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Legal tools / licenses

Creative Commons trademark; design by Amy Collier

For more than a decade, Creative Commons has developed and stewarded legal tools that give creators the opportunity to share their work on open terms. We have focused on tools that empower sharing at the moment of publication, leaving out an important group of creators: what about those who previously signed away their rights to their works long ago, but who now want to share on open terms under a CC license or renegotiate unfavorable publishing terms?

We are proud to announce version 1.0 of the Termination of Transfer tool (ToT tool), which will help inform creators about their ability to reclaim their rights. This newest legal tool – to be co-stewarded by Creative Commons and Authors Alliance – helps creators and authors learn about their ability to regain their rights in order to share. The ToT tool is our latest step in our mission to steward a vibrant commons through legal, social, and technical tools.

The ToT tool empowers authors to learn more about whether and when ccxauthorsalliancelogosthey may have the right to terminate the licensing arrangements for their work that prohibits them from sharing. Authors who enter into publishing, recording or other types of agreements are routinely asked to sign away their rights forever. Fortunately, there is recourse under U.S. copyright law for taking back those rights in the future. While many of these transfer agreements last “for the life of copyright” (which in the United States generally means seventy years after the author dies!), the law takes into account that these terms can ultimately be unfair to authors and artists, and so provides a mechanism for regaining those rights. An early analysis by Mike Wolfe estimates that control over more than 2.5 million works may be reclaimed by authors in the United States.

The tool is widely applicable beyond academia – anyone, including artists, photographers, scholars and scientists, can use this tool to understand more about rights they could have to regain rights they previously assigned away. While this tool is currently U.S.-based only, CC is developing a database of other country laws that enable authors and creators to similarly terminate or reclaim their rights.

One of the reasons why the tool is so remarkable is due to the complexity and technicality of the law. As Mia Garlick, CC’s first general counsel and the originator of the first ToT tool beta, noted in 2006, “the provisions are very complex and have not been frequently used [and] the termination provisions are currently so complex and technical that this tool can only serve an informational role.” When we relaunched the tool in 2015, we decided that while the tool would be primarily informational and US-based, the continued applicability of the legality would make it a worthwhile project for a global community. In 2016, we opened a public comment period for the tool.

arcadia-logoEven though the tool is now active, we’re still looking to improve it so that it is increasingly useful to all categories of content around the globe. Creative Commons and Authors Alliance are grateful to the Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, for their generous support of the creation of the Termination of Transfer Tool. See our full list of personnel and thank-yous at rightsback.org/about.

For more information and to try the tool, visit rightsback.org.

Read our joint press release with Authors Alliance.

The post Landmark release of Termination of Transfer tool from Creative Commons and Authors Alliance appeared first on Creative Commons.

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Circuit board by Carl Drougge, CC BY-SA 2.0

In 1996 the European Union adopted the Database Directive, which aimed to harmonise the treatment of databases under copyright law and introduced the sui generis database right for non-original databases. Sui generis database rights are separate from copyright. They protect the “sweat of the brow” of the person who has made a substantial investment in obtaining, verifying, or presenting the contents of a database.

In 2005 the European Commission released its first (and only) evaluation report on the impact of the Database Directive. It found that there was no evidence that the sui generis right has improved EU competitiveness by increasing the production of databases. In contrast, the presence of the sui generis right has produced a confusing legal environment in which users do not know if (or how) their uses are subject to the sui generis right.

Now the Commission is asking for feedback on what to do with the Database Directive, in particular the sui generis protection. Creative Commons responded to the Commission’s survey, and you can read our answers here.

The Database Directive has failed to give database producers that wish to make their databases available on an open access basis the choice to opt out of the sui generis protection or a way to communicate conditions for reuse. This has led to some recent projects (such as Wikidata and Europeana) to simply sidestep the right altogether by releasing their data into the public domain using the CC0 Public Domain Dedication, thus neutralising copyright and sui generis rights to ensure that their data is freely (re)usable. It should be noted that the most recent iteration of the Creative Commons suite (version 4.0 released in 2013) licenses sui generis database rights alongside copyright, but the extent of the use of the 4.0 licenses as a tool primarily to address the sui generis right is unclear.

We’ve also worked with our partners at COMMUNIA to prepare a short policy paper, which echoes the recommendations we provided to the consultation.

The Commission should repeal the sui generis database right and harmonize the limitations and exceptions for the copyright section of the Database Directive with the Infosoc Directive. If it is not possible to fully revoke the sui generis right, the Commission should amend the Database Directive to introduce a system whereby producers of databases must register to receive protection under the sui generis right. It should also expand the sui generis exceptions and make them mandatory. Finally, it should set a maximum term so that there cannot be perpetual extensions.

The sui generis protection in the Database Directive has caused more harm than good. It’s time for it to go.

The post The European Commission should repeal extra rights for databases appeared first on Creative Commons.

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The CC 4.0 licenses are now translated into Italian

The official Italian translation of the Creative Commons 4.0 Licenses and CC0 waiver is now available! Led by CC Italy, the translations also benefited from the collaboration with CC Switzerland. The working group was hosted and coordinated by the Nexa Center for Internet & Society at Politecnico di Torino, the Italian-affiliated institution of the Creative Commons international network.

During the drafting of the 4.0 licenses in English, the original CC Italy group worked closely with the CC HQ legal team determine how best to manage sui generis database rights. These discussions minimized the number of issues they faced when translating the licenses into Italian. After the public launch of the English licenses, the CC Italy working group drafted the Italian translation of the CC 4.0 license suite and reviewed the Italian translation of CC0—with the important feedback of several fellows of the Nexa Center and other members of the Italian Creative Commons community.

The community of the Nexa Center at Politecnico di Torino, the Italian CC network affiliate institution. Photo by Francesco Ruggiero, CC BY 4.0

More details about the translation process are available on the Creative Commons wiki. The final part of the 4.0 and CC0 Italian translation process is also documented on the Nexa Center’s GitHub account. The GitHub documentation provides only part of the story, but it generates useful documentation of the linguistic and legal exercise of translation. The CC Italy team is committed to using this GitHub again and more systematically in the future. See an example of how the team used Github to improve their processes, where a suggestion from Sarah Pearson helped the team minimize the differences between the original English version and the Italian translation.

A special thank you to the following groups:

  • The original CC Italy Working Group of: Federico Morando, Claudio Artusio, Massimo Travostino, Marco Ricolfi, Alessandro Cogo, and Thomas Margoni
  • The fellows at the Nexa Center: Elena Pavan, Stefano Leucci, Marco Ciurcina, and Miryam Bianco for the 4.0 suite and Angelo Maria Rovati and Silvia Bisi for CC0
  • Other members of the CC Italy Community: Monica Palmirani, Manuela Avidano, Maurizio Lana, Matteo Montanari, Giacomo Di Grazia, Luca Spinelli, and Simone Musarra for the 4.0 licenses and Francesco Ermini for CC0.

Congratulazioni con la CC Italia!

The post Annuncia la traduzione 4.0 della licenza in Italiano! appeared first on Creative Commons.

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