[okfn-discuss] Creative Commons NonCommercial and NoDerivativesDiscussion

Karsten Gerloff gerloff at fsfeurope.org
Tue Dec 18 14:41:26 UTC 2012

On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 02:56:33PM +0100, Gael Varoquaux wrote:
> On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 12:39:42PM -0000, Miller, Andrew (ELS-OXF) wrote:
> > How would a private individual, perhaps without much money, realistically ‘go
> > after’ such transgressors?
> If you have a serious case, there are associations that will help, such
> as the EFF. They have good lawyers and do win lawsuits.

That will work best for high-profile cases, e.g. where a ruling
would clarify an uncertainty. If your case doesn't fit that
category, your best hope is to first write a friendly email to the
infringer (after making sure that she is, in fact, infringing the
license). If that gets you no results, you will need to hire a

In GPL enforcement work, the lawyer will typically first send the
infringer another friendly letter, and escalate from there. Most of
these cases end in settlements.

Copyright law is fairly well explored, so an experienced lawyer
will quickly be able to tell you what your chances of success
are. Unlike with patents, you actually stand a decent chance of
winning if you're going up against a big company.

But yes, this is more complicated and costly than most people
would like. Which highlights what I see as a fundamental weakness
of NC / ND licenses: For most people, pursuing infringers is
impractical. At the same time, you're excluding your work from many
potential uses, some of which might benefit you.

If your revenue model for the work in question is to sell access
to individual copies, then by all means stick with normal
copyright. If you want the benefits of sharing and re-use, use BY
or BY-SA (or a Free Software license, if we're talking about a
computer program).

But as the rightsholder, you'll have to make up your mind about
which route you want to take.

Best regards,
Karsten Gerloff                      [ ]   <gerloff at fsfeurope.org>
Free Software Foundation Europe   [ ][ ][ ]      [http://fsfe.org]
President                            | |         +49 176 9690 4298
Your donation powers our work!           [http://fsfe.org/donate/]

Free Software Foundation Europe e.V. is a German Verein registered
at the Registergericht Hamburg (VR 17030). 

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