Tales from the Net

a work in progress

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A “Creative Commons” letter to The Economist’s editor?

We’re considering sending a letter to the Economist’s editor.  Here’s a draft:


In your recent debate on social networking technologies in education, the Moderator described the comments as “so good they should be bound and published”. We heartily concur that they should be published — and we ask that you unbind them and the speakers’ statements with a Creative Commons attribution (“by”) license.

Deborah Pierce, Jon Pincus (and potentially others)

Creative Commons License

Thoughts? Questions, suggestions, references, other perspectives?

Please discuss!

posted by Jon at 7:05 pm  


  1. When I brought this up a week ago in The Economist’s (registration-required) Facebook group, I later added:

    Broadly, my thinking is that it would be valuable for somebody to take the comment thread and put it in a searchable, individually-referenceable, printable form — that can then be linked back to the individual people who have participate, if they choose. Of course that can happen no matter what the licensing is; the value increases dramatically as people can share, reuse, translate, and modify in different ways, which is why I suggested attribution…. From The Economist’s perspective, this is likely to deliver more ongoing value from the debate — it’ll be a lot easier for people to say “as x said in The Economist’s debate” (or even “as I said”) in contexts where this will have an impact. Of course there’s no guarantee any of this would happen, but experience shows it’s a lot more likely with a sharing-based approach to licensing.

    Comment by Jon — January 31, 2008 @ 7:28 pm

  2. I’m not sure I agree with this, and I say that as a blogger who selected a CC BY-NC license for his blog.

    If the Economist had offered up these terms beforehand, I’d think it was great. But they didn’t. They collected comments under a different license, and I’m a skeptic of after-the-fact changes to a deal, even when I agree with the reasoning behind the change. Collecting a new agreement from commenters might be challenging.

    Comment by Adam — January 31, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

  3. Excellent point, Adam. The Economist’s site terms and conditions say

    By submitting Message to a Forum you are granting The Economist perpetual royalty free non-exclusive licence to reproduce, modify, translate, make available, distribute and sub-license the Message in whole or in part and in any form. This may include personal information such as your user name and alias and your expressions of opinion. The Economist reserves the right to contact you by e-mail with regard to your use of the Forums. You waive any moral rights that you may have in regard to the Messages you submit.

    so it seems to me that they would have the ability to do this if they wanted …

    Comment by Jon — January 31, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  4. Thanks Jon! I had trouble tracking that down, but sublicense and make available would seem to be a super-set of CC-BY.

    Go for it!

    Comment by Adam — February 1, 2008 @ 8:07 am

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