Back in 2008 with the launch of the twentieth version of this web site, I decided to license the vast majority of content on the site under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. This license gives you pretty much open-ended permission to make copies of my works . . . as long as you attribute them to me, don’t use them to make money, and don’t change them. I occasionally post particular works under less restrictive Creative Commons licenses as well.
On November 25, 2013, Creative Commons introduced the new 4.0 version of their licenses. The updated licenses are clearer and easier to read, no longer require nation-specific ‘porting,’ clarify the attribution requirements, and establish a thirty-day window for correction of license violations.
After reviewing the changes, I have decided to ‘upgrade’ and re-license the content here on Off on a Tangent under the new suite of licenses. Effective January 4, 2014, almost all of the content on the site is now licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. The few content items that were licensed under other Creative Commons licenses are also now re-licensed under the equivalent 4.0 versions.
I use Creative Commons licenses (and support Creative Commons with financial donations from time-to-time) because I believe in a robust copyright system that balances the rights of content creators against the rights of consumers. The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8) states pretty clearly that copyright was meant to be limited, and that its primary purpose was not just to safeguard profits, but to promote arts and science: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. . . .”
Today, however, copyright terms are so long that they are practically unlimited and everybody seems to think that the purpose is only to protect creators’ rights to profit endlessly from their works. Profit is good, and people are less likely to create new works if they can’t expect to make money from them . . . but fair use is good too, and so is a robust and growing public domain (which requires a reasonable ‘end date’ on copyright protection). A healthy copyright system would strike a better balance between these competing goods.