Yesterday witnessed the most important step forward for the Definition of Free Cultural Works (DFCW) since its adoption and endorsement by the Wikimedia Foundation a year ago.
Although I might have wished things otherwise, Creative Commons is not a social movement fighting for essential freedom or the essential freedoms at the core of the DFCW in particular. From the movement’s perspective, CC is more like a law and advocacy firm that works for us — a very sympathetic one. CC writes, hosts, and supports a variety of licenses. Some are free. Some are not. Last year they took steps to explicitly limit the extent of restrictions they are willing to tolerate in their licenses.
Yet, while CC has resisted taking a stand in favor of the Definition of Free Cultural Works, they continue to produce some of the best free licenses, tools, and metadata available and they seem honestly interested in helping users interested in social movements based around these definitions organize more effectively.
In perhaps its most important move to date in this area, Creative Commons announced yesterday that it was placing a seal on each of its licenses that provide the essential freedoms laid out in the Definition of Free Cultural Works. The seal links to the definition over at freedomdefined.org. In Creative Commons’ words:
This seal and approval signals an important delineation between less and more restrictive licenses, one that creators and users of content should be aware of.
A very practical reason users should be aware of these distinctions is that some important projects accept only freely (as defined) licensed or public domain content, in particular Wikipedia and Wikimedia sites, which use the Definition of Free Cultural Works in their licensing guidelines.
The seal is currently on two CC licenses that provide for essential freedom (Attribution and Attribution-ShareAlike) and their public domain dedication. Thanks go to Erik Moeller at the Wikimedia Foundation and everyone at Creative Commons to helped make this happen.