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This page presented an issue for consideration in the CC license suite 4.0 versioning process. The discussions have now concluded with the publication of the 4.0 licenses, and the information on this page is now kept as an archive of previous discussions. The primary forum for issues relating to the 4.0 versioning process was the CC license discuss email list. You may subscribe to contribute to any continuing post-launch discussions, such as those surrounding compatibility and license translation. The wiki has been populated with links to relevant email threads from the mailing list where applicable, and other topics for discussion were raised in the 4.0/Sandbox. See the 4.0 page for more about the process.


In version 3.0 of the licenses and previous, a breach of the license terms resulted in automatic termination. Express permission from the licensor was required for licensees to regain their rights to use the work under the CC license. However, many other public licenses contain a provision that allows for automatic reinstatement of the rights under the license, without expresspermission from the licensor, provided that certain conditions are complied with. A reinstatement provision similar to these was included in version 4.0.

Treatment in drafts

(expand to read Draft 1 treatment)

Draft 1

Not included in this draft.

(expand to read Draft 2 treatment)

Draft 2

Remains unchanged, with automatic termination still applying in the event license conditions are violated. However, this remains an open item for discussion between d2 and d3, as we explore more concertedly the inclusion of a cure period or similar provision more in line with those found in the MPL 2.0 and Gnu GPL 3.0.

(expand to read Draft 3 treatment)

Draft 3

A reinstatement provision has now been included that provides for a 30-day window for licensees to cure a violation of license terms after being notified, with automatic reinstatement of rights. This is based on similar provisions in the GPL and MPL, but has been simplified. Licensors may still seek damages for a license breach during the period when the licensee was in violation.

Draft 4

Language tweaks only.


  • Relax termination provision. Any minor mistake that would result in the license compliance would lead to termination. The license says " terminate automatically upon any breach" (taken from CC BY 3.0 Unported). Any licensee is banned from using the work again, even to correct his mistake. This is too harsh, given that when a licensee wants to post something to a blog, wiki, or an SNS, there are a large number of things he needs to do. Quick correction to comply with the license should be accepted if nothing else. Please also see the termination criteria for GPLv3 (Art.8) and GFDL v1.2 (Art 9). These languages were introduced by the latest revision, before which the criteria was as harsh as the CC licenses'.
  • Consider having a GPLv3-style compliance window.
    • Copyright is very much subject to interpretation of grey areas (e.g. fair use). And CC-licensed works are very often mashed and remashed to the point where it is very difficult to ensure that you are complying with the attribution requirements of every single author.
    • Does not make sense in the context of culture as many cultural products are valuable for very short timeframes (think photo's documenting a current event). Given this non-compliance should lead to termination immediately.
    • both of the above are from this thread on license-discuss.
  • Consider not immediately terminating people who failed to attribute properly when the attribution required is not very clear.
    • When title, name of an author, etc. are not supplied, one does not have to include those elements in the attribution. This seemingly simple and clear rule is not very easy to interpret in real contexts. Think, for example, a Flickr page [1] where the user has both account name and what looks like his real name. Which are the names of the author of the work to be attributed? Is there a chance that the user is merely a Licensor and not an author? We often find photos with titles made of some serial number and prefix. [2]. Is title "supplied" here? And think what is the notice referring to the notice on that page. Is the text "some rights reserved" the only such notice? How about a tiny icon representing a CC-BY license? How about the word "Attribution" that appears when you put the mouse over that icon? And then there are questions about copyright notices and notice referring to warranty disclaimers. At the bottom of a Flickr page is copyright notice by Yahoo! and a link to, among other things, its terms of use, which include warranty disclaimer. Are these something to be included as a part of attribution? That is probably up to the relationship between Yahoo! and the Flickr user, mainly defined by the Flickr's terms of use. A provider of content-sharing platform like Yahoo! may play in some instance the role of Licensor, and in other instances, the provider is a mere third-party. Careful examination of Flickr's terms of use may reveal an answer to that particular question, if one can read the terms of use in English.
    • The challenge could be greater with voluminous works, audio, video, video games, etc. It is easy to fail to detect all the elements for attribution. Are authors' names supplied when a talk-show style podcast introduces all the panelists? Which names among the end credits are authors, and which are not?
    • Failure to answer those questions all correctly would lead to wrong attribution, which in turn results in license termination. That is too restrictive a condition to promote remix and reuse.
    • Major failure for compliance is related to attribution requirements. Ver. 4.0 draft 1 is a lot easier to comply, because of the "reasonableness" standard and consolidation of various requirements into a list format. But my suspicion is that it could do more.
    • A potentially related proposal is to make attribution machine-readable (Proposal 10, 4.0/Attribution_and_marking). This, if introduced certain way, may resolve most the issue discussed here in a very different way.
  • A major consideration should be longevity of CC licenses. The solution to cure a terminated license by contacting the licensor will become less and less practical as time goes by. Furthermore many licensors choose to be not contactable right from the beginning (e.g. anonymous Wikipedia contributors).
  • Reinstatement and retroactive cure are two separate proposals. A draft proposal for a reinstatement option only:
Section 5 — Term and Termination.
a) This Public License is perpetual for the duration of the term of the underlying copyright or Copyright-like Rights licensed by Licensor. If You fail to comply with any condition of this Public License, this Public License terminates automatically. 
b) For the avoidance of doubt:
1. To use the Work without fulfilling all conditions of this Public License you must obtain express approval from Licensor if the use of the Work is not already covered by legal rights you otherwise have.
2. You may choose to fulfill all conditions of this Public License at a later time, upon which the license will be reinstated from this point in time onward. Should you have used the Work without fulfilling all conditions of this Public License in a way that enables the licensor to claim damages or recover cost from You, a reinstatement will not limit the ability of Licensor to claim damages or recover cost for the period in which the Work was used without a license.
3. upon termination of this Public License for failure by You to comply with any of its conditions, this Public License remains in full force and effect for third parties who received the Work or an Adaptation from You so long as they remain in compliance; and
4. Licensor may release the Work under different licensing terms or stop distributing the Work at anytime; however, doing so will not terminate this Public License.
c) Sections 1, 4, 5, and 7 survive termination of this Public License.