U.S. Intellectual History Blog

A Creative Commons License for USIH Content

Like most bloggers, those of us who write and edit USIH are excited when people reproduce our work in other venues. But we were disturbed to discover recently that a blogger (who shall remain nameless) was republishing whole USIH posts under his own name.  Dealing with this unfortunate circumstance led to a discussion among the USIH bloggers about rights and licensing of USIH Blog content. After some discussion among the bloggers and the Society for U.S. Intellectual History’s Publications Committee, which is responsible for this blog, we have come up with the following policy:

Starting on Tuesday, August 7, 2012, all text published on this blog — both in posts and comments — will be covered under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).

Here’s what the license does (I’m borrowing here from the plain-language version of the license at the above link):

This license allows anyone to freely copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt any posts or comments that appear on this blog, under the following conditions:

1) They must attribute the posts and/or comments that they copy, distribute, transmit, or adapt both to this blog and to the author(s) of the particular posts and/or comments.

2) They may not use posts or comments for commercial purposes.

3) If they alter, transform, or build upon posts and/or comments, they may distribute the resulting work only under the same or a similar license to this one.

Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder, which is the Society for U.S. Intellectual History (see below). Where the work or any of its elements is in the public domain under applicable law, that status is in no way affected by the license. In no way are any of the following rights affected by the license: fair dealing or fair use rights, or other applicable copyright exceptions and limitations; the author’s moral rights; rights other persons may have either in the work itself or in how the work is used, such as publicity or privacy rights. For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of the work. The best way to do this is with a link to the plain language version of the CC BY-NC-SA license.

More important details of this policy below the fold….

Unless specifically noted, this license does not apply to images or video reproduced on this blog.

In order to make this policy work, and to provide the Society for U.S. Intellectual History (S-USIH) with some control over the content of this blog, unless otherwise noted, S-USIH will be the legal rights holder for all text published on this blog.  Your decision to publish a post or a comment on this blog constitutes an implied consent to grant S-USIH copyright over your post or comment and to publish it under the CC BY-NC-SA license.  As the rights holder, S-USIH will retain the right to waive any of the conditions of the license specified above.

Under the CC BY-NC-SA license, authors (like everyone else) will be largely free to reproduce what they write on this site. In addition, it will be the policy of S-USIH to grant authors of particular posts or comments a waiver of one or more of the conditions of the CC BY-NC-SA license other than the attribution requirement (e.g. to republish the comment or post as part of a commercial work or a work not covered by a similar license) unless doing so would somehow materially harm S-USIH (I don’t anticipate that this will ever be an issue, but, e.g., our tax-exempt status could, potentially, be raised by certain waiver requests).  Authors of posts or comments seeking such a waiver should e-mail requests to the S-USIH Publications Chair. In addition, S-USIH will not grant waivers to anyone other than the author of a post or comment without the express written permission of the author of the post or the comment. Obviously, these policies regarding waivers cannot be extended to authors of anonymous comments.

Although simply publishing material on this website may well imply a transfer of rights without any declaration on our part, we feel uncomfortable applying this policy retroactively, which is why this policy will take effect at 12:01 am CDT on Tuesday, August 7, 2012.  A widget announcing the copyright status of posts and comments as well the CC BY-NC-SA license will appear in the right margin.

For general information about intellectual property rights and blogs, please see this page from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.