Creative Commons: No longer just for crackpots, thanks to Change.gov

With all Barack Obama's administration will have to focus on -- economy, war, healthcare -- it's remarkable that it honed in on such a tiny detail: it switched the copyright notice on its website to the freest Creative Commons license. As a nod to government transparency, the move seems to be largely symbolic, as commenters at Creative Commons co-founder Lawrence Lessig's blog shows. Most government documents are public domain anyway, and that's less restrictive than Creative Commons-licensed works. But because Obama has not yet been sworn in, it's questionable whether the writings at Change.gov are automatically public domain.

Regardless, open-source advocates are thrilled. Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb cheers the move, along with last week's switch to an OpenID commenting system, enthusing that such concepts are "no longer just the dreams of 'crack-pot fringe case' advocates - they're the official policy of the US President Elect."

He continues:
The license on Change.gov also states that anyone who posts anything to Change.gov (like comments) must accept that their content will be under Creative Commons as well. This could be the first introduction to the CC concept for millions of people. It would have been good to see the CC license listed on the bottom of every page instead of just on a relatively obscure "copyright policy" page. In all likelihood though, the Obama team chose CC because it makes the most sense to use, not to prove a point.

This act of support for progressive intellectual property policy is big news, but it also makes us wonder - what's next?

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