Essay on terms of use

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The following was contributed by anonymous trolls to the predecessor of this wiki in 2004. Feel free to keep editing it.

Terms of use are what a web serviceparticipant commits to groups (including corporations) that operate the web service - usually including some agreements not to hack the service or cause it to fail, or copy it.

The Creative Commons wiki terms are what you see when you edit pages in this wiki:

"all contributions to CreativeCommons are considered to be released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (see CreativeCommons:Copyrights for details). If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly and redistributed at will, then don't submit it here.

You are also promising us that you wrote this yourself, or copied it from a public domain or similar free resource. DO NOT SUBMIT COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION!"

Many web and other software terms of use are considered far too restrictive or to create liability by "trying to own everything". For instance political party websites are often subject to malevolent users and have content that may be contributed specifically to get them in legal or political trouble. If they own all content contributed, then, this is more likely, as they then control it and are legally obligated to remove it quickly.

Some organizations try to encourage sharing and make it easier and simpler to copy content from their site. An example of use of the CC-by and CC-by-nc-sa in such terms is the Green Party of Canada Living Platform Terms of Use. LikeCreative Commons, what a participant commits to group is under CC-by. But unlike CC, what a group commits to public is under CC-by-nc-sa and not CC-by.

While user comment can still be picked up and used by others including rival parties "as is" under CC-by, the difference permits the Green Party of Canada to retain commercial publication rights in its compilations of policy works and frequently asked questions, though they may be extended by other nonprofit groups and republished as part of THEIR communications - which is presumably what the Greens want to happen. The initial contributions cannot be under Share Alike terms since what the participant commits to the group is not the same as what the group commits to the public.

Also, attribution obligations are explicitly spelled out - if one does not use the mandated means (tikiwiki login) to claim identity then the attribution right is waived, and in any case a right to apply a collective attribution "Living Platform participants" is always reserved. Though this seems to very much weaken the attribution right, it is strengthened by the promise that a best-effort will be made within the limits of the software and that it "will be accurate and follow generally accepted conventions regarding journalistic sources." Including the right to keep confidential sources names from those who "demand" them and could use CC-by to pry them out of the Party.

This is a neat solution to a hard problem.

speculative content: a future license might actually make this kind of two-sided commitment easier to state and manage.