4.0 upgrade guidelines

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4.0 Implementation Considerations for Platforms

Logistics of applying 4.0

  • Once you have the necessary rights, applying the 4.0 license is as simple as stating what license applies to what content, including a link to the relevant version.
  • Take care to update all references to licensing information, including terms of use and website footers. Other best practices here.

Upgrading from prior versions to 4.0

New content:
  • Who will own the rights?
  • If the publisher, then can simply apply 4.0 as specified above.
  • If the contributors, then need need to require they license under 4.0 via terms of use or other agreement.
Existing content:
  • Who owns the rights?
  • If the publisher, then can relicense under 4.0 as specified above.
  • If the contributors, then need permission to relicense. Without permission (via terms of use or otherwise), then that content remains under prior version. [If this is the case, see the section below about dealing with mixed-version content.]
  • A couple of options for obtaining permission to relicense:
  • upon upload by contributors, have a prompt box to obtain agreement to relicense previous uploads;
  • general outreach to contributors seeking agreement to upgrade. [Note that this is easier to do with discrete artifacts (an article, a photo) as opposed to other contributions such as comments on wikis and similar, where one person's contribution is intermixed with others.]
Adaptations of existing content:
  • Who owns the rights to the original?
  • If the publisher, then can license all rights to an adaptation under 4.0.
  • If the contributor, then can license new contributions to an adaptation under 4.0 but original contributions remain under prior version unless express permission to upgrade is obtained.
  • An example of how to obtain permission to upgrade via TOU:
  • From CC’s own Terms of Use, Section 8(b): You hereby agree that all Content you own and voluntarily provide to CC on or through any Website or Service may be used under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license or any later version of a Creative Commons Attribution International License, is not copyrightable, or is in the public domain (such as Content you make available under CC0).

Dealing with mixed-version (e.g., 4.0 and prior versions) content

  • Always mark which license version applies to which content. CC has published best practices.
  • In many cases, a work will have multiple rights at play because there is more than one contributor to a work. This often means there are multiple license versions applicable to a work. In those cases, reusers must comply with all relevant license versions when reusing the full work.
    • For, example, reusing a 4.0-licensed translation of a 3.0-licensed essay would require complying with the conditions of both versions 3.0 and 4.0. This means attributing the original author as specified in v3 and attributing the translator as specified in v4.
    • CC has published guidance about what differs between versions. As a practical matter, compliance with a later version of a license is typically compliant with the earlier license. There are certain exceptions with respect to attribution. A comparison of the attribution requirements is here. (The definition of NonCommercial is unchanged from prior versions, and the scope of ShareAlike has only expanded, so looking only at the later license should not be problematic vis-a-vis those license elements.)
  • Note: These same considerations apply when dealing with any two different CC license versions and/or types. They are not unique to 4.0.

Note and Disclaimer: Creative Commons is not a law firm. CC does not provide legal advice. Any information provided or linked to here is for general informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as legal advice. You should consult your own lawyer if you need legal advice.