Non-profits need to play by the rules too

Last week one of my connections sent me a video that the American Cancer Society made to support their new site, You can check it out below.

But if you’re a fan of the Common Craft videos, especially the Social Networking in Plain English video, you’ll notice some significant similarities. Namely, the script. Despite the fact that the Common Craft videos are marked with a Creative Commons license, the terms of that license seemed to been ignored. I checked with Lee at Common Craft, and he verified that he wasn’t contacted, nor did he give permission for this type of altered variation on the work. Whoever created the script for this video had to know that they were not simply looking for inspiration. Our own ethical compasses almost always tell us the right answer to “should I do this”, we simply choose to ignore the question all together or ignore the answer.

This near wholesale lifting of the script of the Common Craft video is the first problem. The second is their marginal use of the Creative Commons license. They were trying to be half-pregnant with their use of CC, including only text that says:

CC License: Others can use this video without prior permission only in its entire unaltered form.

Either you use the actual CC license (my assumption is they meant the “Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States” CC license, but your guess is as good as mine), or you set your own terms. Here’s how Creative Commons asks for the licenses to actually be implemented:

You should then include a Creative Commons “Some Rights Reserved” button on your site, near your work. Help and tips on doing this are covered here. This button will link back to the Commons Deed, so that the world can be notified of the license terms. If you find that your license is being violated, you may have grounds to sue under copyright infringement.

I know that non-profits are strapped for cash, busy beyond belief, and working hard on good causes. But that doesn’t let them off the hook from following the rules or using good, ethical form in their choices.

UPDATE: David from Amercian Cancer Society responds. Kudos to them for both their action and their response time!

Hey All,
This is David J. Neff and I work over at the American Cancer Society. I would like to apologize to Lee and let you all know we will be taking the video down for some re-tooling. (Is that a word?) We went in today and changed the CC as well as giving credit to Lee and his peeps over at Common Craft, but have still chosen to take it off the site for now. I also emailed Lee this weekend about this very subject. Hopefully you will check out the site more (SharingHope.TV) and see what other uses for Video we are doing, when it comes to helping people with cancer.



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