In the past, we had complained
that, with Creative Commons licenses, you still had to put some restrictions on the usage. At the time, the least restrictive still required attribution, which wasn't the same as ridding yourself of copyright. Thankfully, about a year and a half ago, CC introduced the CC0 license
, which was a dedication of the work to the public domain, for those who wanted no restrictions at all on their works. This week, Creative Commons has also launched a "public domain mark"
which differs from CC0 in that the new mark is for indicating existing works
that are already in the public domain around the world. Thus, a site that collects works from centuries ago, or whatever, can indicate to people that they're in the public domain by using such a mark. So the main difference is that CC0 is about putting works in the public domain, and the public domain mark is about indicating existing works that are already in the public domain.
While I'm always happy to see more ways to educate people about the public domain, it is a little sad, when you think about it, that this is needed at all. The fact that we need to proactively tell people what works are in the public domain suggests how many people don't realize -- or even resist the idea -- that many, many works are in the public domain today and are free to make use of in any way. It's an unfortunate statement of our time that we have to proactively designate what's in the public domain. The public domain is supposed to be the rule, with copyright the exception... but the fact that we need such a mark shows how far to the other extreme we've gone.