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change.gov changes its copyright statement, gets it *almost* right

We’ve been following the Obama transition team’s change.gov site for a few weeks now and were dismayed that the change.gov site had been copyrighted — remember, government documents, including Web sites in the .gov domain, are in the public domain according to copyright law.

I was just alerted by a tweet from John Wonderlich, that change.gov has changed their copyright statement to a Creative Commons attribution license — meaning visitors are 1) free to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work; and 2) to Remix/adapt the work as long as they “attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.” That CC license is “approved for free cultural works.”

While I applaud the change to a creative commons license as a step in the right direction, I still believe that change.gov — and all .gov sites — need to be explicitly in the public domain (which as you remember is a statutory requirement According to Copyright Law 17 U.S.C. § 105). If site administrators wanted the geek street cred that comes with creative commons, why didn’t they choose the creative commons public domain dedication?

This is an open government issue; the public domain is critical to open and transparent government operations. If the Obama administration is serious about ethics and open government, then they will change their copyright statement on change.gov and donate the site’s information to the public domain. Is that so much to ask? If you agree, please contact the change.gov administrator(s) and politely but strongly urge them to support the public domain. I just did.

–that is all.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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