Two days ago, Creative Commons launched CC0. It may be hard to understand why those of us who have been working on it are so excited. Here’s the announcement…
CC0 (read “CC Zero”) is a universal waiver that may be used by anyone wishing to permanently surrender the copyright and database rights they may have in a work, thereby placing it as nearly as possible into the public domain. CC0 is not a license, but a legal tool that improves on the “dedication” function of our existing, U.S.-centric public domain dedication and certification. CC0 is universal in form and may be used throughout the world for any kind of content without adaptation to account for laws in different jurisdictions. And like our licenses, CC0 has the benefit of being expressed in three ways – legal code, a human readable deed, and machine-readable code that allows works distributed under CC0 to be easily found. Read our FAQs to learn more.
CC0 is an outgrowth of six years of experience with our existing public domain tool, the maturation of ccREL (our recommendations for machine-readable work information), and the requirements of educators and scientists for the public domain. Science Commons’ work on the Open Access Data Protocol, to ensure interoperability of data and databases in particular, informed our development of CC0. It should come as no surprise that several of CC0’s early adopters are leading some of the most important projects within the scientific community.
The ProteomeCommons.org Tranche network is one such early adopter. “Our goal is to remove as many barriers to scientific data sharing as possible in order to promote new discoveries. The Creative Commons CC0 waiver was incorporated into our uploading options as the default in order to help achieve this goal. By giving a simple option to release data into the public domain, CC0 removes the complex barriers of licensing and restrictions. This lets researchers focus on what’s most important, their research and new discoveries,” said Philip Andrews, Professor at the University of Michigan.
Another early adopter of CC0 is the Personal Genome Project, a pioneer in the emerging field of personal genomics technology. The Personal Genome Project is announcing today the release of a large data set containing genomic sequences for ten individuals using CC0, with future planned releases also under CC0. “PersonalGenomes.org is committed to making our research data freely available to the public because we think that is the best way to promote discovery and advance science, and CC0 helps us to state that commitment in a clear and legally accurate way,” said Jason Bobe, Director of Community.
So what does all this mean? My prediction is the CC0 is going to become the duct tape of legal openness, the thing that seems like a niche product when it is invented but quickly becomes the single most useful and adaptable thing in the toolbox. So who uses this duct tape?
So what does all this mean? My prediction is the CC0 is going to become the duct tape of legal openness, the thing that seems like a niche product when it is invented but quickly becomes the single most useful and adaptable thing in the toolbox. So who will use it and how will they use it? The answer is — anyone who has a body of scientific cultural or other material that they want to share as widely and freely as possible, nationally or internationally.
Think of the Personal Genome Project. The people who contributed to it, including my friend and colleague Misha Angrist, believed that it is only when researchers can study the genomic sequences, personal medical history and other data about a number of individuals that they will be able to unlock some of the mysteries of the genetic determinants of illness. They were fully advised about the implications of this release. Each of them had at least a masters degree in a genetics related field and they got mandatory counseling on the types of issues that might be revealed by the genetic sequencing. It was a courageous and public spirited thing to do. But how to share that information with the world so that other researchers — in Indiana, Ireland or India — could be sure it was legally open, that there were no lurking intellectual property claims? The information included copyrightable and uncopyrightable material, it would be used in a wide range of jurisdictions, with very different laws. A researcher facing this complexity might just throw up her hands and give up. Enter CC0. The duct tape of openness. And like duct tape, it will be put to uses we can’t even imagine now.