Making TOS Work With CC
While we try to make CC licensing as simple as possible, the fact remains that copyright is complicated, and there are lots of things to consider when you decide to integrate CC licensing to your website. This page addresses one of the necessary components -- offering guidelines and considerations to help you update your website terms of service to make them work with your use of CC licenses.
Categories of content
There are three buckets of content to consider when integrating CC licensing to your site:
- content owned by you, the platform provider;
- content owned by contributors; and
- third party content uploaded by you and your contributors.
1. content owned by you as platform provider
If you choose to apply a CC license to this category of content, you should --
- make sure you have the rights you need to license it under a CC license;
- remove restrictions from the TOS on activities the CC licenses expressly permit;
- for example, the terms of service must not prohibit changes to content on the site if the content is licensed under a CC license that permits adaptations.
- remove restrictions from the TOS on uses of the content that are permitted by the relevant CC license.
- for example, the terms of service must not require more burdensome attribution than what is dictated by the CC license.
2. content owned by contributors
If you want to require contributors to CC-license their content, there are two different approaches --
With either approach, consider the following:
- Automatic upgrade clause: Since only the rights holder can apply a license to the content, it is important to obtain permission to use contributor content under future versions of the relevant CC license at the time of upload.
- Sample language: “You hereby agree that all Content you own and voluntarily post on the Websites may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license or any later version of a Creative Commons Attribution International License.”
3. third party content (i.e. content owned by someone other than the uploader)
- Consider whether marking will be effective. If you allow upload of CC-licensed content owned by someone other than the uploader, you should consider whether it will be easy for users of the site to determine what content is available under what license. In some cases, such as with photos or other media, it is simple to mark specific content with licensing information, so there is no need to limit the type of CC-licensed content that is uploaded. In others cases, such as with textual content, it may be prudent to limit upload of third party content to content available under the exact CC license (or at least a compatible license) to that used on contributor content. For example, if you require BY-SA for contributor content, then you could allow upload of third party content only if it is licensed under BY or BY-SA.
- Sample language: “For Content you post on the Websites that is not owned by you, you agree that all such Content must be available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license, or be in the public domain (such as Content that is not copyrightable or Content made available under CC0). If Content you do not own is not available under these terms, you must not post it on the Websites, except that you may upload media files that are available under any Creative Commons license or if you are authorized by law to do so, for example, under the fair use doctrine. All Content you supply must be appropriately marked with licensing (or other permission status) and attribution information.”