A court in the Netherlands has ruled that a Creative Commons license is
binding, in a case brought against a Dutch gossip magazine by an ex-MTV star.
This is one of the first times that the license--which offers more
flexibility than traditional copyright licenses--has been tested in a court of
law, according to legal Web site Groklaw.
"The Creative Commons licenses are quite new, so there has been
very little in the way of case law so far, so this is a significant
development," Groklaw reported.
Former MTV VJ Adam Curry sued Weekend, a Dutch gossip magazine, for copyright
infringement after the magazine published photos of Curry's daughter without his
authorization. The photos, which Curry had posted on the Flickr photo-sharing
site, were covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
2.0 license, which states that while the licensed content can be used freely for
noncommercial purposes as long as the source is made clear, the content cannot
be used for commercial purposes unless the creator of the content agrees to
waive the conditions.
The court ruled that Weekend must not use Curry's pictures again or it would
face fines of 1,000 euros (about US$1,200) for each photo used without permission,
Curry said in his blog.
Audax, the publisher of Weekend, had argued that it was misled by the notice
posted on Flickr near Curry's photos stating that they were "public" and that
the link to the license was not obvious. But the court rejected this defense,
stating that Audax should have carried out due diligence before publishing the
photos, according to Creative Commons Canada, which published a translation of
the court ruling.
Creative Commons Canada said the ruling is important as it makes it clear
that it is the user's responsibility to find out about and adhere to the
"The Dutch Court's decision is especially noteworthy because it confirms that
the conditions of a Creative Commons license automatically apply to the content
licensed under it, and bind users of such content even without expressly
agreeing to, or having knowledge of, the conditions of the license," said the