Jorge Toledo
1

In this article I refer not to built works but to all material generated as a result of architectural activity: material like plans, maps, photomontages, texts, videos, graphics, 3D models, scripts, Grasshopper sketches, etc., from which we don’t usually expect to make any additional income and which are susceptible to dissemination, communication and exploitation by other people.

2

For specific materials like graphic resources (blocks, cut-outs, cliparts, icons, etc.), fonts and datasets, specific licences like the General Asset License, the Open Font License and the Open Database License have recently been developed.

3

Is it commercial use when someone includes an image of yours in a studio’s blog? Or in a competition board? Or in a magazine? And what if the magazine is an academic journal? When is anything NOT commercial?

4

The debate over what exactly constitutes a “modification” is also quite complex. See this article by Alistair Brown.

5

At the other extreme, if we don’t care what happens to our creations or if we want to make a contribution to the world without receiving any credit at all, we could use CC0, which would place our work in the public domain and make it available for anyone to use however they want.

These types of licences are known as “public-domain-equivalent licenses” or “waivers”. If you’re feeling a bit more transgressive, there’s something similar called the WTFPL, or “Do What the Fuck You Want to Public License”.

 

6

At Ecosistema Urbano, for example, we chose the less restrictive CC BY, which is ideal for freely sharing material in a professional context, whereas for personal work I prefer to use the CC BY-SA licence to make sure that what I do stays “open source”.

CC BY-WHAT? Four Conditions for Creating an Open Source Architecture Licence

In an earlier post we looked at reasons for protecting or not protecting our work with a strict copyright, and proposed open source licences as an alternative more beneficial both to the original designer and to everyone else.

The next question is: what open source licences can we use to share the results of our work?1

Above all, we need to remember that open source licences don’t necessarily mean relinquishing copyright protection. On the contrary, they’re based on our right, as creators, to expressly state under what conditions we allow our creations to be shared or reused, and to establish how much control we want to retain over them. But we can always fall back on copyright as protection against undesired exploitation of our work.

One of the best open source options for material generated in architecture, urban planning and similar fields is Creative Commons (CC), a set of OS licences specially created to regulate rights applicable to creative works. Simplified to make them easier to understand, choose and apply2, CC licences allow four conditions. For use in architecture, it would be wise to take into account the implications of each condition before deciding which one would be the most suitable:

  • BY or Attribution: This is a requirement of all CC licences and is particularly important for an architect. It makes it impossible for anyone to benefit from our original work by passing it off as their own, and obligatory to give the original creator credit for what is being shared or reused. This offers architects a return in terms of dissemination and reputation: the biggest return that can be expected from the projection of our work in a profession where income usually comes not from copyright but from projects completed.
  • SA or Share-Alike: Including this condition helps us to keep our content open source and prevent anyone from restricting its availability. However, it can also make it difficult for our work to be used in, for example, publications that are themselves protected by more restrictive licences or even by pure copyright (as are most architecture publications).
  • NC or Non-commercial: This prevents others from exploiting our work for economic gain, but also hinders its publication and reuse. Also, in practice, “non-commercial” and “commercial” are not always clearly distinguishable parameters3. In many cases, it’s best to omit this restriction to facilitate dissemination of the work.

 

  • ND or No Derivative Works: This allows our work to be published only in its original form, with no type of modification. It guarantees that the work will retain its original properties and meaning but doesn’t even permit such simple alterations as cropping an image for its presentation in a different layout. In architecture, which is a field much given to reworking and remixing, this condition is usually too restrictive4.

 

CC licences are not exclusive. As copyright holders, we can grant special permission whenever and to whoever we want, waiving the obligation to fulfil the conditions stipulated in the licence. We could, then, choose to apply a more restrictive CC licence and then authorise specific uses of our work on a case-by-case basis. In architecture, however, unlike in other professions, intellectual property rights are rarely a source of significant income. It’s usually more profitable to grant permissive licences which encourage others to share what we’re doing, thus obtaining another kind of return while at the same time contributing to the development of our discipline5.

The decision to include one or another condition in the licence, between restricting and encouraging access to our work, depends on the message we want to transmit and what we hope to obtain as a result6.

How would we like the results of our work to be used? What do we, or don’t we, want to happen to them?

I hope this article has made you think about these questions and that your answers to them will help you decide which of those four conditions to include in your own CC licence.

Notas de página
1

In this article I refer not to built works but to all material generated as a result of architectural activity: material like plans, maps, photomontages, texts, videos, graphics, 3D models, scripts, Grasshopper sketches, etc., from which we don’t usually expect to make any additional income and which are susceptible to dissemination, communication and exploitation by other people.

2

For specific materials like graphic resources (blocks, cut-outs, cliparts, icons, etc.), fonts and datasets, specific licences like the General Asset License, the Open Font License and the Open Database License have recently been developed.

3

Is it commercial use when someone includes an image of yours in a studio’s blog? Or in a competition board? Or in a magazine? And what if the magazine is an academic journal? When is anything NOT commercial?

4

The debate over what exactly constitutes a “modification” is also quite complex. See this article by Alistair Brown.

5

At the other extreme, if we don’t care what happens to our creations or if we want to make a contribution to the world without receiving any credit at all, we could use CC0, which would place our work in the public domain and make it available for anyone to use however they want.

These types of licences are known as “public-domain-equivalent licenses” or “waivers”. If you’re feeling a bit more transgressive, there’s something similar called the WTFPL, or “Do What the Fuck You Want to Public License”.

 

6

At Ecosistema Urbano, for example, we chose the less restrictive CC BY, which is ideal for freely sharing material in a professional context, whereas for personal work I prefer to use the CC BY-SA licence to make sure that what I do stays “open source”.

Autor:
Jorge Toledo García es Arquitecto, actualmente trabajando en Ecosistema Urbano, donde lleva principalmente temas de comunicación así como la investigación y desarrollo de herramientas aplicadas a lo social. Interesado en las aplicaciones de la innovación abierta y la cultura libre a las formas de trabajo, al entorno urbano y a la arquitectura.

Deja un comentario

Tu correo no se va a publicar.

*

Últimos posts