Creative Commons releases licence for intergovernmental organisations

With the excitement of the release of the 4.0 version of Creative Commons licences, it is possible that another really important development will creative_commons_bwhave been missed. Creative Commons has announced the release of one of the last ports that will probably be drafted in a while, the Creative Commons Intergovernmental Organization 3.0 licence suite, designed to be used by international institutions such as WIPO, UNESCO, the World Bank, OECD, and other similar bodies.

It may seem strange that CC has released a port for the 3.0 suite just shortly after making the 4.0 version available to the public. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it is expected that 4.0 will bring an end to the porting experiment and will only be translated, so it makes sense that the IGO version would be done for a set of licences that are already adapted to comply with several jurisdictions. Secondly, the porting process for the IGO version began some time ago, just before the 4.0 began, so the version had to be done with the existing text.

So what is the difference between the Unported 3.0 and the IGO version? Most of the changes are with the language, the IGO version has  terminology taken from relevant international treaties. The main change is the inclusion of an alternative dispute resolution clause in case there is a dispute involving an Intergovernmental organisation. The clause reads:

“Where the Licensor is an IGO, any and all disputes arising under this License that cannot be settled amicably shall be resolved in accordance with the following procedure:

  1. Pursuant to a notice of mediation communicated by reasonable means by either You or the Licensor to the other, the dispute shall be submitted to non-binding mediation conducted in accordance with rules designated by the Licensor in the copyright notice published with the Work, or if none then in accordance with those communicated in the notice of mediation. The language used in the mediation proceedings shall be English unless otherwise agreed.

  2. If any such dispute has not been settled within 45 days following the date on which the notice of mediation is provided, either You or the Licensor may, pursuant to a notice of arbitration communicated by reasonable means to the other, elect to have the dispute referred to and finally determined by arbitration. The arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with the rules designated by the Licensor in the copyright notice published with the Work, or if none then in accordance with the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules as then in force. The arbitral tribunal shall consist of a sole arbitrator and the language of the proceedings shall be English unless otherwise agreed. The place of arbitration shall be where the Licensor has its headquarters. The arbitral proceedings shall be conducted remotely (e.g., via telephone conference or written submissions) whenever practicable.”

The reason for the inclusion of such a clause is that, because of their international nature, IGOs are reluctant to resolve disputes in national courts, and tend to include alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in most of their contracts and licences. Given the low level of disputes that arise from open licences in general, this clause is not expected to be used that much.

It may be easy to miss the monumental importance of this new licence. Creative Commons has enough acceptance in the legal mainstream that it will be adopted by the likes of the World Intellectual Property Organization and the OECD. It could be argued that this might be detrimental to CC, as it shows that it is now being used by the establishment as a fig leaf to cover the deficiencies inherent in copyright protection. The reality is that this sets CC as the international open content standard, and sends a strong message that it should also be adopted by governments to release their own data. In other words, there are no more excuses not to adopt CC, and this can be used by open content advocates everywhere to answer for once and for all stupid questions about the validity of open licences.

WIPO has announced the release with a list of the organisations that participated in the drafting:

“The group of organizations that contributed to the development of the new licenses consisted of, in addition to WIPO:  European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN); European Space Agency (ESA);  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO);  Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); International Labour Organization (ILO);  Organization of American States (OAS); Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); United Nations (UN);  United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); World Bank; World Health Organization (WHO). The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Nordic Council of Ministers participated as observers to the group.”

This is an impressive group that tells us just how far CC has come in the last few years.

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