Which Creative Commons license is most like public domain?
December 19, 2007 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Which Creative Commons license is most like public domain? Does it make any sense to license the content I've posted if it's in the public domain?

I have a collection of images on flickr which, from everything I've read, are in the public domain.

Here are the options Flickr gives under licensing:
None (All rights reserved)
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons
Attribution Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons
Attribution-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Flickr has no "public domain" option. I'll be honest, I got confused as to which is most like public domain and whether I should or even can license the content, and how. "None" can't be right, can it? Since I only mined images out of a database and there's nothing expressive about the reproductions, it's still public domain. Right? In the set descriptions I've inserted that, to my knowledge, the images are in the public domain. Is that all I need to do? Is there a CC option that fits this collection?
posted by cog_nate to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Public domain licensing form and dedication.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:02 PM on December 19, 2007

"None" works even if you don't have any rights. You could add a "public domain" tag or description to each of the images for clarity.
posted by rhizome at 2:25 PM on December 19, 2007

I use the Creative Commons resource Blazecock linked to on my PD photos. I think linking to that cuts down on my email by giving people a better assurance that I really mean public doamin and they don't need to ask, and it may prompt others to add their stuff to the public domain.
posted by Ragma at 2:46 PM on December 19, 2007

Flickr has a very limited selection of Creative Commons licenses. The one whose terms most closely resemble public domain is "Attribution Creative Commons" (It has the fewest restrictions). However, you implied that you are not the author of the images in question, and you can't really apply a creative commons license to an image of which you are not the author.

So I recommend you use "None", but in the description of each image, state that it is in the public domain. (Or that you believe it to be in the public domain).

(If you are the author, I recommend following Blazecock's & Ragma's lead.)
posted by kidbritish at 3:14 PM on December 19, 2007

Best answer: I'd use the least restrictive license possible ("Attribution Creative Commons" apparently), and then note the PD status in text/tags.

The reason for that is the search function. When searching for photos that are available to use under various less-restrictive license you want the PD images to show up. If you choose "none" they will be listed as "all rights reserved" (perhaps even more important) won't show up in any searches for CC-licensed images.
posted by flug at 4:24 PM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

CC Zero is the CC license most like the public domain. It was just launched this weekend. Maybe Flickr will incorporate it soon. Until then, you can mark it as Attribution, which is the least-restrictive CC license that flickr offers.
posted by rajbot at 8:18 PM on December 19, 2007

I think it's worth it to err on the side of CC licensing instead of assuming something's in the pjublic domain. the CC license will increase the likelihood of someone using the content according to its copyright holder's (that's you) wishes. Doesn't mean they won't poach the content and try to own it themselves, but if you ever run across your content with someone else's copyright on it, you can prove it's your original content and show the time/date of your CC license, placing it in the public domain forever.
posted by photos_books_food at 9:29 PM on December 19, 2007

Some people actually think that the "public domain" isn't legally valid, because it may be theoretically possible for authors to come back later and 'take back' their licenses.
posted by delmoi at 10:27 PM on December 19, 2007

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