Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Has A Spanish Court Questioned The Legitimacy Of Creative Commons Licenses?

from the questions,-questions,-questions dept

Michael Geist points us to a story suggesting that a Spanish court isn't convinced Creative Commons licenses have any legal standing whatsoever. For those who don't know, Creative Commons is a relatively successful program that lets those who created content to put a different type of license on it than a typical copyright, which reserves all rights. Creative Commons licenses are designed to reserve just some rights, while making it clear how the content could be used by others, without having to first negotiate a licensing deal. When Creative Commons first launched four years ago, one of the big questions was what was to stop people from slapping CC licenses on content they didn't actually own. It turns out, for the most part, this hasn't been a problem. However, it does appear to be what happened in this case. A cafe in Spain put up signs claiming that they only played CC-licensed music in the cafe, and used this excuse to avoid paying the standard license that cafes and restaurants usually have to pay if they're playing any music. Unfortunately, the cafe lied, and was playing other music that was not actually covered by a Creative Commons license. For that, they lost the case. However, the judge went one step further in the decision, stating: "…it is worth to point out that the document presented by the defendants-appellants as a license for free use of music does not constitute anything other than a mere informative leaflet about its own content, lacking any form of signature, and therefore bereft of legal value whatsoever." The original blog post worries that this means no Creative Commons license is legitimate, but it depends on how you read that. You could, alternatively, read it as a recognition that in this particular case the license announcements were bogus, because they did not actually apply to the music being played, and really were no more than pamphlets. Unfortunately, though, it's not entirely clear what the judge actually meant, and by suggesting that without a signature they're not valid, certainly could open up lots of problems for anyone trying to make use of CC-licensed content in Spain.

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  1. identicon
    spoon?!?!?, 7 Dec 2006 @ 8:54am

    @5 - Just go to and research it for yourself. There is no one default standard of CC. There are standards depending on what level of oppenness you license your work as, from full all-rights-reserved, to hair's width away from full-on open source.

    I'm just glad they punished the cafe. That should have been as far as the judge went, though. I say we just get him to clarify his comment. If he just meant in the case of the cafe, then bob's yer uncle. If not... well, I could say the same for the legitimacy of all government, it all exists because we believe in it. He'd better open this can o' worms carefully, or he'll have a mighty mess on his hands.

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