Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Times and Seasons of Copyright

I must confess that I ruined it for everyone else.

Once upon a time, the popular Mormon blog, Times and Seasons, was published under a Creative Commons license (scroll to the bottom of the right column of that link to see the copyright notice in the Internet Archive) which allowed for redistribution of their content with attribution for non-commercial purposes. Based on the grants in this license, in 2005 I decided that a fun Christmas present for people in my family would be a printed collection of a few of my favorite posts by Wilfried Decoo. I know they don't read the blogs and I thought they'd appreciate reading some of those stellar posts.

I copied the text from the posts and put it together in a nice format for printing and put it all together in a PDF document. I printed and bound several copies. Grateful as I was to Brother Decoo for his writing, I sent him a copy of the PDF in a thank-you email.

Imagine my surprise when a short time later, Times and Seasons dropped the Creative Commons license. Brother Decoo sent me a kind email granting me permission to distribute the copies that I had made but "requiring" that I include an extra copyright notice. The word require is in quotes since he didn't actually have legal power to revoke the license under which his work had previously been distributed, according to the terms of the Creative Commons deed. (Maybe they should get a lawyer to blog over there.) Nevertheless, I complied with his wishes.

Still, I am saddened that I caused this right to be revoked for everyone. Times and Seasons has been a great publisher of LDS content over the past few years and I'd love to see them rejoin the Creative Commons and make their work available again for redistribution.

I put my own religious blog under a Creative Commons license after this incident. I'd invite you to do the same.


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  • Dear Bradley

    Thanks for your message, which I read in the first place as one of appreciation for what T&S and other blogs try to bring. Special thanks for your appreciation for my contributions.

    The copyright issue has mainly to do with protection of authenticity. When texts can be copied and reused without control, there is a risk of alterations or of use for very different purposes. In matters as sensitive as faith and conviction, is is normal that authors want to be able to follow how and where their writings are used. Hence the option for copyright, which does not mean it is forbidden to redistribute, but only with permission.

    Moreover, availability as such is now much less an issue than before. It suffices to link to the original texts and people can read them.

    Thanks again for your friendship and support.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/15/2007 5:00 AM  

  • Wilfried, thanks for your comment. For what it is worth, I received some very kind comments from my family about the quality of your essays. I think I can understand something of your concerns and I certainly respect that.

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 7/15/2007 10:05 PM  

  • I read this ages ago, but I wanted to mention that the maybe they should get a lawyer to blog over there parenthetical was funnier than anything the snarkers have blogged in ages.

    By Blogger Frozen Okie, at 8/12/2007 7:02 PM  

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.