Saturday, October 25, 2003

David Rothman of Teleread posted some thoughtful comments on my collective rights proposal and he urges people ‘to take a look at both CR and Creative Commons’.

Rothman is absolutely on target, Creative Commons is definitely pushing forward in the right direction by allowing authors to offer some of their copyrights to improve the lot of the consumer and they back this up with legal licenses. I even tinkered with the idea of publishing Common Rights under a Creative Commons license before I realized that I should have faith in my own system and use Property Rights Descriptors to protect my work while allowing others to access it.

The Creative Commons license scheme, however, has some shortcomings:

1) Creative Commons allows the author to give away some of their rights but they can’t specify to whom. This makes it difficult to use in a commercial situation where an author might like to give away some of their products for promotional reasons but license others for a reward.

2) There is no record of which product has which license; a third party can change or add a license to a product and hoodwink a forth party. Creative Commons recognizes this problem and is trying to instigate a ‘license verification link’ where a link in the product refers to the license metadata rather than only including the metadata in the product.

3) Creative Commons relies on the author to maintain the public copy of the license allocated to the product. This poses two problems:

a) The author can fail to maintain the site that holds the license metadata and therefore lose control of the product licensing.
b) The consumer could find himself or herself using a product for which they thought there was a Creative Commons license only to find that the rights holder has failed to support it. This is a critical weakness of the system for the consumer.

The Distributed Intellectual Property Rights philosophy addresses all these issues and more.

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