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[Comments] (3) Sensible Defaults: I need some feedback on this. I'm adding a feature to NewsBruiser that makes it easy for you to specify a license for what you write on your weblog. There will be the generic full-copyright license, where only 'fair use' is allowed; a public domain license, where everything is allowed; the in-between spectrum of Creative Commons licenses, and a 'custom' license that's whatever you want to type in. Possibly others. There are UI issues with this that I haven't figured out yet, but they needn't concern you. What need concern you is the question of what the default license should be.

The current law is that if you don't do anything special to something you right, it's under the generic copyright license. Therefore, making the generic copyright license the default would be the safest option, but I don't like the current law. I think it's too restrictive, and I don't really want to ratify it by making it the default license for a weblog.

What's more, NewsBruiser already embodies my assumption that anybody who writes a weblog is willing to give more latitude to readers than they'd get from fair use. It makes the full text of entries available in various syndication formats, which is more or less an open invitation for people to cache, archive, and mangle your entries using their own programs. I do this because syndication feeds that aren't full-text feeds are nearly useless. I figure that reasonable people writing weblogs won't mind giving a little more leeway than copyright law in its full scope allows..

My current thinking is to have the default for a public weblog to be the most restrictive Creative Commons license (attribution required, no derivative works, no commercial use), and the default for a private weblog to be regular copyright law. Does this make any sense? My guiding principles are: I don't want to imply to people that full copyright is the best thing for their weblogs (I think it's not). I don't want stuff to be under full copyright when the author wouldn't mind a less restrictive license. I don't want someone to give away something they thought they weren't giving away.

The last two are in conflict, and I feel I must tread carefully lest I become a sort of copyright Opt-Out River Weasel. Looking at that old entry, maybe the way to do it is to "Tell people about [the licensing options]" rather than hoping they go to the configure screen and find them. What do you think?

Update: Man, this entry is a big mess. But people seem to understand what I'm talking about, so it's doing its job.


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