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posted by Woods on Thursday May 15 2014, @11:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the content-of-this-article-is-SFW dept.

In the beginning, pop culture wiki TV Tropes licensed its content with the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license for free content.

When Google pulled out its AdSense revenue because of... let's call it NSFW fan fiction, TV Tropes changed its guidelines to forbid tropes about mature content. In response to this move, two forks were eventually created. The admins disliked this move so much that they changed its license notice to the Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike version, despite their site not having requested copyright rights from their users. Only later they added a clause to their Terms of use page requiring all contributors to grant the site irrevocable, exclusive ownership of their edits.

I suppose the morale of the story is, if you contributed to TV Tropes before summer 2012, you should know they're distributing your content under a license that you didn't give them permission to use.

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  • (Score: 1) by romlok on Friday May 16 2014, @09:22AM

    by romlok (1241) on Friday May 16 2014, @09:22AM (#44139)

    Uhh..isn't that illegal? i mean what is to keep anyone from making a web product with a BSD or GPL or CC license and then once getting the work done for them by the community saying "fuck you losers lulz!" and taking it proprietary? Isn't this breach of contract?

    It's only a breach of contract if there was a contract.
    If there was no copyright assignment agreed between the parties, it may be a breach of license, depending on the license.

    In this case, AFAICT, CC-BY-NC (the new license) is essentially a subset of CC-BY, so TVTropes are perfectly within their rights to combine CC-BY content with CC-BY-NC content, and distribute them both under a CC-BY-NC license. Just as GPL or proprietary software can include BSD-licensed libraries.

    What they are not permitted to do is change the license on existing works - so anything contributed to them under CC-BY would retain that license.
    However, by combining the earlier CC-BY user edits with their own copyrighted parts (eg. the rest of the website), the combined work could validly be distributed by TVTropes under any CC-BY compatible license (eg. CC-BY-NC). Technically, some edits would be CC-BY, but I'm not sure how much TVTropes are obligated to highlight those.

    However, if the TVTropes contributor agreement specifies that all incoming edits are under CC-BY-NC, and don't reassign the copyright, this likely means that TVTropes can never use that content for commercial purposes either - which arguably includes ever running ads against that content.

  • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Friday May 16 2014, @01:24PM

    by mcgrew (701) <> on Friday May 16 2014, @01:24PM (#44180) Homepage Journal

    If your work is important to you, register the copyright. In the US at least, without registration your copyright is toothless.

    Free Martian whores! []
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16 2014, @02:48PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16 2014, @02:48PM (#44212)

    No, according the summary the original license was not CC-BY, but CC-BY-SA. The SA part explicitly disallows relicensing with additional restrictions. Since NC is an additional restriction, relicensing from CC-BY-SA to CC-BY-NC-SA is not allowed (unless you're the copyright owner or have explicit permission from the copyright owner, of course).

  • (Score: 1) by Paradise Pete on Friday May 16 2014, @02:50PM

    by Paradise Pete (1806) on Friday May 16 2014, @02:50PM (#44213)

    It's only a breach of contract if there was a contract.

    Why wouldn't there be a contract?