Sourcing the attribution

Over on BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow has an excellent link to Danny O’Brien’s post on attribution for re-using works on the Internet.

Attribution is, to my mind, one of the keys to creating a succesful and thriving remix environment. Why? At one level it is simple courtesy to mention where one gets the item that is being remixed with – a simple link back to say “thanks, this is where I got it from” cannot hurt. It could also extend links to artists and eventually come around in the form of blog or hyperlinks.

Cory mentioned in his link that when the original CC license went up, most users chose the attribution choice which hints that even if giving something away as share-alike, the artist would at least like the recognition.

It is a fundamental thing in the idea of plagiarism as well which is an issue in universities and elsewhere. Quite simply, a reader is probably not going to come up with the most original idea themselves and the savvy teachers are pretty clued in to where the ideas are. Just come out and cite the source. Argue with it or agree wholeheartedly but don’t steal it.

So how to change it for the better. One idea might be to educate and encourage users in schools how to properly credit the source and do so on a regular basis. The Data Web should also clearly force licenses out in to the machine editable sphere and interfaces be drawn up to accept licensing. That might help with research and ensuring that a user is aware of what they can and cannot do and also has to ignore the attribution data given.

It is a deeper issue than IP law and copyright. Its a cultural change and one where we need more carrots to do well than sticks.

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