On Creative Commons and attribution online…

Imagine a circumstance where someone was building a weblog aggregator like Haddock Blogs, but imagine for a moment that they were doing it with the full text of other people’s weblog entries, sectionalised by theme and with the name of the writers put by them (like a byline), but without any link back to the site where they originated. You might have to look pretty close to realise that the posts didn’t originate on the aggregator site in the first place. That would seem, well, wrong to me – like a kind of passing off. But as far as I can tell, there isn’t a single Creative Commons license that wouldn’t allow someone to do that with your work if they wanted to perfectly legally. There’s something weird there about the nature of attribution on the web, I think, that maybe doesn’t sit too well with the concept of attribution named in the Creative Commons licenses. Naming an author isn’t enough to attribute online, you should be making a connection with them…

3 replies on “On Creative Commons and attribution online…”

We’re in the process of updating the licenses (we’re in a public discussion period right now), and the attribution requirement is being stepped-up to require this. I can’t remember the exact language but it’s something like requiring that people attribute others using the technology available (hyperlink if it’s on the web, mention by name in the credits for movies, liner notes/ID 3 tags for music files, etc).

That’s good to know, Matt – I had assumed most people would already take ‘attribution’ to imply linking when it came to re-publishing on the web, but had a bit of bother recently when someone used an interview I’d CC licensed on their site. The interview was credited to me, but without a link and, therefore, without the full context of my original introduction, the interviewee was, arguably, being misrepresented, and a link to the interview in it’s original context would’ve fixed that. Admittedly, the whole thing was my bad for picking a license that allows modification of the text in question, but clarification of what ‘attribution’ means in different contexts would certainly have helped sort the problem out more quickly.
(All that said, since my site is UK-based and the offending site US-based, I honestly have no idea whether the license actually applies in a meaningful legal sense…)

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