A nice little story for those of you who may have missed it.

Last week Larry Lessig blogged about how the new change.gov site for Obama included the following at the bottom of the page:


Larry pointed to Chris Messina’s post asking why a Creative Commons license was not used. When I read the post, I agreed with both of their sentiments.

Well, it seems Obama’s staff are pretty responsive: they have switched the content to a CC-BY license, the freest of CC licenses. Larry has the details here. Gobama!

It seems that the positioning of the question regarding government content is skewed. Instead of the question being “why should we license this content under a free license?” it should be “why should we NOT license this content under a free license?“. Of course, this change in approach is a mindset change. It requires participants to adjust their expectations of the norm to be a Free Culture society as opposed to a restricted society.

To me this is the most important goal for members of the Free Culture community to seek. We have the licenses, we have publishing systems, and we have a growing catalogue of content, but what we don’t have is a change in mindset (yet). This change will happen, but it will take time and many more examples such as this one.

I used to be quite involved in (UK) government use and policy attitudes towards Free Software back when I worked at OpenAdvantage and have since stepped back from it quite a bit. I wonder what kind of policy changes and persuasions need to occur for the policy to be justification for NOT publishing free content as opposed to the current norm. Anyone have any insights into this?

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