Lawrence D’Oliveiro
My Creative Commons Shit List

I previously discussed Creative Commons licensing, including which parts of it to use and which parts to avoid. In this posting I want to list some projects that use the non-Free parts—in other words, the parts should be avoided.

Blend Swap is a very handy resource for those looking for models to use with the Free Blender 3D modelling program. And they are enlightened enough to require that all contributions be redistributable under the Free CC-BY-SA licence—with one glaring exception: All LEGO-related material must be licensed under the non-Free CC-BY-NC. Why is this? It seems to be based on a misunderstanding of trademark law.

After all, consider that the site also offers models related to other trademarked merchandise, such as game/movie characters, car models and so on, yet none of these are subject to the same restrictions—what’s so special about LEGO?

Celestia is a wonderful program for those wanting to learn about astronomy, and the software itself is available under a Free software licence (the GPL). However, the Celestia Motherlode, that hosts additional data files for use with Celestia, makes its offerings available under a non-Free licence:

We believe that all files on CM, including their contents, are freely distributable for NON-commercial use.

It would have been much nicer if they had made it clear that all contributions were understood to be made available on a CC-BY or CC-BY-SA licence.

XKCD is a cartoon that is a favourite of many geeks. However, the cartoons are officially licensed CC-BY-NC. Yet I have seen more than one cartoon published in a print magazine—surely if anything constitutes “commercial” use, that would be it? On his “clarification” page, he says he’s

also okay with people reprinting occasional comics (with clear attribution) in publications like books, blogs, newsletters, and presentations.

Interestingly, there is no mention of magazines in that list.

• the Free Universal Construction Kit is a wonderful use of nascent 3D-printing technology to promote interoperability between different toy-construction systems like Lego etc. Or it would be, if they hadn’t used the NC clause in their CC licence. Why do people keep making this mistake?