Blog post metadata Website License vs. Content License | Hugh's Curriculum Vitae

Website License vs. Content License

When considering internet publishing attribution and proper licensing is very important. One important context to make clear is the distinction between the HTML and visual presentation/content layer of a website, the code of a website, and any downloadable objects in a website such as PDFs. Today I was looking at the Rapid Words website. Rapid Words is an SIL product and methodology which facilitates a multi-party conversation to quickly discover many words in a language. SIL developed a specific website to promote this methodology and its associated downloadable content. As I review the website, I am wondering several things about the licenses advertised on the RapidWords site. The web-page I am looking at: http://www.rapidwords.net/resources/files/rwc-questionnaire Screen shots are presented here for ease of access (and permanence).

Image of webpage footer

Bottom of Page Credit: rapidwords.net (SIL International)

Image of webpage footer

Bottom of Page Credit: rapidwords.net (SIL International)

In the footer, I see a copyright statement and then a CC-BY-SA license. Many websites who choose to put copyright and license material in the footer are really only referencing the Theme files of their web-page, or the immediately on-screen content. This is very common for open-source themes for WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. It is unclear to me if this is the case on the RapidWords website. Or is the footer referring to the entire content of the website inclusive of the downloadable content? If it is referring to the theme files, then they ought to be licensed as code not as a creative work according to the Creative Commons Foundation. (The Creative Commons Foundation recommends not using Creative Commons Licenses for code base projects and points to other more appropriate licenses.)

When I go the content of the web-page link above (see screens shot), there is a CC license field in the middel of the page. This field is empty and in lieu of a license, I find a copyright statement saying all “rights are reserved”. So which is it? CC-BY-SA or All rights reserved?

Close-up of screen content

Close-up of screen content Credit: rapidwords.net (SIL International)

Then when I download the PDF of the content via the PDF button provided the content of the PDF only contains the copyright statement not the CC-BY-SA statement. Further adding confusion because the website is offering a PDF to me but then saying that the PDF is “all rights reserved”.

Also, when one downloads the resources under the resource section the resources do not have a license statement in them (I would have expected a copyright and a license statement in the footer of each printable page in the downloaded document). Because there is a footer on the web-page with a CC license, is the website user to assume that these download able resources are CC-BY-SA?

Organizations can avoid sending mixed messages to their constituency by clearly marking who is the copyright holder, on websites and the content those websites contain. Organizational policies related to web-publishing should include editorial checks for these sorts of issues.

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Hugh Paterson III
Hugh Paterson III
Collaborative Scholar

My research interests include typological patterns in articulatory phonetics; User Experience design in language tools; and graph theory applied to language and linguistic resource discovery.

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