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Creative Commons and Slashdotting

Matt Haughey wonders about how Slashdotting relates to sharing of Creative Commons content. We talk about this at South by Southwest . Obviously as a courtesy, the reposter should make the original site owner aware of possible slashdotting, but there are liability issues involved here. What if a mention on cnn.com results not only in a web server crashing, but also extra bandwidth costs. Presumably, the original owner will have time to foresee this effect (and actually, it’s easy to overestimate some item’s potential popularity. I was expecting my sharethemusicday essay to be slashdotted any day, so I put up three mirrors on public web hosting only to find out that my web traffic barely went over 500).

The real question is whether big media has a responsibility to acknowledge the website with the original content or simply repost the original content. In some cases, the content owner can be hungry for traffic (for advertising), while in other cases, the content owner may want to avoid all traffic. The best thing to do is to negotiate these things privately, but if the content owner is resistant, or hard to reach or has content that consumes a lot of bandwidth (mpegs, etc), then a content creator’s rights are protected by declaring explicit terms of use. (Of course, the content creator could always remove the content from the server, but when freenet comes around, that point will be irrelevant).

Freenet is not an efficient or popular protocol, but it is a case where a technical solution will address a sticky legal situation with creative commons.

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