I’ve just recently had my last day at Creative Commons, where I worked as counsel for almost three years. I was hired early in the 4.0 drafting process (it is only half a joke that it was easier for them to simply hire me than to continue to answer my emails), staying to see it published and to support the translation and compatibility efforts. CC is a nonprofit organization, supported primarily by large foundation grants; for something that makes up a significant piece in building the open web, it’s more fragile than it perhaps should be, and in an effort to balance the budget many of the staff were let go. So here I am, using some of my newfound free time being to revive my dormant website. 1
Drafting a standard license is the sort of thing is it fantastic to do once. There simply shouldn’t be that many in the world, and they shouldn’t be revised often. And so despite the task being one I enjoy and am well suited to, I hope that I don’t do it again… at least, not for a long time. 2 But one of the other things I loved about the position is that when you mention what you do, you become a lightning rod for everyone with ideas about copyright licensing, and why it is or isn’t important. I had more good conversations with people who care about this topic than almost anyone else, and had to work through more unusual thought experiments (and actual problems!) than I would have in any other place. And, both because of the job and because I am the sort of person who wanted to do it, I’ve thought about and had conversations about several topics over again where I don’t think my position is the obvious one. I haven’t really written any of it down outside of mailing lists, if at all, and for someone who believes in openness, this is ridiculous.
Some one-line examples:
* The licenses are out, but CC’s work isn’t finished
* …but finishing a project and winding it down should be a sign of success, not failure
* “Pragmatic” vs. “ideological” is usually the wrong way to split up the debate
* You only find out what was wrong with your drafting choices when you ask people to translate them
* The post-copyright society is a myth, and pretending it isn’t doesn’t help
* Your legal terms should mean what they say and say what they mean
* No one knows how license compatibility works
* Nonprofits are the worst, except for most of the other things
I think I’ve spoken about all of these, but I am still terrible about writing in public, even for something as simple as posting to a mailing list. (I have a growing collection of thoughts, from bullet points to multi-paragraph fragments, in a text file where they do no one any good.)
A friend whose own writing I admire advised me to “lower the threshold of what’s postable”–so I will take that as my goal. Because I’d like to have these conversations with more people than just those I’ve met at conferences… and some less serious ones besides.
- I am still looking for what to do next; your thoughts and suggestions are welcomed. ↩
- (This is better than patent drafting–which I learned in law school and found an enjoyable challenge, especially for trying to draft as broadly as possible within the bounds of what is truthful and lawful to claim. But the only field I’d really be qualified to do this in is software, and I would prefer not to create any software patents at all.) ↩