Creative commons in U.S. Government

I am a big advocate of creative commons. I think it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. One arena I have been watching the growing use of Creative Commons licenses is in the U.S. Government. I am particularly interested in the issue of over licensing. That is, my understanding is that the Federal government can not be a copyright holder unless someone else created the work and then gave the work to the US Government, and that items (creative works and intellectual property) created by the government can not be copyrighted, such content is by law supposed to be in the public domain. Therefore, when a government (in this case the U.S. Government) produces content and licenses the content under creative commons, doesn't that mean that they must copyright the material and then release the material under license? The following website talks about data - government data, and how that is legally supposed to be open. https://theunitedstates.io/licensing/. (And Ben Balter gives some really clear suggestions here: http://ben.balter.com/2014/10/08/open-source-licensing-for-government-attorneys/.) There are certain rights reserved, like the use of logos. In short I am a bit confused then by moves in the Department of Labor and the Department of Education where the CC-BY license is adapted:

Is this just saying that if I create something with money from the Federal Government then that work needs to also be CC-BY?

The Creative Commons wiki currently says about the US Government:

Federal

Works by the US federal government are automatically part of the public domain in the US as stipulated by http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#105
Third-party content (such as the text of speeches by the first lady) on the White House web site are licensed with CC BY 3.0 US by default.
President-Elect Transition Team, Barack Obama and Joseph Biden. CC BY 3.0 Unported. (Not an official federal government site, but an election team site, hence not required to be public domain.)
The U.S. Department of Education has made OER an invitational priority in their Ready to Learn (PDF) and Ready to Teach (PDF) grants.
The U.S. Department of Education has included open educational resources in their Notice of Proposed Priorities for discretionary grant funding. Essentially, if the priorities are adopted, it could mean that grant seekers who include open educational resources as a component of an application for funding from the Department of Education could receive priority.
The U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Education commit $2 billion to community colleges and career training; CC BY required for grant outputs.
The U.S. Department of Labor Career Pathways Innovation Fund Grants Program; CC BY required for grant outputs.
U.S. Open Data Action plan is under CC0 + some federal datasets: report (pdf); blog post

State

New York State Senate, Senate Content, CC-BY-NC-ND with CC+ allowing non-political fundraising use of content.
State of Virginia, legislation that indicates a preference for state-funded materials to be released with a CC (or equivalent open) license.
Washington State open policy and requirement of CC BY
New Hampshire adopts Open Source and Open Data requirements (policy friendly to CC use, but not a specific CC tool adoption)
OER K-12 bill passed in WA state. The focus of the bill is to help school districts identify existing high-quality, free, openly licensed, common core state standards aligned resources available for local adoption; in addition, any content built with public funds, must be licensed under “an attribution license” (CC BY)
The city of Washington, D.C. has made available an unofficial copy of the DC Code under the CC0 Public Domain Dedication.

So, as a business person looking at the limitations of CC-BY and the DMCA. If I were a grant recipient from the department of labor, and I wanted to profit from the output of the grant, I could make all the output CC-By and then release that content via an app that I sell. Make the app with funds not from the grant and make the content only available via the app. Hacking the app would constitute Copyright infringement and would be enforceable via the DMCA.

Creative Commons does not solve the open access and permanent access guarantee problems.

Creative Commons and Software

I recently ran across two software products which claim and use Creative Commons licensing (one of them, RGraph: http://www.rgraph.net/). These products are used to create visualizations (graphs), which could be argued to be derivative products of the software used to create them. So while the code product may be CC, the question becomes, is the data as it embedded in the graphs then also CC’d and are the Images the graphs create then also CC’d as derivative products? It seems that the world would quickly become confusing, if a share-alike license is used. Continue reading

Open Change

I was recently looking at licenses for databases and discovered the ODbL license. This license was pioneered by the OpenStreetMap Project. I was reading their introduction to why the change was needed. This introduction outlined what the change was, what the change would allow them to do, who agreed, who disagreed, what the cost of the change would be, among other things. I thought it was a very open, engaging and confidence building way to move a group of volunteers through change. It allows for more kinds (also different kinds) of product use. It is well worth the look at not only if you are interested in the open licensing of data in databases and why CC-BY-SA and CC0 licenses do not work for data [also as PDF], but also how they are answering the questions of the community as they are moving the community through change.