Creative Commons license upheld in Dutch and Spanish courts

By EDRi · March 29, 2006

Both in The Netherlands and in Spain the Creative Commons license was
judged in court. In both cases the validity of this alternative
copyright license was upheld.

In the Netherlands, the first court case about the validity of the
Creative Commons license produced clear victory for the user of the
license. On 9 March 2006 the district court of Amsterdam ruled in
summary proceedings that the weekly gossip magazine ‘Weekend’ could not
republish pictures that were published under a specific non-commercial
CC license. The family pictures were made by Adam Curry, famous in
internet circles for promoting podcasting. Curry had published the
pictures on the pictures-website under a so-called
Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike license, with the text ‘this photo
is public’ and a reference to the appropriate CC license. Weekend did
not seek or obtain prior permission.

Curry sued for both copyright and privacy infringement. Weekend
defended itself by saying it did not understand the reference to the CC
license. The magazine also claimed there could be no damages, since the
pictures were freely available on the flickr website anyway.

The court ruled the copyright was unmistakable. Especially a
professional party like the publisher of the magazine should conduct a
thorough investigation before publishing pictures taken from the
Internet. Professor Bernt Hugenholtz, director of the Institute for
Information Science of the University of Amsterdam and main creator of
the Dutch CC license was very pleased with the ruling. He commented on
the creative commons mailing-list: “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.”

A few weeks earlier, on 17 February 2006 the Spanish court of Badajoz
decided against SGAE, the Spanish music rights collecting society, in
favor of a bar owner who played music released under a Creative Commons
license. The court said none of the music played in disco bar Metropol
between November 2002 and August 2005 was actually licensed by the
collecting society. On the other hand, the CC licenses did allow for
public performance of the work.

Full text of the Amsterdam district court decision (in Dutch only,

Mailinglist iCommons community discussion

Full text of the Badajoz court decision (in Spanish only, 17.02.2006)

Spanish Court Recognizes CC-Music (23.03.2006)

(Contribution by Sjoera Nas, EDRI-member Bits of Freedom, the Netherlands)