This post has been written “live” at the Creative Commons Global Summit 2011, taking place from September 16-18 in Warsaw, Poland. 

Continuing the debate on license porting in the realm of Creative Commons (see “The End of the Porting Experiment?“), Paul Keller of CC Netherlands took a clear stance, calling for developing only one, global license in the future. In his talk, he mentioned the following advantages of the global approach:

  • Reducing (potential) incompatibilities
  • Forces us to take a consistent position on issues that are specific to certain regions (e.g. moral rights, database rights)
  • Will produce licenses that better meet users’ expectations
  • Will cover all jurisdictions, not ‘just’ 55
  • Has the potential to initiate a inter-jurisdictional discussion on the substance of the licenses
  • Frees time for other activities (community building, promoting adoption, policy work, implementation advice)

Keller was followed by Massimo Travostino from Creative Commons Italy, who added his opinion that the more a license is successfully “ported”, the more likely it is to create problems in other jurisdiction.

While I agree with most of these arguments, I would warn particulary with regard to the last of Keller’s points. After having interviewed dozens of Creative Commons legal project leads responsible for license porting, I have learnt at least two things: first, they know porting licenses is hard work. second, they feel responsible, if not needed as legal professionals to accomplish this task.

Given the tight schedules of most legal members of the Creative Commons community, I have doubts that the same people would engage as intensively in “community building, promoting adoption, policy work” as they did in license porting. The simple reason is that for these tasks you need not be a laywer. To put it bluntly: others can do those tasks, too.

This does not mean that there is no other possibility for engaging legal professionals in the realm of Creative Commons without license porting. Other options could be, for example, new or more professional consulting in implementation processes or intensified legal lobbying. Setting up structures for and continuously supporting such work is, however, also far from a trivial task.