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License proliferation – the development and use of different and incompatible licenses – has always been an issue in the field of open content licensing. As in any process of standardization, the utility of a certain standard depends on its diffusion. Open content licensing regimes thus become a viable alternative to the prevalent all-rights-reserved copyright regime only insofar as a critical mass of works is licensed under compatible licensing standards.

In the field of free/open source software the GNU General Public Licens (GPL) has more and more become the de-facto standard. The Black Duck Open Source Resource Center reports that about 65 percent of all software packages released under free software/open source licenses use the GPL or one of its deratives.

One of the two major innovations* brought by Creative Commons to the realm of open content licensing was the modularity of its licenses: probably inspired by libertarian ideals of maximizing individual choice (see Elkin-Koren 2005), Creative Commons allows combining different license modules such as “share-alike” or “non-commercial” (see also “Iconic Standards: Regulating and Signaling“) and thus ends up with actuall 6 different and partially incompatible licenses. Initially, Creative Commons had even allowed five more combinations and developed several special purpose licenses such as the “Sampling licenses” or the short-lived “Developing Nations License”. Recognizing that this increase of license choice led to a fragmentation instead of a maximization of the aspired commons of digital works, Creative Commons now struggles to solve a problem it partially helped to create in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
October 2010
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All texts on governance across borders are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License.