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.

Sup­port CC

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.

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