Daily Archives: April 29, 2013

Creative Commons Has Failed Me and My Heart is Breaking

Update: YouTube did take down the spammer copies of my videos – I am glad this worked out but still will move away from CC-BY for some of my material

Update: Bill Fitzgerald wrote an excellent post about this and points out that Createspace actually has a policy about this. That is great news – it was not the case several years back. I also get accused of histrionics by one of the commenters in his blog. I probably am guilty of histronics.

I understand that this is the fault of Copyright Law and not Creative Commons per se, but I am at the point where I will be using CC licenses on my materials less and less.

I am 100% committed to allowing reasonable use, reuse, remixing, translation, republishing of my materials, even commercial and non-commercial.

So for me, I have been using the CC-BY license for years, wanting to give the maximum flexibility to those who would come into possession of my materials. I don’t want to add the SA, NC, or ND to my licenses because that limits the freedom of those using/adapting my materials.

It turns out that the only thing that I don’t want people to do is simply clone my materials with no value add at all and put up cloned copies of my materials on competitive sites as link and search bait. It is like my material is trapped in a content slum. You might think that search engines can tell the difference between me publishing my content and some scumbag replicating it in a content slum – but they can’t – when enough slums exist the original is lost in the noise.

These unethical spammers are not making derivative works (they merely clone my materials) and they are not trying to limit redistribution – so they are *technically* perfectly legal w.r.t. CC-BY.

If they did something like translated my work into multiple languages or even auto-tuned my lectures it would be awesome and great.

So for now, I am going to start converting my materials away from any CC license unless I am willing to have 1000 useless spammers duplicate the materials I am creating. Some materials I will still release as CC-BY – but my richest and most well-developed materials will be All Rights Reserved with some kind of asterisk.

Perhaps I will write up my own Copyright License that tries to give flexibility and options to those who would use my materials responsible manner while prohibiting evil spammers from using my work as link bait.

I doubt that there is any legal way to capture what I really want. Sadly, “All Rights Reserved”, while reprehensible at least gives me recourse when spammers decide my stuff is worth ripping off.

Sad sad sad. My heart is breaking. It almost brings me to tears to think about it.

It would be great if I were wrong – but I don’t think I am.

Note: I would add in passing that software can use a trademark to protect this brand while allowing flexible copyright licensing. But since books videos and other similar materials cannot take advantage of trademark protection for a brand I have to fall back to All Rights Reserved.

Note: My son Brent (the musician) is sitting here doing his Algebra homework and watching as I write this. He looked closely at CC for his work a few years back and felt that it made no sense at all. He would almost certainly let anyone who asked use his work – all they have to do is ask. He sits here wondering why it took me so long to figure it out and why I am feeling so bad about switching to All Rights Reserved and just saying ‘yes’ to requests for reasonable reuse.

Update: Commenters pointed out that spammers will ignore copyright – that is of course true. But if those spammers are using a well-known site like YouTube or Amazon Createspace as the outlet for their competitive clones of CC-BY materials – those sites will correctly say “too bad” when you ask them to take it down. Google’s web search is better at catching and punishing “content slums” – but other sites search engines like YouTube and Amazon that are merely looking at their internal content can’t tell the difference between the original CC-BY content and a useless duplicate.