well as right to control.
The choice that Creative Commons licenses offer brings copyright back to its original basic purpose: to serve as incentive to creative expression. If exclusivity is important to motivate you, take it; but if you'd prefer to see what others can do with your work (add it to a movie, send it to new audiences, reinterpret it in rap or chorale), use a CC license to tell them that.
HTML tags tell your web browser what to do with the stream of data it receives. CC licenses tell you, the human reader on the other side of the web browser, what you may do with what you read and experience there. That's much more important than the font size or paragraph indentation, and so I'm pleased to see copyright status taking its place among the weblogger's options. (It's an option on Movable Type as well.)
The BSA has quickly retreated from its claim that distribution of OpenOffice.org infringes Microsoft's Office copyrights, but not before underscoring the problems with these automated infringement searches. What if, per RIAA v. Verizon, they had been able to turn this into a subpoena without court oversight? What about the Chilling Effects of this kind of mailing?
From the initial BSA letter:
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has determined that the connection
listed below, which appears to be using an Internet account under your
control, is operating an FTP server to offer unlicensed copies or is engaged
in other unauthorized activities relating to copyrighted computer programs
published by the BSA's member companies.
What was located as infringing content: