004: A License to Share

Posted by Nehaa Chaudhari at Mar 17, 2014 09:00 PM |
In this blogpost Devika Agarwal, a 4th year student at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow, takes a first look at the Creative Commons 4.0 Licence.

With the increasing amount of information being uploaded online every day, it becomes imperative to facilitate the sharing of this information legally. Creative Commons (CC) license is a tool developed especially with the objective of allowing widespread dissemination of information in a manner so as not to infringe the copyright of a person over the work.

A CC license is a valid license. It is ‘non-exclusive’ in nature; this means that the author of a work is free to enter into a different licensing agreement with anybody he wishes despite holding a CC license (the different licensing contracts must also be ‘non-exclusive’ in nature). Simply put, licensees of a CC license will be governed by the terms of the CC license unless they have a different agreement with the license holder.

In India, works licensed under the CC license include digital copies of educational material by NCERT.

With the first version of the license being published in 2002, Creative Commons has witnessed a number of changes to help serve the needs of internet users better. Version 4.0 of the Creative Commons License was released on November 25, 2013.

  • A more global license

What sets the latest version of the Creative Commons license apart from its precursors is the fact that CC license 4.0 is an ‘international license’. The earlier versions of CC license required the license to be “ported” to the different jurisdictions; ‘porting’ was a process which involved the translation and legal adaptation of CC’s core license suite (also known as ‘generic’ license suite’ ) to conform to the languages and copyright laws of individual jurisdictions). This means that earlier one had to obtain a CC license ported to one’s country; the “ported version of the license” was a modification of the generic CC license, suited to meet the copyright requirements of a particular country.

The CC license 4.0, on the other hand, is an international license, i.e., the 4.0 license is ‘jurisdiction neutral’ in nature and a single version of the license exists for all persons.

  • Sui generis database rights:

The CC license 4.0 also provides explicitly for protection to sui generis databases in jurisdictions which recognize copyright related to sui generis databases. Sui generis databases were not expressly covered by the earlier versions of the CC license. (India does not extend copyright protection to sui generis databases).

  • Non-attribution

The one element common to all the CC licenses is ‘attribution’ or acknowledgement of the licensor as the author of the work by “giving appropriate credit and providing a link to the license. Where the earlier licenses provided that a licensor may request a licensee to remove attribution from adaptations of the work (in order to preserve anonymity), the 4.0 license extends the right of ‘non-attribution’ of a licensor to works which have not been adapted.

This right of attribution is recognized under section 57 (1) (a) of The Copyright Act, 1957 in India which states that “even after the assignment either wholly or partially of the said copyright, the author of a work shall have the right to claim authorship of the work.”

  • 30-day period to remedy breach of CC license terms

A significant change in the CC 4.0 version is that unlike the earlier licenses which terminated the CC license in case of failure to comply with the license terms, the 4.0 licenses allow a 30-day period to the licensees to remedy the breach, after which the license shall resume.

The terms incorporated in the 4.0 license are aimed at making the license more compatible with the copyright laws of various jurisdictions and at the same time ensure that information can be shared with more freely, thus preserving the spirit of Access to Knowledge.

(Creative Commons re-launched its India chapter in November last year.)

Similarly, right of ‘non-attribution’ is recognized under section 21 of The Copyright Act, 1957 which provides for relinquishment of copyright by the author. This may be done “by giving notice in the prescribed form to the Registrar of Copyrights or by way of public notice.” A CC license where attribution has been removed at the instance of the licensor will serve as a ‘public notice’.