Creative Commons is doing a variety of things to help people license their content on terms less restrictive than the default copyright restrictions. Their licensing tools will make it easy for people to mix and match from a variety of different restrictions.
They are also creating metadata and a search engine to allow people to find open content with desired kinds of openness.
Additionally, they will be accepting ownership of works to hold in public trust, and may even buy some works to make them open.
Flash movies about the process. http://mirrors.creativecommons.org/
The best point about the Creative Commons site is that it [asks you] for simple yes/no questions, and suggests one of the [eleven licences] they wrote. The licences have a short summary that everybody understands, and a long legal text. This is easier to understand than the licences from the FreeSoftwareFoundation (eg. the FreeDocumentationLicense), because in order to find the same "abstract", you have to read through the preamble of the real license, which scares many people.
This solves some problems:
It leaves some problems unresolved when it comes to wikis, however:
The Creative Commons has attempted to provide a [license] for wikis that operate under the WikiPedia model of production, where material in the wiki is considered static, and that every modification of the material is considered a derivative work. Also, it still operates under the legal principle that there is a single author to the wiki, rather than a massive collective of major to minor to micro authors. It's not entirely clear if you can take a single page from the wiki corpus and take it elsewhere, but you can take an abridgment or summary of a wiki and include it elsewhere.
For wikis that are not as static as Wikipedia, but rather more conversational and fluid, may want to consider using a mixed license, like MeatballWiki's DefaultCopyright, as it's questionable whether a very conversational space (e.g. MeatballWiki) should be entirely under CopyLeft to begin with, as it may be both silly and dangerous to let conversations in mid-stride by lifted and remixed and quoted out of context without the participants there to respond. In that case, you can designate specific pages to be clean and publishable, and then put those specific pages under a Creative Commons license (or PrimarilyPublicDomain).
Perhaps these unresolved problems could be better discussed with reference to a particular license? For example, with ShareAlike, here is my take:
What happens when the content of a wiki is printed in a book, does it have to be "editable"?
I don't see why it would.
What happens when you make the HTML pages available, and the page database available, but the source to the script remains hidden?
That's fine. Just make it clear that the license applies to the content and not the script.
I really like the CreativeCommons. It's rhetoric and mission is to use CopyrightLaw properly, not to tear it down blindly. However, the grassroots seem overly militant to me. So, between competing idealogies and reality, I'm not sure where it will end up, but so far it is pretty inspiring. -- SunirShah
Playing on the mailing list. I ain't even trollin'. --ss