Posted on May 6, 2009 in IP by Brian RoweView Comments


This last week I attended barcamp PDX where the CC session (put on by a Portland area photographer @ahockley) focused heavily on what is attribution and how should one be attributed.  At the same time there was a thread on the Free Culture mailing list focusing on best practices for fair use and attribution.  This is a topic I have been struggling with over the last 2 years.  I am starting to speak more often and am publishing the slides on  I have found that putting attribution on each slide really detracts from the presentation. Having a single slide of 3 point text with all attribution possible can quickly become unreadable.  Here is how I have been attributing, I put a credits slide at the end of my slide shows that look something like this:

Slides 2-7 Sarah Davies PD
Slides 7-12  Flickr user: mecredis CC BY
Slide 28 Bound by Law Available @ CC BY NC SA
Other images were used under my first amendment fair use rights.
This slide show is licensed under CC-BY Brian Rowe

This is probably acceptable but could be better.  I am technically in violation of the CC license for Bound by Law, I did not notice till I picked up my physical copy for Bound by Law that they had specified exact attribution on page 1.  I am also in violation of Fred’s license as I have used what I would consider a best practice for flickr attribution which does not technically follow the attribution Fred has asked for. I should probably add attribution to the fair use works where possible.  Additionally, Public Domain works do not legaly need attribution, but it is nice to give it so others can figure out how I am claiming rights to use the works and can feel more comfortable with reuse of those portions of my work.  This would be a better:

Slides 2-7, PD Original available at slideshare
Slides 7-12 Fred BenensonCC BY. Flickr user: mecredis avalible at Joi Ito
Slide 13  Victor Zhang ARR? Out of the Closet, Victor [me at viczhang dot com], Fair use
Slides 14 Author Unknown, found at, Fair use
Slide 28 Bound by Law, By Keith Aoki, James Boyle, Jenifer Jenkins, CC BY NC SA
This slide show is licensed under CC BY Brian Rowe

This is longer and a little tougher to read but if  posted online the slides allow people to follow links and check the licenses out for themselves.  If it is just at the end of a slide show some people will not read it, and a printed version of the slides may lose all the links.  This is better, but I am sure it could be improved upon.

The fair use attribution is tough Victor Zhang’s site says “I do license my works for commercial use. Please email me for more information. Victor [me at viczhang dot com] .”  Does this imply an NC license?  Probably not, but maybe. I am using the work for a NC, educational presentation, I am not charging for access or for the presentation, I am not being paid for the use and the use is 15 seconds.  This is very likely a fair use. Do I have to give attribution legaly, no. But attribution does help me with a good faith argument and is the right thing to do.  Does attribution mean it is easier for Victor to find and sue me, yes.  Although this should not be a reason not to attribute.

Does anyone know of a wiki that collects best practices for attribution?  I would be willing to contribute to an attribution best practices website, if someone is interested in launching one.

PS I have been a little quiet lately, I have 10 days till I graduate from law school.  I will be back to blogging in force right after graduations.

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