My friend James Grimmelmann, currently a Resident Fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and an Adjunct Professor at New York Law School, contacted me recently because he was concerned that it doesn’t seem likely that parallel distribution language is going to make it in latest draft of the Creative Commons 3.0 licenses. The issues and arguments around parallel distribution are complex but James and I both think that the status quo represents a mistake and a lost opportunity by CC. As a result, we have written a position statement that tries to explain the issues simply, make a case for parallel distribution, and answer some of the criticism that has been leveled against the idea.
Prompted by conversations with hackers from Debian (myself included), CC lawyers recommend new "parallel distribution" language at the beginning of the CC 3.0 license revision process as a way to fix unanticipated effects of the current CC anti-DRM clause. Immediate negative reactions by a number of people demoted the language to an issue for debate. While the resulting debate has been both lengthy and heated, it has not involved more than a small handful of voices or led to any firm decisions. Time is running out for the drafts of CC’s 3.0 licenses and unless something changes, the status quo — no parallel distribution — will remain. As a result, it’s extremely important that users of CC licenses try to familiarize themselves with the issue and to make their voice heard.
James and I feel the lack of a parallel distribution language in the CC licenses represents a failure by CC to live up to its own ideals and to do what is in the best interest of the users of CC licenses. Please read our position statement, pass the link and article around to others, and make yourself heard either on the cc-licenses list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by posting a response on the comments page in my wiki.
Finally, as a Debian developer, it’s important for me to say that I do not think that the lack of parallel distribution makes the CC licenses non-free under the DFSG — especially in light of the recent general resolution on the GFDL which deemed the GFDL, which contains language that is extremely similar to the current CC text, DFSG free. CC should use parallel distribution language because it is the right thing to do for the free culture movement and for the users of CC works and not because it will have any effect on the inclusion of CC BY and BY-SA works in Debian.
You can find the position statement at: http://wiki.mako.cc/ParallelDistribution