Re: Fwd: Creative commons' license symbols

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Thu Nov 23 2006 - 06:10:26 CST

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    On Thu, 23 Nov 2006, Elliotte Harold wrote:

    > Kenneth Whistler wrote:
    >> Any symbol that is created that way, with specific intent to
    >> control its meaning and usage, falls in the same grey area
    >> that trademarked logos do.
    > I'm not so sure. I suspect these are closer to the copyright symbol, . That
    > also has a very specific legal meaning.

    I don't think it has, any more. The copyright sign _used_ to be relevant
    in the old days, when some international treaties allowed countries to
    impose formal requirements on copyright protection, such as the use of
    a copyright statement that contains that specific character. In the
    Berne convention, such formal requirements have explicitly been forbidden.
    There might still be some countries that apply the old rules, but I doubt

    Thus, the copyright sign has become just a conventional character used in
    copyright announcements and, to some extent, a symbol for copyright
    itself. Its use on copyright announcements can be regarded as use in text,
    since the announcements, though typically short ( 2006 Jukka K. Korpela),
    contain fragments of text. (However, it's different from the use of, say,
    the registered sign , which is a text character in a clearer way, since
    it may appear in paragraphs in normal text flow.)

    > If you start using that symbol to mean something other than copyright, the
    > lawyers would have a field day.

    Actually, they wouldn't. If I started using in place of a normal c
    character, I would just make a fool of myself; I could not be sued.

    But regarding what I see as the main issue here, I don't think that a
    rigorous official or proprietary definition about the meaning a symbol
    and conditions for using it constitute a reason _not_ to encode it as a
    character. It is quite adequate to encode a symbol as a character even if
    only some limited group of people are allowed to use it, and only in
    specific contexts and meanings.

    Neither do such definitions constitute a reason _for_ encoding a symbol as
    a character. Assigning a specific meaning to a graphic symbol can be very
    important in many ways, but it does not turn it into a character.

    What matters is its actual or intended use as text character. Of course,
    limitations and conditions _could_ conceivably be so strict and
    effectively enforced that we should decide that it is not possible to use
    the symbol as text character. _This_ is why company or trademark symbols
    are generally not candidates for "characterhood".

    Jukka "Yucca" Korpela,

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