Custom Licensing Provides Much-Needed Middle Ground for Content
Tester's Choice: Stanford professor's Creative Commons proposal would allow content creators to develop licenses that distinguish between fair and for-profit use.In the tech world, as in real life, debates can quickly polarize. Macs vs. Windows; Linux vs. Windows; free exchange of information vs. intellectual property; open source vs. commercial software. Well, at least in the final two areas, a recent proposal may finally offer a much-needed middle-ground option. Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig, one of the leading authorities on technology and copyright issues, recently announced a plan to start what he calls the Creative Commons (a Web site will eventually be active at www.creativecommons.org). The Creative Commons will provide artists, writers and, of course, programmers with an option other than giving their work away for free or strictly controlling how it is used.
According to Lessig, the Creative Commons will make it possible for content creators to build custom licenses that describe how their work can be used. In most cases, these licenses will be described in tags that will be attached to the content and will be easily readable.