While poking around at the Creative Commons website
today, I bumped into a license there that I was unfamiliar with…The
Founder’s Copyright
. In a judo-like move that reminds me of RMS
and the GPL, Creative Commons is also using existing copyright
and contract law to provide legally binding enhanced user
rights. The gist is this: if you wish to release something under The
Founder’s Copyright, you enter into a contract with CC; they buy your
copyright from you, and then turn around and give you a 14 (or 28,
with renewal) year exclusive license…the same period granted under
original US copyright law (thus the “Founder’s” reference). At the end
of that period, the work will be released into the public domain by
CC, who owns the copyright. Genius!!

So for 14 or 28 years, you have the same rights you would under
today’s copyright duration (which happens to be author’s lifetime
plus 70 years). After 14/28 years, though, instead, the work is
public domain, and available for anyone to use as fuel to rip, mix, and
burn into a new idea. Just like “Snow White”, “The Hunchback of Notre
Dame”, “Cinderella” and others were in the public domain for
re-use…

Kudos to Creative Commons for this innovative program. And kudos to
O’Reilly Media for stepping up to
the plate; they’re putting
dozens
of titles
under Founder’s Copyright. Outstanding!

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