Editor’s Note: This article first appeared the Creative Commons blog on 9 December 2011.
We are pleased to announce the beginning of the public discussion process that we expect to result in version 4.0 of the Creative Commons license suite.
Timeliness and Opportunity
The 4.0 discussions held at the 2011 Global Summit confirmed for CC the need to commence the 4.0 discussion process now if we wish to consider issues relevant to important would-be adopters in a timely manner. As explained following legal sessions at the Summit, version 3.0 is working (and will continue to work) really well for many adopters, but the reality is different for others. The treatment of sui generis database rights in the 3.0 licenses continues to be a show-stopper for many, including governments in Europe. This fosters an environment in which custom licenses proliferate, inevitably resulting in silos of incompatibly-licensed content that cannot be maximally shared and remixed. But there exist still other reasons for pursuing 4.0 at this time, including the desire to adjust the licenses to more fully support adoption by intergovernmental organizations and those looking for a more internationally-oriented license suite.
The consequence of not addressing these challenges now is one of opportunity — bridging these differences sooner rather than later (where possible) is always advisable, especially if a more inclusive commons may result. For those fond of version 3.0, rest assured that CC will continue to support existing and future implementations and adopters that rely on those licenses. We will take pains not to create a 4.0 suite that undermines or otherwise presents challenges for those communities.
Process – Discussion Forum – 4.0 Wiki
Importantly, for the first time in CC’s history we begin the versioning process without publishing a draft of the new licenses for review. This is intentional, and it is designed to ensure we hear from the community first. During this 2–3 month requirements gathering period, we urge everyone with a proposal, concern or other input to please put it forth, as our goal is to make the first draft as comprehensive as possible. We will alert the community when the requirements period draws to a close, expected to be mid-February 2012. As in the past, we will publish at least two drafts of the licenses before finalizing, which we anticipate will occur late 2012.
As with past versioning efforts, the central discussion forum will be CC’s license discuss list (subscribe now). New to the 4.0 process, however, is a dedicated group of wiki pages (accessible through the main 4.0 wiki page) where topics and proposals under discussion on that email list will be documented, annotated, and evaluated. We have pre-populated the wiki pages with several of the issues we expect to address during this process, framing key topics to help shape the discussion and including known and anticipated proposals related to each. Among others, we expect healthy debates regarding the treatment of moral rights, the definition of NonCommercial, scope of ShareAlike, treatment of sui generis database rights, and much more. The issues are organized by topic with cross-references to related issues throughout the wiki, but there is also an open forum (the Sandbox page) where you should be encouraged to suggest other topics you feel are important to discuss for version 4.0 (a few placeholders already exist).
For a fuller description of CC’s objectives, the process and expected schedule, visit the 4.0 wiki homepage.
We encourage everyone who is interested in the future of Creative Commons, and open licensing generally, to participate in this process. The more voices that chime in to raise issues and debate the merits of various proposals, the stronger version 4.0 will be, helping us achieve our goal of creating a set of robust licenses that will endure long into the future. If you have an opinion about how to simplify CC’s attribution requirements, for example, or any of the other important issues we plan to examine during the process, please post your suggestion to the CC license discuss list (subscribe today) and add it to our 4.0 wiki. We look forward to hearing from you.
The Version 4.0 process and many other activities are supported by contributions from our community. As a global nonprofit organization that enables sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools, Creative Commons has always relied on the generosity of both individuals and organizations to fund its ongoing operations. Please consider donating to our Annual Campaign, going on now. Thank you.