The White House adopts Creative Commons licensing

whitehouse logo.pngJoi Ito, Creative Commons’ CEO, pointed to a post on the Creative Commons blog which, in turn, referred to the copyright policy which has been published on the new White House website. The new site went live shortly after Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States.

Fred Benenson posted the following on the Creative Commons blog:

As you may of heard, the new Whitehouse.gov launched today at 12:01pm during Barack Obama’s inauguration. What you might not have noticed is that the copyright policy of the site stipulates that all 3rd party content is licensed under our most permissive Attribution license

Fred’s post is titled “Whitehouse.gov’s 3rd Party Content Under CC-BY” and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license

The White House’s copyright policy reads as follows:

COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Pursuant to federal law, government-produced materials appearing on this site are not copyright protected. The United States Government may receive and hold copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.

Except where otherwise noted, third-party content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Whitehouse.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

(emphasis added)

Materials produced by the US government are in the public domain and are, accordingly, not protected by copyright. This license is intended to apply to content contributed by non-governmental sources and published on the White House website. This isn’t the first time Obama and his staff selected a Creative Commons license. The Change.gov website, set up to provide a channel during the transition to power, also contains a Creative Commons license which doesn’t just apply to content published by the Obama-Biden Transition project:

Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Content includes all materials posted by the Obama-Biden Transition project. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Change.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Using open licenses and requiring contributors to these sites to license their content under such a liberal license is a remarkably progressive move and in keeping with a new ethos of transparency and accessibility in the Obama administration.

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