Kudos to Microsoft for making it possible for users of their Office suite (now numbering 400 million) to easily apply a Creative Commons license to the work they author using the applications in that productivity suite. In a press release issued yesterday, Microsoft announced that a new add-in will allow the full range of Creative Commons licenses to be attached to documents created with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to make the reuse or republication rights to an original work clear. It's a welcome acknowledgement of the plain-English approach to intellectual property championed by the Creative Commons organization.
“We’re delighted to work with Creative Commons to bring fresh and collaborative thinking on copyright licensing to authors and artists of all kinds,” said Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft. “We are honored that creative thinkers everywhere choose to use Microsoft tools to give shape to their ideas. We’re committed to removing barriers to the sharing of ideas across borders and cultures, and are offering this copyright tool in that spirit."
“The goal of Creative Commons is to provide authors and artists with simple tools to mark their creative work with the freedom they intend it to carry,” said Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of Creative Commons. “We’re incredibly excited to work with Microsoft to make that ability easily available to the hundreds of millions of users of Microsoft Office.”
The copyright licensing tool will be available free of charge at Microsoft Office Online and CreativeCommons.org. The download page at Microsoft's site states that WGA validation is required for the download and that the Creative Commons add-in is an "unsupported technology preview". No word on whether this capability will be built into 2007 Microsoft Office system (with a small "s").