[Live-demo] Legal issues that should be addressed when creating open content

Simon Cropper (The foss Workflow Guides) scropper at botanicusaustralia.com.au
Mon Jul 18 19:35:25 PDT 2011

Hi Everyone,

Over the last few weeks we have debated about copyright and licensing of 
open content released on the OSGeo LiveDVD.

The debate has been had and you have agreed on a licensing model - that 
is, CC-BY for Project Overviews and CC-BY-SA for Quickstarts.

I thought I would articulate some basic concepts and list some links 
that I have uncovered in my investigation, with the hope that they might 
be of use for others.

Point 1. All material used in a document needs to be either:
a. original work (not necessarily original ideas, just original
    ways of presenting these ideas);
b. drawn from the source material licensed under an
    appropriate Creative Commons licence (see Point 2 & 3);
c. in the public domain;
d. material you have obtained permission from the copyright owner
    to use; or
e. meet the definition for fair use or fair dealing

Point 2. Creative Commons licenses are *not compatible* with any other 
Open Content licenses. This means, for example, you can not legally 
incorporate documents published under a GNU Free Documentation License 
into your work [1]. So don't use material under different licenses 
without first getting the written permission to use it. The Creative 
Commons Search Tool [2] provides one means of finding websites 
containing material licensed with a Creative Commons license or in
the Public Domain.

Point 3. Not all Creative Commons licenses are compatible with each 
other. For example CC-BY-SA works can not be used to create CC-BY 
derivatives. Check out the following matrix to establish if a license is 

Point 4. Works marked as being in the Public Domain may not be in all 
jurisdictions and consist of two types of material: (1) those works 
where copyright has expired like old books, or (2) contemporary works 
where someone has relinquished their rights like the CC0 license. Care 
needs to be taken when utilising such works to ascertain if they are 
totally free of copyright in countries where your work is to be used. [4]

Point 5. When using works where you have had to obtain permission, 
clearly articulate that you have done so by including
*text right next to the material used* that states
"(c) {copyright owner}. Use with permission, {date}"

Point 6. Fair use is defined in legislation. Check out the local 
copyright act in the country you publish the work and the possibly also 
the countries where your work is being downloaded. As a guide; (1) 
include only small parts of the source material in your work and enclose 
it in quotes, and (2) cite the source. Direct cutting-and-pasting a 
variety of documents together to create a derivative
*is not* fair use. As an example, the Australian Copyright Act 1969 
states that the act of reproducing *small amounts of a work* represents 
'fair dealing' if it is for the purpose of research or study [5], 
criticism or review [6], parody or satire [7]; or reporting news [8].

Point 7. *Citing source material is professional courtesy*. Although you 
may not actually copy the work of others (and therefore copyright is not 
relevant), most documents represent the sum of knowledge on a particular 
topic. *It is professional courtesy* to cite the source of the ideas 
expressed in the document, paragraph, sentence, table, etc. This can be 
done with a generic statement at the start of a document or right next 
to where the idea is presented. There are many bibliographic tools 
available that allow for this process to be quickly and seamlessly done.

Point 8. *Audit yourself*.
- Disassemble your document.
- List every element and ask yourself
   - is this mine or
   - is it the work of someone else.
     - If it belongs to someone else, have you cited the source
       and ensured that the material is appropriately licensed.
     - If the work is not appropriately licensed,
       - have you sought and received permission from the
         copyright owner to use the work. If so have you clearly
         shown this in the text.
       - Alternatively, does the use of the work fall under fair
         use or fair dealing provision of the copyright legislation
         of the  countries where the work is published and/or
         publicly available?
Only after you complete this process and all source material checks out 
can you then release the work without being in breach of copyright.


[2] http://search.creativecommons.org/


[4] https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/

[5] http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca1968133/s40.html

[6] http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca1968133/s41.html

[7] http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca1968133/s41a.html

[8] http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ca1968133/s42.html

Cheers Simon

    Simon Cropper
    Website Administrator
    The fossWorkflow Guides
    (c) Simon Cropper CC-BY-SA 3.0 Australia

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