Christopher Chelpka

My Dream for WSC-IV and Why I Chose CC0

Headnote: This post talks about two different ways you can mark your work for re-use via Creative Commons. Here are summaries of CC0 and CC-BY, if you’re interested.

Originally I planned to use the CC-BY attribution license for my Westminster Shorter Catechism revision project (WSC-IV). The CC-BY license supports a culture of attribution on the web and makes the creation process more transparent. I like this about CC-BY, but for this project I decided on CC0 instead. I did this because CC0 doesn’t prohibit attribution, but by not requiring it CC0 removes every barrier to use.

My dream is that WSC-IV will be used, in part or in whole, to create a revised catechism that is authorized and shared by several denominations. And I want WSC-IV to be as useful as possible toward that goal. But in preparing the project I came to see that though the licensing requirements of CC-BY are really low, those requirements can still create barriers I don’t want.

For example, in a conversation on StackExchange, one person says they have worked for companies that by policy never use any kind of licensed material. And another person points out that the CC-BY license does have some additional hoops to jump through other than attribution (e.g. CC-BY also requires notification that attribution does not imply endorsement.) The basic concern is this: Any barrier to use is may slow down or stop use, and those who know that in advance may not even bother to begin. This doesn’t make CC-BY a bad license, just not the one for WSC-IV.

WSC-IV is a provisional project explicitly intended to be used by others. It’s like a generous community garden where the plants are grown by others specifically to feed the community. CC0 is the sign on the garden that welcomes you in and hands you a basket.

This seems like the best way to me to encourage church committees, or others working on their own revisions, to freely copy and revise without a second thought. CC0 is the best way I know to throw the gates open and encourage use and collaborative editing. So I hope you’ll use it, share WSC-IV with others, and contribute to the annotations. Soli Deo gloria.